Phonics in French Translation II

Phonics, that is, the combination of sounds in a text, becomes particularly meaningful when it takes the form of alliteration or assonance. Phonics may or may not have an impact on the message and purpose of a text. If it does have an important bearing on the message or the subject matter of the source text, then the French translator must strive to transfer the phonics to the target text in French translation. Factors such as the purpose of the source text, the purpose of the target text and the purpose of the phonic features will enable the French translator to make an appropriate decision about the importance of phonic features. Phonic features fulfill an expressive function and are of undeniable importance in advertisements, literary texts and in journalistic pieces.

It may be absent from the source text, but, sometimes, the target text might be flooded with a particular type of sound. The French translator must prevent this phenomenon from occurring because it may harm the readability of the text by introducing tongue twisters; it may also jeopardize the effect of the text by making it sound comic. Phonic features in a text may also take the form of sound-symbolism. Sound-symbolism may take any one of the following forms: a sound/word in a text may evoke echoes of a similar word in another text; a particular sound may occur in more than one word in the same text, thus linking these words together and conveying the connotations of each similar sounding word on the rest in the sequence. Once again, sound-symbolism is more a feature of literary than technical texts.

Phonics for Translators

While translating sound-symbolism in French Translation the French translator needs to keep in mind the fact that symbols associated with sounds do not have fixed meanings, and any meaning they possess is a product of the context in which they occur. Therefore this results in the fact that changing the context will change the connotations that have come to be associated with the symbol in that context. The ability to recognize and respond to sound-symbolism is subjective, that is, it will vary from individual to individual. Whether the sound-symbolism needs to be translated or not will be determined by studying such factors in terms of its function and how integral its connection is with the message and purpose of the text.

For purposes of rendering phonics in French translation it should be remembered that it would not be possible to reproduce the sound effects of the source text in exactly the same manner and in the same place in the target text. It will be almost impossible to reproduce the exact sound pattern. The French translator should feel satisfied reproducing the sound device in French translation, whether it is alliteration, assonance, or sound-symbolism.

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