The Importance of Cultureme Theory in Translation


Author(s): Sueda OZBENT*

Texts are produced in the context of specific communicative and cultural circumstances according to the norms of text types. There are presupposed functions of these texts in that culture. To understand and transfer these functions in a correct way, language competence on its own is not enough. A translator who does not have a good cultural competence cannot produce a qualified translation just with a good language competence. Individuals who know a language well are expected to have a good cultural competence as well. Language acquisition requires learning all components constituting substructure of a language in addition to its social and cultural norms determining how the language is used. Cultural competence is learned best through living and experiencing them. The path to a fully functioning cultural competence requires being aware of culturemes, which are the smallest units of culture. Unfortunately, the term cultureme has not entered into Turkish terminology yet. This study aims to introduce the concept of cultureme for enriching our field.

According to Oxford Dictionary, cultureme is “any portion of cultural behavior apprehended in signs of symbolic value that can be broken down into smaller units or amalgamated into larger ones” 3 . As it is seen, culturemes are units carrying cultural knowledge. This knowledge is being carried through language, which has its roots in culture. Due to its structure, language is a living structure, which has the mission of enabling its culture specific habits and traditions to survive for future generations. It is in constant change and development. Translators have to adapt this dynamic nature.

In this study, the concept of cultureme, its importance in translation, and its position in the field of translation is going to be focused on.


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