Cognitive translation analysis of fiction simile

Keywords: cognitive translation analysis, fiction simile, linguaculture, translation procedure, translation strategy


This paper introduces a method of cognitive translation analysis of English-Ukrainian translation of fiction simile. Our analysis of Ukrainian and foreign research on fiction simile translation has revealed that such papers are mostly based on traditional structural-semantic translation analysis. Cognitive translation analysis of fiction simile, which allows identifying cognitive models that underpin simile functioning in speech and affect its translation, has been done in very few papers and therefore it requires developing. This paper aims at establishing correlations between linguacultural specificity or, conversely, similarity of cognitive models of English fiction similes and a choice of a translation strategy to render English similes into Ukrainian. The research sample consists of 1200 English similes, collected from D. Tartt’s novels, The Goldfinch and The Secret History, and M. Atwood’s novel, The Blind Assassin, and their Ukrainian translations, performed, respectively, by V. Shovkun, B. Stasiuk and O. Oksenych. Achieving this goal involves fulfilling the following tasks: 1) identifying and comparing cognitive models of English similes and their Ukrainian translations; 2) revealing translation procedures used to render fiction similes – retention, replacement, reduction, omission or addition; 3) establishing correlations between translation procedures and translation strategies – the foreignization strategy and the domestication strategy. A fiction simile is addressed as an explicit conceptual metaphor structured by a propositional model (A is like B), where A is the target  concept / domain representing the entity that is compared, B is source the concept / domain representing the entity to which the target is compared (its language / speech  instantiation is called a vehicle). Simile can also explicate the characteristic, which is the basis for comparison (A (target) is like B (source / conductor) by characteristic B). Conducting the translation analysis, we take into account the type of fiction simile. We distinguish between conventional simile, grounding on universal knowledge, and original simile, reflecting individual knowledge and creative imagination of an author. Among conventional similes, we differentiate between allusive similes that are mostly based on subcultural knowledge, and idiomatic similes that can be based on both universal and culturally specific knowledge embodied in idioms. Our cognitive translation analysis led to the following conclusions. Retention of similes realizes different translation strategies depending on the type of the simile and the presence / absence of its linguacultural specificity. Retention of conventional and original similes correlates with neutral translation strategy, as neither the former nor the latter has linguacultural specificity that would indicate the inconsistency of their cognitive models and thus constrain the translator's choice, causing a translation problem. Retention of allusive similes can also correlate with neutral strategy if the allusion is part of universal knowledge although more often retention of allusive simile realizes foreignization strategy as such similes are based on subculturally specific knowledge and thus rest on cognitive models that are unestablished in the minds of most representatives of both cultures. If a translator adds a commentary, foreignization is neutralized by domestication. Replacement, reduction, omission or addition of similes correlate with domestication, which can be compulsory if English and Ukrainian similes are based on different cultural cognitive models, or optional if they are based on similar cognitive models. Moreover, domestication can be complete if the simile cognitive model is replaced or partial if the concepts of the model are specified or explained, but the model remains unchanged. These results call for further research, specifically, conducting a quantitative analysis to establish quantitative correlations between the procedures and strategies of English-Ukrainian translation of fiction similes.


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How to Cite
Martynyuk, A., & Akhmedova, E. (2021). Cognitive translation analysis of fiction simile. Cognition, Communication, Discourse, (23), 72-86.