Is relevance theory applicable to proverbs’ translation?

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Translation, viewed as a multi-faceted task, can arise different types of difficulties. Proverbs have been considered special patterns, displaying sometimes hidden meanings or suggesting morals issuing from a particular example. These paremic units - the proverbs - conveyed feelings, states of mind, behaviours or ‘metaphorical descriptions of certain situations’(Krikmann). Starting from Savory’s list of pair-wise contradictory translation principles, I intend to prove that the link between different ‘forms’ and their ‘contents’ lies in the principle of relevance when referring to proverbs. Even if relevance theory is not a theory of linguistic structure - and many translation problems imply structural mismatches - relevance theory offers insights about contextual information. Proverbs are seen as texts in themselves. My analysis will target the ethnofields of ‘to buy’ and ‘to sell’ in English proverbs and their Romanian corresponding versions.

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  • ZHONGGANG S. (2006). A Relevance Theory Perspective on Translating the Implicit Information In Literary Texts. Journal of Translation 2(2) 43-60.

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