inferencing allusions intertextuality and metaphors l.
Skip this Video
Loading SlideShow in 5 Seconds..
Inferencing , allusions, intertextuality and metaphors PowerPoint Presentation
Download Presentation
Inferencing , allusions, intertextuality and metaphors

Loading in 2 Seconds...

play fullscreen
1 / 52

Inferencing , allusions, intertextuality and metaphors - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on

Inferencing , allusions, intertextuality and metaphors. Translation processes imply cognition. Cognitive analysis of the translation process has shifted the focus from TEXT to MENTAL PROCESSES. One of the main features of cognition is INFERENCING the right allusions. Example from Newsweek:

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.
Download Presentation

Inferencing , allusions, intertextuality and metaphors

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript
inferencing allusions intertextuality and metaphors
Inferencing, allusions, intertextuality and metaphors

Translation processes imply cognition.

Cognitive analysis of the translation process has shifted the focus from TEXT to MENTAL PROCESSES.

One of the main features of cognition is INFERENCING the right allusions.

Example from Newsweek:

Serge Cardin, a Canadian MP, had to apologize to the House for humming the theme song from The Godfather while Public Works Minister Alfonso Gagliano, who is of Italian descent, addressed Parliament.


Why did the MP have to apologize? Is it for ‘humming’, which is a breach of parliamentary formality?

What is the relevance of the reference to The Godfather? Is it just because this film is a classic?

Why did the author mention ‘Italian descent’?

Which are the relevant parts of this extract?

What do you infer?


relevance theory by sperber and wilson
RELEVANCE THEORY (by Sperber and Wilson)

Communication starts with a STIMULUS (verbal or non verbal) = humming a song

This stimulus guides the hearer (or reader) towards a precise meaning intended by the speaker (INFORMATIVE INTENTION).

Communication and relevance would be compromised if the interaction of stimulus (humming a tune), contextual assumptions (Godfather – Mafia – corrupt minister – Italian descent…) and interpretation (ethnic offence) were disturbed for any reason.

This is what (often) happens when we do not see the point of a joke or the irony of something.



What is the following? What is the source language? Try to translate it in our ‘culture’.

Three friends - Aboriginal, Jew and Australian, spend each night together drinking beer in an outback (entroterra) pub.

One night as they're leaving, a road-train (AusEng autotreno) comes through the town and kills all three. The next day, the publican (oste) is surprised to see the Australian - who assumed dead - walked through the door.

The Australian tells him, "Well, we were all killed, but when we got to the pearly gates (le porte del paradiso), St. Peter said we could come back to earth if we pay him $20.""Well, obviously, you paid up, but what happened to your friends?""The jew's trying to haggle him down to $10, and the aboriginal is trying to convince him that the government will pay for it."



As far as humour is concerned, no matter how well the translator knows the target language, cultural references and polysemous items may involve them in long and complicated explanations, after which the recipient rarely reacts with a laugh.

Thus, a common linguistic code is definitely not all that is needed in order to appreciate humour.

Language and culture are intertwined and without shared knowledge between sender and recipient, a common linguistic code will be almost of no help.

text register in translation and text genre and discourse shifts in translation
Text register in translation and text, genre and discourse shifts in translation

Socio-linguistic varieties: language changes if the context/situation change.

Translation must take into account all variations.

G.B. Shaw – Pygmalion:

The flower girl: I am a good girl, I am.

The flower girl: Ain’t no call to meddle with me, he ain’t.


The Flower Girl is a Cockney user, her ‘variation’ is a dialect, it has geographic origins.

Variations in the use of language are called ‘registers’.

One person may use different registers.

We all use different registers.

Use-related varieties have to do with one’s occupation and the situation in which language is used.

field mode and tenor
Field, mode and tenor

These variables are important to remember:

FIELD = for ex. legal, journalistic, scientific, literary etc.

MODE = written or spoken language.

TENOR = level of formality (style) which is the crucial aspect.

Levels of formality: casual, informal, formal, frozen. Translate the following:


Coming down the pub?


Whataboutgoingto the pub?


You are invited to accompany me to the pub.



let s get back to pygmalion
Let’s get back to Pygmalion

The cinematic version of P. is My Fair Lady, starring Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Dolittle (the Cockney flower girl).

The story revolves around a bet made by the male protagonist who wants to change Eliza into an educated and refined person speaking with an RP.


In English, beyond regional (geographic) varieties we have very marked social varieties.

The British need one or max. two sentences to decide if their interlocutors belong to the upper class, middle class or the many other classes in between.

Eliza Dolittle is a working class Londoner (two connotations, social and geographic).

Her Cockney was rendered into Italian through a strange mixture of South Italian dialects and accents, without any precise belonging.

The purpose was to highlight Eliza’s bad use of language and the fact that Prof. Higgins wanted her to speak a good language (upper class accent).


However, social class Englishes are English.

A mixture of Neapolitan, Apulian and Sicilian are not Italian.


What’s the problem with dubbing and meaning?

Eliza, at the beginning, says to her prof. that she won’t pay him much money because she already knows English. She only needs phonetic ‘help’. That’s why we have the famous sentence used all over the film to train her right pronunciation: THE RAIN IN SPAIN STAYS MAINLY IN THE PLAIN.

This makes sense in English where she has to improve just her accent, but in Italian?

It’s not a question of accent only, but of dialect too.

How is it possible to learn a good Italian by repeating over and over again the sentence:

la rana in Spagna gracida in campagna?


There are some songs sung by Eliza and dubbed into Italian. The problem is that this Italian is perfect also at the beginning of the film when she can’t speak properly.

Another problem relates coherence.

During a horse-race, Eliza answers the question Will it rain do you think? by using the famous sentence ‘the rain in Spain…” pronounced in a perfect way.

Obviously, in the Italian version this would make no sense, there’s no connection between Pensatechepioverà? and la rana … so this part was deleted.

The problem is that the scene goes on with other similar tongue-twisters uttered by Eliza and the result is hilarious in English, while in Italian we don’t understand why people around her laugh.


Texts are means to express and convey socio-cultural meanings.

In this area the concept of intertextuality is central.

Intertextuality is the mechanism through which textual elements convey meaning by virtue of their dependence on other texts.


Intertextual references can be horizontal and vertical (MikhailBakhtin)

H. I. is the concrete, real reference or quotation from other texts.

V. I. is not a real quotation but allusion.

Allusion means an ‘echo’ effect, when we read / listen to something and we think of other texts (biblical style, Shakesperean tone etc.)




For example, film adaptations, that is retellings of famous stories taking only some aspects and not the real words, are examples of V. I.

Many contemporary retellings of Shakespeare’s plays through films - such as 10 Things I Hate About You, loosely based on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew and She's the Man, based on his play Twelfth Night.

The film Last Action Hero which also features an action retake on Hamlet uses intertextuality throughout.


Newspaper headlines are full of V.I.

Silence of the damned (from Silence of the Lambs) (headline about a humanitarian crisis in West Africa)

Blame in Spain (from Rain in Spain) (headline about a friction between Britain and Spain)

The first headline could be easily translated in Italian with………..?

Il silenzio dei dannati (the Italian version of the movie is Il silenzio degli innocenti, there’s only the replacement of one word).

And the second?


Holiday high jinks (baldoria) at 5am land Euan in more trouble

(Daily Telegraph)

You don’t probably catch the intertextuality here, but many British people would.

In this newspaper headline referring to Euan Blair, Tony’s son, the word “Euan”, especially when used in conjunction with “trouble”, for many British people in the summer of 2000 would have recalled images of a fun-loving teenager constantly causing embarrassment to his famous father.

This means that also a simple first name or nickname make people think of other related facts.

In Italy now: iltrota, Ruby…


Prince takes arms against bad English

Can you see intertextuality here?

‘Prince’ here refers to the prince of Wales, but what follows are references to Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

To be, or not to be, that is the question:Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to sufferThe slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,Or to take arms against a sea of troubles

goodnight sweet prince
Goodnight sweet prince

These words are taken from?


From Hell’s last line: Goodnight sweet prince.

In the film The Big Lebowski Walter says, "Goodnight, sweet prince" at Donny's funeral.

"Goodnight, sweet prince" is also said by a gang member after the shooting of Alex Murphy in Robocop.

Hamlet is quoted in the Neil Jordan film, 'Interview With the Vampire'. Claudia, the child-vampire, quotes "Goodnight sweet prince, may flights of devils sing thee to thy rest."

what about dante s inferno
What about Dante’s inferno?

Dante’s Inferno has as a primary character Virgil, the Augustan-era author of the Aeneid.

Similarly, as Dante and Virgil descend through the circles of Hell, they encounter various characters from ancient literature, many of which are represented in Book 4 of the Aeneid, in which Aeneas visits the Underworld.

For example, Cerberus, the three-headed dog and Medusa, the snaky-haired gorgon, just to name a few.

eliot s the waste land is rich in intertextuality
Eliot’s the Waste Land is rich in intertextuality

Eliot refers to Shakespeare, Baudelaire, St. Augustine, Chaucer, Sophocles, ancient mythology etc.

The allusions to the work of Baudelaire are clear in the quotation closing the first part of Eliot’s poem:

“You hypocrite lecteur! - monsemblable, - mon frère!” which is the last line of Baudelaire’s poem “Au Lecteur”: Tu le connais, lecteur, ce monstredélicat, –Hypocrite lecteur,–monsemblable,–mon frère!


Chaucer opens his CT with a positive statement about ‘April’:

When fair April with his showers sweet,Has pierced the drought of March to the root's feetAnd bathed each vein in liquid of such power,Its strength creates the newly springing flower;Eliot opens his WL with a negative statement about ‘April’ (his intention is to recall Chaucer, but with the opposite effect)April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

read the following lines and look for intertextual references
Read the following lines and look for intertextual references


Standing on the beachWith a gun in my handStaring at the seaStaring at the sandStaring down the barrelAt the Arab on the groundI can see his open mouth But I hear no sound I'm alive, I'm dead, I'm the strangerKilling an arabI can turn and walk awayOr I can fire the gunStaring at the skyStaring at the sunWhichever I choseIt amounts to the sameAbsolutely nothing

how beautiful you are
How beautiful you are

You want to know why I hate you?Well I'll try and explain...You remember that day in ParisWhen we wandered through the rainAnd promised to each otherThat we'd always think the same…

The three of them were dressed in ragsAnd thinner than the airAnd all six eyes stared fixedly on youThe father's eyes said "Beautiful! How beautiful you are!"The boy's eyes said "How beautiful! She shimmers like a star!"The child’s eyes uttered nothing but a mute and utter joyAnd filled my heart with shame for usAt the way we are

at night
At night

Sunk deep in the nightI sink in the nightStanding alone underneath the skyI feel the chill of ice on my faceI watch the hours go byThe hours go byYou sleepSleep in a safe bedCurled and protectedProtected from sightUnder a safe roof deep in your houseUnaware of the changes at nightAt nightI hear the darkness breatheI sense the quiet despairListen to the silence at nightSomeone has to be there

intertextuality in popular culture
Intertextuality in popular culture

Watch the following

Pepsi cola commercial

What are the features (visual, auditory, gestural etc.) that make you think of something else?

Further considerations on intertextuality

The Simpson

Can you provide other examples?

(we’ll discuss this slide and the previous 3 on Friday)


The EU is like an orchestra in which the violins must play in perfect unison while maintaining a dialogue with the wind instruments and even interacting with the percussionists, who occasionally burst in loudly as they do in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. At the same time, they are occasionally overshadowed by the violas, but play a key role in creating the power and beauty of that piece of music, which was played splendidly in front of the Brandenburg Gate, in Berlin, when the Wall was taken down.

what is a metaphor to you
What is a metaphor to you?

The power of metaphors.

Functional shortcuts to effective communication.

P. Newmark:

By metaphor, I mean any figurative expression: the transferred sense of a physical word; the personification of an abstraction; the application of a word or collocation to what it does not literally denote, i.e. to describe one thing in terms of another.

All polysemous words and most English phrasal verbs are potentially metaphorical. Metaphors may be ‘single’ (one-word) or ‘extended’ (a collocation, an idiom, a sentence, a proverb, an allegory, a complete imaginative texts).


Whenever you meet a sentence that is grammatical but it does not appear to make sense, you have to test its apparently nonsensical element for a possible metaphorical meaning.


this is a translational perspective
This is a translational perspective

5 types of metaphors:

  • Dead metaphors

At the foot of the bed, in the field of law, at the bottom of the hill etc.

2) Cliché metaphors

Expressions once effective, but now outdated. They should be avoided or explained.

jewel in the crown


3) Stock or standard metaphors

‘Regular’ metaphors which sometimes are the most difficult to understand when they are rooted in one particular culture; consequently the most difficult to express in a TL.

That’s not cricket!

4) Metaphorical neologisms (usually born in teenager jargon or in technology or journalism).

Womaniser (casanova, lady-killer)

To do a line (go out / have a sexual intercourse with somebody)

The fuzz (the police)

Also, cookie, virus, firewall, icon, Silicon Valley, fumatanera, giunglalegislativa.

5) Original metaphors

This type of metaphor is "created by the SL writer", that is ‘invented’. Many times in literature..

Shakespeare created a lot of metaphors: to be in a pickle (in un bruttoguaio) or ‘as dead as a doornail’ (mortostecchito)

how to translate m effectively
How to translate m. effectively?

1) Reproducing the same image in the TT;

2) Replacing the image in the SL with a standard TL image which does not clash with the TL culture (domestication);

3) Translating the metaphor by using a simile, retaining the image;

4) Converting the metaphor to its sense;

5) Reproducing the same image with the addition of a gloss or explanation by the translator.

analysis of examples
Analysis of examples

The following are taken from press releases or speeches by EU commissioners. Analyse the translation of metaphors.


  • We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all who suffer from terrorism in the world. Only we can win.
  • Noi siamo con tutti coloro che hanno sofferto il terrorismo in ogni parte del mondo. Qui e proprio qui – soltanto insieme – potremo vincere.

Questo primo esempio mostra due particolarità interessanti; l’espressione shoulder – to – shoulder viene del tutto eliminata in italiano per cui la metafora inglese viene ridotta al suo senso; inoltre la frase breve e diretta Only we can win, viene resa con aggiunte che sembrano appesantire il testo, ma che sono probabilmente dovute alla necessità di riprodurre l’enfasi posta, nella versione inglese, sul pronome personale we.



  • I now know deep within me that in the months and years to come, I shall continue to fight for a strong Europe in which I believe passionately. The time for lukewarm pledges, half-hearted commitments and hedged bets is over.
  • Ora so senza alcun dubbio che nei mesi e negli anni che verranno continuerò a lottare per dare forza a un’idea decisa e appassionata dell’Europa. Sono finiti i tempi delle posizioni tiepide, degli impegni presi senza convinzione e delle ambiguità.

Nella prima parte in grassetto si nota una notevole variazione lessicale e sintattica.

L’aggettivo strong riferito a Europe, viene reso in modo del tutto differente (dare forza) e l’espressione più soggettiva I believe scompare lasciando il posto a due aggettivi (decisa e appassionata) che si riferiscono all’Europa rendendo l’intera frase più impersonale. Il secondo esempio ci riporta a quanto detto riguardo al primo; le figure dirette, quasi colloquiali, in grassetto vengono addomesticate e adeguate allo stile più formale dei discorsi italiani.



Within the context of the discussions of the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament, the Commission has consulted with stakeholders in order to better understand the issues at hand and where possible, to take their advice on board.

Nell’ambito delle discussioni in corso presso la commissione per la pesca del Parlamento europeo, la Commissione ha avviato un dialogo con l’industria per conoscere e tenere conto, laddove possibile, del suo parere in merito.


In questo caso la frase analizzata nel testo inglese si compone di due parti metaforiche (issues at hand, metafora che probabilmente Newmark riterrebbe morta e to take their advice on board) le quali, ancora una volta, sono in parte ridotte al proprio senso spogliandosi quasi del tutto di metaforicità. Pur rispettando l’intento del redattore di non servirsi della metafora marinara inglese (to take their advice on board) che non ha corso in italiano, egli avrebbe potuto utilizzare soltanto uno dei due verbi in grassetto, tener conto, immagine presa dal calcolo che, da sola, poteva rendere in modo più efficace la metafora inglese.



  • I appreciate therefore your initiative to hold your seminar in Brussels and using this opportunity to profit from first hand information.
  • Apprezzo pertanto la vostra iniziativa di tenere questo seminario a Bruxelles e di cogliere questa occasione per ricavare informazioni di primo piano.

Qui la lingua italiana cerca di conservare la metafora, ma l’autore incappa in una svista traduttiva.

Mai come questa volta si sarebbe potuta lasciare l’immagine integra senza alcuna modifica, traducendo first hand information con informazioni di prima mano e invece si è optato per informazioni di primo piano non rispettando l’intenzione comunicativa perché un’informazione di prima mano non è detto che sia di primo piano e viceversa.


In the absence of clear international law, the law of the jungle applied: across the continent, states did as they liked.This was the backdrop against which the political ideas of the Age of Enlightenment must be seen.

  • In assenza di un diritto internazionale chiaro, si applicava la legge della giungla: da un capo all’altro del continente, i diversi paesi facevano quel che volevano. È su questo sfondo che vanno viste le idee politiche dell’Età dei Lumi.

In questo caso ci troviamo dinanzi a due scelte traduttive; la prima immagine figurata viene rispettata in pieno, quindi appartiene alla prima categoria individuata da Newmark; la seconda, con il sostantivo backdrop, seppur tradotta con un’altra metafora, sfondo (anch’essa da considerarsi metafora morta), non conserva l’intenzione del testo inglese che qui usa backdrop in relazione a un co-testo negativo e probabilmente una scelta diversa, come la collocazione forte triste scenario, sarebbe stata più calzante rispetto a sfondo che è un termine neutro.


Il sostantivo backdrop, se considerato da solo o decontestualizzato, non ha una connotazione negativa in sé, ma se seguito o preceduto dalla preposizione ‘against’ viene utilizzato molte volte per riferirsi ad un contesto drammatico. Consultando l’Oxford Dictionary of Collocations si legge, infatti, il seguente ed unico esempio alla voce ‘backdrop’ con collocato a sinistra ‘against’: The conference begins this week against a backdrop of unmitigated gloom.


Inoltre, svolgendo una semplice ricerca in rete, attraverso il motore di ricerca Google, dell’espressione against a / the backdrop of ecco i primi esempi che troviamo:

  • The USS Cole bombing against the backdrop of Israeli ‘Black Propaganda’ Operations;
  • Against the backdrop of the Israel-Hezbollah War;
  • Criminal Justice advocacy against the backdrop of terror;
  • The political transition closes against a backdrop of impunity: how will the International Criminal Court respond?;
  • Against the backdrop of the increasing threat of a possible attack on Iran;


  • Only in this way would they be able to sing, if not in unison, at least in closer harmony. Our role cannot be reduced to one of ‘painting by numbers’ – simply filling in the blanks on a canvas drawn by others.

What is needed is a sensible and sensitive partnership between the institutions of the Union and the Member States. We should be engaged not in trench warfare, but in a common enterprise to ensure that the world’s largest trading group also makes its presence felt politically.



Solo così essi possono esprimersi se non all’unisono, almeno in modo più armonioso.

Il nostro ruolo non può e non deve ridursi a riempire gli spazi vuoti di un quadro dipinto da altri. Quello di cui c’è bisogno è un partenariato intelligente e sensibile tra le istituzioni dell’Unione e gli Stati membri. Dobbiamo impegnarci non in una guerra di trincea, ma in un’impresa comune per garantire che il blocco commerciale più grande del mondo faccia sentire la sua presenza anche al livello politico.


Anche i due testi presentati si dimostrano diversi sotto molti aspetti. La prima immagine metaforica, riferita al mondo della musica, è resa in lingua italiana quasi allo stesso modo, anche se il verbo to sing viene reso con esprimersi.

La seconda metafora, relativa alla pittura, invece, pur se nella parte finale appare fedele, omette un’espressione idiomatica importante, painting by numbers (la quale esiste anche come by the numbers), che darebbe più senso al testo; l’idiomatismo, infatti, ha il senso di riempire spazi prenumerati, agire seguendo passivamente principi precostituiti e accettare delle regole imposte da altri per compiere un’azione (Oxford Advanced Learner Dictionary che cita l’esempio “He accused the government of relying on paint-by-number policies”


e il Macmillan English Dictionary in cui si legge: “AmE, in a way that is exactly according to the rules”) e sarebbe stato opportuno renderlo in italiano, se non con la stessa immagine tipica dell’inglese americano, almeno con una più consueta o con la riduzione dell’espressione al suo senso per far meglio intendere lo scopo comunicativo del mittente. La terza e ultima immagine, riferita alla guerra, rientra nella prima categoria, ossia rispetta e presenta integralmente la metafora.



The Union now has a constitution, the fruit of a lively Convention that I wanted to see set up immediately after the Nice Summit and which history will tell us was a model exercise in democracy. I do not claim that I myself or even the brilliant team of Commissioners I have had the privilege of leading, brought about these three gentle revolutions. As you well know, there is never any shortage of people to take credit for successes, it is only when things go wrong that nobody is responsible.



L’Unionesi è data unaCostituzionedopounaConvenzionevibrantecheio ho reclamatosin dalla fine del vertice di Nizza e che resterà nella storia come un modello di esercizio democratico.

Non voglio attribuire a me stesso la paternità di queste tre rivoluzioni tranquille e non le attribuisco neanche alla brillante squadra di commissari che ho il privilegio di guidare. Come sapete, le vittorie hanno molti padri, solamente le sconfitte sono orfane.


In questo caso siamo di fronte a un evento forse inaspettato. Finora si è visto come gli esempi in italiano cerchino quasi sempre di conservare uno stile più impersonale rispetto a quelli in inglese riconducendo spesso le metafore al proprio senso ed eliminando il linguaggio figurato.

Qui, al contrario, è il testo italiano che presenta delle metafore inesistenti in inglese. Il sintagma verbale brought about viene reso con il sostantivo paternità e più avanti la lunga conclusione inglese che non presenta immagini metaforiche è invece coerentemente tradotta in italiano conservando il simbolo della paternità con un calzante le vittorie hanno molti padri, solamente le sconfitte sono orfane.