A Cross-linguistic Study of Emotion in Fiction.

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Emotion is a very complex concept. The expression of emotion perhaps even more so. Many researchers have tried to decipher the complexities of conveying emotion resulting into theory on emotional discourse. What is lacking, however, are clear comparative deconstructions as to how emotion is conveyed differently in different languages, even though this can contribute to intercultural understanding. Another element missing from the field of emotion is the analysis of emotion within fiction, even though conveying emotion is one of the major functions of literary texts. This study sought to fill parts of these gaps in the literature by asking the question: how does the way emotion is conveyed in literary texts differ in Dutch and English literary texts and how do translation strategies play a role when translating emotional discourse from Dutch to English? It answered this question through the analysis of emotion in a Dutch novel and its translation. The analysis was done on multiple levels and focussed on emotion words and translation strategies. This study found that whilst Dutch and English have the same ways available to them to convey emotion, when looking at the translation of individual instances (from Dutch to English), there are discrepancies in emotional discourse level, emotion word category or simply the semantics. The latter seems to imply that the idea of universal basic emotions should be questioned. This study also found some language specific characteristic of emotional discourse and that even for linguistically and culturally close languages dynamic translation is needed. Keywords: emotion, emotion words, translation strategies, fiction.
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