Free Indirect Discourse in the Translation into Finnish: The Case of D.H. Lawrence’s Women in Love

Tarja Rouhiainen

Free indirect discourse (FID) is a narrative technique which purports to convey a character’s mental language while maintaining third-person reference and past tense. This paper deals with the problems the use of FID may create for Finnish translators of English literary narratives. A comparative analysis of D.H. Lawrence’s Women in Love and its translation into Finnish shows that the translator’s treatment of the pronouns he/she may shift the viewpoint from the character’s consciousness to the narrator’s discourse. The article concludes with the question of what stylistic norms could explain the translator’s avoidance of the spoken-language simulation typical of the source text.

Table of contents

Finnish translators of English literary narratives are familiar with what might be called the ‘trap’ of the third-person personal pronouns he/she. Namely, in Finnish there is only one third-person singular personal pronoun, hän, which [ p. 110 ]is not marked for gender. Therefore, ambiguities and grammatical oddities often arise if the English pronouns are indeed replaced by hän. The usual solution in these cases is to resort to the strategy of explicitation; i.e. to use more specific forms of reference, such as proper names, proforms like mies (‘the man’), tyttö (‘the girl’), or the demonstrative pronoun tämä (‘this’), to enable the reader to correctly identify the referent. The following example comes from a short story by Ernest Hemingway, “A Very Short Story” (1a), and its Finnish translation by Kalevi Nyytäjä (1b). A back-translation into English, as literal a rendering as possible, is given after the TT version:

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