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In search of lost titles: some issues encountered in translating the titles of narrative texts

NAM Yun-Ji 1

1한국외국어대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Translating the titles of narrative texts is a sui generis operation in the sense that the ontological conditions and pragmatic functions of a title considerably predetermine the translator's task. The title is a privileged place where we can observe the horizon of expectations with regard to the actualization and reception of a work. This article intends to give an account of the internal and external factors which intervene in the act of translating a title (historicity; elliptical and nominal style norms; referential, intratextual, intertextual, paratextual, hypertextual relations; communicative dimension, functions and effects; and socio-cultural aspects). It especially seeks to shed light on the three functions of a title - designative, metalinguistic and seductive (the title as rigid designator or dense texture of meaning, synecdoche or interpretative key, and whetting the reader’s appetite or advertising). If the designative function of a title is oriented to the work as a referential object, the metalinguistic function is oriented to the text as an interpretative object. As for the seductive function, it looks outside the text, or in other words, to the public. In the case of a translation or retranslation of a title, these three functions come into play at the same time, but one function can get the upper hand on the other two. This approach will demonstrate why translators often adopt practices of translation which differ from that of equivalence.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.