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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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
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
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:
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:
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
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:
Second, novel metaphors in the source text can be translated semantically using a conventional metaphorical expression:
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:
The Italian language has a conventional expression
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
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
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:
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 (
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
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:
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
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.
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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20 November 2020
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Sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, bilingualism, multilingualism
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Govorukho, R. A., & Tokareva, A. L. (2020). Italian And Russian Anger Metaphors: Trends In Literary Translation. In Е. Tareva, & T. N. Bokova (Eds.), Dialogue of Cultures - Culture of Dialogue: from Conflicting to Understanding, vol 95. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 152-162). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.11.03.17