The difficulties of rendering alliteration, assonance, rhythm and rhyme in a translation of literary works

A brief and general review of translation theory. Ambiguity of the process of translation. Alliteration in poetry and in rhetoric. Definitions and main specifications of stylistic devices. The problems of literary translation from English into Kazakh.

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This course paper deals with the problems of Literary translation from English into Kazakh, namely: The difficulties of rendering some stylistic devices, the translation errors in the process of translation using rhythm and rhyme, particular qualities of rendering alliteration and assonance in translation from English into Kazakh. The beginning of the course paper entitled 'A Brief and General Review of Translation Theory' gives a brief account of the history of. translation theory. It also considers the ambiguity of the process of translation and presents a brief description of the different types of translation. Special emphasis is put on the difficulty of defining translation units because of the subjective nature of the translation process. A possible solution to this problem is suggested.

All acts of translation begin with thought investigation of the reading process. Translators by necessity read each word and sentence at least as carefully as the critic or the scholar. Even the smallest detail in a text, can not be neglected. Therefore, it is no coincidence that almost all translators presented in this volume address the questing the reading.

William Weaver thinks through every linguistic and cultural nuance of each word in the opening paragraph of Godda Shovel. Felstiner and Middleton undertake similar detailed readings of each word firs as word and than as reflection of a larger cultural and historical context.

The philosopher Hans Gerg Gradmer in his work “To what Extent Does Language prescribe thinking” succinctly expresses the relationship between reading and translating: “Reading is already translation and translation is translation for the second time”. The process of translating comprises in its essence the whole secret of human understanding of the basic assumptions of translation studies, that all acts of communication are acts of translation.

“Reading is already translation”: through the process of reading, readers are transplanted into the atmosphere of a new situation that does not build just one clearly defined reality, but rather possibilities of various realities. Reading reestablishes the uncertainty of the word both is isolated phenomenon and is semantic possibility of a sentence, paragraph, or the context of the entire work.

Translators develop modes of thinking that reconnect them with the dynamic field of words, modes of thinking that will allow them to explore meanings associations within a word and meaning connection created by words in a specific context.

The theme of course paper: “The difficulties of rendering Alliteration, Assonance, Rhythm and Rhyme in a translation of literary works”.

The aim of the course paper:

Making a theoretical research to define peculiarities and difficulties of translating literary texts with using Alliteration, Assonance, Rhythm and Rhyme.

In order to achieve this aim I have the following tasks or objectives.

Tasks of the course paper:

1. To define the theme;

2. To make a plan;

3. To find information, gather and combine the information using the manuals, work with books, using the internet.

4. To make analysis;

5. To make conclusion;

6. To give the information about stylistic devices.

7. To find easier way of rend each other from English into Kazakh.

8. To research the way to keep the right turns of each stylistic devise.

Brief and General Review of Translation Theory

The practice of translation is a secular human activity which goes back to the Roman Empire. But the theory of translation is more difficult to situate in time, for the subject matter stilt remains a moot point. In Steiner's words (1975, 238), "The number of original, significant ideas in the subject remains very meager." Steiner (1975, 236) maintains that the theory of translation "can be divided into four periods, though the lines of division are in no sense absolute".

The first period, he says, starts with both Cicero's and Horace's empirical view not to translate "verbum pro verbo" and ends with the publication of Fraser Tytler's Essay on The Principles of Translation in 1793. This period is characterized by the suggestion that theoretical views on translation stern directly from the practical work of translating.

Steiner's second period starts in 1793 and ends up in 1946with the publication of Larbaud's Sous l'jnvocationde St Jerme. This period is a phase of theory and hermeneutic research where translation is studied in terms of theories or Languages and mind.

The third period begins in the 1940's with the publication of the first papers on machine translation and is characterized by the application of structural linguistics and information theory in the study of translation.

Steiner's fourth period which coexists with the third one, starts in the 1960's.

This period in the history of translation witnesses a return to hermeneutics. The Interest of translation theorists, then, shifted from mechanical translation to metaphysical enquiries. In short, a general survey of the history of trans1ation would reveal as Steiner (1975, 238) puts it that "classical philology, comparative literature, lexical statistics and ethnography1 the sociology of class--speech, formal rhetoric, poetics, and the study of grammar are combined in an attempt to clarify the act of translation and the process of 'life between languages'". Susan Bassnett Mc -- Guire, in Translation Studies (1980, 41), refutes such periodization which she qualifies as "highly idiosyncratic" bearing in mind the dynamic aspect of human culture which makes it virtually impossible to divide periods according to dates". Nevertheless, Both Steiner and Bassnett Mc -- Guire seem to agree in pointing out that Alexander Fraser Tytler's Essay on the Principles of Translation (1793) is the first systematic study in English of the translation process and that the eighteenth century is indeed a flourishing period in the formulation of theories.

Ambiguity of the process of translation

In Towards a Science of Translation (1964, 61), Nida maintains that "definitions of proper translating are as numerous and various as the persons who have undertaken to discuss the subject". Nida's claim reflects, to a certain extent, the disagreements voiced about the nature of translation. Indeed, despite the long history of translation and despite the numerous attempts made by many scholars to suggest a system of universally valid criteria for dealing with the translation process, translation is still a field characterized by a confrontation of various theories and a conflict of individual proposals. For Newmark (1982, 7), translation is "a craft consisting in the attempt to replace a written message and/ or statement in one language by the same message and! or statement in another Language".

For T.Savory (1957, 60), it is an art that "merits a careful study as does any another work of fine arts". In his article "Translation: the Augustan Mode", Knight (196, 196) expresses a similar concept of translation in terms of a necessary requirement which a translator must satisfy.

The latter, "should himself be an artist - At least enough of one to yearn for a living expression of the work to which he has committed himself". Likewise, Mathews (1966, 67), in his article "Third Thoughts on Translating poetry", considers translation as a creative art and maintains that "one thing seems clear: to translate a poem is to compose another poem". Nida, white recognizing some artistic elements in translation, speaks of a "science of translating", or more specifically of a "descriptive science of translating". He points out that in translation there are procedures and principles that govern its functioning. Similarly, Vinay and Darbelr'et (1958) conceive translation as a "discipline exactas Ossdantses techniques teases problems particulars". Nevertheless, however numerous the attempts to define the Nature of the process of rendering a message from one Language to another No agreement about the nature of translation has been made nor has a definition of a proper translating been reached yet.

As Steiner (1975, 272) put it, "it may be that there is no such thing as translation' in the abstract. There is a body of praxis so large and differentiated as to resist inclusion in any unitary scheme". The problem seems to lie in the fact- that the process of translation is determined by several factors.

Types of translation

In his article "On Linguistic Aspects of Translation", Roman Jakobson (1966, 232-239) distinguishes three types of translation. The first type is intralingual translation or "rewording" which is the translation of a word -sign by means of other verbal signs within the same language. The second type is interlingual translation or "translation proper" which is an interpretation of verbal signs in one language by means of other signs in some other language.

Finally, intersemiotic translation or what he calls "transmutation" which is an interpretation of verbal signs by means of non -- verbal sign systems such as pictorial, gestural, mathematical or musical systems. What Jakobson calls "translation proper" is the process of translating a word or a message from a SL to a IL. Following Catford (1965), a further division can be made within this type of translation. The resulting categories are defined in terms of the extent, levels and ranks of translation.

Considering the extent of the SL text to be transferred to another Language, Catford distinguishes between two types of translation. He calls the first one "full translation" which is the transfer of the entire SL text in the TL. In this translation, every part of the SL text is replaced by IL text material. In contrast, there is partial translation which consists of keeping some parts of the SL text in their original form. This procedure is common in literary translation where some lexical items are sometimes left untranslated to introduce "local colour" in the IL text.

Literary translation

Though the basic characteristics of translation can be observed in all translation events, different types of translation can be singled out depending on the predominant communicative function of the source text or the form of speech involved in the translation process. Thus we can distinguish between literary and informative translation, on the one hand, and between written and oral translation, on the other hand.

Literary translation deals with literary texts, i.e. works of fiction or poetry whose main function is to make an emotional or aesthetic impression upon the reader. Their communicative value depends, first and foremost, on their artistic quality and the translator's primary task is to reproduce this quality in translation.

A literary text may, in fact, include some parts of purely informative character. Literary works are known to fall into a number of genres. Literary translation may be subdivided in the same way, as each genre calls for a specific arrangement and makes use of specific artistic means to impress the reader. Translators of prose, poetry or plays have their own problems. Each of these forms of literary activities comprises a number of subgenres and translator may specialize in one or some of them in accordance with his talents and experience. The particular tasks inherent in the translation of literary works each genre is more literary than linguistic. The greet challenge to the translator is to combine the maximum equivalence and the high literary merit.

The translator of a belles-lettres text is expected to make a careful study of the literary trend the text belongs to, the other works of the same author, the peculiarities of this individual style and manner and so on. This involves both linguistic considerations and skill in literary criticism. A good literary translator must be a versatile scholar and talented writer or poet.

So many problems of translating poetry have been discussed for centuries that one should just follow some of the good useful or bad and tricky recommendations of predecessors. One of the best is that provided by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, which asserts, “…the life blood of translation is this - that a good poem shall not be turned into a bad one.” Presumably, we know what a good poem is and how it differs from a bad one.

Whatever the versification system, each poem is unique. It has an individual flavour and, even within a most conservative traditional metric pattern, is market by a rhythm, pitch and infection of its own. It is a pointless exercise to pursue absolute fidelity to the original, but it is necessary at least at attempt to preserve at much as possible of the source's principle of poetic arrangement and imagery.

Ideas of now to approach of poetic translation have varied in Russia, but not greatly, from the beginning of the nineteenth century up to the present day. When a translator is to translate a poem, he may put it into one of two main categories according to its form. One is so-called “free verse”, or verse libre; the other is classically structured poetry, that is, verse based on regular metre, rhyme and stanza pattern. It is evident that the impact a free verse poem's of on the reader differs greatly from that of traditional poetic harmony. It appeals to different points of perception: while a traditional poem speaks more to the emotions, vers libre tends to appeal to the reason rather than to the heart. Verse libre has properties of its own, which makes the reader seek other thinks in such a text than he would in a sonnet. Besides verse libre itself requires sophisticated decisions and techniques in translation.


Definition: Alliteration is a literary device where words are used in quick succession and begin with letters belonging to the same sound group. Whether it is the consonant sound or a specific vowel group, the alliteration involves creating a repetition of similar sounds in the sentence. Alliterations are also created when the words all begin with the same letter. Alliterations are used to add character to the writing and often add an element of `fun' to the piece...Example: The Wicked Witch of the West went her own way.

Alliteration in Poetry

In relation to English poetry, poets can call attention to certain words in a line of poetry by using alliteration. They can also use alliteration to create a pleasant, rhythmic effect. In the following poetic lines, notice how alliteration is used to emphasize words and to create rhythm:

"Give me the splendid silent sun

with all his beams full-dazzling!'

Walt Whitman, "Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun"

“They all gazed and gazed upon this green stranger,/because everyone wondered what it could mean/ that a rider and his horse could be such a color-/ green as grass, and greener it seemed/ than green enamel glowing bright against gold.” Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, translated by Benard O'Donohue

"Some papers like writers,

some like wrappers.

Are you a writer or a wrapper?"

Carl Sandburg, "Paper I"

Alliteration also can add to the moods of poem. If a poet repeat soft, melodious sounds, a calm or dignified mood can result. If harsh, hard sound are repeated, on the other hand, the mood can become tense or excited. In this poem, alliteration of the s, l, and f sound adds to a hushed, peaceful mood:

"Softer be they than slippered sleep

the lean lithe deer

the fleet flown deer ." e. e. cummings

"All in green went my love riding"

Alliteration in Rhetoric

Alliteration also serves as a linguistic rhetorical device more commonly used in persuasive public speaking. Rhetoric is broadly defined as the "Art of Persuasion", which has from earliest times been concerned with specific techniques for effective communication.[14] Alliteration serves to "intensify any attitude being signified".[14] Its significance as a rhetorical device is that it adds a textural complexity to a speech, making it more engaging, moving, and memorable. The use of alliteration[15] in a speech captivates a person's auditory senses that assists in creating a mood for the speaker. The use of a repeating sound or letter forces an audience's attention because of their distinct and noticeable nature. The auditory senses, hearing and listening, seem to perk up and pay attention with the constant sounds of alliteration. It also evokes emotion which is key in persuading an audience. The idea of pathos solidifies that playing to a person's emotions is key in persuading them and connecting them to the argument that is being made. For example, the use of a "H" sound can produce a feeling of calmness.[16] Other sounds can create feelings of happiness, discord, or anger, depending on the context of the alliteration. These feelings become memorable to a listener, which have been created by alliteration.

The most common example of this is in John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address, where he uses alliteration twenty-one times throughout his speech. The last paragraph of his speech is given as an example here.

"Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice (ALLITERATION) which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love (ALLITERATION), asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own." -JFK [17]

Other examples of alliteration in some famous speeches: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character". -Martin Luther King, Jr.[18]

"We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths -- that all of us are created equal -- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth". -Barack Obama [19]

"And our nation itself is testimony to the love our veterans have had for it and for us. All for which America stands is safe today because brave men and women have been ready to face the fire at freedom's front."--Ronald Reagan, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Address [20]

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal". -Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address


Definition: Assonance refers to repetition of sounds produced by vowels within a sentence or phrase. In this regard assonance can be understood to be a kind of alliteration. What sets it apart from alliterations is that it is the repetition of only vowel sounds. Assonance is the opposite of consonance, which implies repetitive usage of consonant sounds.(4)Example: “A long song” . (Where the `o' sound is repeated in the last two words of the sentence).

Assonance, in prosody, repetition of stressed vowel sounds within words with different end consonants, as in the phrase “quite like.” It is unlike rhyme, in which initial consonants differ but both vowel and end-consonant sounds are identical, as in the phrase “quite right.” Many common phrases, such as “mad as a hatter,” “free as a breeze,” or “high as a kite,” owe their appeal to assonance. As a poetic device, internal assonance is usually combined with alliteration (repetition of initial consonant sounds) and consonance (repetition of end or medial consonant sounds) to enrich the texture of the poetic line. Sometimes a single vowel sound is repeated, as in the opening line of Thomas Hood's “Autumn”: I saw old Autumn in the misty morn.

Sometimes two or more vowel sounds are repeated, as in the opening lines of Shelley's “The Indian Serenade,” which creates a musical counterpoint with long i and long e sounds:

I arise from dreams of thee

In the first sweet sleep of night

Assonance at the end of a line, producing an impure, or off, rhyme, is found in La Chanson de Roland and most French verses composed before the introduction of pure rhyme into French verse in the 12th century. It remains a feature of Spanish and Portuguese poetry. In English verse, assonance is frequently found in the traditional ballads, where its use may have been careless or unavoidable. The last verse of “Sir Patrick Spens” is an example:

Haf owre, haf owre to Aberdour,

It's fiftie fadom deip:

And thair lies guid Sir Patrick Spence,

Wi' the Scots lords at his feit.

Rhythm & Rhyme

Definition: The concept of `rhythm and rhyme' refers to a pattern of rhymes that is created by using words that produce the same, or similar sounds. Rhythm and rhyme together refer to the recurrence of similar sounds in prose and poetry, creating a musical, gentle effect. Example: “I am a teapot Short and stout; This is my handle And this is my spout. When the water 's boiling Hear me shout; Just lift me up And pour me out”

Types of rhyme

The word rhyme can be used in a specific and a general sense. In the specific sense, two words rhyme if their final stressed vowel and all following sounds are identical; two lines of poetry rhyme if their final strong positions are filled with rhyming words. A rhyme in the strict sense is also called a perfect rhyme. Examples are sight and flight, deign and gain, madness and sadness.

Perfect rhymes

Perfect rhymes can be classified according to the number of syllables included in the rhyme, which is dictated by the location of the final stressed syllable.

masculine: a rhyme in which the stress is on the final syllable of the words (rhyme, sublime)

feminine: a rhyme in which the stress is on the penultimate (second from last) syllable of the words (picky, tricky)

dactylic: a rhyme in which the stress is on the antepenultimate (third from last) syllable (cacophonies, Aristophanes)

General rhymes

In the general sense, general rhyme can refer to various kinds of phonetic similarity between words, and to the use of such similar-sounding words in organizing verse. Rhymes in this general sense are classified according to the degree and manner of the phonetic similarity:

syllabic: a rhyme in which the last syllable of each word sounds the same but does not necessarily contain stressed vowels. (cleaver, silver, or pitter, patter; the final syllable of the words bottle and fiddle are /l/, a liquid consonant.)

imperfect (or near): a rhyme between a stressed and an unstressed syllable. (wing, caring)

weak (or unaccented): a rhyme between two sets of one or more unstressed syllables. (hammer, carpenter)

semirhyme: a rhyme with an extra syllable on one word. (bend, ending)

forced (or oblique): a rhyme with an imperfect match in sound. (green, fiend; one, thumb)

assonance: matching vowels. (shake, hate) Assonance is sometimes referred to as slant rhymes, along with consonance.

consonance: matching consonants. (rabies, robbers)

half rhyme (or slant rhyme): matching final consonants. (bent, ant)

pararhyme: all consonants match. (tell, tall)

alliteration (or head rhyme): matching initial consonants. (ship, short)

Identical rhymes

Identical rhymes are considered less than perfect in English poetry; but are valued more highly in other literatures such as, for example, rime riche in French poetry.

Though homophones and homonyms satisfy the first condition for rhyming -- that is, that the stressed vowel sound is the same--they do not satisfy the second: that the preceding consonant be different. As stated above, in a perfect rhyme the last stressed vowel and all following sounds are identical in both words.

If the sound preceding the stressed vowel is also identical, the rhyme is sometimes considered to be inferior and not a perfect rhyme after all.[3][4] An example of such a "super-rhyme" or "more than perfect rhyme" is the "identical rhyme", in which not only the vowels but also the onsets of the rhyming syllables are identical, as in gun and begun. Punning rhymes such are "bare" and "bear" are also identical rhymes. The rhyme may of course extend even farther back than the last stressed vowel. If it extends all the way to the beginning of the line, so that there are two lines that sound identical, then it is called a "holorhyme" ("For I scream/For ice cream").

In poetics these would be considered identity, rather than rhyme.

Eye rhyme

Eye rhymes or sight rhymes or spelling rhymes refer to similarity in spelling but not in sound where the final sounds are spelled identically but pronounced differently Examples in English are cough, bough, and love, move.

Some early written poetry appears to contain these, but in many cases the words used rhymed at the time of writing, and subsequent changes in pronunciation have meant that the rhyme is now lost.

Mind rhyme

Mind rhyme is a kind of substitution rhyme similar to rhyming slang, but it is less generally codified and is “heard” only when generated by a specific verse context. For instance, “this sugar is neat / and tastes so sour.” If a reader or listener thinks of the word “sweet” instead of “sour”, then a mind rhyme has occurred.

Classification by position

Rhymes may be classified according to their position in the verse:

tail rhyme (also called end rhyme or rime couйe): a rhyme in the final syllable(s) of a verse (the most common kind)

When a word at the end of the line rhymes with a word in the interior of the line, it is called an internal rhyme.

Holorhyme has already been mentioned, by which not just two individual words, but two entire lines rhyme.

Off-centered rhyme is a type of internal rhyme occurring in unexpected places in a given line. This is sometimes called a misplaced-rhyme scheme, or a Spoken Word rhyme style

Broken rhyme is a type of enjambement producing a rhyme by dividing a word at the line break of a poem to make a rhyme with the end word of another line.

Cross rhyme matches a sound or sounds at the end of a line with the same sound or sounds in the middle of the following (or preceding) line.

A rhyme scheme is the pattern of rhyming lines in a poem.

Old English poetry is mostly alliterative verse. One of the earliest rhyming poems in English is The Rhyming Poem.

As English is a language in which stress is important, lexical stress is one of the factors affecting the similarity of sounds for the perception of rhyme. Perfect rhyme can be defined as the case when two words rhyme if their final stressed vowel and all following sounds are identical.

Some words in English, such as "orange", are commonly regarded as having no rhyme. Although a clever writer can get around this (for example, by obliquely rhyming "orange" with combinations of words like "door hinge" or with lesser-known words like "Blorenge", a hill in Wales), it is generally easier to move the word out of rhyming position or replace it with a synonym ("orange" could become "amber").

One view of rhyme in English is from John Milton's preface to Paradise Lost:

The Measure is English Heroic Verse without Rime, as that of Homer in Greek, and of Virgil in Latin; Rime being no necessary Adjunct or true Ornament of Poem or good Verse, in longer Works especially, but the Invention of a barbarous Age, to set off wretched matter and lame Meeter; grac't indeed since by the use of some famous modern Poets, carried away by Custom...

A more tempered view is taken by W. H. Auden in The Dyer's Hand:

Rhymes, meters, stanza forms, etc., are like servants. If the master is fair enough to win their affection and firm enough to command their respect, the result is an orderly happy household. If he is too tyrannical, they give notice; if he lacks authority, they become slovenly, impertinent, drunk and dishonest.

Forced or clumsy rhyme is often a key ingredient of doggerel.

The first issue of Rhythm was a summer 1911 edition. It was a quarterly until after the Spring 1912 issue, when it began to publish monthly. The final issue under the name Rhythm was published in March 1913; in May 1913, the magazine resumed publication under the name The Blue Review. After publishing additional issues in June and July 1913, the magazine then ceased publication.

The magazine, sometimes referred to as a "little magazine", was focused primarily on literature, music, art, and theatre.

Throughout its history, the magazine was edited by John Middleton Murry, with Katherine Mansfield serving as the associate editor from June 1912 until the magazine folded. Its title was borrowed from a major painting of a female nude (a drawing of which appears on its front cover) by J. D. Fergusson who became its art editor.[1] The magazine went through three separate publishers: it began with St Catherine Press; when it became a monthly, it was published by Stephen Swift & Co. Under the name The Blue Review, it was published by Martin Secker.

Definitions and main Specifications of Stylistic Devices

translation alliteration stylistic rhetoric

Style has been an object of study from ancient times. Aristotle, Cicero and Quintillian treated Style as the proper adornment of thought.

An essayist or an orator is expected to frame his ideas with the help of sentences and choose figures suitable for his mode of discourse.

Arthur Schopenhauer's definition of Style as “the physiognomy of the mind” suggests that “no matter how calculatingly choices may be made, a writer's Style will bear the mark of his personality. An experienced writer is able to rely on the power of his habitual choices of sounds, words and syntactic patterns to convey his personality of fundamental outlook .”

Many scientists agree on the statement that language is said to have two functions: it serves as a means of communication and also as a means of showing one's thoughts. The first function is called communicative, the second - expressive. In connection with the second function there arises the problem of the interrelation between the thought and its expression. As for the problem of expression J. Middleton Murry considers that “Style is a quality of language which communicates precisely emotions or thoughts or a system of emotions or thoughts peculiar to the author.”

Notwithstanding the fact every writer has his own individual style using a unique combination of language units that make his work easily recognizable the mechanism of the applying SD is still the same. Thus, it is feasible to take up general characteristics of SD when speaking about the individual style of a writer.

Concerning this issue, many scholars are at variance with the typology of SD. At the same time it is difficult to deny that SD must be observed on different levels: phonetic, morphemic, lexical, phraseological and syntactical. I.Galperin adds the utterance level 3.

First of all let us determine what SD proper is. This term is suggested by I.Galperin who considers SD “a conscious and intentional literary use of some of the facts of the language (including expressive means) in which the most essential features (both structural and semantic) of the language forms are raised to a generalized level”4 . Needless to say that most SD may be regarded as aiming at the further intensification of the emotional or logical emphasis. This conscious transformation of language units into a Stylistic Device has been observed by certain linguists whose interest in scientific research have gone beyond the boundaries of grammar. Thus A. Potebnja writes, “As far back as in Ancient Rome and Greece and with few exceptions up to the present time the definition of the figurative use of a word has been based on the contrast between ordinary speech used in its own, natural, primary meaning and transferred speech.

Style as a Specific Problem of Literary Translation

First, we would like to dwell upon the Literary Translation versus translation proper, for Literary Translation issues (such as style) spring from the peculiarities of its methods and techniques.

V. Comissarov suggests dichotonomous aspect of translation based on predominant communicative function of the source text. Thus, he distinguishes between Literary and Informative translation on the one hand and between Written and Oral translation on the other hand.

“The main function of Literary Translation, he continues, is to make an emotional or aesthetic impression upon the reader. Communicative value of literary texts depends first and foremost on their artistic quality and the translator's primary task is to reproduce this quality of translation, whereas main function of informative translation is to convey a certain amount of ideas, to inform the reader. However, he adds, translations of same texts can be listed as Literary or Informative only as an approximation. A literary text may include some of purely informative character and informative translation may comprise some elements aimed at achieving an aesthetic effect” .

Susan Basset, a British scientist, is interested in structural approach seeing translation as a semiotic transformation that deals with “invariant core of the SL”. Following A. Popovitch she affirms that “Semiotic transformations or variants are those changes which do not modify the core of meaning but influence the expressive form”. This statement can be interpreted as a main problem of any literary translation: how to render expressive means of the Source Text, in other words - its style. S. Basset affirms that specific problems of Literary Translation can emerge from the individual translator's criteria. She believes that failure of many translators to understand that “a literary translation, which is made up of a complex set of systems existing in a dialectical relationship with other sets outside its boundaries, has often led translators to focus on particular aspects of a text at the expense of others.” Her statements derive from principles of Structuralism which consider literary text as a set of related systems operating within a set of other systems.

After the overview of Literary Translation we think feasible to narrow and specify the problem. As to investigation of Literary Translation concerning its style, A.Feodorov singles out 3 kinds of “translation material”: Scientific literature, Publicist and socio-political texts, Fiction.

He fairly notices that fiction is art, thus the role of image here is crucially important, for art thinks by means of images. It should be taken into account when analyzing literary translation.

Needless to say that techniques mostly characteristic of informative translation cannot be applied to the literary one.

Besides Feodorov, Barhudarov, Comissarov and others I.Retzker establishes the specific techniques typical of different texts meaning their different styles and kinds of translations.

Thus, when translating a scientific text “the determinative point is the term-equivalence, the permanent correspondence that does not depend on the context. “High frequency current” is always “ток высокого напряжения”.

As to translation of socio-political or publicist texts there an analogue-finding technique can be applied. It presupposes selection of a synonym that will perfectly fit the context.

E.g.: The press proprietors have taken the Tories' point and for many years the noisy presses of Fleet Street have skillfully maintain an almost total silence on Irish affairs. It was an effective blackout.

Магнаты прессы усвоили точку зрения консерваторов и на протяжении многих лет крикливые органы печати Флит-Стрит не обмолвились ни словом о положении дел в Северной Ирландии. Это был настоящий заговор молчания.

Though, in dictionary “blackout” is translated as “исчезновение сигнала”, “засекречивание” the contextual synonymic expression “заговор молчания” perfectly fits the context.

And at last, when translating fiction the technique of adequate substitution is largely applied. For example, translation of Ch.Dikkence`s “American Notes” made by T.Kudreavtseva.

However, they booked twelve people inside and the luggage, including such trifles as a large rocking chair and a good-sized dining table being at length made fast upon the roof, we started off in great state.

The translator, feeling the irony of this scene (rocking chair and dining table plus 12 people for one carriage is really a trifle), uses adequate substitution technique, expressively differentiating the meaning of the neutral word “book”.

Как бы то ни было, в карету запихали двенадцать пассажиров, и когда багаж (включая такую мелочь как большая качалка и внушительных размеров обеденный стол), был, наконец, привязан на крыше, мы торжественно двинулись в путь.

“To translate a thought exactly, writes T.Retzker, the translator should not follow the form of the ST but take it as a single whole, though consisting of contents, main ideas and style”.

Undoubtedly, every translator has his own method of rendering the style of the original text. If you ask, for instance, several translators to translate one and the same poem there will be definitely several different pieces of literature. More over, in the History of Literary Translation there are many colourful pictures of different literary currents. Method of Modernistic translation, for example, is extremely subjective, introducing subjective style of translation, change of main ideas and images. Romanticism insists on making things mysterious and introducing fantasy elements (basically in poetry).Formalistic Approach opts for literal rendering of every minute element of the ST.

Concerning the translation method some Soviet scientists suggested the term “realistic translation” that substituted the term “adequate” or “full-fledged” translation. According to G. Gachechiladze translation is the reflection of the original text just as the latter is the reflection of reality.

Having covered some bullet-points of the theory and historical outlook of Literary Translation we would like to approach closer to the style rendering problem within it.

The stylistic equivalence pursuit is the corner stone of Literary Translation. Style retaining is a highly problematic goal and it cannot be achieved completely. Concerning this issue, I.Leviy believes that Literary Translation is a hybrid.

It is not a monolith work of literature, but interpenetration and conglomeration of two structures: on the one hand - contents and stylistic peculiarities of the original text, on the other hand - the whole complex of specific stylistic features characteristic of translator's language. In the work of literature i.e. translation these two stratums are in the state of permanent tension, that can results in a contradiction.

The translator is to iron out the contradiction thus, achieving stylistic correspondence. Sometimes a minute detail will be enough for the reader to feel translator's failure in doing that.

As a matter of fact, it happens when translator either weakens the style or resorts to unnecessary exaggerations.

G.Gachechiladze speculates a lot on stylistic weakening opposing it to the full-fledged literary translation, “The main goal of Literary Translation is the enriching of the national literature and serving its interests, whereas literal translation sets the opposite goal - to reproduce the form of the original text.”

For example, the famous Goethe`s poem “The song of the stranger in the night” was translated by several Russian poets, “but only Lermontov managed to render the spirit of this poem”, writes Gachechiladze.

M. Lermontov: V. Briusov:

Горные вершины На всех вершинах

Спят во тьме ночной, Покой;

Тихие долины В листве, в долинах

Полны свежей мглой; Ни одной

Не пылит дорога, Не дрогнет черты.

Не дрожат листы Птицы спят в молчании бора

Подожди немного Подожди только: скоро

Отдохнешь и ты. Уснешь и ты.

Comparing these two poems we realize why namely Lermontov`s poem became a masterpiece, notwithstanding V.Briusov keeps to more exact correspondence of lexical units and prosody.

In Russia literal translation was a real opposition to those who were eager to preserve the inner essence of the original text. For instance, famous and respectable poet A.Fet was the apologist of literalism. He writes, “The translator is happy when he manages, at least partially, to achieve the beauty of form that is inseparable from the original text. The main task of translation is to be literal. No matter it can sound heavy and uneven; the reader with an artistic flair will feel the power of the original text” .

Logic prompts us if even there is a reader with an artistic flair he will not actually need this sort of translation (what about his good taste?). He would rather read the original. Or, perhaps, he would be interested in comparing two texts out of curiosity? Then what is the main function of Literary Translation - to satisfy the inquisitive reader? With retaining the inner essence of the original text, Gacheciladze points out one interesting detail: the translator must find the “stylistic key” with the help of which translator does not merely translates SD given in the ST using stylistic potential of a separate word. He translates the complex interaction of these Stylistic Devices with the main idea and author's individual style, thus rendering the “tone” of the ST.

Adequate substitutions briefly reviewed in this Chapter can be interpreted as indispensable constituents of the “stylistic key”.

Let us take B.Zahoder`s translation.

“…They (bees) might think you were only part of the tree.”

“…Они могут подумать, что это листик”

“Часть дерева”, being translated literally, will sound much worse - it is not the style of a book meant for children.

Much attention was paid by different scholars to literalism (weakening of the style), however, I.Leviy warns us about the opposite phenomenon - the deliberate exaggeration of some stylistic elements in the ST.

Unlike Alan Duff he considers that “the translator has no right to embellish”. K.Tchukovsky, a famous Russian writer and translator, who wrote a lot about translation, gives vivid examples concerning unnecessary exaggerations, “Balmont translates “лоно” instead of “грудь”, “стяг” instead of “флаг” and “подъемлю” instead of “поднимаю”.

“Balmont, writes K. Tchukovsky, is ashamed that Witmen uses such a plain language. That is why he sweetens Witmen`s poems with Slovonicisms” .55 Summing up all analyzed ideas and phenomena we should bear in mind that techniques acceptable for the Informative Translation are inadmissible for the Literary one. Beauty does not exclude the accuracy. What is more, it should not be interpreted as prettiness and accuracy as literalism.


1 The New Encyclopedia Britannica, USA, 1994, vol. 11, p. 338

2 J. Middleton Murry The Problem of Style, London, Oxford University Press, 1961, p. 71

3 I.Galperin Stylistics, M., 1971, p. 26

4 I.Galperin Ibidem, p. 28

5 А.Потебня Теоретическая поэтика, M., 1990, с. 158

6 Ю.Скребнев Стилистика английского языка, M., 1960, c. 11-95

7 V.Kukharenco A Book of Practice in Stylistics, M., 1986, p. 10-84

8 И.Арнольд Стилистика современного английского языка, M., 1990, с. 54

9 И. Арнольд Ibidem, p. 56

10 The example is taken from И.Арнольд Стилистика современного английского языкa, M., 1990, с. 54

11 И.Арнольд Ibidem, c. 61

12 F.C.Prescot The poetic Mind, New-York, 1953, p. 122

13 I.Galperin Stylistics, M., 1971, p.136

14 V.Kukharenco A Book of Practice in Stylistics, M., 1986, p. 40

15 А.Автенъева О типологических соответствиях стилистических приёмов английского и русского языков in the book Контрастивное исследование оригинала и перевода художественного текста. Сборник научных трудов, Одесса, 1986, c.37

16 V.Kukharenko Seminars in Style, M., 1971, p. 25

17 I.Galperin Stylistics,M., 1971, p. 132

18 В.Кухаренко Индивидуалъно-художественный стилъ и его исследование, Киев- Одесса, 1980, c. 53

19 Э. Азнаурова Очерки по стилистике слова, Ташкент, 1973, c. 20

20 M.Кузнец, Ю.Скребнев Стилистика английского языка, M., 1960, с. 35

21 I.Galperin Stylistics, M., 1971, p. 141

22 I.Galperin Ibidem, M., 1971, p. 142

23 I.Galperin Stylistics, M., 1971, p. 152

24 This classification was suggested by V.Kukharenco

25 I. Galperin Stylistics, M., 1971, p. 159.

26 V. Kukharenco A Book of Practice in Stylistics, M., 1986, p.71

27 Geniusas A digest of Style, Riga, 1972, p. 81.

28 I. Galperin Ibidem, p.164

29 I. Galperin Ibidem, p. 166

30 I. Galperin Ibidem, p. 166

31 Galperin Ibidem, p.169

32 A. Потебня Теоретическая поэтика, М., 1990, c. 123

33 V.Kukharenco A Book of Practice in Stylistics, M., 1986, p.76

34 M. Кузнец, Ю. Скребнев Стилистика английского языка, М., 1960, c. 51

35 I.Galperin Stylistics, M., 1971, p.181

36 I.Galperin Stylistics, M., 1971, p. 210

37 Geniusas A digest of Style, Riga, 1972, p.112

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