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Sign Systems Studies

Volume 29, Issue 2, 2001

Elin Sütiste
Pages 563-586

Translating the seventeen syllables

The present paper focuses on the similarities and differences between the formal characteristics of the traditional Japanese haiku and the translated haiku. more specifically, on the relations between the 5-7-5 syllable pattern in the Japanese haiku, and the patterns of syllable arrangement employed in the translations. Due to the influence of the target culture context, there emerge certain conventions in rendering the haiku form. the appearance of which is observed in the body of 420 haiku translations, made by 7 translators. On the basis of the overall frequency of appearance, as well as in respect to individual translators, tentative characterisation is proposed as to which types of syllable arrangement patterns can be considered more form-oriented than others in the context of the translated haiku, i.e., an attempt is made to mark the boundary between the "haiku-like" patterns and the "unhaiku-like" patterns.

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