Two models for metaphor translation

James Dickins

This paper establishes both full and simplified models for the textual analysis of metaphor in a translation context (Section 1). I present the comparison theory of metaphor (Section 2), show how this can be integrated with the notions of lexicalization and non-lexicalization (Section 3) and consider the semantic purposes of metaphor (Section 4).

The remainder of the paper focuses on the translation of metaphor, starting with more abstract langue-oriented notions. I offer a critique and revision of Newmark’s (1988) metaphor typology (Section 5), and demonstrate how the revised typology can be integrated with the notions of lexicalization and non-lexicalization (Section 6). I then consider Lakoff and Johnson’s (1980) model of metaphorical ‘schemata’, and propose ways in which this can also be integrated into an overall model (Section 7). I discuss the practical application of this model to Arabic–English translation (Section 8).

In addition to langue-oriented notions, I suggest that a full account of metaphor for translation needs to take into account the more parole-oriented notion of the interaction of metaphors in texts. I consider the notions of metaphorical congruence (Section 9), and metaphorical exuberance and density. Illustrating my arguments with Arabic–English translation data, I suggest that in given registers, different languages may tolerate more or less metaphorical density and exuberance as well as different degrees of metaphorical mixing (Section 10). The paper concludes with a consideration of the kind of ‘Full Model’ one might build up for a detailed academic study of metaphor translation (Section 11).

Table of contents

This paper has two general aims. The first is to identify key features of metaphor which are either specific to metaphor (or to figurative language more generally) or essential for an understanding of how metaphor works (though they have more general overall application), and to show how these can be combined into a composite model to provide at least a partial textual analysis of metaphor, and consequently, provide insights into metaphor translation. I shall refer to this overall composite model in subsequent discussion as the Full Model.

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