Translating a Poem, from a Linguistic Perspective

Elżbieta Tabakowska

To bridge the unfortunate gap between "literature" and "language", literary critics, including critics of translation, should make use of what linguists have to say about language. Out of modern linguistic theories, Cognitive Linguistics seems particularly promising. On the basis of Robert Frost's poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay " and one of its Polish translations, the author demonstrates how intuitive interpretations and assessments are corroborated by a strictly linguistic analysis, which is carried out in the cognitivist vein. In particular, the interplay of two grammatical oppositions—between perfective and imperfective verb forms and between countable and mass nouns—is shown to be a means of direct symbolisation of meaning. Translation losses are then discussed—some unavoidable in view of systematic discrepancies between linguistic conventions, others a compromise imposed by the demands of versification.

Table of contents

"The parts as parts, but with a feeling for the whole"

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