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April 28 th – text register in translation and text, genre and discourse shifts in translation. Units 10 and 11 are connected. They both relate to ‘text’ from two perspectives, register and culture. Socio-linguistic varieties: language changes if the context/situation change.

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april 28 th text register in translation and text genre and discourse shifts in translation
April 28th – text register in translation and text, genre and discourse shifts in translation

Units 10 and 11 are connected.

They both relate to ‘text’ from two perspectives, register and culture.

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: Aint no call to meddle with me, he aint.


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.

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

So we have USE or USER dimensions.

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.



Legal or scientific language for instance, can be expressed in different ways depending on levels of formality


How many registers do you usually use?

List possible situations which make your use(s) of language different.

Also within a single genre or text we can identify different uses of language.


Read pp. 78-79 in 10 mins.

The situational setting is the same in all texts.

Topic: Maastricht Treaty by the EU.

Can you state that here we have ONE register?

Try to highlight possible differences in terms of:

- what is being communicated, by whom, to whom;

- what is intended to be achieved;

- what kind/genre of other texts you are reminded of while reading each of these texts.

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.

Translating social varieties and dialects is always challenging.


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 which have been 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 has been 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.

discourse in translation and intertextuality
Discourse in translation and intertextuality

Discourse is the way in which language is used socially to convey broad historical/cultural/political (etc.) meanings.

It is language identified by the social conditions of its use, by who is using it and under what conditions.

Language can never be 'neutral' because it bridges our personal and social worlds."


Unit 10 = context of situation

Unit 11 = context of culture/discourse

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

In this area the concept of intertextuality is central.

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


Intertextual references can be horizontal and vertical (Mikhail Bakhtin)

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 a famous stories taking only some aspects and not the real words, are examples of V. I.

All the 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.


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

(Daily Telegraph, August 18,2000)

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.


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?

Blame Rain

???? Rana


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.

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.

pepsi cola commercial


Pepsi Cola created this advertisement based on The Godfather.

There are probably very few people who have not heard about or seen the movie, The Godfather.

This epic movie has become a part of our culture. Nearly everyone remembers the quote, "I made him an offer he couldn't refuse," and the scene with the horse's head.

While watching this commercial, we immediately understand, as soon as the little girl starts talking, that she is imitating a scene from the movie, The Godfather.

other examples of v i
Other examples of V.I.

Videos: Simpson’s parody (X Files), parody of Titanic, Madonna’s Material Girl (Gentlemen prefer blondes), Hitchcock’s shower scene from Psycho.

T.S. Eliot’s The Burial of the Dead

What are the features (visual, auditory, written etc.) that make you think of other texts, people, situations etc.?


In day-to-day practice, however, the professional translator will not always have time to find creative solution and, unless inspiration comes, he/she will have to settle for more pragmatic and many times, less effective strategies.