Stylistics and translation

Authored by: Jean Boase-Beier

The Routledge Handbook of Translation Studies and Linguistics

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  December  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138911260
eBook ISBN: 9781315692845
Adobe ISBN:


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How do style and translation interact? What is a stylistic approach to translation and what is a translational approach to stylistics? These are the central questions that this chapter attempts to answer. It begins by considering the location of stylistics with respect to both linguistics and to the study of literature, tracing its origins in early work of the Prague and Moscow Linguistic Circles, and setting its development alongside that of the discipline of translation studies. Both disciplines are concerned with similar linguistic issues: the relation of meaning to form; the choices the originator of a text makes; how these choices are reconstructed by the reader. For stylistics, we can gain interesting insights into the minute detail of a text, and the relations between its form and its meaning, by confronting the text with its translations. For translation studies, conversely, we can consider what a stylistic approach involves and what questions it raises: questions about the role of style in the production of the translation and in its reception. We must also ask in what sense stylistics can affect the practice of translation; one way of doing this is to consider how a stylistically-aware translation might differ from one that takes less account of the nuances of style. Future research might take this practical question further, paying more attention to the way a reader processes the stylistic detail of a translated text, and asking to what extent reading on the assumption that a translated text does not differ in any interesting way from its source text differs from a reading that takes full account of the fact that the translation has changed the text stylistically, and incorporated elements of the style of the translator.

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