Intertextuality in French Translation
Texts forge relations between each other by quoting from each other. Often, they echo, to various degrees, the emotional or thematic nuances of another text. Intertextuality can serve the purpose of arousing and molding the reader’s expectations. It can give depth, fullness and richness to the borrower-text. Since no text exists in a vacuum, all texts are intertextual atWhile intersententiality refers to the relations between sentences, intertextuality goes beyond that referring to the relations that exist between texts. a certain level. However, some texts make a deliberate use of intertextuality. In this discussion, we will focus on the issues arising out of rendering the deliberate use of intertextuality in French translation.
French translators must pay special attention to the following forms of intertextuality in French translation: genre membership and the use of quotations and allusions.
Genre membership refers to the relation between a text and the genre to which it belongs. Every text is bound to belong to a certain genre. The French translator’s first task is to identify the genre of the source text. His or her second task is to determine how typical the source text is of the genre to which it belongs. In other words, is the source text content to reproduce all or most of the major features of its genre, or does it deviate from the genre in any way? If the source text is typical of its genre, then the French translation will be relatively straightforward. This is generally the case with scientific and technical texts.
If the source text deviates, then the French translator will have to ascertain the purpose served by the deviations. The deviations may serve a merely stylistic purpose. The French translator can render such deviations in French translation if they do not compromise the message. If they interfere with the message, then the French translator will have to give primacy to the message. In some texts, style and content reinforce each other. Translating such texts can be especially challenging. Problems may also arise when the source text is very innovative, or when no genre exists in the target culture that corresponds to the genre of the source text.
French Translator Discernment
Intertextuality can often take the form of parody. Parody occurs in advertising, journalism and literature, and can be a source of mockery or delight. The French translator must be able to discern the existence of parody, and he or she must be able to choose a style that corresponds to the style of the source text. Writers very often use quotations and allusions to create an impact. The French translator must begin by identifying the quotation. Then he or she must choose a strategy for reproducing it in French translation. French translations of many quotations often exist in the target language; the French translator must decide if he or she wants to use an existing version. If more than one version exists, he or she must decide which version to use.
Sometimes, a quotation in the source text might be so bound by the culture in which it occurs that it might not arouse any echo in the target language reader. The French translator is then faced with the following choices: he or she may leave out the quotation; he or she may provide a literal translation; or may compensate for it in some sort of way. Context and purpose usually play an important role in determining the need and the nature of rendering intertextuality in French translation. Finally, the French translator must be careful not to see allusions where they do not exist.