The use of deictic reference in identifying point of view in Grazia Deledda’s Canne al Vento and its translation into English

Jane Johnson

Abstract

Point of view in narrative has been identified in literary stylistics through the use of deixis, modality, transitivity and Free Indirect Discourse. These findings have also been applied to literature in translation (Bosseaux 2007). This article focuses on deictic cues in the narrative structure of Canne al Vento by Grazia Deledda in the original Italian and the English translation, following an earlier study focussing on constructing a particular point of view through mental processes of perception, the translation of which did not always reflect that point of view (Johnson 2010). Data emerging from a corpus-assisted study is examined qualitatively using a systemic-functional model in order to assess to what extent the point of view constructed by these cues in the ST is conveyed in the novel in translation.

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Studies in literary stylistics (e.g. Uspensky 1973; Fowler 1986; Simpson 1993; Leech & Short 2007 [1981]; etc.) have focussed on the identification of point of view in narrative through an investigation of deixis, modality, transitivity and expression of Free Indirect Discourse (FID). Research focussing on these elements has been applied to investigate both literary (e.g. Halliday 1971) and non-literary texts (e.g. Douthwaite 2007). Related studies of literature in translation (e.g. Bosseaux 2007; Munday 2008) have compared the effectiveness of the translation strategies used in conveying the point of view created by the source text author. Common to these studies has been a focus on the lexical cues signalling modality, transitivity and deixis, including personal pronouns, tense and time adverbs, place adverbs and other locative expressions; and many have employed a systemic-functional model, [ p. 63 ]the use of which is particularly appropriate in descriptive translation studies since it is based “on the hypothesis that small shifts at the lexicogrammatical level might, in certain passages or over the course of a whole translation, shift the higher level framework of the text” (Munday 2008: 31), since “[i]f a pattern of lexicogrammatical shifts or an inconsistency in the treatment of point of view is identified, this could affect the discourse semantics and alter the larger point of view framework from which a story is told” (ibid.).

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