What’s in a Name: The Metalanguage of Equivalence


  • Hossein Mollanazar Allameh Tabataba'i University
  • Ghodrat Hassani Damghan University


Equivalence, Descriptive Translation Studies, Translation as a cluster concept, Quasivalence, Translation definition


Despite a plethora of theories and decades of efforts to pin down the nature of equivalence, it remains a notoriously contentious topic, so much so that scholars have run the gamut from its deification to its demonization. While many definitions of translation revolve around the concept of equivalence, for some, equivalence in translation is nothing more than a mere myth. This paper will first briefly survey the literature on the different attitudes towards equivalence from the second half of the 20th century. It then goes on to argue that the very naming of ‘equivalence’ has further complicated this inherently multifaceted concept, and despite its naming that implies equal value, it is anything but. Against this backdrop, a new term is proposed instead in an attempt to address some of the concerns arising from the metalanguage of equivalence. Finally, the far-reaching implications of the current project for training translators and for the definition of translation itself are outlined.

Author Biographies

Hossein Mollanazar, Allameh Tabataba'i University

Associate Professor, Department of English Translation Studies, Faculty of Persian Literature and Foreign Languages, Allameh Tabataba’i University, Tehran, Iran;

Ghodrat Hassani, Damghan University

Assistant Professor, Department of English Language, Faculty of Humanities, Damghan University, Damghan, Iran;


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How to Cite

Mollanazar, H., & Hassani, G. (2021). What’s in a Name: The Metalanguage of Equivalence. Translation Studies Quarterly, 19(74), 41–54. https://dorl.org/dor/20.1001.1.17350212.1400.



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