Descriptive clashes: Between standardisation and dynamisation of translated description



Year of publication 2014
Type Chapter of a book
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description This paper explores the translational poetics of descriptive passages in translations of fiction from English to Czech made in the past few decades, with a focus on figurative language and its transformations. These passages are expected to be the locus of two opposing tendencies: a more general tendency called 'standardization', and 'dynamization of description', and a tendency more specific to the current Czech literary system, both frequently involving shifts between figurative and non-figurative ways of expression. 'Standardization', a process believed to characterize translation in general whereby textemes tend to be converted to repertoremes (Toury 1995) – and whereby figurative elements are often rendered in their (more) literal meanings – has been postulated in theory as well as studied empirically. Fedrová and Jedličková, two Czech literary scholars, have recently evidenced and discussed a widespread tendency in Czech literary scholarship to underestimate description as a fictional text type: largely due to the legacy of functional approaches to literary style, pure forms of (realistic) description are systematically viewed as inferior to "modern" forms of description with attributes such as "evocative", "subjective", "contextualized" and "dynamized". This dynamization often involves an increase in figurativeness. This paper presents the results of a study made on a corpus of fictional descriptive passages (namely descriptions of place taken from 20th century British, American and Canadian novels) and explores the interaction of these two opposing tendencies and relates the findings to the concepts of figurativeness, functional approach, and translator habitus.