"You Mean We're Not Real People?": A semiotic and sociolinguistic perspective on the transposition of fictive Dialogue in the Spanish Translations of John Updike's "Rabbit" books
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Despite the vast amount of research on translation in recent decades, the issue of fictive dialogue has yet to gain prominence in the field. Viewed from a monolingual perspective, dialogue is already problematic in that it defies a concrete definition. It is written language, yet its function is to represent oral discourse. From a translation perspective and beyond this ontological conundrum, dialogue warrants consideration because it is a crucial characterisation device. The illusion of communicative immediacy that authors create by removing themselves as proxy not only allows characters to interact with one another directly, but also allows readers to observe the behaviour of characters without the intrusion of the narrator, thus raising the issue of how characters perform their identity through language. With this in mind, the overarching question this thesis asks is the following: if the language characters use in dialogue changes, as it must do in translation, how does this change affect how they perform their identity through language? This project compares John Updike's 'Rabbit' books and their Spanish translations to explore whether the linguistic identity of the main character, Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom, his wife, Janice, and the AfricanAmerican community, are codified in the target dialogue. With regards to translating Harry Angstrom's voice, the focus is on transposing his source text idiolect in order to reflect salient character attributes; the focus with regards to the African-American characters is on finding a suitable target language vernacular that constructs an intratextual speech community; finally, the focus for Janice's voice is on reflecting her gender in Spanish. Informed by a theoretical framework constructed with translation, sociolinguistic and semiotic theory, the analyses describe the translation shifts and losses that are in evidence in the professional translations, and put forward alternatives that recast the voice of the characters in line with the identity described in the source narrative
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