Figuration, Translation and Linguistic Processing: Metonymy as a Metaphor for Translation

Denroche, C. 2015. Figuration, Translation and Linguistic Processing: Metonymy as a Metaphor for Translation. 5th RaAM Specialized Seminar on Metaphors in/and/of Translation. University of Leiden, The Netherlands 11 Jun 2015

TitleFiguration, Translation and Linguistic Processing: Metonymy as a Metaphor for Translation
AuthorsDenroche, C.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

Over the years, many scholars have recognized the importance of figuration in translation. Early work presents checklists for dealing with ‘troublesome’ idioms (eg Dagut 1976, Broeck 1981), while more recent work applies Cognitive Metaphor Theory to investigate how metaphor patterns lexis across translated texts (Schäffner 2004, Schäffner & Shuttleworth 2013). In this paper, I suggest that figurative thinking plays an even more important role in translation than has heretofore been indicated, but that it is metonymic rather than metaphoric thinking which has this essential role. I propose that ‘metonymic processing’, “the recognition of relatedness between signs and parts of signs” (Denroche 2015), is at the very heart of translation and that it is on this which a translator’s mental effort is mostly expended. I characterize translation as: the sequential manipulation of partial matches between language fragments of different lengths, within and between languages, and the making of judgements regarding the relative appropriateness of these pairings. I revisit concepts from Translation Studies in terms of metonymy, namely ‘oblique translation’ (Vinay & Darbelnet 1958), ‘indeterminacy’ (Quine 1960), ‘shift’ (Catford 1965), ‘feature analysis’ (Nida 1964), ‘synecdoque’ (Lederer 1976) and ‘fuzziness’ (Bell 1991), though it is the theoretical work of cognitivists working in the area of Metonymy Studies, eg Barcelona (2002), Radden (2005) and Langacker (2009), which provides the foundation for the Metonymic Theory of Translation proposed here. The thesis is supported by case studies of trainee and professional translators working between Italian/English and German/English. I claim that a metonymic approach to translation, one which recognizes the partial nature of meaning making and our ability to manage part-whole correspondences, has positive implications for the training of translators by offering a more flexible, enabling and creative paradigm in which to work. Metaphor in this context no longer seems aberrant and translating metaphor no longer troublesome.

Keywordstranslation, metonymy, metaphor, figuration, figurative thinking, metonymic processing, cognitive linguistics, training
Year2015
Conference5th RaAM Specialized Seminar on Metaphors in/and/of Translation

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