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8. Rendering of Trite and Original Devices


A translator should be fully aware of the degree of expressiveness of stylistic devices used in the text. A line of distinction must be drawn between what is stylistically trite and what is stylistically original. It especially refers to lexical stylistic devices: deliberate mixing of words belonging to different layers of the vocabulary, metaphors, metonymies, epithets, similes, etc. stylistic equivalence is a fundamental requirement.

Publicist and newspaper styles have different accepted norms in English and in Ukrainian and in conformity with these norms certain stylistic modifications may be necessary. For instance, colloquial and even slang words are frequently used in English newspaper style and therefore a typical modification in translating English newspaper texts into Ukrainian is a switch from colloquial or neutral to literary. Such changes are due to a somewhat greater orientation of Ukrainian newspaper style towards literary norms and standards.

You don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy historic houses in Britain but it helps.

Не треба бути істориком-педантом, щоб насолоджуватися відвідуванням історичних будівель, але це допомагає.


The word “buff” is a highly colloquial, if not slangy word, meaning “a dull, slow-witted person” (Webster III). In the translation its stylistic reference is elevated and it is rendered by a literary word (педант).

A certain toning down is sometimes necessary in the translation of such lexical stylistic devices used in newspaper articles as metaphors, metaphoric epithets and metonymies.

Metaphors are found in all emotively coloured styles of language but metaphors in the Belles-Lettres style (in imaginative prose) are usually original whereas original metaphors in newspaper style are rare, trite metaphors are, as a rule, given preference. The object pursued by editorials to bring the reader round to the paper’s point of view, to suggest that paper’s interpretation is the only correct one. Editorials appeal not only to the reader’s mind but to his feelings as well. That accounts for an extensive use of various stylistic devices, metaphors in particular. But unlike metaphors in imaginative prose metaphors in editorials can be easily replaced if necessary. Such substitution may be caused by different usage, different valency or different TL norms.



The communists were the friends of peace in the foul weather of the cold war.

Комуністи були вірними захисниками миру в суворі дні холодної війни.


The collocation сувора погода холодної войни would violate the norm of Ukrainian stylistic usage as would the combination друзі миру.

Toning down is resorted to in translating trite metonymies which are so extensively used in English.

Red carpet for the Oil Prince

Britain is pushing the boat out this week for the first official visit by one of the world’s most powerful man, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia and the most influential voice in world politics.

Пишна зустріч нафтового володаря

Англія посилено готується до першого офіційного візиту цього тижня одного з наймогутніших людей світу – наслідного принца і прем’єр-міністра Саудівської Аравії, людини, чий голос має вирішальне значення в міжнародній політиці.


The headline metonymy (red carpet) is replaced by the words expressing the notion which it stands for (пишна зустріч).

The second metonymy is preserved by means of addition.


9. Original Metaphors and Their Translation


The preservation of original metaphors in imaginative prose is obligatory as they belong to the main features of a writer’s individual style. If for some linguistic reason (different valency, different semantic structure, etc.) the original metaphor cannot be preserved, resort is taken to stylistic replacements or compensation either by substituting another image or by using another stylistic device, e.g.

And Might by limping Sway disabled. (Shakespeare Sonnet 66)


И мощь в плену у немощи беззубой. (пер. С.Маршака)


The metaphoric epithets “limping” and беззубый are formally not identical semantic units but as they have a common seme denoting a physical defect, stylistically they may be regarded as equivalents.


The sun would pour through the shutters, tiger-striping the table and floor…

(G. Durrell)

Сонце сяяло крізь ставні, і стіл і підлога були схожі на тигрову шкіру.


The metaphor is rendered by a simile.

An original metaphor has sometimes to be substituted for grammatical reasons, for instance, the category of gender may be a case in point.


Can’t think how he married that glass of sour milk. (W.Deeping).

Не можу собі уявити, як він міг одружитися з цією чашкою кислого молока.


The Ukrainian noun стакан is masculine and must in this case be substituted by a feminine noun чашка.

A trite metaphor is sometimes revived by adding to it a new image expressed by one or more words.


He was a rich vein of information, and I mined him assiduously. (G.Durrell).

Він був невичерпним джерелом інформації, і я невтомно черпав з нього.


Sometimes the difficulty of rendering metaphors in translation is due to the fact that the metaphor is based on some phraseological unit which has no equivalent in Ukrainian.

Never before had Lucy met that negative silence in its full perfection, in its full cruelty. Her own edges began to curl up sympathy. (J. Tey).

Ніколи ще Люсі не зіштовхувалась з такою абсолютною мовчанкою, настільки характерною для англійців і настільки немилосердною; в ній самій почало кипіти обурення.



The metaphor in this example “her own edges began to curl up in sympathy” is linked up with two phraseological unities:

1. to be on edge – to be excited or irritable; 2. to set person’s teeth on edge – jar his nerves, affect him with repulsion (The Concise Oxford Dictionary). The semes in this case are reshuffled, the referential meaning of the word “edge” is revived, and the meaning of the two phraseological unities (to be irritable, to have one’s nerves jarred) is present. This interaction of two meanings is perceived as deliberate interplay.


10. Original Metonymies and their Translation


The rendering of metonymy is not always easy because of differences in usage.


So the pink sprigged muslin and the champagne voile ran downstairs in a hurry.

(C. Dane).

The metonymies «рожевий муслин у квіточках і палева кісея збігли по сходах» are hardly possible in Ukrainian. The following is an acceptable rendering:


Подружки, одна в рожевому муслині в квіточках та інша у палевій кісеї швидко збігли по сходах.


The addition of a concrete word – подружки – is prompted by the macro context, but the stylistic effect is certainly lost in translation. What is permissible and possible in our language is impossible in another. Still there are cases when the norms of the Ukrainian language permit the use of original metonymies.

There were only four other people in the bar. I knew them all, or knew what they did for a living: timber, flour, textiles, insurance. Timber and Flower were standing at the counter discussing the cost of labour; Textiles at a table on the opposite side of the room was complaining about his garage bills. Insurance was listening patiently. (J.Braine).


У барі було ще тільки четверо людей. Я знав їх, вірніше знав, чим вони займаються: будівельний ліс, борошно, текстиль, страхування. Будівельний ліс і Борошно стояли біля стійки, обговорюючи вартість робочої сили; Текстиль, сидячи біля столику в іншому кінці бару, скаржився на великі рахунки за гараж. Страхування терпляче його слухав.


11. Transferred Epithet and its Translation


Another example of different frequency and different specific weight of a stylistic device is presented by the transferred epithet which is a structural variant of the metaphoric epithet. Its expressive force lies in its peculiar distribution: syntactically it modifies one word whereas logically it refers to another. Thus, syntactically it stands apart from the word to which it is semantically attached. Transferred epithets both trite and original are widely used in English while in Ukrainian they are mainly confined to poetry. Such combinations with transferred epithets as “hasty luncheon”, “quick cigarette”, “accusing finger”, “indifferent shoulder”, etc. have become clichés through their frequent use.

Some models of transferred epithets are more unusual and therefore more expressive but nevertheless are rarely preserved in translation.

his commanding officer had called him … and sent him on his puzzled way. (M. West).

Командир покликав його ... й послав із дорученням, яке зовсім спантеличило його.

The Ukrainian translation in keeping with the existing norms of valency re-establishes the logical link between the attribute and the modified word but inevitably destroys the stylistic effect.

In the narrow darkness between the doors he drew his pistol. (E.Gardner).

The epithet “narrow” semantically refers to the implied word “interval” (between the doors) which is introduced in the Ukrainian translation.


У вузькому проміжку між дверима він витягнув свій пістолет.


12. Violation of Phraseological Units and its Rendering


Another stylistic device which may also be described as national is the so-called violation of phraseological units or renovation. This device is used in all types of phraseological units: fusion, unities and collocations. But despite their stability, phraseological units are easily broken by some lexical element which is either added or substituted. Evidently the ties binding the components are not indissoluble, which is probably due to a wide and flexible collocability of the English language.

The substitution of a component element may be achieved by a synonym or an antonym, by a word with a resembling sound form, or by any word prompted by the context or by the writer’s intention. These substitutions are always occasional and unpredictable, e.g.

Every country on the old continent has a fine collection of skeletons in the cupboard.

У всіх європейських країн є чимало негожих таємниць, які вони приховують одна від одної.


The meaning is fully rendered but the device is not reproduced in the translation. It is a typical case of semantic but not of stylistic equivalence.


The President is not going to be a bull in the economic china shop.

У питаннях економіки президент не збирається поводитися як слон у посудній лавці.


The device is rendered by a detached construction.

Substitution based on the phonetic principle can be illustrated by the following example from Winston Churchill’s speech in the Commons after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour:

I hesitate to express opinions about the future, because things turn cut so very oddly, but I will go so far as to say that it may be Japanese, whose game is what I may call “To make hell while the sun shines” are more likely to occupy themselves in securing their rich prizes in the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies and the Malayan Archipelago”.


Я завжди вагають, коли маю висловлювати думку щодо майбутнього, тому що події розгортаються таким не передбачуваним шляхом, але я дозволю собі зауважити, що, можливо, японці, гра котрих полягає в тому, щоб, користаючись сприятливими обставинами, скоїли якомога більше бід, скоріш за все намагатимуться закріпити за собою свої цінні надбання на Філіппінах, у Голландській Ост-Індії і на Малайському архіпелазі.


The effect of this violation is enhanced by a play on words resulting from combining two phraseological units: a proverb “to make hay while the sun shines” and a collocation “to make hell”.

Only semantic equivalence is achieved in the translation, as the corresponding Ukrainian proverb Куй залізо, доки гаряче (коваль клепне, доки тепле) would be irrelevant here.

Substitutions also occur in allusions and epigrams, e.g.


The family was at this moment divided, unlike Gaul, into four parts.

У цей момент, на відміну від Галлії, родина розділилася на чотири частини.


This is an allusion to the well-known opening line of Caesar’s “De bello gallico”. The English translation of the original sentence runs as follows: “Gaul as a whole is divided into three parts”. Besides substitution, the allusion is extended by means of a lexical addition and is structurally altered.

Violation may also be achieved by a shifting of component elements, as was done, for example, by Evelyn Waugh:

There’s danger in numbers; divided we stand, united we fall”.

In the first phrase E.Waugh substitutes the noun “danger” for “safety” (there is safety in numbers); in the second, he shifts the components (united we stand, divided we fall).


The following translation may be suggested:

У єдності слабкість. Окремо ми встоїмо. Разом ми загтнемо.

The revival of a faded metaphor or metaphoric element may be regarded by the introduction of some word or words which restore and bring to mind the original transference of meaning.

I wanted to give her not a piece but the whole of my mind. (S.Maugham)

In phraseological unity “to give apiece of one’s mind – відверто висловити комусь своє несхвалення one of the components is a faded metaphor (piece) but the additional word “the whole” brings back the original meaning of the word “piece”. Naturally the device cannot be preserved but can be compensated by means of expressive synonyms and an intensifier.

Я хотів не тільки відверто висловити їй своє несхвалення, але й буквально викласти все, що я про неї думав.

Set expressions (collocations) are easily violated as the ties between the elements are rather loose. This fact is confirmed by the existence of synonymous variants, e.g. to cast a glance, to dart a glance, etc.

Phrases containing repetition (of the type “day by day”, “step by step”) are also sometimes broken by an additional word.

The clocks of Silverhill ticked away minute by slow minute. (P. Whitney).

Годинниик в Сільверхіллі повільно відраховували хвилину за хвилиною.



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