Amsterdam International Electronic Journal for Cultural Narratology (AJCN)

Amsterdam International Electronic Journal for Cultural Narratology (AJCN)

Translating S.-Y. Kuroda: Past and Present

Sylvie Patron

University of Paris Diderot-Paris

0. Introduction

The following study develops research I carried out for my critical edition of six essays by S.-Y. Kuroda on narrative theory which were collected into one volume for the first time and translated into French as S.-Y. Kuroda, Pour une théorie poétique de la narration, published by Armand Colin in October 2012. This is the edition which the references to all French examples will cite (cf. Kuroda 2012a–f). The first three essays had already been translated into French and published in the late seventies (cf. Kuroda 1979b, 1979c and 1975); the other three had never been published in French before. In itself, the composition of the volume invites reflection on the historicity of translations and the fact that they form part of a cultural whole dating from a particular time, as well as on the conditions of possibility of the translation, or indeed the occasional re-translation, of Kuroda’s essays today.[1]

In the first section, I will briefly present Kuroda’s essays, seen in terms of their translatability. In the second section, I will offer a critique of the early translations, which I intend to be constructive, focussing essentially on the evolution of the reception of translations and on the variations in denotation and connotation of certain terms from the late seventies to the current time. I will also discuss foreign terms which Kuroda deemed untranslatable and compare them to any translations offered in English and French. In the third and final section, I will set out some of the difficulties encountered during my translation of the unpublished essays as well as the solutions proposed: it is up to the community of readers to validate or invalidate the target text. In certain cases, which I will outline, I chose an interpretative translation rather than a neutral one in order to allow better reception in the current context.

Taken as a whole, the paper aims to contribute to the history and epistemology of narrative theory, approached here from the angle of translation practice.

1. The translatability of Kuroda’s essays

1.1. In translating linguistic texts, it is necessary to distinguish between the general and the idiomatic, the latter in the sense of that which is peculiar, specific and sometimes exclusive to one language. The general part does not pose any particular translation problems. As long as the language facts described exist in both source and target languages, the transfer of conceptual content is generally easy to achieve. The idiomatic part, on the other hand, can lead to certain difficulties when the target language does not recognize identical or similar facts to those described in the source language (cf. Mejri 2003: 182–184; 2008: 9–12). Kuroda’s essays offer an original take on this problem. They include an idiomatic part consisting in all the passages pertaining to the Japanese language, a language which is structured and functions very differently from European languages. Such passages make up the greater part of the first essay, “Where Epistemology, Style, and Grammar Meet—a Case Study from Japanese.” Some of them are repeated and redeveloped in the second and third essays, “On Grammar and Narration” and “Reflections on the Foundations of Narrative Theory” (cf. Kuroda 1973, 1974, 1976). Kuroda spoke of the issue in The W(h)ole of the Doughnut: Syntax and its Boundaries: “My interest in this area [i.e. narrative theory] […] has its origin in problems in Japanese syntax,” before adding: “but the problems dealt with in these articles are of a general character” (1979: VIII). The sixth and last essay, “A Study of the So-Called Topic wa in Passages from Tolstoy, Lawrence, and Faulkner (of course in Japanese Translation),” also deals with studying a problem if not of pure syntax, then at least of textual syntax and semantics in Japanese (cf. Kuroda 1987). However, this idiomatic part does not lead to major difficulties in translation. On the one hand, this is because Kuroda was writing for readers who were not supposed to be specialists or even to have any particular knowledge of the Japanese language. The sixth essay, for example, does not give examples in Japanese but indicates the presence or absence of wa using braces or square brackets around the subjects of quotative verbs in passages from English novels. On the other hand, it is because Kuroda was writing in English, a language which does not recognize facts that are identical or similar to those described in Japanese. He was therefore obliged to make use of a particular metalanguage which was both non-general and non-idiomatic: non-general, because the facts described were specific to Japanese; non-idiomatic, because they dealt with a different language from the one in which they were described (again, cf. Mejri 2008: 11). As a result, a translator has no need to develop the metalanguage herself, as she would have to do were she translating from essays written in Japanese, but merely to transpose it from English to French with its approximations, self-corrections and marks of enunciative heterogeneity.

Here are two examples, taken from the first and the third essay:

(1)     (a) Thus, the semantic effects of no da are difficult to characterize clearly and completely. The only generalization one can make from the preceding examples is that no da somehow serves as a marker to indicate that some “second order” assertion, so to speak, is made with respect to the proposition expressed by the sentence to which no da is attached. That is, it serves to indicate that some assertion is made as to how the proposition in question is related to some other proposition or propositions that are stated (or even understood) in a particular discourse context. However, even such a vague characterization may be too narrow. (Kuroda 1973: 37–38)

(b) On voit qu’il est difficile de donner une caractérisation claire et complète des effets sémantiques de no da. La seule généralisation qu’on puisse extraire des exemples précédents serait que no da est utilisé de quelque manière comme un marqueur indiquant que la proposition exprimée par la phrase à laquelle cette expression est attachée devient l’objet d’une sorte d’assertion de “second ordre”; no da permet d’indiquer qu’une certaine assertion porte sur la façon dont sont reliées la proposition en question et une (ou plusieurs) autre(s) proposition(s) énoncée(s) (ou, simplement, sous entendue(s)) dans un contexte de discours particulier. Toutefois, aussi vague soit-elle, la caractérisation que nous venons de proposer pourrait se révéler trop restrictive. (Kuroda 2012a: 60–61)

(2)     (a) What is relevant to us here is the word zibun (self) in the first sentence of this story. Zibun in the function exemplified here might be called a reflexive pronoun, although the context in which it can occur is quite different from the one for English or French reflexives. In fact, the exact condition for the occurrence of the reflexive zibun is hard to determine and has not yet been made clear. (Kuroda 1976: 120)

(b) Ce qui nous intéresse ici, c’est, dans la première phrase de cette histoire, le mot zibun (“soi”). Zibun, dans la fonction qu’il a dans cet exemple, pourrait être appelé un pronom réfléchi, bien que le contexte où il peut apparaître soit assez différent de celui où apparaissent les pronoms réfléchis en anglais ou en français. En fait, la condition exacte de l’emploi du réfléchi zibun est difficile à déterminer et n’a pas encore été définie clairement. (Kuroda 2012c: 109)

The last point that should be mentioned here is the particular use made by Kuroda of his knowledge and analyses of Japanese. Nicolas Ruwet describes it very well at the end of his preface to Aux quatre coins de la linguistique: “Kuroda always takes advantage of certain facts of Japanese to draw conclusions which are universally valid. Japanese, here – like English for Chomsky – is used as an indicator of something universal; it is simply the case that certain universal characteristics of languages are revealed more clearly and lend themselves better to empirical study in one particular language than another. In studying Japanese, Kuroda is speaking of ourselves” (1979: 11–12, translation mine). The conclusions drawn from Japanese linguistic facts are linked to the part of general linguistics mentioned at the start of this section which, in the end, prevails quantitatively over the idiomatic part.

1.2. Owing to the use of formalization, certain passages of the fourth and fifth essays, “Some Thoughts on the Foundations of the Theory of Language Use” and “The Reformulated Theory of Speech Acts: Toward a Theory of Language Use,” may create “the illusion of translative transparency,” to use Jean-René Ladmiral’s phrase ([1979] 1994: 230). The passage from source text to target equivalent is indeed achieved through a simple transposition of symbols:

(3)     (a) Using the symbols bS and bH for “the speaker believes...” and “the intended hearer believes...”, respectively, we have the following list of propositions that are held in the speaker’s belief system: W, R, bHbSW, bHbS R. (Kuroda 1979a: 5)

(b) Si l’on utilise respectivement les symboles cL et cA pour “le locuteur croit…” et “l’allocutaire croit… ”, la symbolisation des propositions contenues dans le système de croyances du locuteur doit se faire de la façon suivante: V, R, cAcLV, cAcLR. (Kuroda 2012c: 140)

(4)     (a) But so long as he understands the speaker’s speech act of issuing the order, he believes that the speaker believes P, i.e. the intended hearer holds proposition bsP. This proposition entails bSbHbSP. (Kuroda 1980: 72–73)

(b) Mais dans la mesure où il comprend l’acte illocutionnaire consistant pour le locuteur à donner un ordre, il croit que le locuteur croit P, autrement dit il croit la proposition clP. Cette proposition entraîne cLcAcLP. (Kuroda 2012d: 165)

Note that such formalisms are also part of a generalizing project. Kuroda’s proposals concerning the meaning of speech acts are meant to be universally valid, independently of the language used to carry out such acts. Formalization answers, of course, to a need for concision, but it also serves the purpose of description and indication – in this case in the form of prediction, of a universal pragmatic truth.

2. Critique of translations and occasional re-translations

I shall take two examples aimed essentially at illustrating the historicity of translations: the fact that they form part of a cultural whole dating from a particular time which does not coincide, at any rate not completely, with the one in which we are currently living in.

2.1. The first example concerns the translation of the source terms story, narrative and narration.[2] The equivalent French target terms would quite simply have been histoire, récit and narration. However, the fact that they do not always carry the same conceptual content in the source text led to the risk of confusion in the translation. Note first of all that story, narrative and narration do not always enjoy the same stability in their use, the same conceptual precision. Story and narrative are subject to various uses and are easily interchanged. Kuroda writes, for example, in the third essay, “Reflections on the Foundations of Narrative Theory” (using story):

(5)     (a) Taken seriously, or literally, then, a theory of narration based on the notion of narrator (the narrator theory of narration) must claim that each sentence of a story – for the time being let us exclude direct quotations – is a message communicated by the narrator; each sentence is the product of an act of judging in the narrator’s consciousness.

(6)     In essence, both Benveniste and Hamburger challenge the attempt to interpret a story as a message in the framework of the communicational theory of linguistic performance.

—but also (using narrative):

(7)     We have so far been primarily concerned with the existence of narratives that do not fit the communicational theory of narration. But there are also narratives that can be treated within the framework of the communicational theory of narration. (1976: 109, 115, 127, emphasis added)

The term story in particular seems to lack the desired conceptual precision, as the following list of occurrences suggests: “first-person story” or “stories” (Kuroda 1973: 382, 383, 384, 387, 388; 1974: 172; 1976: 124, 127); “the world the story describes” (1973: 388); “the world of the story, the world the story is describing”; “the way the story is told” (1987: 150). In most of these occurrences, story has the same conceptual content as narrative, but in “the world of the story” it has the content of Eng.story, corresponding to Fr. histoire, taken in a technical sense, in the context of a terminology. [3] The use of the term narration is a lot more stable and designates (with a few exceptions, one of which I shall discuss later) the linguistic performance which consists in the production of a narrative with a conceptual opposition between Eng. narration and narrative which is close to Genette’s distinction between Fr. narration and récit, even if Genette’s and Kuroda’s understanding of narration differ greatly.[4]

Kuroda’s early translators do not seem to have been properly aware of the problems posed by the translation of story, narrative and narration. On the one hand, Cassian Braconnier spontaneously translated story by récit in “first-person story” (“récit à la première personne”), or in sentences such as (8):

(8)     (a) Taken seriously, then, narrative theory based on the notion of narrator must assume that each sentence of a story is a message communicated by the narrator, and represents the content of a mental act of judging by the narrator. (Kuroda 1974: 166, emphasis added)

(b) Si on la prend vraiment au sérieux, une théorie du récit fondée sur la notion de narrateur implique inévitablement que, dans un récit, chaque phrase est un message communiqué par le narrateur, et représente le contenu d’un acte mental de jugement qu’on lui prête. (Kuroda 2012b: 82, emphasis added)

Note that the same sentence, give or take a few details, was translated by Tiên Fauconnier in the following way:

(5)     (b) Dès lors, prise rigoureusement ou littéralement, une théorie de la narration basée sur la notion de narrateur (que nous appellerons théorie narratrice de la narration) se doit d’affirmer que chaque phrase d’une histoire – écartons pour le moment les citations directes – est un message communiqué par le narrateur; chaque phrase est le produit d’un acte de jugement dans la conscience d’un narrateur. (Kuroda 2012c: 95–96, emphasis added)

Yet there are no translator’s notes addressing such translation choices. On the other hand, Braconnier mistranslates “On Grammar and Narration” as “Grammaire et récit,” “modern theories of narration” as “théories modernes du récit,” “the communicational conception of narration” as “la conception communicationnelle du récit,” etc. (Kuroda 2012b: 81, 82, 88, etc.). There is however one exception. The source sentence is as follows:

(9)     (a) Hamburger states that narration is a function by means of which what is narrated is generated, i.e. the narrative function which the narrating artist avails himself of just as the painter uses brush and color. (Kuroda 1974: 171, emphasis added)

Braconnier translates:

(9)     (b) Selon Hamburger, le récit, ou plutôt la narration, est une fonction qui engendre ce qui est narré, c’est une fonction narrative, que l’artiste qui crée un récit utilise tout comme le peintre utilise le pinceau et les couleurs. (Kuroda 2012b: 88–89, emphasis added)

In doing so, he makes use of a target addition (“ou plutôt” is nowhere to be found in the source text), which seems questionable, since he is not aiming to clarify the source-author’s argument but rather expresses the translator’s non-coincidence with his own translation. Fauconnier, by contrast, systematically translates Eng. narration by Fr. narration. She even adds one occurrence of Fr. narration in the title of the target text: “Réflexions sur les fondements de la théorie de la narration” (Eng. “Reflections on the Foundations of Narrative Theory”).

The issue here is to know whether it is better to keep the instability in the use of story, narrative and in some cases narration, and the conceptual imprecision of story or, on the contrary, to introduce the formal coherence of a terminology into the source text – knowing that the context generally removes any risk of ambiguity. This issue is part of the perpetual debate between historicization and modernization, which is itself one of the forms of debate between source-oriented translation and target-oriented translation.

In the translations for which I was responsible myself, I adopted a compromise solution. I translated Eng. story and in one case narration by Fr. récit; in other words, I took account of the terminological reform put forward by Genette, on which current usage of histoire, récit and narration is based. I also indicated the terms used in the source text in notes and discussed translation choices that were made. The following two examples are both taken from the sixth essay, “Étude du ‘marqueur de topique’ wa dans des passages de romans de Tolstoï, Lawrence et Faulkner (en traduction japonaise, évidemment)”:

(10)   (a) The wa attached to Nicolai in our present example, then, would have to be justified on the basis of the fact that Nicolai is the subject of the point of view. This fact is not itself a component of the world of the story, the world the story is describing. Rather, it is a feature of the way the story is told. (Kuroda 1987: 150)

(b) Le wa postposé à Nicolas dans « “Papa est-il à la maison”, demanda-t-[il] » doit donc recevoir une explication qui tienne compte du fait que Nicolas est coréférent du sujet du point de vue. Cette donnée ne fait pas partie du monde de l’histoire, c’est-à-dire du monde représenté dans le récit.1 Il s’agit plutôt d’une caractéristique de la narration, de la façon dont le récit est raconté.2

1 Angl. the world of the story, the world the story is describing. Le terme story correspond ici à histoire. On pourrait également traduire world of the story par monde fictionnel ou monde de la fiction [NdT].

2 Angl. Rather it is a feature of the way the story is told. Le terme story correspond ici à récit et the way the story is told à narration [NdT]. (Kuroda 2012f: 184)

(11)   (a) Our third and last example is from William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury, the first section, April seventh, 1928. This section is a first-person narration by Benjy, an idiot, of his experience in the afternoon and in the evening until he went to bed on April seventh, 1928, his 33rd birthday. (Kuroda 1987: 158)

(b) Notre troisième et dernier exemple est extrait de la première partie du Bruit et la fureur de William Faulkner. Cette partie constitue le récit à la première personne1 d’un déficient mental, Benjy. Il raconte ce qu’il a vécu dans l’après-midi et la soirée du 7 avril 1928, jour de son 33ème anniversaire.

1 Angl. This section is a first-person narration [NdT]. (Kuroda 2012f: 195)

2.2. The second example concerns the translation of a problematic source term (precisely, two, but one is derived from the other). In “Where Epistemology, Style, and Grammar Meet,” Kuroda introduces the terms reportive and nonreportive, first “nonreportive style” vs0} “reportive style,” then in “reportive stories” or “story”:

(12)   (a) Contrary to what was said earlier, forms like these and like (5) are actually permitted as independent sentences, provided that they are used in a particular style, which, for the lack of a better name, I shall call the nonreportive style, to contrast with the reportive style. (1973: 381)

I should point out that the forms in question are morphological or syntactic combinations specific to Japanese.

(13)   (a) Let us group together first-person stories and non-first-person stories with a neutral or effaced narrator and call them reportive. A story is reportive if it is told by a narrator who may be omnipresent but not omniscient; otherwise, a story is nonreportive. This is the dichotomy that is relevant to us here. (1973: 383)

The binary opposition reportive/nonreportive has an absolutely essential terminological value for Kuroda. Braconnier translates reportive and nonreportive as rapporté and non rapporté, respectively:

(12)   (b) Contrairement à ce qui a été dit plus haut, des phrases comme celles-ci (ou comme (5) sont en fait permises, pourvu qu’elles soient employées dans un certain style, que, faute d’un meilleur terme, j’appellerai style non rapporté, par opposition au style rapporté.

(13)   (b) Groupons ensemble les récits à la première personne et les récits qui ne sont pas à la première personne mais dont le narrateur est neutre ou effacé, et appelons-les récits rapportés. Un récit est rapporté s’il est raconté par un narrateur qui peut être omniprésent mais qui n’est pas omniscient; dans les autres cas, le récit est non rapporté. C’est cette dichotomie qui sera pertinente pour notre propos. (Kuroda 2012a: 62, 66)

While it may appear obvious, his translation is actually unsatisfactory on several accounts. First, Kuroda uses the term reportive, which is his own, and not the term reported, which he could have taken up and injected with new meaning. The translation of reportive by rapporté loses the “authorial,” neological connotation added by the suffix -ive. On the other hand, it introduces troublesome connotations by implicitly comparing style or récit rapporté to discours rapporté (i.e. direct, indirect or free indirect discourse according to the traditional terminology and approach). In the addendum attached to the end of “Where Epistemology, Style, and Grammar Meet,” Kuroda makes a link between nonreportive style and the linguistic and stylistic phenomenon called erlebte Rede in German and style indirect libre in French; but he does so in order to reject the traditional approach in terms of reported speech:

(14)   (a) The distinction I intend to make in terms of nonreportive style, however, seems to be of a more general character than made by erlebte Rede. Basically, it is not to be characterized with reference to direct and indirect speech nor in terms of “inner voice”. (1973: 38)

Significantly, Braconnier’s translation removes the reference to reported speech from this occurrence:

(14)   (b) La distinction que j’entends établir en termes de style non rapporté me semble cependant revêtir un caractère plus général que celle qui est exprimée en termes d’erlebte Rede. Fondamentalement, la distinction que je propose ne s’appuie pas sur la notion de “voix intérieure”. (Kuroda 2012a: 78)

Reportive and nonreportive could be translated by “de type rapport” and “qui n’est pas de type rapport,” which would enable the worrying connotations of rapporté to be avoided. But this translation, in the end, would present more drawbacks than advantages: loss of the neological connotation, under-terminologization, etc. It functions very poorly in the translation of the source sentence containing the first occurrence of reportive and nonreportive (cf. supra (12). Dissimilatory translations, like “objectif” and “non objectif” (the translations used by Cyril Veken, the French translator of Banfield; cf. [1982] 1995), or “non omniscient” and “omniscient,” do not appear worthy of retention either due to potential contradictions. For example:

(15)   En utilisant seulement des phrases comme (25) et (26), et en évitant celles qui ressemblent à (22), (23) ou (24), on peut écrire un récit objectif [reportive] sans qu’il soit nécessaire d’introduire un narrateur à la première personne (je ).

In other cases, they lead to tautologies. For example:

(16)   Le narrateur omniscient ne peut être identifié par aucun mécanisme linguistique dont l’existence soit établie indépendamment de l’hypothèse qu’il existe un tel narrateur, alors que cette possibilité existe pour le narrateur des récits écrits dans le style non omniscient [in the reportive style]. Le narrateur omniscient est dépourvu des justifications linguistiques qui valent pour le narrateur des récits écrits dans le style non omniscient [in the reportive style].

In the translations for which I was responsible, I resorted to the desperate solution of borrowing: since the loan translation rapportif or non rapportif is stylistically impossible, I imported the source terms directly, accompanying them with a note. The two examples are from the fifth essay, “La théorie des actes de discours reformulée. Pour une théorie de l’usage du langage”:

(17)   Dans une autre perspective, il y a un certain nombre d’années que je m’intéresse au problème de ce que j’ai appelé le style nonreportive,1 un style de prose narrative qui se rencontre fréquemment dans le roman moderniste. D’autres chercheurs l’ont abordée, naturellement avec quelques variantes : c’est le cas, entre autres, d’É. Benveniste avec sa notion d’histoire, couplée avec celle de discours, et de K. Hamburger avec sa notion d’ Erzählung, qu’elle oppose au système de l’Aussage. J’ai expliqué de façon détaillée pourquoi on ne pouvait pas rendre compte des récits écrits dans le style nonreportive dans le cadre de la théorie communicationnelle de l’usage du langage. En revanche, je n’ai pas encore eu l’occasion de resituer ma démonstration dans le cadre conceptuel de la théorie des actes de discours de Searle : de montrer, en particulier, que la théorie des actes de discours échoue à rendre compte des récits écrits dans le style nonreportive et de déterminer la place que la théorie des actes de discours pourrait avoir dans une théorie adéquate de l’usage du langage qui s’intéresserait à la fois aux actes de discours ordinaires et aux récits écrits dans le style nonreportive. (Kuroda 2012a: 160)

          1 Voir Chap. 1, p. 62, n.1 [NdT].

(18)   Comme je l’ai affirmé dans les travaux cités précédemment, la théorie communicationnelle de la performance linguistique est incapable de rendre compte des récits écrits dans le style nonreportive. Cette affirmation peut maintenant être extrapolée dans le cadre de notre étude. (173)

2.3. I will say a little more about two pairs of terms which Kuroda considered untranslatable: Benveniste’s histoire/discours distinction and Hamburger’s distinction between Aussage/Erzählen or Erzählung. The first does not pose any translation problems to the extent that it concerns terms borrowed from the target language. The ambiguities which could arise from the existence of two source terms, Eng. discourse and Fr. discours, for the same target term discours, are avoided by using italics when discours appears in reference to and/or in the sense of Benveniste.[5] In the case of Aussage/Erzählen (or fiktionales Erzählen, or Erzählung), Aussage is the most difficult term. In his translation of the first essay, “Où l’épistémologie, la grammaire et le style se rencontrent,” Braconnier successively translates Ger. Aussage by Fr. énonciation, in “‘Aussagesystem der Sprache’ (‘système linguistique de l’énonciation’)”, then by Fr. parole (with Aussage in brackets), at the end of the long passage from Hamburger quoted in the addendum (Kuroda, 2012a: 78–79). In his translation of the second essay, “Grammaire et récit,” he translates Eng. statement by Fr. énonciation:

(19)   (a) She claims that narration is categorically different from statement. (Kuroda 1974: 170)

(b) Hamburger soutient que récit et énonciation appartiennent à des catégories différentes. (Kuroda 2012b: 88)

He then follows the usage in Kuroda, who directly imports the source terms Aussagesystem, Aussage and Erzählung, subsequently modified to Erzählen. Note that the same sentence, repeated in the third essay, “Reflections on the Foundations of Narrative Theory,” is translated by Fauconnier in the following way:

(20)   Elle soutient que la narration est radicalement différente de l’énoncé (statement). (Kuroda 2012c: 104)

I should mention that Eng. statement is the term recommended by Hamburger to translate Ger. Aussage.[6] Fauconnier, and not Braconnier, is therefore correct in translating Eng . statement by Fr. énoncé and avoiding translating Ger. Aussage by Fr. énonciation, which does not convey the same conceptual content nor the same relationship with other concepts.[7] As for Erzählen and Erzählung, Kuroda imports the terms directly without providing an English translation or making a distinction between them.[8] Their translation into French therefore does not raise any translation problems and their distinguishability remains implicit in source and target texts alike.

3. Translating Kuroda today

In this section I will return to my own experience as a translator and once again focus on two points: first, the translation of difficult source terms contained in the fourth and fifth essays; second, a few examples of interpretive rather than neutral translations taken from the translation of the sixth essay.

3.1. In the fourth essay, “Some Thoughts on the Foundations of the Theory of Language Use,” Kuroda discusses the place occupied by the communicative function of language in the hierarchy of the functions of language. The analysis at first fits into the framework of speech act theory. Kuroda develops a form of illocutionary logic making it possible to model the beliefs of the speaker and addressee of a speech act. The following paragraph represents a key stage in his argument:

(21) (a) The communicative function involved in issuing an order, then, might be assumed to consist in getting the belief bSP and hence also bSbHbSP produced in the intended hearer’s mind. But, now, assume that there is a bystander who hears A issuing the order to B and understands the order. What does it mean that the bystander understands that the order is issued? The bystander understands the order in terms of exactly the same belief, bSP and hence also bSbHbSP, produced in his mind, as the intended hearer does! As far as the matter of understanding speech is concerned, issuing an order has the same function with the intended hearer as with the bystander. We must conclude, then, that the com­municative function of language involved in issuing an order does not consist simply in getting someone to understand the relevant beliefs of the speaker’s, but rather in getting the intended hearer to understand them. The conclusion sounds trivial, and indeed is trivial as long as one sees in it only the specification of the necessary role of the intended hearer. The crucial feature of this conclusion in the following discussion lies rather in its other aspect, namely that we can abstract from the communicative function involved in issuing an order a subfunction which induces the same effect in the bystander as in the intended hearer. (Kuroda 1979a: 6)

The terms bystander and intended hearer need to be recognized as terminological units. The argumentative context is clear: the bystander is a hearer of A, without being his intended hearer, but a hearer outside the interlocutionary relation; his or her role is to de-specify the beliefs produced by a speech act like an order in the mind of the intended hearer. In the absence of strictly superimposable equivalents in the target French, I opted to translate Eng. bystander by Fr. tiers auditeur and Eng. intended hearer by Fr. allocutaire proprement dit. In fact, I took the first term from the philosopher Francis Jacques, a specialist in the philosophy of language and communication (cf. 1979: 144, 235, and index 417; 1985: 249; 2000: 75).[9] The expression allocutaire proprement dit is also used by Jacques (cf. 1979: 144), but it has no particular terminological value. In my translation, the repetition of the term, paired with that of tiers auditeur, constitutes a case of the terminologization of Jacques’ expression. On a stylistic level, allocutaire proprement dit fits in with one of the characteristics of Kuroda’s style in the essay, which is the frequent use of metadiscursive glosses (“in the sense specified in the paper”; “in the strict sense of the term”; “in the technical sense in which I want to understand the term in this present context”, etc.; Kuroda 1979a: 1, 3, 4, etc.). The translation of the paragraph quoted above therefore produced the following:

(21)   (b) On pourrait donc considérer que la fonction communicative impliquée dans le fait de donner un ordre consiste à induire la croyance cLP, partant également cLcAcLP dans l’esprit de l’allocutaire. Mais supposons à présent qu’il y ait une tierce personne, qui entend X donner un ordre à Y et qui comprend que l’ordre est donné. Que signifie exactement le fait que le tiers auditeur comprend que l’ordre est donné? Le tiers auditeur comprend l’ordre donné exactement de la même façon que l’allocutaire proprement dit; ce sont exactement les mêmes croyances, cLP, partant également cLcAcLP, qui sont induites dans son esprit! Du strict point de vue de la compréhension de ce qui est dit, il n’y a pas de différence entre la fonction de l’ordre vis-à-vis du tiers auditeur et vis-à-vis de l’allocutaire proprement dit. Nous devons en conclure que la fonction communicative du langage impliquée dans le fait de donner un ordre ne consiste pas seulement à amener quelqu’un à comprendre les croyances pertinentes du locuteur, mais plutôt à amener l’allocutaire proprement dit à comprendre ces croyances. Cette conclusion peut paraître triviale et elle l’est effectivement si l’on n’y voit que la réaffirmation du rôle nécessaire de l’allocutaire. Il est beaucoup plus important pour la discussion qui va suivre de l’envisager sous son autre aspect. Il apparaît qu’il est possible d’abstraire de la fonction communicative impliquée dans le fait de donner un ordre une sous-fonction qui produit le même effet dans l’esprit du tiers auditeur et dans celui de l’allocutaire proprement dit. (Kuroda 2012d: 140–141)

In the translation of the fifth essay, “The Reformulated Theory of Speech Acts,” it was logical to reuse the translation of the opposition bystander/intended hearer by the opposition tiers auditeur/allocutaire proprement dit:

(22)   (a) It is often the case that somewhat atypical situations help us see distinctly different factors in the phenomenon under investigation that are not obviously differentiable in typical situations. I am here resorting to this familiar technique of investigation bv introducing the role of the bystander (or bystanding hearer, to contrast it with intended hearer) into our consideration of speech acts. To speak of the role of a bystander in the speech act might sound almost self-contradictory. Is not the bystander by definition the one who has no role in the act? But it is, I claim, precisely the role the innocent bystander plays, or indeed must play, just by standing by, that reveals us a conspicuous, characteristic feature of the speech act. (Kuroda 1980: 71–72)

          (b) Il n’est pas rare que des situations plus ou moins atypiques nous permettent d’avoir une vision plus différenciée du phénomène soumis à l’investigation que celle qu’on aurait en considérant seulement les situations-types. Je vais justement me servir de ce mode d’investigation en introduisant le rôle d’une tierce personne (ou d’un tiers auditeur, que j’opposerai à l’allocutaire proprement dit) dans mon examen des actes de discours. Parler du rôle du tiers auditeur dans l’acte de discours peut sembler presque contradictoire dans les termes. Le tiers auditeur n’est-il pas par définition celui qui ne joue aucun rôle dans cet acte? Mais de mon point de vue, c’est précisément le rôle que ce “tiers inclus” joue, ou est obligé de jouer, dès le moment où on l’inclut, qui nous révèle un trait notable, caractéristique, de l’acte de discours. (Kuroda 2012e: 163)

In doing so, I had to do without rendering the variation bystander, bystanding hearer, as well as the word play on “bystander” and “just by standing by.” I also had to find an equivalent for the fixed expression innocent bystander, corresponding to Fr. simple passant, which I did not feel was entirely satisfactory. I employed a form of compensation by playing on the words and expression “tiers exclu,” “tiers inclus,” “dès le moment où on l’inclut.”

3.2. My final examples will be from the translation of the sixth essay, “A Study of the So-Called Topic wa.” This essay is based on the analysis of passages from novels by Tolstoy, Lawrence and Faulkner, translated into Japanese (although, as I mentioned earlier, Kuroda cites all examples in English). When he refers to these passages in the form of summaries or commentaries, Kuroda always reports the content of the passages in the past tense; for example:

(23)   (a) We may assume that the quoted passage as a whole represents Nicolai’s point of view. It is a description of the scene in the ballroom and the drawing room as reflected in Nicolai’s consciousness when he entered the ballroom and proceeded to the drawing room. (1987: 146, emphasis added)

In my translation, I chose to replace the simple past by the present, which seems to me both more natural and theoretically better founded (this is the present which Hamburger calls the reproducing present[10]); which, for the preceding paragraph, produces the following:

(23)   (b) On peut considérer que le passage tout entier représente le point de vue de Nicolas. Il s’agit de la description d’une scène qui se déroule simultanément dans le grand salon et dans la pièce voisine, telle qu’elle est reflétée dans la conscience de Nicolas au moment où il entre dans le grand salon et tandis qu’il se dirige vers la pièce où se trouve sa mère. (Kuroda 2012f: 179)

There is nevertheless one case where the use of the past could have been retained, with a value of anteriority in relation to the present (this is indicated in a note).

(24)   (a) We can no longer read from the passage any sign of Nicolai’s consciousness to the reality surrounding him. It is as if we were listening to someone describing to us a scene s/he saw on the stage. (Kuroda 1987: 155)

(b) Nous ne pouvons plus déceler dans ce passage aucun signe de ce que la conscience de Nicolas réagit à la réalité qui l’entoure. Tout se passe comme si nous entendions quelqu’un nous décrire un ensemble d’événements qu’il ou elle voit représentés sur scène. (Kuroda 2012f: 191–192)

Nous ne pouvons plus déceler dans ce passage aucun signe de ce que la conscience de Nicolas réagit à la réalité qui l’entoure. Tout se passe comme si nous entendions quelqu’un nous décrire un ensemble d’événements qu’il ou elle avait vu représentés sur scène.

In two more cases, I chose an interpretive translation over a neutral one (slightly interpretive in the text body, more obviously interpretive in the notes):

(25)   (a) In this passage [which is from Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence], Paul’s, Miriam’s and the “objective” point of view are interwoven, often indistinguishably.

(b) Dans ce passage, le point de vue de Paul, celui de Miriam et le point de vue, si l’on peut dire, objectif1 se mêlent de façon inextricable par moments.

1 Kuroda écrit the “objective” point of view. Cependant, le problème, selon moi, vient plus de l’utilisation du terme “point de vue” dans les trois cas considérés, ou de son utilisation pour ce qui se définit précisément par opposition au point de vue des personnages, que dans l’utilisation de l’adjectif “objectif” en lui-même. Je renvoie sur ce point à Banfield 1995 [1982]: 277–329 et 375–398, et Patron 2012 [NdT]. (Kuroda 2012f: 193)

(26)   (a) In comparison, a rough count indicates that the subjects of quotative verbs are translated with ga and wa about half and half in the fourth part of the book [The Sound and the Fury by Faulkner], which is written from an “omniscient,” or “objective,” point of view.

(b) Par comparaison, d’après un calcul approximatif, il y a à peu près autant de syntagmes en wa que de syntagmes en ga dans la quatrième partie du roman, où le récit est écrit d’un point de vue, si l’on peut dire, omniscient ou objectif. 1

1 Angl. which is written from an “omniscient,” or “objective,” point of view. See p. 193, n. 1 [NdT]. (Kuroda 2012f: 197)

In all these cases, the element of interpretation goes beyond the interpretive minimum no translation can do without (cf. Ladmiral [1979] 1994: 231). It seemed to me nevertheless that it was the way to ensure a better reception of Kuroda’s text in the current context.

4. Conclusion

This discussion of the translation of Kuroda’s essays on narrative theory, although quite limited in scope, has the merit of reflecting several essential propositions in the epistemological history of theories: there is a diachronic uncertainty in the use of terminologies; there are inadequacies between stages of terminological stability; there are untranslatables which are defined not by the terms we do not or cannot translate, but rather by the ones we keep (not) translating (cf. Cassin 2004: XVII); there is interpretation involved in the translation of theory, just as there is in any other translation. Translators must be aware of these variables and translation users must not fail to take them into account.

Translated by Susan Nicholls


Primary sources

Kuroda, S.-Y. (1973). “Where Epistemology, Style, and Grammar Meet—a Case Study from Japanese.” A Festschrift for Morris Halle. Eds. Stephen R. Anderson and Paul Kiparsky. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 377–391.

— (1974). “On Grammar and Narration.” Actes du colloque franco-allemand de grammaire transformationnelle, vol. 2: Études de séman­tique et autres. Eds. Christian Rohrer and Nicolas Ruwet. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 165–173.

— (1975). “Réflexions sur les fondements de la théorie de la narration.” Trans. Tiên Fauconnier. Langue, discours, société, Pour Émile Benveniste. Eds. Julia Kristeva, Jean-Claude Milner and Nicolas Ruwet. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 260–293.   

— (1976). “Reflections on the Foundations of Narrative Theory—from a Linguistic Point of View.” Pragmatics of Language and Literature. Ed. Teun A. van Djik. Amsterdam and New York: North-Holland Publishing, 107–140.

— (1979a). “Some Thoughts on the Foundations of the Theory of Language Use.” Linguistics and Philosophy 3.1: 1–17.

— (1979b). “Où l’épistémologie, la grammaire et le style se rencontrent: examen d’un exemple japonais.” Trans. Cassian Braconnier. Aux quatre coins de la linguistique. Ed. Nicolas Ruwet. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 235–259.

— (1979c). “Grammaire et récit.” Trans. Cassian Braconnier. Aux quatre coins de la linguistique. Ed. Nicolas Ruwet. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 261–271.

— (1980). “The Reformulated Theory of Speech Acts: Towards a Theory of Language Use.” Versus 26–27: 67–79.

— (1987). “A Study of the So-Called Topic wa in Passages from Tolstoy, Lawrence, and Faulkner (of course in Japanese Translation).” Perspectives on Topicalization: The Case of Japanese “wa”. Ed. John Hinds, Senko K. Maynard and Shoichi Iwasaki. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 143–164.

— (2012a). “Où l’épistémologie, la grammaire et le style se rencontrent: examen d’un exemple japonais.” Trans. Cassian Braconnier. Pour une théorie poétique de la narration. Ed. Sylvie Patron. Paris: Armand Colin, 55–80.

— (2012b). “Grammaire et récit.” Trans. Cassian Braconnier. Pour une théorie poétique de la narration. Ed. Sylvie Patron. Paris: Armand Colin, 81–92.

— (2012c). “Réflexions sur les fondements de la théorie de la narration.” Trans. Tiên Fauconnier. Pour une théorie poétique de la narration. Ed. Sylvie Patron. Paris: Armand Colin, 93–131.

— (2012d). “Quelques réflexions sur les fondements de la théorie de l’usage du langage.” Trans. Sylvie Patron. Pour une théorie poétique de la narration. Ed. Sylvie Patron. Paris: Armand Colin, 133–155.

— (2012e). “La théorie des actes de discours reformulée. Pour une théorie de l’usage du langage.” Trans. Sylvie Patron. Pour une théorie poétique de la narration. Ed. Sylvie Patron. Paris: Armand Colin, 157–174.

— (2012f). “Étude du “marqueur de topique” wa dans des passages de romans de Tolstoï, Lawrence et Faulkner (en traduction japonaise, évidemment).” Trans. Sylvie Patron. Pour une théorie poétique de la narration. Ed. Sylvie Patron. Paris: Armand Colin, 175–197.


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— ([1982] 1995). Phrases sans parole: Théorie du récit et du style indirect libre. Trans. Cyril Veken. Paris: Éditions du Seuil.

Benveniste, Émile (1966). “Les relations de temps dans le verbe français.” Problèmes de linguistique générale , vol. 1. Paris: Gallimard, 237–250.

— (1971). “The Correlations of Tense in the French Verb.” Problems in General Linguistics. Trans. Mary E. Meek. Coral Gables: Miami University Press, 205–215.

Cassin, Barbara (2004). “Présentation.” Vocabulaire européen des philosophies: Dictionnaire des intraduisibles. Ed. Barbara Cassin. Paris: Éditions du Seuil/Le Robert, XVII–XXIV.

Genette, Gérard (1972). “Discours du récit. Essai de méthode.” Figures III. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 65–282. Reprint (2007). Discours du récit. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 7–290.

— (1988). Narrative Discourse Revisited. Trans. Jane E. Lewin. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Hamburger, Käte ([1957] 1968). Die Logik der Dichtung, 2nd, revised ed. Stuttgart: Ernst Klett Verlag.

— ([1968] 1986). Logique des genres littéraires. Trans. Pierre Cadiot. Paris: Éditions du Seuil.

([1968] 1993). The Logic of Literature. Trans. Marilynn J. Rose. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Herman, David, Manfred Jahn, and Marie-Laure Ryan, eds. (2005). Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London and New York: Routledge.

Jacques, Francis (1979). Dialogiques: Recherches logiques sur le dialogue. Paris: PUF.

— (1985). L’Espace logique de l’interlocution: Dialogiques II. Paris: PUF.

— (2000). Écrits anthropologiques: Philosophie de l’esprit et cognition. Paris: L’Harmattan.

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Mejri, Salah (2003). “La traduction linguistique: problème terminologique ou construction conceptuelle?” Traduire la langue, traduire la culture. Ed. Salah Mejri, Taïeb Baccouche, André Class, and Gaston Gross. Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose, 177–191.

— (2008). “La traduction des textes spécialisés: le cas des sciences du langage.” Traduire, un métier d'avenir: Colloque du 50e anniversaire de l’ISTI [Institut supérieur de traducteurs et d’interprètes], 14–15 octobre 2008 , vol. 2. Ed. Christian Balliu. Brussels: Les Éditions du Hazard, 119–144. Accessed 3 Oct. 2014.

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[1] On the interest of this publication in the context of current research, see my introduction to the volume (Patron 2012: <0}40–51).

[2] As Anna Wierzbicka shows very well in the case of story, these are everyday words which have not always been attributed a consistent terminological value (cf. 2010). My thanks to Brian Schiff for bringing her article to my attention. It approaches issues relating to translation which are, however, quite different from the ones concerning me here.<0}

[3] Cf. Genette (1972: 15): “Je propose, sans insister sur les raisons d’ailleurs évidentes du choix des termes, de nommer histoire le signifié ou contenu narratif […], récit proprement dit le signifiant, énoncé, discours ou texte narratif lui-même, et narration l’acte narratif producteur et, par extension, l’ensemble de la situation réelle ou fictive dans laquelle il prend place” (1980: 27: “I propose, without insisting on the obvious reasons for my choice of terms, to use the word story for the signified or narrative content […], to use the word narrative for the signifier, statement, discourse or narrative text itself, and to use the word narrating for the producing narrating action and, by extension, the whole of the real or fictional situation in which that action takes place”). Cf. also Prince (1987, 2003: 57, 58, 93) and Herman, Jahn and Ryan, eds. (2005: 338–339, 566–568).

[4] A reminder that for Genette, narrating is always understood as communication; for Kuroda, while some acts of narrating are acts of communication, not all acts of narrating can be assimilated with communication in a precise linguistic sense.

[5] Cf. Benveniste (1966: 241–242): “Il faut entendre discours dans sa plus large extension: toute énonciation supposant un locuteur et un auditeur, et chez le premier l’intention d’influencer l’autre de quelque manière” (1971: 208–209: “Discourse must be understood in its widest sense: every utterance assuming a speaker and a hearer, and in the speaker, the intention of influencing the other in some way”).

[6] Cf. Hamburger ([1968] 1993: 363, n. 148): “The German concept Aussage as it occurs in grammar and in the logic of judgment is to be rendered in English by ‘statement’, which has a general meaning beyond that of ‘assertion’ (Behauptung).” Hamburger adds that, in the English translation of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, Ger. Aussage is translated by Eng. statement. Note that in the French translation of the same work, Ger. Aussage is translated by Fr. énoncé.

[7] On this point, cf. Patron (2009: 152–155) (on Hamburger 1986). énoncé is the result of its énonciation; it is opposed to the latter as the product is to its production.

[8] Erzählen can refer to the narrative as a process – this is how Hamburger refers to the narrative process; Erzählung, the product of the process.

[9] The term tiers auditeur (sometimes written tiers-auditeur) also has a terminological value for Jacques and is used in an argumentative context which is quite close to Kuroda’s: the tiers auditeur is an auditeur but not the allocutaire of the locuteur; he or she is a hearer who stands outside the interlocutory relation. However, the introduction of the tiers auditeur in Jacques only serves to specify the role of the allocutaire (cf. e.g. 2000: 75).

[10] Cf. Hamburger (1973: 109: “As an indication of the a-temporal conditions in epic fiction we may cite that present tense which we use involuntarily, but with logical necessity, whenever we re-tell the content of a narrative, as well as that of a drama, and which we can therefore term the reproducing present. The function and significance of this present tense emerges clearly if, instead of it, we were to use the past tense. For this past would immediately give the piece of fiction the character of a reality-document – it being, as scarcely needs to be said, not identical with the epic preterit. Just for this reason the reproducing present is not a historical present either, but rather the a-temporal present tense of statements about ideal objects.”