Translation, Lingustics, Culture: A French-english Handbook by Nigel Armstrong

By Nigel Armstrong

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The major assumption that is relevant here is that it is the ‘audience’, in the sense of a speaker’s addressee(s), that is/are primarily responsible for causing the speaker to ‘design’ a stretch of language in response to the social characteristics of the audience, by pitching the language at a certain point on the formal–informal style continuum. The importance of context has been much stressed in the study of translation, and the relationship between social variation (prestige/non-prestige language) and stylistic (formal–informal language) is just one dimension of the many that make up the overall influence of context on language.

One might think that the purest examples of texts of this kind are weather forecasts and air-traffic control instructions, where culturespecific information is at a minimum. A more everyday text of this type is shown in (13) below, where we can see that culture-specific differences are virtually absent, the informative intention is very important, and the readership clearly defined The remarks made concerning the purely grammatical difficulties in text (3) in a previous section (the text on mathematical functions), apply also to the Fablon parallel texts below.

For instance, Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises (1954: 240) (Fiesta in the UK) has the following passage, where the narrator and his interlocutor are clearly portrayed as speaking in Spanish (the setting is Madrid, where the narrator is talking to a hotel employee): (1) Did I want to stay myself in person in the Hotel Montana? Of that as yet I was undecided, but it would give me pleasure if my bags were brought up from the ground floor in order that they might not be stolen. Nothing was ever stolen in the Hotel Montana.

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