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Emotional discourse analysis as a translation tool: an attempt at contrastive analysis of Japanese literary translations.

Posted By admin On May 21, 2013 @ 12:53 pm In Abstracts for 2013, Linguistics and Language Teaching | Comments Disabled

Alexandra Holoborodko, Ph.D. Candidate

Deaprtment of Sociolinguistics

Hitotsubashi University, Japan

Every language possesses a vast amount of means to express and name emotions, which is often a challenge to translators and language-learners. Many emotion words and expressions are culture-specific and require a thorough examination and analysis. Such a complex and comprehensive approach can be provided by emotional discourse analysis. The presenter has come up with this term while conducting a contrastive analysis of three Japanese translations of a Russian literary text.

The approach involves several steps, among which are structuring and categorizing emotion words (EWs) in the source text, creating a taxonomy of emotion words of the source text (textual analysis), contextual analysis, with further ascertaining the means, strategies and difficulties involved in translating EWs into the target language, and the final sociological interpretation of EWs in the two languages.

The main questions investigated in the study are: What are the difficulties posed by the translation of EWs into Japanese, and where do such difficulties stem from? What are the peculiarities and culture-specific characteristics of EWs in Japanese? How can such difficulties be overcome? And can emotional discourse analysis be of assistance to a translator?

The conclusion reached in this study is that applying emotional discourse analysis (EDA) to a text is a useful analytic tool for a translator. This is because such element of EDA as textual analysis reveals  the general tone of the novel (e.g., it determines the number of EWs that denote “happiness” as opposed to the number of emotion words that denote “sadness” or “anger”). Also, situational analysis makes clear the background of the literary text and gives a clue to the emotional state of the author and the epoch involved in the creation of the novel, while intertextual analysis elucidates the connection of the analyzed text to other contemporary texts. Each of these analytical instruments as well as other elements of EDA, are useful for translators in understanding how the text functions as a whole.

The EDA conducted over a set of source and target texts can also be a valuable study aid in language education. As a result of applying emotion discourse analysis, not only can the translator improve the quality of translation, but also some interesting linguistic data can be acquired.

One of the linguistic findings of my study is that the vastly different semantic and morphological structure of the Japanese language (in relation to Indo-European languages), as well as its etymological unrelatedness to any other language lead to difficulties in the translation of EWs. This was revealed in the analysis of the translation of expressive EWs (interjections): the extensive use of expressions involving divine names to express emotions in languages of Christian culture poses problems when they are translated into Japanese, as there are no such lexical means of expressing emotion in the Japanese language.

A great deal of the analysis in the study focused on various cases of non-equivalence and culture-specificity. These are cases in which there are more synonyms for an EW in the source language than in the target language, as in the set of Russian words мука (muka), мучение (mucheniye), страдание (stradaniye), терзание (terzaniye), all of which are based on the mode “sadness,” and denote various degrees of torment and suffering. In translating such words however, most often the single Japanese EW 苦しむ (kurushimu) is used.

Applying emotional discourse analysis to the source and target texts reveals interesting cases of culture-specific EWs. The following Japanese culture-specific EWs have been revealed:びっくりする (bikkuri suru) and 驚く (odoroku); 恥 (haji); なつかしい (natsukashii); highly figurative, proverbial expression 狼狽振り (roubai buri); 狐につままれたように (kitsune ni tsumamareta youni – literally, “as if bewitched by a fox”). The index of cultural-specificity is particularly high for words denoting “heart” in Japanese language. When a translator comes across four Japanese words denoting different aspects of this notion: 心 (kokoro), 胸 (mune), 心臓 (sinzou), and ハート(haato).

The attempt undertaken in this study to analyze the translated texts from an approach of emotion discourse analysis, is the first of its kind, and therefore while this study has significant implications for fields of sociolinguistics, translation studies, and language learning, it still lacks a comprehensive framework, and needs further development.


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