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 linked together by hyphens. 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 as the meaning they convey is uncommon and unexpected: their foregrounding is also due to their semantic heterogeneity and the outlandish syntactic relation they imply. 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 compounds therefore can’t be preserved as such in the French translation. My study focuses on a few paradigmatic examples of these compound adjectives and their official French translation. It aims at bringing to light the translator’s approach and the editing process that was achieved. It turns out that Rushdie’s most deviant compounds are the trickiest: both their oddity and their brevity have to be retained in the translation, so that the translator can’t simply reconstitute their underlying syntactic relation in extenso. As there is no predetermined solution for that kind of translation problem, only creative strategies are effective. The translator has thus managed to recreate Rushdie’s most unconventional compounds either by inventing neologisms derived from a single stem or by composing semantically dense phrases. To that extent, the striking effect of these compounds was successfully preserved.
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 17 septembre 2017 - 14:45:24

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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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