World knowledge in the process of translation

Christina Schäffner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The paper illustrates the role of world knowledge in comprehending and translating texts. A short news item, which displays world knowledge fairly implicitly in condensed lexical forms, was translated by students from English into German. It is shown that their translation strategies changed from a first draft which was rather close to the surface structure of the source text to a final version which took situational aspects, texttypological conventions and the different background knowledge of the respective addressees into account. Decisions on how much world knowledge has to be made explicit in the target text, however, must be based on the relevance principle. Consequences for teaching and for the notions of semantic knowledge and world knowledge are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1991


  • world knowledge
  • comprehension
  • translation
  • texts
  • condensed lexical forms
  • English
  • German
  • translation strategies
  • surface structure
  • source text
  • situational aspects
  • texttypological conventions
  • background knowledge


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