Textual Genre in French Translation II

As outlined in the previous section, there are five broad categories of textual genre in French translation. They are the empirical, philosophical, religious, persuasive and literary genres. Empirical texts deal with the world of fact and observation. Texts belonging to this genre aim to providing information to the reader in an unbiased and objective manner. Examples: scientific, technological and scholarly texts. As long as the facts are correct, the authors of empirical texts are confident of fulfilling their purpose.

Convincing with Genre

Philosophical texts deal with the world of ideas as opposed to observable facts, but it is a world still controlled by the rules of reason and logic. Religious texts deal with the spiritual world that possesses its own set of truths and realities. The author’s purpose is usually revealing or explaining the nature of this world to the reader or listener. The authors of religious texts can never be confident that they are fulfilling their purpose.

As the name suggests, the persuasive genre attempts to convert the reader or listener to its own point of view, either by following its instructions or subscribing to its beliefs. Persuasive texts can take the form of instruction manuals, political speeches, advertisements, guidebooks etc. Like the authors of religious texts, the authors of persuasive texts can never be certain that they will be successful in convincing and converting the reader or listener to their point of view.

Literary Genre

The literary genre deals with a world that is a figment of the author’s imagination. It is or can be independent of the real word in which we live. Texts belonging to the literary genre are marked by a preponderance of stylistic and rhetorical features that are indissolubly bound with the message of the text. Among all the genres mentioned above, the author of a literary text is least likely to exercise an effective control on the emotions of the reader or listener. The effect on the reader or listener might be quite independent of what the author intended.

French translation of any of the above textual genres will confront the French translator with the following questions:

What are the textual features, what genre are they characteristic of and do they contribute to the purpose of the text in any way?
Do the genre-specific features require special treatment? Can any of them be omitted in translation?
With which target culture genre can the source text be related?

The method to be adopted in the case of textual genre in French translation is to identify the features first and then assigning the genre that corresponds to those features. If the translator assigns the genre first, he might end up disregarding the features that do not correspond to the already assigned genre. The translator should also fortify the skills he or she applies to textual genre in French translation by engaging in the act of genre sampling. The French translator should study target texts belonging to the same genre before beginning to translate.

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