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Communication Dans Un Congrès Année : 2017

Salman Rushdie’s compound adjectives: a challenge for Romance language translators


The word formation process known as “compounding” is a highly productive morphological operation in English. It is a means for writers to create striking phrases as it enables them to encapsulate an implicit syntactic relation, a substantial semantic content, in a brief phrase made of two or more words. Rushdie has extensively resorted to this device in his works of fiction. His second novel, Midnight’s Children (1981), is thus riddled with non lexicalised compound nouns and adjectives. The adjectives, which take different forms (N+V-ing, N+V-en, N+N-ed, Adv.+V-en, etc.), convey vivid images, be they metaphorical or not. Some of them are all the more salient as the meaning they convey is uncommon and unexpected: their semantic content is heterogeneous and the syntactic relation they imply is both intricate and outlandish. For instance, the compound “spittoon-brained” actually means “suffering from brain damage because one’s head has been hit by a spittoon”. Unfortunately, unlike Germanic languages, Romance languages don’t usually allow for such compounding for they are quite analytical. Rushdie's creative compound adjectives therefore cannot be preserved as such in the French version of the novel. This study aims to find out how the translator dealt with these lexical creations. It focuses on a few paradigmatic examples and their translations in order to bring to light the most effective translation strategies. The trickiest compound adjectives turn out to be the most salient ones : their underlying unconventional syntactic relations could not be reconstituted in extenso in French for their brevity and density had to be retained. As there is no predetermined solution for that kind of translation problem, only creative strategies are appropriate. The translator thus managed to preserve the striking effect of most of Rushdie’s compounds by composing new lexical units through varied processes such as transposition, conversion and affixation.
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hal-01562670 , version 1 (16-07-2017)


  • HAL Id : hal-01562670 , version 1


Mariane Utudji. Salman Rushdie’s compound adjectives: a challenge for Romance language translators. International conference Moving Texts – mediations and transculturations, Abdelilah Suisse; Aline Ferreira; Katrin Herget; Márcia Seabra Neves; Maria Eugénia Pereira; Noemí Perez; Natália Alves; Nuno Rosmaninho; Teresa Alegre; Ana Maria Alves; Filomena Amorim, Jul 2017, Aveiro, Portugal. ⟨hal-01562670⟩
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