Repetition and signification: A study of textual accountability and perlocutionary effect in literary translation

Chunshen Zhu

Abstract

The paper begins with an overview of the relevance of functional/text linguistics, skopos theory, and the cultural-studies approach to the study of (literary) translation. It then examines the textual significance of leitmotifs as ‘vertical translation units’, since both are found to be related to repetitions of a rank-free text element in formulating a network of signification. In leitmotif-conscious translating, it argues, the accountability between the source and target texts can be observed at this level of textual network, while the translation, as a literary text, may induce different perlocutionary effects when functioning in a different cultural milieu.

Keywords:
Table of contents

The development of a purpose-oriented functional theory of translation, or skopos theory, in the 1970s and 1980s and through the 1990s has been generally perceived as a movement in Translation Studies to break free from the grip of the “static linguistic typologies of translation shifts” (Munday 2001: 73). The same period has seen in linguistics the rise of systemic-functional linguistics and text linguistics, which are likewise function-concerned and goal- or purpose-oriented, and which together constitute a parallel movement to break free from the static linguistic tradition in which “syntax and semantics were studied with little regard for the ways people use grammar and meaning in communication” (de Beaugrande and Dressler 1981: 31).

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