Italian And Russian Anger Metaphors: Trends In Literary Translation

Abstract

Metaphors often present a translation problem, as they can be culturally dependent and linguistically bound. A variety of methods for rendering metaphors have been proposed in prescriptive models of translation. The article provides a descriptive study of strategies employed for translating anger metaphors in Russian and Italian literary texts. The research is aimed at the qualitative and quantitative analyses of the ways conventional and novel metaphorical expressions are rendered in translation. A cognitive approach is used to explain factors that determine the choice of a particular translation strategy. The study employs corpus linguistics methods and has been conducted using the subcorpus of parallel Russian and Italian texts of the Russian National Corpus. Such methods help to reveal the relative frequency of various strategies in a particular type of discourse. As a result, eight methods for metaphor translation have been revealed, the most frequent being semantic translation, converting metaphor to sense and replacing the original image with a different image. It is shown that differences between the conceptual metaphor systems in the target and the source language have a significant effect on the choice of a translation strategy. However, this effect is not always straightforward, and a number of linguistic factors can have a greater influence on the translator’s choice.

Keywords: Metaphors of angermetaphor translation

Introduction

Translating metaphor is considered to be one of the most complex areas of translation. As Newmark (1988) famously put it, “Whilst the central problem of translation is the overall choice of a translation method for a text, the most important particular problem is the translation of metaphor” (p. 104). Within the cognitive paradigm, Sulejmanova et al., (2012) point out that “translation heuristics should primarily be based on similarities or discrepancies between the cognitive structures of the language of translation and the original” (p. 4). A number of studies introducing cognitive linguistics method into the field of translation studies have appeared of late (Khakipour & Amjad, 2019; Lunkova & Pavlova, 2018; Schaeffner, 2017; Veisi Hasar & Panahbar, 2017), exploring metaphor translation in various types of discourse.

In the present paper we adopt a cognitive approach to metaphor translation, building on Lakoff and Johnson’s (1980) Conceptual Metaphor Theory. Its basic assumption is the cognitive nature of metaphor as a basic mechanism of human thinking, therefore, conventionalized metaphorical expressions are not discarded from linguistic analysis and are not opposed to novel metaphors. The latter are often proved to be just new lexical instantiations of long-existing and widely represented conceptual metaphors. Our corpus analysis has shown that novel metaphors of anger are relatively rare in classical Russian and Italian fiction, and most of them do belong to existing conceptual metaphors. Nevertheless, the particular aesthetic effect of novel metaphorical expressions cannot be denied, so we paid particular attention to the strategies employed in their translation.

One of the first applications of the Conceptual Metaphor Theory to translation studies was proposed by Mandelblit (1995) under the form of Cognitive Translation Hypothesis. It postulates two basic conditions for metaphor translation: similar mapping condition, when the same metaphor is used to represent a given notion both in the source language and the target language, and different mapping condition, characterized by a discrepancy in the respective metaphorical conceptualizations. The similar mapping condition encourages the translator to retain the original image, which can be done using the “same wording” or “different wording”. In case of a different mapping condition, the metaphor can be converted into simile, reduced to its sense, explained in a footnote or omitted. It may seem that this approach does not differ much from that of Newmark (1988), but in fact Mandelblit’s notion of mapping condition has a wider span than the concept of image used by Newmark.

Cognitive research into metaphor translation is to a large degree based on the study of conceptual metaphor systems of the languages in question. Emotion metaphors have been widely researched using the methods of corpus linguistics (e.g. Kövecses et al., 2019; Kuczok, 2016; Tissari, 2017). Ioanesyan (2018) conducted a comparative study of emotion predicates and metaphors that are based “on likening the sensations of the soul to the sensations of the body” in a number of languages, including Russian (p.163). Anger metaphors have received much attention (e.g. Kövecses, 2019; Kupchik, 2016), anger being one of the strongest and most basic human emotions.

Problem Statement

As has been shown in the introduction, there are quite a few studies dedicated to emotion metaphors and carried out with the help of linguistic corpora. However, as far as we know, there are no such works analyzing Italian emotion metaphors in fiction. Furthermore, there has not been much corpus research into metaphor translation from the cognitive linguistic perspective, especially with regard to literary texts. We also believe that the notion of different wording (Mandelblit, 1995) has to be explored in more detail, for many instantiations of conceptual metaphors in a given language are restricted to certain lexemes, and the type of transformation employed by the translator to achieve equivalence at the image level can be quite significant to the overall effect of the context. Last but not least, prescriptive translation models can benefit from descriptive studies that reveal real frequencies and peculiarities of translation strategies.

Research Questions

Our study was aimed at answering the following questions:

  • What strategies are used to render anger metaphors in literary translation from Russian into Italian and vice versa?

  • What are the relative frequencies of these strategies?

  • How can the use of a particular strategy be explained from a cognitive linguistic perspective?

Purpose of the Study

We set as our purpose to describe strategies employed for translating anger metaphors in Russian and Italian literary texts, expose their frequencies and analyze their use from a cognitive linguistic perspective, revealing the factors that may influence the translator’s choice of a particular method.

Research Methods

As many linguists have pointed out (e.g., Deignan, 2017), metaphors should be analyzed in naturally-occurring language data, which can be divided into two types: corpus data and discourse data (Deignan, 2015). While the corpus data approach examines concordances from various language corpora, the discourse data analysis implies researching more extended stretches of text. A combination of these methods can be employed to study the metaphors of specific registers. In the present research we used the corpus data approach applying it to Russian and Italian literary works, and at times resorting to the discourse method to clarify the contextual meaning and relevance of certain examples we came across.

We analyzed Italian and Russian metaphorical expressions with nouns belonging to the lexical field of anger, namely: gnev ‘anger’, negodovanie ‘indignation’, beshenstvo ‘fury’, jarost’ ‘rage’, zloba ‘spite’, zlost’ ‘malice’, razdrazhenie ‘irritation’, dosada ‘annoyance’, ira ‘anger’, rabbia ‘rage’, collera ‘anger’, furia ‘rage’, furore ‘fury’, irritazione ‘irritation’. The corpus research was conducted on the subcorpus of parallel Russian and Italian texts making part of the Russian National Corpus (2020). We adopted the method which is defined by Stefanowitsch (2020) as semi-automatic (p. 118): all instances of the words belonging to the lexical field in question were retrieved, and the non-metaphorical contexts were discarded.

A crucial issue arising in any metaphor study is distinguishing between metaphorical and non-metaphorical word usage. One of the most influential and widely used methods of metaphor identification has been proposed by Pragglejaz Group. The MIP (Metaphor Identification Procedure), later elaborated as MIPVU (Nacey et al., 2019), aims at standardizing the first stage of metaphor research, that is, the selection of linguistic metaphor to work with. After applying this procedure, we used Steen’s (1999) conceptual metaphor identification method to arrive at the possible metaphorical mappings underlying the retrieved expressions.

Findings

The research has revealed eight translation strategies for the pool of metaphorical expressions denoting anger in the source and target texts:

  • Semantic translation (defined by Newmark (1988) as retaining the form of the original in translation and reproducing the original contextual meaning as closely as possible )

  • Metaphorization (translating a non-metaphorical expression with a metaphorical one)

  • Reproducing the same image with lexical transformations (retaining the underlying conceptual metaphor of the source text expression in the target text expression without reaching equivalence at the word level, which can cause a shift in the perception of the context)

  • Reproducing the same image with lexeme addition (retaining the underlying conceptual metaphor of the source text expression in the target text expression and changing the wording by adding lexical items)

  • Reproducing the same image with morpho-syntactic transformations

  • Partial retention of the original image (retaining the basic underlying conceptual metaphor with changes to its metaphorical entailments)

  • Replacing the original image with a different image (translating a metaphorical expression with a metaphorical expression that belongs to another conceptual metaphor)

  • Converting metaphor to sense (translating a metaphorical expression with a non-metaphorical one)

The relative frequencies of these strategies in our subcorpus are shown in Table 01 below.

Table 1 -
See Full Size >

As can be seen, the most frequent translation method is metaphorization. Whilst it only slightly outstrips semantic translation in the texts translated from Russian into Italian, metaphorization occurs two and a half times more often than semantic translation in the texts translated from Italian into Russian. Half of the metaphorization cases (10 out of 20) in translations from Italian into Russian are due to the introduction of metaphorical expressions belonging to the ANGER IS A LIMITED SPACE conceptual metaphor, which is the most frequently instantiated (though not very expressive) anger metaphor in Russian for indicating the state of anger or its beginning. It comprises such expressions as v gneve/ negodovanii / zlobe/ jarosti (lit. ‘in anger/ indignation/ spite/ rage’) , prijti v gnev/ negodovanie/ beshenstvo (‘get angry / indignated / infuriated’, lit. ‘come into anger / indignation/ rage’).

In quite a few cases of translation from Italian into Russian non-metaphorical words are rendered by metaphorical expressions belonging to the ANGER IS FIRE conceptual metaphor, which is also of high frequency in Russian texts:

L’Abate prese la parola, corrucciato : “Perché non mi hai informato di questo tuo patto col cellario?” (Umberto Eco. Il nome della rosa) [The abbot took the floor, glowering : “Why didn't you inform me of your agreement with the cellarer?” (Umberto Eco. The Name of the Rose)]. Abbat prerval ego, pylaja gnevom : “Pochemu ty ne postavil menja v izvestnost’?” (Umberto Jeko. Imja rozy. Translated by E. Kostjukovich)] [The abbot interrupted him, burning with anger : “Why didn't you inform me?” (Umberto Eco. The Name of the Rose. Translated by E. Kostjukovich)]

An interesting case of metaphorization can be seen in the following context, where the translator creates a novel metaphorical expression based on the ANNOYANCE/ANGER IS AN OBJECT conceptual metaphor, which is very seldom used in Russian texts:

Fu un po’ una viltà, da parte mia, e fece sì che mio fratello si sentisse più solo, cosicché nel suo lasciarci c’era anche una protesta contro di me, che l'avevo deluso (Italo Calvino. Il barone rampante) [It was a bit of a cowardice on my part, and it made my brother feel more alone, so in his leaving us there was also a protest against me, as I had disappointed him (Italo Calvino. The Baron in the Trees)]. – Konechno, s moej storony jeto bylo predatel'stvo, i Kozimo pochuvstvoval sebja sovsem odinokim, uhodja, on unes s soboj dosadu na menja, ne opravdavshego ego nadezhd (Italo Kal'vino. Baron na dereve. Translated by Lev Vershinin) [It surely was a betrayal on my part, and Cosimo felt completely alone; leaving, he took with him his annoyance at me, as I had not met his expectations (Italo Calvino. The Baron in the Trees. Translated by Lev Vershinin)].

In translations from Russian into Italian metaphorization is the most frequent strategy as well, and in half of these cases the orientational metaphor ANGER IS A LIMITED SPACE is used. The proportion of such metaphorical expressions for both translation directions is the same. This comes as a surprise, for in Italian the orientational metaphor of anger is quite rare and limited almost exclusively to expressions including words collera ‘anger’ ( essere/ andare in collera ‘be/ get angry’, lit. ‘be in/ go into anger’) and furia ‘rage’ ( montare su tutte le furie ‘fly into a rage’, lit. ‘go up on all the rages’).

The second most frequent strategy is semantic translation. It can be employed quite often due to the similarities between Russian and Italian conceptual metaphors of anger. The percentage of novel metaphors translated in this way is also quite significant (65 %). However, these contexts fall into different categories with respect to the novelty of the expressions created in the target texts. First, semantic translation of an unconventional metaphor can result in a new metaphor that has the same effect of originality:

Kak jeto inogda byvaet, dosada Nikolaja Nikolaevicha vdrug izmenila napravlenie (Boris Pasternak. Doktor Zhivago) [As it sometimes happens, Nikolai Nikolaevich's annoyance suddenly changed direction (Boris Pasternak. Doctor Zhivago)]. - E, come accade spesso, il suo dispetto mutò improvvisamente direzione (Boris Pasternak. Il dottor Zivago. Translated by Pietro Zveteremich) [And, as it often happens, his annoyance suddenly changed direction (Boris Pasternak. Doctor Zhivago. Translated by Pietro Zveteremich)].

Second, novel metaphors in the source text can be translated semantically using a conventional metaphorical expression:

Teper’ ego unosil, udushaja i obzhigaja, samyj strashnyj gnev, gnev bessilija (M. A. Bulgakov. Master i Margarita) [Now the most terrible wrath, the wrath of impotence, was carrying him away, choking and burning him (M. Bulgakov. The Master and Margarita)]. - Lo trasportava adesso , strozzandolo e bruciandolo, la piú terribile di tutte le ire: l'ira dell'impotenza (Mikhail Bulgakov. Il Maestro e Margherita. Translated by Vera Dridso) [Now the most terrible wrath of all, the wrath of impotence, was carrying him away, choking and burning him (M. Bulgakov. The Master and Margarita (Translated by Vera Dridso)].

The expression essere trasportato dall’ira ‘be carried away with anger’ is quite common in Italian, and the context above is only slightly unusual because of its active voice form ( l’ira lo trasportava ‘anger was carrying him away’) that is not used so frequently.

Third, a novel metaphorical expression can be created in the target text despite a conventional expression with the same image and a wording corresponding to the original already exists in the target language:

Ja nikogda ne hvastajus’ i nikogda ne govorju nepravdu, - skazal on tiho, uderzhivaja podnimavshijsja v nem gnev (L. N. Tolstoj. Anna Karenina) [“I never brag and I never tell lies,” he said quietly, holding back his rising anger (Leo Tolstoy. Anna Karenina)]. - Io non mi vanto mai e non dico mai quello che non è vero - egli disse piano, trattenendo l’ira che si sollevava in lui (Lev Tolstoj. Anna Karenina. Translated by Maria Bianca Luporini) [“I never brag and I never say what is not true”, he said softly, holding back the anger that was rising in him (Leo Tolstoy. Anna Karenina. Translated by Maria Bianca Luporini)].

The Italian language has a conventional expression l'ira monta in qualcuno ‘anger mounts in sb’, however, the translator creates a new expression with the same image ( l’ira che si sollevava in lui ‘anger that was rising in him’).

Converting metaphor to sense is the third most frequent strategy in translations from Russian into Italian. It is largely caused by differences between the Russian and Italian conceptual metaphor systems and the combinatory potential of the words belonging to the lexical field of anger. As has already been said, the orientational metaphor ANGER IS A LIMITED SPACE is very frequently used in Russian, whereas in Italian it is mainly instantiated in collocations including words collera ‘anger’ and furia ‘rage’. Thus, the translators often opt for a non-metaphorical word to render such expressions.

Furthermore, orientational metaphors are often perceived as almost “dead”, being very basic and familiar to language speakers. This fact can account for an interesting case of translation into Russian, where the translator chose a non-metaphorical expression to render a rather rare Italian expression in ira ‘in anger’, even though it has a perfect and very frequently used Russian equivalent v gneve ‘in anger’:

(...) i minori (...) in ira verso il canonico della chiesa vicina, accusato di rapine e altre nefandezze, gli invasero un giorno la casa e lo fecero rotolar dalle scale (...) (Umberto Eco. Il nome della rosa) [(...) the monks (...), in anger towards the canon of the neighboring church, who was accused of thefts and other wickedness, (...) invaded his house one day and rolled him down the stairs (Umberto Eco. The Name of the Rose)] - (...) brat’ja-minority, odushevjas’ spravedlivym gnevom , vzjali pristupom ego dom, a samogo sbrosili s lestnicy (...) (Umberto Jeko. Imja rozy. Translated by E. Kostjukovich) [(...) the monks, animated by righteous anger , stormed his house and threw him down the stairs (Umberto Eco. The Name of the Rose. Translated by E. Kostjukovich)]

However, converting metaphor to sense is not limited to orientational metaphors. It can be found in translations of novel metaphors, though more rarely compared to semantic translation:

(...) no gnev prokuratora pochemu-to uletel tak zhe bystro, kak i priletel (M. A. Bulgakov. Master i Margarita) [(...) but for some reason the procurator’s anger flew away as quickly as it had flown in (M. Bulgakov. Master and Margarita)]. - (...) ma l'ira del procuratore svanì con la stessa velocità con cui era sopraggiunta . (Mikhail Bulgakov. Il Maestro e Margherita. Translated by Vera Dridso) [ (...) but the procurator’s anger vanished as quickly as it had come (M. Bulgakov. Master and Margarita. Translated by Vera Dridso)].

Another frequent strategy is replacing the original image with a different image. It is often caused by the lack of parallel metaphorical mappings in Italian and Russian. For instance, the ANGER IS AN OBJECT metaphor is very rarely used in Russian, so Italian expressions belonging to it are substituted with Russian equivalents belonging to ANGER IS A LIQUID or ANGER IS A LIVING BEING. However, choosing this translation method often seems to be an arbitrary decision, for metaphorical expressions that have equivalents with the same image are rendered by expressions of different imagery. In the following example the image replacement can be ascribed to the translator’s wish of diversifying the context. The ANGER IS FIRE metaphor is retained in the description of the character’s eyes, but the beginning and the end of his anger, characterized in the source text by the same fire metaphor ( gnev kotorogo gas tak zhe bystro, kak i vspyhival ‘ whose anger extinguished as quickly as it flared up’), are rendered using a different metaphor, ANGER IS A MOVING OBJECT ( la cui collera passava colla stessa rapidità colla quale era venuta ‘whose anger passed as quickly as it had come’):

Matrena, vidja, chto u nego naprjagajutsja zhily na shee i glaza bleshhut gnevom , ― molchala, molchala dolgo, demonstrativno ne otvechaja na voprosy muzha, gnev kotorogo gas tak zhe bystro, kak i vspyhival (Maksim Gor'kij. Suprugi Orlovy) [Matryona, seeing his neck veins bulge and his eyes sparkle with anger , kept silent, kept silent for a long time, not answering her husband’s questions defiantly, whose anger extinguished as quickly as it flared up (Maxim Gorky, The Orlovs)]. - Matrena, vedendo le vene gonfiarsi sul collo del marito, e la collera accendersi nei suoi occhi scuri, taceva e rimaneva così per qualche tempo senza aprir bocca, senza rispondere alle domande o alle ingiurie di Griscka, la cui collera passava colla stessa rapidità colla quale era venuta (Maxim Gorkij. I coniugi Orlof. Translated by Eugenio Wenceslao Foulques) [Matrena, seeing the veins swell on her husband's neck and anger flare in his dark eyes , kept silent and remained so for some time without opening her mouth, without answering the questions or insults of Grishka, whose anger passed as quickly as it had come (Maxim Gorky, The Orlovs. Translated by Eugenio Wenceslao Foulques)].

Partial image retention is usually caused by generalization, specification or shift in metaphorical entailments, even though the source text conceptual metaphor is retained in the translation. It can also be due to differences in the structure of the orientational anger metaphors in the two languages. In Russian it is ANGER IS A LIMITED SPACE, represented by such collocations as v gneve/ jarosti ‘in anger/ rage’ , prijti v gnev/ beshenstvo ‘get angry/ infuriated’, lit. ‘come into anger/ rage’, and ANGER IS A SPACE DOWN, comprising expressions with the verb vpadat’ (lit. “fall into” a state): vpadat’ v gnev/ jarost’ beshenstvo ‘get angry/ infuriated’, lit. ‘fall into anger/ rage’. In Italian the orientational metaphor has a parallel variant ANGER IS A LIMITED SPACE, predominantly in the expressions with the word collera ‘anger’: essere/ andare in collera ‘be/ get angry’, lit. ‘be/ go into anger’, and ANGER IS A SPACE UP: montare/ andare su tutte le furie ‘fly into a rage’, lit. ‘go up on all the rages’ , montare in collera ‘get angry’, lit. ‘mount in anger’. Thus, rendering the Italian expression montare in collera the translator can conserve the orientational metaphor, but is constrained to change its details:

Alessandro, già contristato dagli ultimi eventi, montò in collera (Valerio Massimo Manfredi. Aléxandros III, il confine del mondo) [Alexander, already upset by the latest events, went (lit. went up ) into a rage (Valerio Massimo Manfredi. Alexander: The Ends of the Earth)]. - Aleksandr, i tak uzhe ogorchennyj poslednimi sobytijami, prishel v beshenstvo (Valerio Massimo Manfredi. Aleksandr Makedonskij. Predely mira. Translated by Mihail Kononov) [Alexander, already upset by the latest events, went into a rage (Valerio Massimo Manfredi. Alexander: The Ends of the Earth. Translated by Mihail Kononov)].

We distinguish between cases of reproducing the same image with lexical transformations and with lexical additions in translation for two reasons. First, lexical additions in translation often have a different function in the text than lexical transformations. The former can introduce nouns denoting anger into the target text, which changes the type of the original metaphor: it becomes explicit, being implicit in the source text. If the metaphorical expression in question is novel, such an addition means that the translator interprets the original metaphor not giving the reader a chance to interpret it themselves. It can be seen in the following context:

V ego prisutstvii Andrej Efimych lozhilsja obyknovenno na divan licom k stene i slushal, stisnuv zuby; na dushu ego plastami lozhilas’ nakip’, i posle kazhdogo poseshhenija druga on chuvstvoval, chto nakip’ jeta stanovitsja vsjo vyshe i slovno podhodit k gorlu (A. P. Chehov. Palata № 6) [In his presence Andrey Yefimitch usually lay on the sofa with his face to the wall and listened with his teeth clenched; scum deposited on his soul in layers, and after every visit from his friend he felt that this scum was getting higher and seemed to be mounting into his throat (A. Chekhov. Ward 6)]. - In sua presenza Andrèj Efímyč di solito si stendeva sul divano col viso verso la parete e ascoltava, stringendo il denti; sulla sua anima si depositava a strati la schiuma dell'ira e dopo ogni visita egli sentiva che la schiuma diventava sempre più alta e già gli arrivava alla gola [In his presence Andrey Yefimitch usually lay down on the sofa with his face to the wall and listened with his teeth clenched; the scum of anger deposited on his soul in layers, and after every visit from his friend he felt that this scum was getting higher and already reached his throat (A. Chekhov. Ward 6. Translated by Fausto Malcovati)].

Here, Chekhov does not explicitly state that the feeling experienced by the character is anger, instead describing his emotions metaphorically as “scum”. It may be interpreted as a complex of tiredness, anger, irritation and despair. Moreover, the Italian word ira usually denotes a state of “active” anger that tends to be sudden and intense and manifest itself externally. To the contrary, the context underlines the character’s passive behaviour, with the “scum” fettering him rather than forcing into action.

Second, lexical additions often come in the form of epithets, introducing new semantic components into the target text compared to the source text. Lexical transformations, on the other hand, do not tend to introduce new semantic components, but rather substitute some of those found in the original text.

The least frequent strategy, reproducing the same image with morpho-syntactic transformations is quite close to the semantic translation. It often has the same effect as the semantic translation, and is worth mentioning primarily with respect to the translation of original metaphorical expressions, where even a standard change in the argument structure of a verb can cause an unexpected change in the context effect on the reader.

Conclusion

The aim of this article has been to research the strategies employed in the translation of anger metaphors in Russian and Italian literary texts. It has been shown that though their relative frequencies depend on the direction of translation, overall the most frequent strategy for translating anger metaphors is the semantic translation, followed by converting metaphor to sense, replacing the original image with a different image, reproducing the same image with lexical transformations, partial retention of the original image, reproducing the same image with lexical additions, and reproducing the same image with morpho-syntactic transformations. A large proportion of anger metaphorical expressions in the target texts appears as a result of metaphorization. The employment of semantic translation and the strategies reproducing the same image are accounted for by the notable similarities between the Italian and Russian systems of conceptual metaphors of anger. However, the dissimilar conceptualization of anger as space in the two languages and the different frequencies of the expressions belonging to these and other conceptual metaphors explain the strategies of image change and converting metaphor to sense. Certainly, other factors, such as the degree of novelty of the metaphorical expression, collocation potential, context effects and the general translation strategy influence the choice of metaphor translation method.

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Publisher

European Publisher

First Online

20.11.2020

Doi

10.15405/epsbs.2020.11.03.17

Online ISSN

2357-1330