Chapter published in:Operationalizing Iconicity
Edited by Pamela Perniss, Olga Fischer and Christina Ljungberg
[Iconicity in Language and Literature 17] 2020
► pp. 168–182
Salman Rushdie’s iconic syntax and its translation into French
Among the varied stylistic liberties that characterise Salman Rushdie’s baroque writing style, two opposite syntactic peculiarities stand out. The ‘syntax of continual flow’, which is achieved through psychological sequencing and juxtaposition, tends to mimic the protagonist’s inner state, while the ‘syntax of restraint’, which consists of very short and elliptical constructions, reflects the tense atmosphere of the depicted scene. Both mark exophoric iconicity in that they mirror the diegesis of Rushdie’s narratives. This paper aims to discover how this diagrammatic iconicity can be translated into French. It consists in an analysis of two selected extracts from Midnight’s Children (1981), Rushdie’s second novel, and their French translations by Jean Guiloineau. It turns out that, owing to the discrepancies between the English and the French syntactic systems and constraints, the translator cannot simply mimic the syntax of the original text. Yet its iconicity can be preserved through an approach based on custom-made strategies. Rushdie’s iconic syntax of continual flow can only be preserved if the translator compensates for its lack of punctuation marks by resorting to small syntactic and semantic modifications aiming to ensure that his version is comprehensible enough. As for the syntax of restraint, although its main device, the zero article, generally cannot be retained in French, the translator may manage to recreate its iconicity through an appropriate and consistent combination of determiners.
Published online: 13 May 2020
Fischer, O. and Nänny M.
Fischer, O. and Nänny, M.
Leech, G. N. and Short, M. H.
Peirce, C. S.