Context and double articulation in the translation of verbal art

Annabelle Lukin, Adriana Pagano

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution


In 'Towards a theory of good translation', Halliday argues 'It is notoriously difficult to say why, or even whether, something is a good translation…The central organizing concept is presumably that of 'equivalence'; but equivalence with respect to what?' (Halliday, 2001: 15). Catford (1965) defines translation equivalence in relation to situation, i.e. as 'the greatest possible overlap of situational range'. In this paper, we take Catford's definition of translation equivalence in order to consider the work that 'field', 'tenor' and 'mode' can do in the interpretation of the higher order meanings of a literary work, and in the evaluation of literary translations. In relation to the analysis of verbal art, Hasan (e.g. 1996) argues for two orders of field, tenor and mode. Taking field, for instance, she considers the first level to be the meanings that we can paraphrase, while the second order field concerns meanings we deduce from 'the particular ways in which the first order field is constituted' (ibid. p51). This is a process of 'double articulation', (or 'symbolic articulation' e.g. Hasan, 1971, 1985) and relates to the expression of the deepest meanings, of 'theme' of the work. Literary texts are the environment in which we see the potential of values in field, tenor and mode as 'raw material' in the creation of art; yet as 'values' they are already semiotic (cf Mukařovsky 1977). The text we draw on is 'Bliss', a famous, somewhat controversial, and widely translated story from a celebrated 20th century short story writer, Katherine Mansfield.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTo boldly proceed
Subtitle of host publicationpapers from the 39th International Systemic Functional Congress
EditorsJohn Knox
Place of PublicationSydney
PublisherOrganising Committee of the 39th International Systemic Functional Congress
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9780646582573
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventInternational Systemic Functional Congress (39th : 2012) - Sydney
Duration: 16 Jul 201220 Jul 2012


ConferenceInternational Systemic Functional Congress (39th : 2012)

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