Hanoi university of science and technology school of foreign languages

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In the previous chapter, we have reviewed some general information on translation, NPs and strategies applied in translating NPs in an economic text. And in this chapter “The study”, we will analyze deeply these five strategies which have just been discussed before and how they are applied in an economic text.

I. Statistics of NPs in the text

There are many differences between English and Vietnamese NPs. Thus, our study aims at clarifying strategies for translating NPs in an economic text in order to help readers understand the text. Within the document, more than 170 NPs have been listed. We divided all listed NPs into three groups, such as one- word nouns, compound nouns, and phrasal noun.

Types of NPs



One word nouns



Compound nouns



Phrasal nouns



Table 2: Distribution of types of NPs

One word noun, the first group of NPs consists of only one word. This group contains 28 cases, accounts for 15.0 percent. The second group of NPs contains all NPs that formed by combining two or more free morphemes together, called compound noun. This group accounts for a large number, including 160 nouns, approximately 83.0 percent. And the last group is phrasal noun. Phrasal noun is a group of NPs that formed more complicated than the other two. This type is not common, just about 2.0 percent throughout this document.

Figure 1: Distribution of types of Noun Phrases

As mentioned above, compound noun is the best common that accounts for the largest percentage, approximately 83.0%. This type is subdivided into many smaller groups:

  • Noun – Noun

  • Adj – Noun

  • Verb – Noun

  • Gerund – Noun

  • Noun – Gerund

  • Adverb – Verb

  • Verb – Adverb

  • Preposition/Adverb – Noun

  • Past participle – Noun

As we have just mentioned in the Literature review chapter, we use five strategies to translate NPs in this source text, in which shift or transposition is the key procedure. This is showed by the number of NPs in the text is translated by shift or transposition.










Recognized translation









Table 3: Distribution of types of procedures

In short, in this part we have just provided the figures about economic NPs to help readers have general information about NPs and these five procedures that applied to translate NPs in this document. And in the next parts, we will analyze deeply each procedure that has been mentioned generally in the previous chapter.

Figure 2: Frequency of types of procedures

II. Translation procedures applied in translating NPs in the source text

1. Shift or transposition

Shift or transposition is the key procedure that is applied in translating NPs in this economic text. This is showed by the number of NPs that are translated by shift or transposition. This number accounts for more than 60 percent of all NPs in the document, as we mentioned above in the table.

This procedure is subdivided into four types as we have shown in literature review. All of these four sub-types are used frequently in English-Vietnamese economic translation but the first two are the important procedures that are used more commonly than the others. Thus, in this text, we just focus deeply on these two without the others.

    1. The change from singular into plural and vice versa

This type means to change the number of NP. In the source text, there are some structures of NP translated by using this type to be suitable for the context. In some situations, we should not always translate “Các” or “Những” when translating NPs from English into Vietnamese.

For example: Company employees

We know that “employees” show plural number, therefore it can be translated into “Các nhân viên”. However, when we put it in the context, combining it with other noun “company”, it should be translated into “Nhân viên công ty”. This way of translation will make it more natural and easier for readers to understand. Other examples should be translated as follows:



Hybrid products

Sản phẩm lai

Contingency plans

Kế hoạch dự phòng

Strategic alliances

Liên minh chiến lược

Basic staple goods

Nhu yếu phẩm cơ bản

In general, when translating from English into Vietnamese, we should keep it as similar as the source text. However, in some context, many NPs’ numeral premodifiers should be changed to make the document smoother and more natural. In fact, sometimes this type of translation results in the limited meaning and can not show full meaning of the source text. Thus, in this case, it is necessary to keep it as similar as the source text to make it as clear as possible.

E.g.: Existing product lines – Các dòng sản phẩm hiện có

We should not translate it as “Dòng sản phẩm hiện có”

1.2. Changing word order

The change is required when an SL grammatical structure does not exist in the TL (Newmark, 1988). This type of translation will be analyzed in compound noun to show clearly how we should translate when SL grammatical structure does not exist in the TL.

As we showed in the chapter one, the structure of NP includes three main parts:

Pre-modifier – Head Noun – Post-modifier

Changing word order in translating means changing position in NP structure. Or in other word, the order of NP is changed from back to front, or vice versa.

E.g.: Concentric strategy – Chiến lược đồng tâm

This translating method is applied commonly and effectively in translating from English into Vietnamese. However, in some case, we should use this method carefully because of it complex structure. So what is the reason for this? As we know that in English grammar, there are many complex structures which are not easy to be translated well from English into Vietnamese. And in some cases, translating by using changing word order leads to incorrect meaning.

E.g.: Parent-friendly Disney-branded films - Những bộ phim mang thương hiệu Disney thân thiện với người xem

This sentence is an example of English complex structure and it is translated by using changing word order. To translate this sentence, we should be careful to avoid resulting in incorrect meaning because of it complex structure. And there are some other examples:

Customer-centric culture - Nền văn hóa lấy khách hàng làm trung tâm

New-offering realization process - Quá trình nhận diện dịch vụ mới

In this text, the change is usually between Pre-modifier and Head noun. Thus, we will focus on changing position of these two and how it changes when Pre-modifier functions as a noun, adj, adv, gerund, etc.

1.2.1. Pre-modifier as a noun

This type of NPs is formed by combining two or more nouns to create a compound noun. In English, if a compound noun is formed according to this structure N – N, the last noun will function as a head noun, and the other noun will supply for the head noun. However, in Vietnamese, it is different from English. In similar structure N – N, the head noun will go first.

E.g.: Application software – Phần mềm ứng dụng

Innovation radar – Ra-đa đổi mới

Customer value – Giá trị khách hàng

Distribution channel – kênh phân phối

Opportunity matrix – Ma trận cơ hội

1.2.2. Pre-modifier as an Adj/Adv/Gerund

When Pre-modifier functions as an Adj/Adv/Gerung, it forms a structure Adj/Adv/Gerund – Head Noun. Translating this type is similar to when Pre-modifier functions as a noun, just change the position of Pre-modifier and noun.

E.g.: Concentric strategy – Chiến lược đồng tâm

Strategic group – Nhóm chiến lược

Competitive advantage – Lợi thế cạnh tranh

Potential market – Thị trường tiềm năng

Selling process – Quá trình bán hàng

1.2.3. Pre-modifier as a present participle or past participle

This type has forms as follows:

V-ing – Head noun

PII – Head noun

In general, the way to translate this type is not different from these two types mentioned above.

E.g.: Existing product – Sản phẩm hiện có

Unrelated new products – Các sản phẩm mới không liên quan

Pricing strategies – Chiến lược giá

Buying process – Quá trình mua hàng

1.2.4. Phrasal Noun

In phrasal noun, Pre-modifier has complex structure, and does not belong to the types of NPs that mentioned above. In this context, it is not easy to translate naturally.

E.g.: Parent-friendly Disney-branded films - Những bộ phim mang thương hiệu Disney thân thiện với người xem

Business-model innovation – Đổi mới mô hình kinh doanh

Broad-based innovation – Đổi mới trên diện rộng có tính hệ thống

Video-on-demand services – Các dịch vụ video theo yêu cầu

Business unit strategic-planning process - Quá trình lập kế hoạch đơn vị chiến lược kinh doanh

The online air travel industry - Ngành công nghiệp du lịch hàng không trực tuyến

In conclusion, changing word order is used frequently in translating a document from English into Vietnamese. This way of translating helps to deal with many complicated NP structures in an economic text. That is the reason why shift or transposition is used as the major procedure in translating an economic document.

2. Omission

English NP structure differs from Vietnamese one; therefore, translators should use omission strategy to preserve their meanings whilst ensuring the smoothness and naturalness of the translation. Once again, we would like to reconsider the formula of an English NP:
Pre-modifier + Head Noun + Post-modifier

As we know, post-modifers in English NPs are often relative clause, non-finite clause, adjective phrase, preposition phrase, and adverb phrase. Post-modifiers often need rearrangement and verification in translation, not only a simple word-by-word translating process. Hereinafter we would like to study about omission of post-modifiers in translating English NPs.

2.1. Omission of Relative Pronoun

Relative Clause can be post-modifier of a NP, though the tendency of its existence in English NP seems not very high. We can summarize the formula of NP with relative clause as post-modifier:

Pre-modifier + Head Noun + Relative Clause (= Relative Pronoun + Clause)

We can see it more clearly in this example:

Products that meet that need

Head noun Relative pronoun Clause

Relative Pronouns are used in relative clause to modify a head noun in English NP. There are several typical relative pronouns such as: that, which, where, who, whose, etc. Relative pronoun “that” occurs the most in such NPs. In our document, we can find only four NPs with Relative Clause as post modifier, all of which have the relative pronoun “that”.

In terms of NP with Relative Clause as post-modifier, it is grammatically compulsory for a relative pronoun to exist as a type of connector. In other words, without a relative pronoun, a NP cannot have relative clause as it is post-modifier and cannot make sense. Relative pronoun is an integral part of relative clause which composes NP.



products that meet that need

products that ranked number one or number two


sản phẩm đáp ứng nhu cầu này

những sản phẩm xếp hạng nhất hay nhì

As we can see, the relative pronoun “that” is omitted so as to make the translation naturally meaningful. The translation would sound dull and clumsy if it were “sản phẩm mà đáp ứng nhu cầu này”. Vietnamese people do not have the habit of using such relative pronouns as connectors in NPs. Accordingly, the strategy to deal with relative clause in NP is relatively simple – translators just need to omit the relative pronoun and to translate all the rest.

2.2. Omission of Preposition:

Prepositions occur in NPs with prepositional phrase as post-modifier. Prepositional phrase (PP) as Post-modifier is often used not only in this chapter, but also in many other kinds of documents. The formula of NP shall then be described as following:

Pre-modifier + Head Noun + Prepositional Phrase

Prepositional Phrase comprises prepositions such as “to”, “of”, “on”, and “in”. The function of those prepositions is to determine parts of a NP to recognize which part is the head noun, and which is the modifier. Therefore, prepositions cannot be excluded in such NPs.



costs of general management

process of transformation


chi phí quản lý chung

quá trình chuyển đổi

In this Chapter, we counted 21 prepositional phrases as post-modifiers, of which “of PPs” are used with high frequency. “of PPs” occur 19 times in this document, whereas “on PP” occurs only once and “in PP” occurs twice.

From data analysis, we can see that there are many kinds of PPs used to make NP. However, “of PP” is used most frequently. We will find ways to deal with those types of NPs in the following part.

As we mention above, a preposition has the function of connecting nouns to make a NP.

As in:

process of transformation (1)

Noun 1 Preposition Noun 2

Without preposition, we cannot consider “process transformation” a meaningful NP. However, when translating into Vietnamese, translators should omit prepositions to make a natural-sounding NP. If we literally translate this NP, we have the Vietnamese equivalent as “quá trình của sản xuất”. A Vietnamese translator should never translate that way because it sounds unnatural and lengthy.

  1. should be translated into: quá trình chuyển đổi

The translated Vietnamese version consists of no equivalent preposition. Therefore, we should not translate prepositional NP word-by-word but making changes to it to make the translation comprehensive. In terms of English NP with prepositional phrase as post modifier, “of” NP (NP with “of”) tends to occur the most. There are 18 “of” NPs found in our material. In contrast to English NPs, Vietnamese NPs does not often have “prepositions” acting as a junction in between two nouns. That is why we would rather omit prepositions when translating English NP. Here in after are more examples of translating NP with other prepositions:


$1 billion in cash

6.8 percent decrease in DVD sales


1 tỷ đô tiền mặt

giảm 6,8 phần trăm doanh thu bán đĩa DVD

There is a more flexible type of NP with two or more prepositions, though rare, such as:

rate of return on investment tỷ lệ lợi tức đầu tư

With those NPs, we can also omit prepositions and translate the remaining words. In some cases, the structure of preposition phrase is more complex:

E.g.: annual rate of market growth

We need not only omit the preposition “of” but also arrange the word order to make the translation comprehensive and logical. The translation would employ both omission and transposition technique, of which the later one we would deal with later in our paper.

The translation should best be: tỉ lệ tăng trưởng thị trường hàng năm

In most cases, we can deal with this type of NP by omitting preposition and translate the remaining components to increase accuracy and naturalness of our translation. Nevertheless, there are cases when translators should consider whether to omit the preposition.


the rest of the company

the context of the organization


phần còn lại của công ty

bối cảnh của tổ chức

As you can see, in the first example, translating “of” is necessary and compulsory. If we omit the preposition “of” in this case, the translation would be: “phần còn lại công ty”, and that would not make sense at all. In the second example, the translator should also translate the preposition “of”. If we omit “of”, the phrase would still make sense: “bối cảnh tổ chức”, but keeping the preposition “of” in this case makes the translation clearer.

In reviewing many NPs, we can see that translators should need consideration before deciding whether to omit the preposition in their translation. The translator should understand the term first and be flexible enough to decide the best way to translate the NP.

3. Addition in Noun-Noun Compound

Unlike NP with PP as post-modifier which seems to be clear and understandable, some English NPs which just consist of two or more nouns somehow cause difficulty for readers to catch up with. These NPs are often fixed terms used frequently in technical documents. It is “Noun-Noun Compound”. Addition strategy may be employed to help the readers easy to understand the terms. Therefore, addition strategy is mostly aimed to serve non-specialized readers.

The above-mentioned NP has the following formula:

Noun + Noun

It is compound noun with two or more nouns as its components. In which, the later noun is often the head noun, and the earlier one characterizes the head noun. There are some examples of Noun-Noun Compound:

market definitions

corporate mission

In the document, we counted 8 NPs with the same formula. Noun-Noun NPs are often terminology and are often familiar in technical documents. We will show the strategy to deal with these NPs hereinafter.

As we mentioned above, Noun-Noun Compound often has the later component as its head noun, and the earlier one characterizes its. Consequently, we cannot use word-by-word translation but a transposition procedure which we will study later, and add some conjunctions between nouns to make the Vietnamese version clearer. For example:


market definitions

corporate mission


định nghĩa theo thị trường

sứ mệnh của công ty

The above English NPs have no prepositions, but the translator borrows some Vietnamese prepositions to make the NPs clear and comprehensive. Other words which are not prepositions can also be inserted to clarify the NPs. Moreover, when choosing words to insert between nouns to paraphrase the NPs, the characteristics and meaning of NPs should be counted. In different cases, different words are used. The choice of inserting words should be flexible, depending on the translator’s patent. For example, “của” is often employed to express partitive or possessive characteristic, whereas “cho” is used to emphasize purpose characteristic.

In more complex NPs, addition strategy is shown to be even more helpful. For example:


corporate strategic plan

individual business unit strategies


kế hoạch chiến lược cho công ty

các chiến lược của đơn vị kinh doanh riêng lẻ

We cannot translate those NPs into: “kế hoạch chiến lược công ty”

and “các chiến lược đơn vị kinh doanh riêng lẻ”

Apparently, “cho” and “của” are successfully used to make the meaning of those NP more explicit.

In a nutshell, addition is a strategy to clarify the meaning of a NP when translated into Vietnamese. Translators should flexibly depend on the context to consider whether to add more words into the NP to make a better translation.

4. Recognized translation

Another technique used in translation is recognized translation. As mentioned in the previous chapter, recognized translation means the use of the official or generally accepted translation of any institutional term. This type of translation, therefore, is best used for economic texts as well as other specialized texts. The NPs translated by recognized translation are usually considered terms. There were 11 cases (account for 6.0%) identified under recognized translation including both NPs consisting of only one word and NPs consisting two or more words in our translation.

4.1. NPs consisting of only one word

A word may carry various meanings as well as denote many concepts; for example, market, interest, capital, property, etc. In fact, they are commonly used with the general meaning. If we put them in economic context, however, these words usually indicate a specialized meaning and will be translated in a different way. It means that these NPs are referred to as economic terms.

An example may help readers understand more clearly about this procedure. In general, the meaning of Noun Phrase “market” is “chợ”; however, in terms of economic context, it can be translated as “thị trường”.

Hereinafter are more examples:




Lợi nhuận


Thị trường


Doanh thu


Chi nhánh, bộ phận

4.2. NPs consisting of more than one word

NPs which contain two or more words, commonly called compound nouns. Similar to NPs consisting of only one word, it can be considered as the compound term. Hence, it also indicates the accepted translation of any institutional term. Taking the NP “market share” for example, the word “share” is generally translated as “cổ phần” and “market” as “thị trường”. In economic context, we combine them together to make a compound term referred to “thị phần”. Other NPs can be listed as follows:



Mass merchandising

Bán xỉ

Intensive growth

Tăng trưởng chiều sâu

Labor power

Nguồn nhân lực

In addition, for English for Specific Purpose (ESP) texts in general and for economic ones in particular, several terms can describe one concept and vice versa, several concepts can be denoted by the same term. Because this translation procedure is official or generally accepted for almost all institutional terms, translators must follow the exact meaning of terms. That’s why translators must have deep and wide knowledge which helps them translate ESP texts exactly. Moreover, translators should review carefully the context as well as try to look up several meanings, compare their usage and then choose the most suitable one for translation. Taking the term “mass merchandising” mentioned above as a typical example.

In short, this procedure can be considered as a useful way applied for translating ESP texts in general and economic texts in particular.

5. Transference

Last but not least, we mentioned transference as the way to deal with NPs. Newmark (1988) states that transference is “the process of transferring a SL to TL”. On the other hand, this procedure is considered as loan word, transcription, transliteration because there is no change of form when transferred SL into TL. In our translation, this procedure is identified based on the 25 cases (account for 15.0%) applied for NPs which are commonly familiar with people. Problems may arise from lacking of equivalence at word level. It means that their meaning is quite difficult to explain or fails to make sense, even translating them can make readers misunderstand. What does translator do when there is no word in the TL which expresses the same meaning as the SL? The best way is to keep the source language as a loan word.

However, if this procedure has high frequency of use, it may lose the cultural content of TL source as well as make the terms ambiguous. Translators; therefore, should limit in applying this procedure. It means that only noun phrases which have become popular, are transferred to attract reader, to give a sense of intimacy between the text and the reader.

In general, this procedure can be applied effectively for translating typical cases, especially for proper noun in economic texts such as names of private companies and institution, public or nationalized institutions, etc. Some proper nouns in the source text can be transferred from English to Vietnamese without any change:




Google (name of Internet corporation headquartered at American)

Walt Disney

Walt Disney ( name of multinational mass media corporation)


Seoul ( capital of Korean)


Microsoft ( name of an American multinational corporation) 

Google, Microsoft and Walt Disney are very popular to most of the people. Hence, we can keep them in the TL without translating.

In conclusion, this procedure is considered as a useful way to translate proper nouns in economic texts because it helps to deal with NPs which lack equivalence in TL. Translator, however, should consider whether to use this type of translation to avoid losing the TL’s culture.

We have analyzed deeply five procedures applied for our translation including shift- transposition, omission, addition, recognized translation and transference. Each type of procedure can be used in different cases. Therefore, translator should carefully consider what the best way is.

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