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Poetry translators and regional vernacular voice: Belli's Romanesco sonnets in English and Scots

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Francis Jones



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by John Benjamins Publishing Co., 2014.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This study investigates how poetry translators tackle source regional voice within their wider approach to poetic text. It analyses eleven translators' 'outputs' of Scots and English translations from Giuseppe Belli's 19th-century regional-language sonnets, which are set in working-class Rome. Each output was coded for voice (space, community, tenor marking), text-world space, and poetic form (rhyme, rhythm), then analysed quantitatively and qualitatively; translator interviews and translators' written commentaries provided extra data. Translators ranged along a spectrum (apparently genre-specific) between two extremes: (1) 'relocalising' voice into target regional language/dialect with similar working-class and informal features to Belli's originals, whilst relocalising place and person names to target-country analogies, and recreating rhyme and rhythm; (2) translating into standard (supra-regional, literary/educated, neutral-to-formal) English, whilst preserving Belli's Roman setting, but replacing rhyme and rhythm by free verse. This reflects a spectrum between two priorities: (1) creatively conveying poetic texture; (2) replicating surface semantics.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jones FR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Target: International Journal of Translation Studies

Year: 2014

Volume: 26

Issue: 1

Pages: 32-62

Print publication date: 01/01/2014

Date deposited: 30/06/2014

ISSN (print): 0924-1884

ISSN (electronic): 1569-9986

Publisher: John Benjamins Publishing Co.


DOI: 10.1075/target.26.1.02jon


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