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Translator’s Stylistic Choice of Italics: A Study of Korean-to-English Translation of 『소년이 온다』 (soyon-i on-ta)

Cho, Euiyon 1 Sookhee Cho 2

1동국대학교
2신한대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this paper is to explain the phenomenon of italics used in the source text 『소년이 온다』 (soyon-i on-ta) and its translated English text Human Acts by Deborah Smith. We have found that italics in source text is to emphasize narrative information. The author Han Kang uses them as a literary device to highlight the pain of the victims or the oppressed in her novel although italics are rarely used in Korean writings. In English narratives, although the use of italics is conventionalized as a punctuation mark, there is an additional function which is called ‘emphasis’ to visually highlight either informational focused item or narratives to shift the reader’s attention to the marked information. In the translated text Human Acts, the use of narrative emphatic italics is found to have been increased in number from 87 tokens to 151 tokens. We have argued that the increased numbers of italics in Deborah Smith is not due to normalization but the translator’s motivation to further highlight the painful voices of characters to leave the translator’s stylistic trait in her translation. In short, the increased use of narrative emphatic italics in Human Acts is ascribed to the translator’s own style influenced by the source text writer’s own preference in making use of italics to signal the characters’ deep pains incurred by the government’s military suppression of Kwangjoo people.

Citation status

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