Word Order and Markedness in a Slovenian Poem and Its English Translations


  • Nada Grošelj University of Ljubljana




word order, markedness, poetry, translation


When systemic differences between languages preclude the possibility of a truly “faithful” translation, the translator may choose to preserve either the form of the original, that is its syntactic structure, or its function, which includes not only the meaning but also stylistic effects such as the degree of markedness. Faithfulness to the original form may result in a different degree of markedness in translation, or even in a reinterpretation of the structure, with a concomitant change in meaning. On the other hand, the preservation of the original function by introducing structural devices congenial to the target language may obscure the original cohesive devices, including figures. Since the balance between form and function is particularly delicate in poetry, this paper examines the choices between them in two English translations of “Belo”, a free verse poem by the contemporary Slovenian poet Dane Zajc. The central issue discussed is the ordering of constituents, which is dominated by different principles in the two languages. Since both form and function play a vital role in poetry, such an analysis cannot yield a formula for each type of translation problem; nevertheless, it can locate the points of divergence in the source and target languages, as well as use the translators’ choices to draw conclusions about the nuances of acceptability in the target language.


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31. 12. 2004

How to Cite

Grošelj, N. (2004). Word Order and Markedness in a Slovenian Poem and Its English Translations. ELOPE: English Language Overseas Perspectives and Enquiries, 1(1-2), 173-194. https://doi.org/10.4312/elope.1.1-2.173-194