A discourse perspective on figurative expression in literary works with reference to English/Arabic translation
Libdeh, As'ad Jabr Abu
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This dissertation is intended to fulfil two main objectives, firstly, to examine the function of figures of speech or figurative expression from a discourse point of view, and secondly, to assess whether English/Arabic or Arabic/English translators take into consideration this discourse aspect, and if they do, to what extent. The division of figures of speech is based on Arabic (Barigha) Rhetoric. The dissertation develops along the following lines. It examines the "anatomy" of each individual figure of speech with the aim of establishing their respective merits. It afterwards highlights their collective, social function in a wider sense. The research narrows down their social role concentrating on one main role: creating a bond of intimacy between the speaker and the audience. It further examines the mechanism on which intimacy is based, i.e. politeness. Politeness is a strategy adopted and exacted by a rational speaker on a rational audience and enables him to get them persuaded. It is concluded that each figure of speech presents the speaker with an ideal tool for addressing a particular audience. It follows, therefore, that the having recourse to a particular figure of speech is a stance or an attitude by the speaker towards his audience. Meanwhile, figures of speech collectively present the speaker with a tool which enables him to express a mobility of (discoursal) tones and attitudes. The dissertation develops the theme of attitude through "critical" discourse. Critical discourse fleshes the attitude of the speaker by denaturalizing the orderliness of talk and by providing social accounts which are intended to probe the social roots of language. Critical discourse also accounts for why things happen the way they do, by whom and the motive for their doing. It, therefore, establishes a link between verbal interaction and three social phenomena which determine and are determined by verbal interaction. These factors are: action, institution and higher social formation. Action is at the social base and is presupposed by social structure, institution is the loci of power and provides its subjects with motive and with a frame of work to act within, while higher social formation stands for a series of elements and their interrelations which conjointly define the persistence of a social formation and distinguish one society from another. The study develops an integrated model of critical discourse for the analysis of figurative expression. The model is composed of three components: (i) syntax, (ii) an interpretative guideline, and (iii) an explanatory framework. Finally, figurative expression is examined and a translation assessment based on an empirical approach is made. The dissertation examines figures of speech in literary works where they abound. Nevertheless its findings can be applicable to other discourse types. This is because it deals with figurative expression as a transaction that is negotiated between the two parties to the verbal interaction. The implication of the critical approach towards the study of discourse for the translator-trainee is two-fold. First, he should make a thorough linguistic analysis of figurative expression before he embarks on translating, and second, he should consider language as a social practice that has its roots in the society from which it emanates. He, therefore, has to try to account for all factors that might have a bearing on the meaning of the text he is going to handle. The findings deduced from this study are summed up as follows. First, figures of speech are functional in that they specifically help discourse to emerge and help to distinguish one discourse type from another. Second, figures of speech form an ensemble of thought which can express a body of (discoursal) attitudes and tones. Third, the dissertation corroborates that negligence or unawareness of the discourse aspect weakens the effect of figures of speech and sometimes distorts the meaning. Four, the present studies by both theorists and experimenters of figurative expression are not sensitive enough to its discourse function, nor are the translators of the two novels which form the data for this study.