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Salman Rushdie’s iconic syntax and its French translation


Among the varied “stylistic liberties” (Harrison, 1992: 61) that characterize Salman Rushdie’s baroque writing style, two opposite syntactic peculiarities stand out, which I have named ‘the syntax of continual flow’ and ‘the syntax of restraint’. Both mark “exophoric” iconicity (Nöth, 2001: 22) for they mirror the fictional world of Rushdie’s narratives. The iconic ‘syntax of continual flow’, which is achieved through “psychological sequencing” and “juxtaposition” (Leech & Short 1981: 190; 192-193), mimics the protagonist’s inner state, while the iconic ‘syntax of restraint’, which consists of very short and elliptical constructions, reflects the tense atmosphere of the depicted scene. This paper aims to discover how this mainly “diagrammatic” iconicity (Fischer & Nänny 1999: xxii-xxiii) can be translated into French. It therefore consists in an analysis of two selected extracts from Midnight’s Children (1981) and their French translation by Jean Guiloineau. It turns out that, owing to the discrepancies between the English and the French syntactic constraints (Guillemin-Flescher 1981), the translator cannot simply mimic the English text's iconicity. Yet Guiloineau managed to preserve it thanks to some measure of compensation, either by simplifying and clarifying the structure of the text and the meaning conveyed or through his clever choice of determiners, whose combination provides both exophoric and endophoric iconicity.
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hal-01562656 , version 1 (16-07-2017)


  • HAL Id : hal-01562656 , version 1


Mariane Utudji. Salman Rushdie’s iconic syntax and its French translation. 11th International Symposium on Iconicity in Language and Literature, Dr Pamela Perniss (University of Brighton); Prof Dr Olga Fischer (University of Amsterdam) ; Prof Dr Christina Ljungberg (University of Zurich), Apr 2017, Brighton, United Kingdom. ⟨hal-01562656⟩
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