Linguopragmatic and Translatological Potential of Expressive Means in Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things

Tatiana Marchenko

North-Caucasus Federal University, the Russian Federation

Volume 8, Number 1, 2016 I Full Text PDF


The article deals with the study of expressiveness phenomenon in literary translation. The aim of the study is to specify expressive means presented in the novel The God of Small Things after A. Roy and their translatological peculiarities as far as it concerns English-Russian translation. The study has revealed that in most contexts expressive means conveying axiological, emotional and cultural connotations reflect images which seem universal both for Indian and Russian cultures. In such case a translator manages to convey the expressive means in the TT and achieve the intended pragmatic effect. At the same time cultural and axiological components can undergo reduction as certain linguistic signs possess specific cultural connotations and are implied to provoke particular emotions and associations in representatives of the source lingouculture. Seme reduction can be preconditioned by formal differences in the systems of the source language and the target language. The main research methods employed in the study are content and comparative analyses of the source and the target texts.

Keywords: literary translation, linguopragmatics, expressive means.

  1. Introduction

One of the key issues of recent studies in translatology is exploring aesthetic, semiotic and linguocultural aspects of literary translation (Venuti, 1992, p. 5; Hickey, 2001, p. 49; Aixela, 1996, p. 52-54; Bassnett, 2002, p. 22; Milostivaya and Marchenko, 2014, p. 42). The current tendency fits into modern research agenda since any literary work conveys specific individual vision and form of its expression, along with factual explicit information. The reflection of expressiveness phenomenon has been viewed within the framework of linguistic and purely stylistic studies as well as in translatology, with a focus on means of realizing unique speech strategy of the author. It is only natural that this approach proves useful as it places the issue of expressive means and stylistic devices in another perspective, namely the potential to preserve the integrity of a literary text and manifest the author’s intentions. The article explores the key expressive means capable of preserving unique architectonics of the novel The God of Small Things after A. Roy and their translatological peculiarities as far as it concerns English-Russian translation.

  1. Theory and Methodology

From the theoretical viewpoint, this study stands at the crossroad of several notions: the concept of literary translation as “the process which transforms one semiotic entity into another” (Hatim and Mason, 1990, p. 105), and expressiveness as one of the relevant aesthetic and pragmatic linguistic categories as claimed by Arnold (1990), Kozhina (1993) and Vinogradov (1990).

Different semantic, lexical-semantic, syntactic and psycholinguistic categories are claimed to be based on expressive semantics of language units. Expressiveness reveals at every language level though the main body of expressive means is formed by lexical and phraseological means. Both oral and written communication feature expressive elements rendering pragmatic meaning. In literary texts this phenomenon actualizes their main function – the aesthetic one. We assume that the fundamentals of the notion are certain psychological patterns that, on the one hand, concern the expression of feelings and emotions by the speaker, and, on the other hand, the perception by the recipient. The linguistic mechanism of expressiveness involves a certain degree of deviation from a language norm.

According to Emirova (1988), expressiveness can be defined as a linguistic category resulting from actualization of axiological, figurative, emotional and intensity semes in the meaning of a language unit (p. 15). Intensity is viewed as a quantitative indicator of semantic content of a lexeme or an expression. Emotionality is a feature of a subject, the ability to experience emotions, convey all kind of feelings in action and express them. The axiological constituent reveals the attitude of a speaker towards the topic, i.e. positive or negative characteristic of a person, object or phenomenon registered in a word. The final component, the figurative one, expresses a more abstract or imaginative meaning than a literal one. The range of expressive means varies as regards languages and functional styles. But generally speaking, they can be specified at every language level – phonetic, morphological, lexical and syntactic – and represented by intensified units, neologisms, colloquial and slang words, stylistic devices, connotative morphological patterns, etc.

One of the key approaches to translation of expressive means in literary texts is the employment of an expressive equivalent that is capable of provoking the emotional reaction from a recipient of a target text (TT) similar to the reaction of a recipient of a source text (ST). In order to achieve it a translator uses a number of stylistic modifications which allow of preserving the intended communicative effect in TT. It is recommended to refer to analogous constructions if there are any, and in case there are none a translator is supposed to express the meaning in TT at the same stylistic level. The challenges arise in contexts conveying a meaning which is not registered in dictionary entries but comprehended by native speakers and evoking particular feelings and emotions. Such lexical units are “closely associated with specific cultural features and everyday life of native speakers” (Milostivaya and Marchenko, 2015, p. 435). In this case translation entails either the reduction of semes within a unit of translation or the expression of the meaning in an explicit way. It is admitted that “cultural empathy enables a person to navigate through various cultural borders and rigidities to comprehend diverse systems of cultural syntax and semantics” (Kumar, 2012, p. 229).

Methodologically, aiming at identifying the range of expressive means employed by A Roy in The God of Small Things and specifying the peculiarities of their English-Russian translation, we base our research on reflection, content, contextual and comparative analyses of the ST and the TT. The selected set of methods reveals similarities and differences as regards expressive means in the ST and the TT, and makes it possible to estimate the appropriateness and necessity of digressions made in the TT…Full Text PDF

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