Academic journal article International Forum of Teaching and Studies

A Review of Systemic Functional Translation Studies from an Interpersonal Perspective

Academic journal article International Forum of Teaching and Studies

A Review of Systemic Functional Translation Studies from an Interpersonal Perspective

Article excerpt


Translation studies could be divided into pure and applied branches (Holmes, 1988), with Theoretical and Descriptive Translation Studies under the category of Pure Translation Studies. Among the two, Descriptive Translation Studies is illustrated as an empirical, systematic, and controlled discipline, which describes, explains, and predicts phenomena, as well as carries out "studies into well-defined corpuses, or sets of problems, constitutes the best means of testing, refuting, and especially modifying and amending the very theory" (Toury, 1995, p.1).

Systemic Functional Linguistics, as its name suggests, is a sub-discipline of linguistics, which provides different models and tools for analyzing all human languages. According to Teich (2003, p. 37), the general representational categories for linguistic description used in SFL are "metafunction, stratification, axis, rank and delicacy." As to the concept of metafunction, three major components are defined - the ideational, the interpersonal and the textual metafunction. The ideational metafunction includes logical and experiential mode. In the logical mode, "our experience of the world is construed serially as chains of phenomena related by logico-semantic relationships" (Matthiessen, Teruya, & Lam, 2010, p. 132). While in the experiential mode, language resources are provided "for construing our experience of the world around us and inside us as meaning" (ibid: 92). The second metafunction, i.e. the interpersonal metafunction, sees language as "a resource for enacting roles and relations between speaker and addressees as meaning" (ibid: p. 126). It is a combination of conative and expressive functions by Bühler and corresponds to the tenor system. The last metafunction - the textual metafunction is the enabling metafunction, "which provides the resources for presenting ideational and interpersonal meaning as a flow of information in text unfolding in its context" (ibid: p. 220).

Kim and Matthiessen (forthcoming) as well as Wang (2014) have reviewed studies from an SFL perspective that investigate thematic progression in translation, which involves the textual metafunction in SFL. Similarly, the current paper aims to conduct a review on the studies that explore translation choices from the interpersonal perspective. On writing such a review, features in making translation choices in interpersonal aspects, and strategies helping translators making choices on micro-levels of language are expected to be found.

The Interpersonal Metafunction

MOOD and MODALITY are the major systems within the interpersonal metafunction. In the system of MOOD (see Figure 1), all major clauses could make its Mood selection, so as to realize its speech function. As Figure 1 shows, a major clause may choose to be indicative or imperative. If it is indicative, it could be either declarative or interrogative. If it is interrogative, it can be further refined into yes/no interrogatie and WH-interrogattive types.

In the system of MOOD, speakers, writers, or audiences are involved in an interactive events. When a speaker adopts a certain speech role, he meanwhile assigns a complementary role to the listener. The two basic types of speech roles are giving and demanding. In addition, there is another fundamental distinction of the interaction, i.e. the nature of the commodities being exchanged, whether it is goods-&-services or information. When conflating speech roles with the commodity exchanged, we have four basic speech functions, namely offer, statement, command and question. The giving of goods-&-services has been realized as an "offer"; while the giving of information a "statement"; meanwhile, the demanding of goods&-services has been realized as a "command", and the demanding of information a "question".

Mood is composed of Subject and Finite. "The Subject is the element in terms of which the clause can be negotiated," while "the Finite makes a clause negotiable by coding it as positive or negative in polarity and by grounding it, either in terms of time (it is/ it isn't; it was/it wasn't; it will/it won't) or in terms of modality (it may/it will/it must, etc. …

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