Publication details [#681]

May, Rachel. 1997. Sensible elocution: how translation works in & upon punctuation. The Translator 3 (1) : 1–20.
Publication type
Article in jnl/bk
Publication language
Source language
Target language
Person as a subject


Modernist fiction uses punctuation, along with such syntactic structures as conjunction and parataxis, in experimental ways, for visual effect or to highlight the interplay of textual voices. This is a break with historical uses of punctuation to mark rhetorical periods for oral delivery or to clarify sentences and delineate their grammatical structure. For translators, it appears that the clarifying, or editorial approach is still the most comfortable one, even when they are translating modernist prose. A study of Russian and French translations of the writings of Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner reveals regular patterns of alteration of punctuation and syntax, as translators resolve incomplete phrases or separate intertwined voices. The case is made for close attention in translation to the topology of expectations and interrelations that modernist syntax and punctuation establish.
Source : Abstract in journal