Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

From Iron Horse to Rauta-airot - a Semiotic View on the Domestication of Metaphors in Literary Translation

Mika Loponen

Master's thesis, November 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, Department of English.

The thesis concentrates on two questions: the translation of metaphors in literary texts, and the use of semiotic models and tools in translation studies. The aim of the thesis is to present a semiotic, text based model designed to ease the translation of metaphors and to analyze translated metaphors.

In the translation of metaphors I will concentrate on the central problem of metaphor translations: in addition to its denotation and connotation, a single metaphor may contain numerous culture or genre specific meanings. How can a translator ensure the translation of all meanings relevant to the text as a whole?

I will approach the question from two directions. Umberto Eco's holistic text analysis model provides an opportunity to concentrate on the problematic nature of metaphor translation from the level of a text as a specific entity, while George Lakoff's and Mark Johnson's metaphor research makes it possible to approach the question from the level of individual metaphors. On the semiotic side, the model utilizes Eero Tarasti's existential semiotics supported by Algirdas Greimas' actant model and Yuri Lotman's theory of cultural semiotics.

In the model introduced in the thesis, individual texts are deconstructed through Eco's model into elements. The textual roles and features of these elements are distilled further through Tarasti's model into their coexistent meaning levels. The priorization and analysis of these meaning levels provide an opportunity to consider the contents and significance of specific metaphors in relation to the needs of the text as a whole.

As example texts, I will use Motörhead's hard rock classic Iron Horse/Born to Lose and its translation into Rauta-airot by Viikate. I will use the introduced model to analyze the metaphors in the source and target texts, and to consider the transfer of culture specific elements between the languages and cultural borders. In addition, I will use the analysis process to examine the validity of the model introduced in the thesis.

The title page of the publication

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Last updated 17.11.2006

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