Lexical Repetition in English-German Literary Translation

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Marie-Luise Egbert

Lexical Repetition in English-German Literary Translation

ISBN 978-3-88476-362-9, ISBN 3-88476-362-8, 168 S., kt., € 23,50 (1999)

(SALS - Studies in Anglophone Literatures, Bd. 10)

In an approach combining linguistics and literary stylistics, this study looks at the way in which lexical repetition is treated in literary translation between English and German. The corpus analysed compromises a selection of novels written in English which have won or been shortlisted for the Booker McConnell Prize for Fiction and their German translations. These works are complemented by examples for the opposite direction of translation. Lexical repetition is a uniquely versatile device with a wide range of functions in literary texts but it occassionally comes into conflict with the style norm of variatio delectat. This conflict is particularly apparent in the context of translation where the translator is likely to try to avoid 'awkward' source-text repetitions. The analysis establishes the formal shifts which source-text repetition undergoes in the translation process. Starting from a detailed account of the linguistic and stylistic criteria which influence those shifts, the study goes on to trace the functional implications which changed repetiton patterns have for the texts concerned. A number of case studies forcefully demonstrate how the multiple functions of lexical repetiton are altered or lost if repetition is not retained. Placing the phenomenon of avoided repetition in the larger cultural and economic context, the study suggests some conclusions for translator training.