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13. Foregrounding and Translation

Modern English writers and journalists often give preference to foregrounding over, traditional stylistic devices. By foregrounding is understood the use of neutral linguistic means for stylistic purposes. A grammatical form or structure thus acquires great expressiveness and may be regarded as a stylistic device.

Foregrounding reveals and brings forth the potentialities which are inherent in linguistic means. Just as a port a writer senses the expressive possibilities of a word, he sees potential expressiveness in a grammatical structure or form and skillfully uses it. Foregrounding is always individual, is displayed in unexpected contexts and posses a high degree of unpredictability. Practically every grammatical form and every part of speech may be foregrounded, that is used for expressiveness.

Foregrounding of Articles

The rendering of the meaning of articles has already been considered in the chapter dealing with grammatical problems.

In the following example Iris Murdoch effectively reveals the stylistic force of the two articles, their expressive possibilities and their effective use for stylistic purposes.

Perhaps he would achieve some sort of piece, the piece of an elderly man, a piece of cozy retirement…

Можливо, він знайде якийсь душевний спокій, такий спокій, спокій, властивий людям похилого віку, такий спокій, котрий дає приємне усамітнення.

The foregrounded articles are compensated lexically.

Foregrounding of Degrees of Comparison

Degrees of comparison can also be foregrounded. Such foregrounding may be achieved in two ways: either by semantic or by morphological violation of the norm. The semantic violation of the norm is applied to descriptive adjectives which by virtue of their semantics do not admit of comparison. Yet for the sake of expressiveness they are used either in the comparative or in the superlative degrees.

Very good, sir”, said the groom, at his most wooden, and sprang down into the road. (Georgette Heyer)

It should be pointed out that in this сase the superlative degree with the preposition “at” and a possessive pronoun forms a special model and is used absolutely as an elative, which implies that the object described possesses a certain quality beyond comparison.

Слушаюсь, сэр”, сказал грум с самым, что ни на есть деревянным выражением лица и спрыгнул на дорогу.

The meaning of the elative is rendered by a colloquial intensifier (что ни на есть).

Another example of semantic violation:

The station is more daunting than the Gare du Nord: golder, grander.


Цей вокзал приголомшує своєю величчю більш ніж Північний вокзал у Парижі, він ще більш золотий, ще більш розкішний.

The device is preserved in the translation.

The foregrounding of descriptive adjectives is sometimes found in newspapers style as well.

The report’s proposals were handed over to a much more ”political” committee…

Пропозиції доповіді було передано комітету, який керував політикою на набагато вищому рівні.

The inverted commas indicate that newspapers style is more conventional than imaginative prose.

Morphological violation may be described as violation of established grammatical norms for stylistic purposes and the degrees of comparison become functionally charged.

Curiouser and curioser”, said Alice. (Lewis Carroll)

Polixena Solovieva, the translator, takes recourse to the same device.

Cтранче и странче”, сказала Алиса.

Annie, could you give me a quart of coffee in a carton?”

It’ll have to be two points, Eth.”

Good. Even gooder”. (J.Stainbeck)

Анни, дай мне кварту кофе в пакете”.

У меня пакеты по две пинты”.

Ладно, даже распреладно”.

Foregrounding of the Plural Form

The plural form is foregrounded when it is used with uncountable nouns or with “noun phrases”. The plural moves an uncountable noun into a new category, thus stressing it.

He was bursting with new ideas and new enthusiasms. (I.Shaw).

В ньому вирували нові ідеї й нові захоплення.

We spent a long day together, with a great many “Do you remembers?

(Desmond Young).

Ми пробули весь день разом, невпинно повторюючи: „А ти пам’ятаєш?”

As conversion is used in Ukrainian on a limited scale it can hardly ever preserved.

Foregrounding of Word Building

New words are coined by affixation, word-compounding and conversion. All these means of word-building are frequently foregrounded. Their expressiveness is due to their individual character and is often a feature of the writer’s style.

As word-building possesses a national character the rendering of such coinages constitutes a complicated problem of translation.

Foregrounding of Suffixes. Suffixes present great variety and have different productivity in the S and T languages. The English language is particularly rich in suffixes and their productivity is prodigious. The case with which new words are formed is amazing. Individual coinages speedily become neologisms and enter the vocabulary. Some suffixes are exceptionally productive and offer great possibilities for foregrounding. Such coinages often baffle the translator and their rendering requires considerable ingenuity on his part, usually at the cost of compactness.

This is well illustrated by the word “hackdom” in the following example:

no one who knows his long, dreary record in the House, 25 years of plodding through hackdom would ever accuse him of being a leader.

...жодному з тих, хто знайомий з тривалим і понурим перебуванням цієї людини в Конгресі, не спало б на думку назвати лідером цього посереднього конгресмена, який 25 років скнів над найповсякденнішою роботою.

The suffix –ful is also foregrounded.

After the pattern of “handful” and “mouthful” the adjective “faceful” is formed for vividness of expression.

A new ward sister, fat and forceful with a huge untroubled faceful of flesh and brisk legs, was installed. (M.Spark).

У палаті оселилася нова сестра, енергійна товстуха з величезною незворушною м’ясистою фізіономією і швидкою ходою.

The stylistic effect is lost because a very usual attribute “мясистый” does not stylistically correspond to the correlated nonce-word “faceful”.

Perhaps the most productive of all suffixes is the suffix –er used both for nominalization and for stylistic purposes. The frequency of its partial grammaticalization, in other words, this suffix often functions as a noun indicator. Despite its universal character this suffix is easily foregrounded. It is used by writers for forming nonce-words sometimes parallel with existing ones built from the verb but having a different meaning, e.g. “a waiter”: 1. a man who takes and executes orders (The Concise Oxford Dictionary); 2. a man who can wait. (John Stainbeck).

She is a waiter – I can see that now and I guess she had at lengthy last grown weary of waiting.

Вона звикла чекати, тепер я це розумію. Але мені здається, що їй нарешті набридло чекати.

The suffix –able, another most productive suffix, is also frequently foregrounded. It is often used in advertising as its lexical meaning has not disappeared, e.g. a hummable record – a record that can be hummed; a filmable novel – a novel that can be filmed.

The lanes were not passable, complained a villager, not even jackassable.

Стіжки ще непролазні, скаржився один селюк, по них не тільки людина, навіть віслюк не пройде.

These coinages are also translated by extension and are equivalent only semantically, not stylistically.

Foregrounding of Compounds
. Nonce-words formed by compounding are naturally conspicuous.

He was a born parent-pleaser. (I.Shaw).

У нього був талант подобатися батькам.

Conversion and Foregrounding
. Conversion – this typical means of word building in English is often foregrounded.

This mode of word-building is a typical example of compression and at the same time it is a means of achieving expressiveness.

We therefore decided that we would sleep out on fine nights; and hotel it, and inn it and pub it, like respectable folks, when it was wet, or when we felt inclined for a change. (Jerome K. Jerome).

Итак, мы решили, что будем спать по открытым небом только в хорошую погоду, а в дождливые дни или просто для разнообразия станем ночевать в гостиницах, трактирах и постоялых дворах, как порядочные люди.

Conversion is sometimes based on a free combination of words resulting in a compound.

The cat high-tailed away and scrambled over the board fence. (J.Stainbeck).

Кіт відійшов, підняв хвіст угору і стрибнув через паркан.

Again a case of semantic but not of stylistic equivalence.

Foregrounding of Adverbial Verbs

The so-called adverbial verbs, that is, verbs containing two semes, one expressing action and the other describing the character of that action, are often used for stylistic purposes in the same way as causative verbs. Such use can be traced far back even to Shakespeare.

She splashed the four chipped cups down on a table by the door.


Вона так шпарко поставила всі чотири надтріснуті чашки на стіл у дверей, що чай розплескався.

In this case the verb “to splash down” contains three semes: the action itself, its character and its result.

Emphatic Constructions

Emotive colouring and expressiveness of speech may be achieved by various emphatic means both grammatical and lexical. Expressiveness and emotive colouring should not be confused. The former is a wider notion than the latter. Emphatic means are used even in those styles of language which lack emotive colouring, viz. the style of scientific prose and official style. Emphatic models give prominence either to one element of the utterance or make the whole utterance forceful and expressive.

Emphatic means of the English language present great variety and bear a distinct national character. Some emphatic models in English and in Ukrainiancoincide but there are considerable differences. Even coincidences are often partial or seeming. Therefore rendering of emphasis in translation is not a simple task.

Inversion as a Means of Emphasis.

The emphatic role of inversion is a well-known fact, and need not be considered here. It is only to be mentioned that the stylistic function of inversion is frequently rendered lexically.

Up goes unemployment, up go prices, and down tumbles the labour vote.

Безробіття різко зросло, ціни підскочили, а кількість голосів, поданих за лейбористів, катастрофічно впала.

Emphatic Use of the “As…as” Model. The model “as…as” expressing the same degree of quality may be used emphatically not in its direct function but to express the superlative degree. In this case it is as a rule combined with the pronouns “any”, “anything”, “anybody”. The translations of this model require lexical compensation.

As he has since admitted, he admires Rosamund Darnley as much as any woman he had ever met. (Agatha Christie)

Як він потім зізнався, жодна жінка на світі не викликала в ньому такого захоплення як Розамунд Дарнлі.

Emphatic Negative Constructions

Negative constructions are more expressive than affirmative ones and possess a stronger emotive colouring.This is due to the fact that the category of negation indicates that the link between the negation indicates that the link between the notions expressed by the subject and the predicate is non-existant.

The negative word “no” is a powerful means of stressing the some member of the sentence.

Our arrangement was no announcement for few days. (A.Halley)

Ми домовились: жодних повідомлень протягом найближчих днів.

The emphatic use of the colon in the translation attracts attention to what follows. Emphasis is also created by ellipsis.

Semantic Foregrounding

The lexical possibilities of foregrounding are also considerable. A writer sometimes skillfully uses a word in an unusual combination owing to which it becomes conspicuous and acquires greater expressive value.

I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that the government and its Department of Citizenship and Emigration have their collective sheet firmly rooted in the nineteenth century. (A.Halley)

Я висловлюю припущення, містер Спікер, що уряд і Міністерство зі справ громадянства й еміграції все ще вперто чіпляються за принципи XIX століття.

The unusual combination “collective feet” cannot be preserved in Ukrainian (коллективные ноги would be unacceptable) and only the semantic aspect of the combination is rendered in the translation.

Stylistic means and devices present considerable and varied problems for translation. They possess a distinct national character although at first sight they may appear to be identical. Foreground linguistic means give rise to particularly hard problems as specific national language means are brought into play by foregrounding, e.g. articles, suffixes, the passive voice, conversion, etc.

The translator must be fully aware of the function of a stylistic device and its effect, to be able to reproduce the same effect by other means, if necessary, thus minimizing the inevitable losses due to inherent divergences.

To conclude: stylistic equivalence may be achieved by different means and not necessary by the same device.


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