Saussure’s concept of meaning applied to translation from French into English. Igbo and Kalabari languages of Malot’s Sans Famille


Chimmuanya Pearl Ngele (1) & Priye E. Iyalla-Amadi (2)

(1) Department of Foreign Languages and Literary Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka &
(2) Department Of French and International Studies, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Rumuolumeni, Port Harcourt, Nigeria, &




Translation can be said to be an exercise based on a tripartite comprehension: that of the text, the original author and the reader of the translated text. In translating therefore, an attempt is often made to create a text that would be comprehensible to the target reader. To effectively do this, several factors are considered, one of which is culture, especially in literary texts where culture is richly presented. A literary translator must therefore reproduce not just language but also culture. An illustration of this can be found in the translation of Hector Malot’s Sans Famille, from French to English, Kalabari and Igbo. To adapt the translated version to the various target audiences, the cultural elements of the original French text have been replaced with those of the target languages but with the semantic content intact. This is known as cultural appropriation, an application of the semio-pragmatic theory. This theory affirms Saussure’s structural linguistics thereby applying structuralism to translation.

Keywords: culture; appropriation; literary text; meaning; structural linguistics


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