Статья 'Ways of conveying ethnocultural lexicon in translation of the novel Eugene Onegin by A. S. Pushkin into Portuguese (on the materials of Dário Moreira de Castro Alves’ translation)' - журнал 'SENTENTIA. European Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences' - NotaBene.ru
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SENTENTIA. European Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

Ways of conveying ethnocultural lexicon in translation of the novel Eugene Onegin by A. S. Pushkin into Portuguese (on the materials of Dário Moreira de Castro Alves’ translation)

Danilova Vasilisa Andreevna

Postgraduate student, Educator, the department of English Languages and Humanities, National Research University Higher School of Economics

101000, Russia, g. Moscow, ul. Myasnitskaya, 20

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Abstract: The subject of this research is the ethnocultural lexicon in translation of A. S. Pushkin’s novel “Eugene Onegin” into Portuguese language. The author views the term realia as a lexicon with ethnocultural semantics, characteristic to a specific language community. The research is aimed at the analysis of the means of conveying realia in two non-cognate languages, as well as in determination of ethnocultural differences of the lexemes signifying similar notions. The author believes that understanding and accurate interpretation of culturally marked lexicon are essential for translating foreign literature, studying and teaching foreign languages. Methods of the research are contextual and comparative analysis of the Russian realia in translation, which allowed determining the distinctions in cognition of text among the Russian and Portuguese native speakers. The novelty of this work is defined by reference to the only translation of the novel “Eugene Onegin” into Portuguese language that has not previously been an object of a linguoculturological study. The research revealed that realia may contain cultural component in the meaning of words and their connotation. As a result, the author indicates the differences of linguistic means of conveying realia in the Russian and Portuguese languages, and established the ways of conveying ethnocultural lexicon in translation of the novel, such as correlation, hypo-hyperonymic translation, adaptation, periphrastic translation, and calquing.


ethnocultural lexicon, realia, linguoculturology, ethnolinguistics, comparative analysis, correlation, hypo-hyperonymic translation, adaptation, periphrasis, calque

Extensive attention is currently paid by the scholars to the questions pertaining to ethnocultural specificity of the language. Ethnocultural differences are vividly manifested in comparison of the lexicon of two non-cognate languages, which contributes to discovery of word meanings characteristic for a specific culture or language group. Understanding and proper interpretation of ethnocultural lexicon is necessary in studying and teaching foreign languages. This article is dedicated to ethnocultural lexicon in the novel “Eugene Onegin” and its translation into Portuguese for the purposes of comparing components of word meanings and determining ways to transmit the realia of Russian culture of the XIX century into Portuguese language.

To define culturally marked lexicon in a series of works by Russian and foreign scholars, this research uses the term “realia”. Scientific literature holds several definitions of this concept. In her Glossary of Linguistic Terms, O. S. Akhmanova describes realia as “objects of material culture, as well as various factors studied by external linguistics, such as state structure of particular country, history and culture of this nation, language contacts of the native speakers of the language, etc., from the perspective of their reflection in the particular language” [1, p. 608].

E. M. Vereshchagin and V. G. Kostomarov give the following interpretation: realia consists of cultural elements that not have analogues in the culture of the researcher [2, p. 34].

In this paper, the term “realia” is interpreted in accordance with the definition by S. I. Vlakhov and S. P. Florin: realia are words (and phrases) of a native tongue, representing names of objects, concepts and phenomena characteristic for a geographical environment, culture, material life or socio-historic peculiarities of the nation, country or tribe, and therefore being the carriers of the ethnic, local or historical identity [4, p. 406].

It is worth noting that “concepts, which reflect realia, carry national character and materialize in the so-called non-equivalent lexicon”, in other words, do not have direct counterparts in other languages [3, p. 115].

V. S. Vinogradov introduces the concept of “associative realia”, in which background information is reflected not in the denotation or non-equivalent lexicon, but in the hues of the word, its emotional-expressive coloration and separate components of meaning.

Associative realia do not have verbal manifestation within non-equivalent lexicon, but rather expressed in information that accompanies the word, expression or quote, and is well-known to the native speaker. Therefore, according to V. S. Vinogradov, realia can be divided into realia-words and associative realia [4, p. 116].

For conducting comparative analysis of lexemes in the original and translation, as well as identifying methods of conveying realia into Portuguese language, it is necessary to classify realia and determine their variations.

The author examines realia of the Russian culture of the XIX century and their Portuguese analogues in translation of the novel, leaning on classification of realia given by V. S. Vinogradov that includes realia-words and associative realia:

Life realias:

a) Residence, property: покои — quarto, ночлег — ароѕеnto, девичья — quаrto de empregadas.

b) Clothes and outfits: тулуп — peles, колпак — tоuса, картуз — bone, фуфайка — саmіѕеtа, лапоть — alparca, кафтан — реlе.

c) Food and drink: пряник — рriаnik, щи — shchi , квас — kvas.

d) Units of measurement: сажень — jаrdа, верста — vеrѕtа.

e) Musical instruments, folk dances and songs: трепак — trepak, хоровод — jogo do prato, балалайка — balalaica.

f) Transportation: почтовые — corceis de mudа, тройка лошадей — troika, бричка — britskas.

1. Lexicon denoting ethnographic mythological realia:

a) Ethnic and social communities and their representatives: мужики — mujiques, казаки — cossacos.

2. Lexicon denoting realias of the natural world:

a) Realias of nature: мурава — campo, глушь — bosque inabitado, нива — campo.

3. Lexicon denoting onomastic realia:

a) Anthroponyms

Among anthroponyms there are different common first and last names, characteristic for a particular cultural group, and individual names indicating names of writers, artists, public and political actors, and other famous persons. Individual names require commentary in translation into another language, since they represent precedents, i.e. “related to widely known text or situation” and invoke a series of associations among Russian native speakers [5, p. 83].

Common names: Дмитрий — Dmitri, Ваня — Vania, Андрюшка — Andriushka.

Individual names: Чаадаев — Tchadaiev, Истомина — Istomina, Катенин — Katenin.

b) Toponyms

Some toponyms should also be considered as precedent names, since they are mentioned in the text not as much for designation of a specific geographical location, as a certain type of cultural sign, symbol of particular qualities, historical events, and lives [6. P. 284].

Милльоная — Milionnaia, Петровский замок — Petrovskiy castelo, Летний сад — Letniy Sad.

4. Lexicon reflecting associative realia:

a) Linguistic allusions usually contain a hint to some sort of phraseologism, proverb, saying, aphorism or common expression: приди в чертог ко мне златой — ao meu castelo de оuro vеm (Line from the Aria of Lesta, the opera "Mermaid of the Dnepr" by Ferdinand Kauer that was popular during Pushkin’s times) [7, p. 598]; Мой дядя самых честных правил — o meu tіo honesto е mui honrado ("Мой дядя самых честных правил" is an ironically twisted line from I. A. Krylov’s fable “Donkey and Man”) [7, p. 547].

b) Phraseologisms and fixed expressions: потупить взор — оllhar deixou cair; как Зюзя пьяный — ebrio; нет мочи — penoso a mim; терзать чью-либо душу — dar tanta emocao na alma; с корабля на бал — do barco au baile.

In working with realias, a translator of a literary text often faces difficulties, which testifies to the problems of understanding and cognition of foreign text. Let us examines two main difficulties of conveying realia into another language:

1. Absence of the precise counterpart of realia in target-language, due to the fact that the object designated by realia does not exist in the culture and life of the native speakers of the target-language.

2. Necessity to not only transmit the denoting meaning of the realia, but also preserve its national and historical style.

V. S. Vinogradov highlights the following means of conveying realia into another language:

1. Correlation

2. Hypo-hyperonymic translation

3. Comparability

4. Periphrastic translation

5. Calquing [3, p. 117].

To convey into Portuguese language, the translator employed all of the aforementioned means:

1) Correlation

Transcription with retention of some elements of transliteration is the leading means of conveying realia in the novel. Since the phonetic and graphic systems of the languages significantly differ from one another, conveyance of the form of a word from the original language is always somewhat conditional and approximate in the target-language. In first mention of the word in the text, the translator usually accompanies the transcribed words with references or explanations introduced into translated text. A common example of correlation in the novel is the conveyance of life realia designating food or household objects:

«У них на масленице жирной Водились русские блины

“No carnaval eram de agrado Os blinis russos, sem iguais”

«Им квас как воздух был потребен,»

“E o dispensável kvas chegando”

«А я так за уши драла! А я так пряником кормила!»

“As tuas orelhos te puxei! Que bons prianiks comias!"

«Заводит слово стороной О скуке жизни холостой; Зовут соседа к самовару

“Ja se alegava, em tom matreiro, Do tedio que e viver solteiro; Ao samovar Lenski e chamado”.

Names of the streets, cities, proper nouns, and last names is also transliterated.

For example: : Летний сад — Letniy Sad, Мильонная — Millionnaia, Тверская — Тverskaia, Ленский — Lenski, Ювенал — Juvenal.

The benefit of transliteration as a means of conveying non-equivalent lexicon is its reliability. The researcher transmits the audible shell of the transliterated word. The content aspect of the word is revealed only through the context, thus avoiding explanation of a new concept, as well as the accompanying risk of its inaccurate interpretation: Собранье — Sobranie, Истомина — Iѕtоminа, Княжнин — Kniazhnin, Kатенин — Katenin, Шаховский — Shakhovskoi.

Attention should also be paid to the flaws that manifest in transliteration – a mechanical transmission of a non-equivalent word and inability to fully describe the content of a new concept, which can either remain completely unclear to many of the readers, or be approximately understood from the context. In our material, the lexemes included into the text without any type of explications belong to this group.

2) Hypo-hyperonymic translation

In application of this method, we can observe a reduction or increase in the semantic field of the target- language. In this case, the culturally marked lexicon is conveyed via a broader or narrower semantic volume than the borrowed meanings. Hypo-hyperonymic method of conveying ethnocultural lexicon is extensively reflected in the examined translation:

«В гостиной встреча новых лиц, Лай мосек, чмоканье девиц,»

“Aos encontroes de tao contente Estalam beijos, os cães latem”.

Моська is a small dog Pug [8]. The word is conveyed to Portuguese by a lexeme сãо — dog [9], which represents cognate notion with regards to the hyponym моська.

«Весной на мураве лугов, зимой на чугуне камина,»

“Em primavera ao campo ve-lo Ou em inverno ante a lareira”.

The semantic field campo — поле, rural area is a significantly broader meaning than the lexeme мурава– thick, young grass [8,9].

«Любили круглые качели, Подблюдны песни, хоровод»

Corais, balanço, os entretiam Jogo do prato era paixão”.

Подблюдные песни represent a special type of ceremonial songs, performed during winter holidays divinations [8], while the translation uses the lexeme соrаl — song, choir singing, which has a broader meaning [9].

«Умильно на пучок зари Они роняли слезки три;»

“Dia de Graça aguavam flores Com um par de lágrimas suas dores...”

Заря –an outdated name for the flower lovage is translated by a hyperonym flores – flowers [8, 9].

The examined type of translation completely transmits habitualness, routine coloration of the corresponding word of the original, in some instances giving it certain hue, while not introducing any new features in others. Defining a realia in the target-language requires finding a concept, which though does not completely coincide with the original version, shares substantial semantic similarity and is capable of adequately explaining the essence of the described phenomenon to the reader.

3) Adaptation

In adaptation, the words denote concepts that co-subordinate in relation to cognate concept.

For example:

«Он, правда, в туз из пистолета В пяти саженях попадал,»

“Num as com um tiro ele acertava, A doze jardas de distancia”.

In translation of the lexeme сажень – 3 arshins (84 inches) [8], the translator uses an analogue in Portuguese language – jarda, which is also a unit of measure of length, but is not identical to the meaning of the Russian lexeme.

«Тут был на эпиграммы падкий, На всё сердитый господин

“Enamorado de epigramas, A um homen tudo aborrecia”

«И заведет крещеный мир На каждой станции трактир

“Verao cristao nisto vantage Uma taberna, uma estalagem”.

For the lexemes господинand трактир, the translator also selects analogues in their linguoculture, thus following the principle of domestication. Friedrich Schleiermacher defines domestication as “ethnocentric reduction of foreign text to target-language cultural values”, i.e. the “unfamiliar foreign components are replaced with those known to readers of the receiving culture” [10, p. 50]. Thus, the translator makes the text more familiar and understandable to the native speaker of Portuguese language.

4) Periphrastic

Often, for conveying the meaning of a realia, the translator employs descriptive translation. In such case, the meaning of a word is explained using a phrase. It is worth noting that periphrastic translation is extensively present in the source.

«Зато читал Адама Смита И был глубокой эконом

“Mas Adam Smith ele entendia E era profundo em economia

«Татьяну трогают; но ей Нехорошо на новоселье

“Comovem Tania; e bem verdade, No novo lar nao esta contente”

«Погрейся у него немножко! И в сени прямо он идет И на порог ее


“Entra e aquece-te um instante! E porta adentro vai passando E Tania ao chao ja vai deixando”.

5) Calquing

In literary translation, this method is characteristic not for conveying meaning of the words-realia, i.e. commonly used words in a specific ethnic community, but to recreate author-specific neologisms, where the translator competes against the author by inventing similarly expressive nonce words as in the original. Calquing is also used in translation of proverbs and sayings, when for various reasons it is necessary to preserve not only their meaning, but also their figurative-semantic foundation. For example:

«Капусту садит, как Гораций»

“Faz como Horacio - couves planta;"

«Как сон младенца, как луна В пустынях неба безмятежных,»

“Sono de infant, ou lua escura, A percorrer o ceu deserto”

«Он возвратился и попал, Как Чацкий, с корабля на бал.»

“E como Tchatski, apenas vindo, Do barco ao baile ia subindo”

Calquing can be an effective method when there is a need to convey a real play on words of the original; a comprising element is the phraseologism of the indicated type. The circumstance that prompts calquing of proverbs and sayings is one that underlies these fixed expressions, figures (if, of course, they are not strictly ethnic) are reproduced by means of the languages or translation, and become quite clear for the foreign translation.

However, it is worth mentioning that calquing is only possible when literal translation can deliver the accurate content of the entire phraseologism (rather than the meaning of its components). In the translation in question, the author places references and commentary for explanation of the meaning of a fixed expression, phraseologism or saying.

In some cases, we can observe omission of a realia, when the translator forgoes a lexeme, conveying its meaning in the context, or completely omits it from the translation. Here is one of such examples:

«Летит кибитка удалая; Ямщик сидит на облучке» is translated into Portuguese as “Passa a carroca, vаi voando; Envоltо em peles, o cocheiro”.

In this case, the lexeme is skipped, and meaning of the realia is conveyed through context.

In the line «Пред зеркалами проводил и из уборной выходил» the translator also omitted the word «уборная», conveying only the general idea of Onegin’s readiness to exit – “Fiсаr no espelho a se burnir, Estava, então, pronto a sair”.

The omission of lexemes in this translation is not very common, which is caused by the fact that towards the early XX century the translators refrained from the previously rampant liberal translation, which allowed not only omitting separate lexemes and fragments, but also co-authorship of the translator, reflected in the change of the plot or the ending, developing the key notions and concepts of translation that were based on equivalency and adequacy of the plant of content and the plan of expression.

The realia represents an intrinsic part of a culture and livelihood of a specific nation, thus it is necessary to pay special attention to the means of its transmission into another language. It is also important to consider the personality of a recipient of the text and their background knowledge. For this reason, the translator is tasked with not only preservation of the main idea of the text, but its national flavor and emotional-expressive coloration. In the course of this research, it was discovered that for conveying ethnocultural specificity of lexemes the translator used diverse methods, such as correlation, hypo-hyperonymic translation, adaptation, periphrastic translation, and calquing. The leading method of conveying realia is correlation. In some instances, omission of a realia and transmission of its meaning in the context can be observed. The results of this work can be used in translation of texts, studying and teaching, since they contribute to the understanding of the linguistic worldview of Portuguese native speakers.

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