Chapter published in:Reflections on Translation Theory: Selected papers 1993 - 2014
[Benjamins Translation Library 132] 2017
► pp. 213–221
The unbearable lightness of English words
The paper postulates a “rhetorical salience threshold” which may have different heights in different languages. This threshold marks the point at which a given item of information or component of meaning is judged to be salient enough to be worth expressing. In translation, if source and target languages have different salience thresholds, rhetorical adjustments may need to be made which have the effect of “toning down” or “toning up” the salience. If there is no such rhetorical compensation, the translation may sound either “too pompous” or “a bit pathetic”. Evidence is offered which suggests that Finnish and English have different salience thresholds: the English threshold seems lower than the Finnish one.
Keywords: salience, silence, Finnish, shifts, Contrastive Analysis