Freeside Europe Online Academic Journal

Freeside Europe Online Academic Journal

Modern cultural, literary and linguistic perspectives

Judit Szitó: Formulaic language and translation: The case of the Hungarian dirge


DOI 10.51313/Freeside-2021-7

The study proposes that “good clichés”, often named formulas or formulaic language in linguistics, can be best represented in another language as folklore translations. The claim is demonstrated through providing folklore translations to formulaic segments of Hungarian dirges, a genre which is characterized by formulaic composition. The dirge is an improvised folklore genre, a special lament for the deceased that is composed on the spot. First the formulaic composition of dirges is explained. In addition, various levels of mediation are compared in order to highlight the importance of folklore translations in formulaic texts. It is suggested that folklore translations occupy an intermediate position between interlinear morpheme-by-morpheme glosses and regular translations: they differ from interlinear glosses in their readability, and from regular translations mainly in their cultural content. Finally, closely resembling formulaic chains in the discourse of Hungarian dirges from the Upper-Tisza region are presented in both Hungarian and English, and thus made accessible for readers in English. The Appendix of the study contains six dirge texts in Hungarian and their translations in English. The dirges had been either recorded during field work and then transcribed in Hungarian by the author or collected from archives and published sources. In this manner, formulaic composition in Hungarian dirge texts, together with texts not translated before, are made available to an international readership in English.

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ISSN 1786-7967

Budapest Institute, 1139 Budapest Frangepán utca 50-56. Hungary