The cognitive potential of antithesis: 'To be or not to be' in Hamlet's signature soliloquy


SHURMA Svitlana LU Wei-lun

Year of publication 2018
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source English Text Construction
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Keywords antithesis; blend; conceptual oxymoron; mapping; parallel texts
Description This paper investigates the working of antithesis in Shakespeare’s most famous soliloquy “To be or not to be” and its three Ukrainian translations. In cognitive poetics, antithesis is often viewed as a verbal variety of conceptual oxymoron. However, this paper argues for distinguishing antithesis from conceptual oxymoron based on consideration of the different processes at work behind their creation and reading. Significantly, in antithesis the emergent meaning retains the dichotomy of two input spaces rather than creating a new one, as happens in conceptual oxymoron. In this context, we consider antithesis in English-Ukrainian translations against the backdrop of Kaluża’s (1984) reflection on asymmetry and irreversibility in antithesis. As will be seen, renditions into Ukrainian change the perception of the original antithesis prompted by structural and semantic changes in the translations.

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