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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: October 2019

Chapter Eight - Translating Poetry


The Latin word for “metaphor” is translatio, which is also the source of our word “translation.” A metaphor might be seen, then, as a kind of translation from one semantic domain to another, but within the same language. We mainly use “translation,” of course, to refer to the carrying over of a work or text from one language to another, what Jakobson calls “interlingual translation,”1 and metaphors within such a text are often quite readily translatable: Akhilleus leōn esti is the same metaphor as “Achilles is a lion.” Whether it makes sense to say, for example, that an English version of a French sonnet is a metaphor for the original sonnet would be an interesting topic to pursue, but our focus in this chapter will be on the challenges of making such versions in the first place, and to what extent linguistics can shed light on them.