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2021-09-10 - Colloque/Présentation - communication orale - Anglais - page(s)

Troughton Faye , "How Revealing! The Embedded Exclamative in Translation." in Using Corpora in Contrastive and Translation Studies (6th edition), Bertinoro, Italie, 2021

  • Codes CREF : Linguistique comparée (DI5327), Traduction (DI5326)
  • Unités de recherche UMONS : Traductologie (T202)

Abstract(s) :

(Anglais) This paper reports on both a contrastive study of how exclamatives in English (1–2) and combien exclamatives in French (3–4) in spoken political discourse and a study on their translation into French and English respectively. (1) How right that is! (SPEAKER ID=271 NAME=Jackson (PPE-DE)) (2) They think it is just another piece of paper saying how wonderful they are. (SPEAKER ID=204 NAME=Martin, David W.) (3) Je voudrais faire une première remarque: combien avons-nous été imprudents en renonçant aux instruments que nous donnait le traité CECA! (SPEAKER ID=53 NAME=Herman) (I would first of all point out how unwise we were to condemn the instruments that gave us the ECSC Treaty.) (4) Débat qui montre aussi combien il est difficile, aujourd'hui, de dissocier le traitement des questions sociales au plan communautaire, des débats politiques nationaux. (SPEAKER ID=121 NAME=Xavier Bertrand) (Our debate also shows how hard it is, nowadays, to separate the consideration of social issues at Community level from policy debates at national level.) In exclamative constructions (1) and (2), how acts as a qualitative degree modifier, indicating the extremely high degree of rightness or wonderfulness that the speaker wishes to convey (cf. Quirk et al.1985: 834, Huddleston & Pullum 2002: 919). In (3) and (4), the French exclamative word combien acts in a similar way, expressing a high degree of unwiseness and difficulty respectively. While there is a general consensus that the construction illustrated in (1) constitutes an exclamative, there is some division among those writing on the subject as to whether (2) can be defined as such. Some ascribe to the view, outlined in some reference grammars (Quirk et al 1985: 1055; Huddleston and Pullum 2002: 991), that exclamative clauses can be embedded in much the same way as interrogative clauses (c.f. Elliot 1974: 233; Michaelis & Lambrecht 1996; Michaelis 2001; Zanuttini & Portner 2003; Collins 2005). Others, however, draw a clear distinction between clause-initial and embedded constructions, arguing that they are not so similar that they can be included under the umbrella term “exclamative” and so define these constructions simply as complement or embedded wh- clauses (Heine et al. 2020; Rett 2008, 2011). According to Rett (2008: 603), the exclamative is encoded in terms of its illocutionary force and as this “is a property of an utterance as a whole, not subcomponents”, the term “exclamative” may only apply to matrix clauses. Heine et al. (2020: 216) share this view arguing that embedded constructions take the “argument status” of the matrix clause, whereas true exclamatives are syntactically unattached and are not arguments. They also highlight the impossibility of subject-auxiliary inversion in embedded constructions as a further reason to distinguish between them. Decisions made by translators when faced with these constructions may shine light on differences between clause-initial and embedded constructions and on whether the latter can indeed be referred to as “exclamative”. Indeed, in a study of the translation of exclamatives using what in English and quel in French, Author 1 (subm.) remarked that translators seemed to interpret these embedded constructions differently and were less likely to use an embedded 1 This submission is for a paper. exclamative in the target language. The present study, involving the only other English exclamative word, how, will help ascertain if this observation applies to exclamatives in general. This study aims to answer the following questions. a) How are how exclamatives in English and combien exclamatives in French used in political discourse? b) How are these constructions translated in practice? c) Do these translations have any implications for the status of the embedded exclamative? These will be answered through an exhaustive study of independent and embedded how and combien exclamative constructions as they appear in the English to French (1,410,121 words) and French to English (1,179,530 words) directional sub-corpora of Europarl Direct (Cartoni et al. 2013). These corpora were extracted from the Europarl corpus (Koehn 2005), made up of transcribed speeches given in the European Parliament, and the translation of these transcriptions. It is important to note that in this study, this data is seen as constituting spoken language. It is possible that the transcription process allowed for some “cleaning-up” of the original speech, as pauses and redundant repetition do not appear in the data. However, while it may not be spontaneous speech, the original speeches were intended to be given orally and so likely to make effective use of the highly expressive exclamative. Furthermore, if the directional data is a question of the translation of written transcriptions, not of an oral interpretation of the original speech, it is likely to be more complete and thus more fit-forpurpose. The question may remain as to why the French exclamative combien has been chosen as the point of comparison in this study. It has been highlighted that English how exclamatives may be expressed by a multitude of constructions (combien, comme, que, ce que, qu’est-ce que) (Jones 1996: 519), and, furthermore, combien has been described as “highly literary” and “archaic” and so may have seemed unlikely to occur often in the corpora at hand (Jones 1996: 519; Marandin 2018: 48). The decision to compare how with combien is based on the initial analysis of how how exclamatives are translated into French. In the data, combien was in fact chosen to express the how exclamative more than any other word, and so was selected to be examined in the French data. By answering these research questions, this paper aims to comment on and compare both exclamatives in terms of syntax, degree, and performativity, and to demonstrate the contribution that corpus-based translation studies can make to the debate on how linguistic phenomena are defined.