Salman Rushdie’s compound adjectives: a challenge for Romance language translators

Abstract : The word formation process known as “compounding” is a highly productive morphological operation in English. It is a means for writers to create striking phrases as it enables them to encapsulate an implicit syntactic relation, a substantial semantic content, in a brief phrase made of two or more words. Rushdie has extensively resorted to this device in his works of fiction. His second novel, Midnight’s Children (1981), is thus riddled with non lexicalised compound nouns and adjectives. The adjectives, which take different forms (N+V, N+N-ed, N+A, etc.), convey vivid images, be they metaphorical or not. Some of them are all the more salient and striking as the meaning they convey is uncommon and unexpected: their semantic content is heterogeneous and the syntactic relation they imply is both intricate and outlandish. For instance, the compound “spittoon-brained” actually means “suffering from brain damage because one’s head has been hit by a spittoon”. Unfortunately, unlike Germanic languages, Romance languages don’t usually allow for such compounding for they are quite analytical. Rushdie's creative compounds therefore can't be preserved as such in the French version of the novel. This study aims to find out how the translator dealt with these lexical creations. It focuses on a few paradigmatic examples of this stylistic device and their translation in order to bring to light the translator’s approach and strategies. The trickiest compounds turn out to be the most salient ones : their underlying unconventional syntactic relations could not be reconstituted in extenso in French since their brevity and density had to be retained. As there is no predetermined solution for that kind of translation problem, only creative strategies were effective. The translator thus managed to preserve the striking effect of most of Rushdie’s compounds either by inventing neologisms derived from a single stem or by composing semantically dense phrases.
Type de document :
Communication dans un congrès
International conference Moving Texts – mediations and transculturations, Jul 2017, Aveiro, Portugal. 〈http://cllc.web.ua.pt/pm/?q=en/node/116〉
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https://hal-univ-paris3.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01562670
Contributeur : Mariane Utudji <>
Soumis le : dimanche 16 juillet 2017 - 20:52:30
Dernière modification le : dimanche 4 février 2018 - 15:54:21

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Mariane Utudji. Salman Rushdie’s compound adjectives: a challenge for Romance language translators. International conference Moving Texts – mediations and transculturations, Jul 2017, Aveiro, Portugal. 〈http://cllc.web.ua.pt/pm/?q=en/node/116〉. 〈hal-01562670〉

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