30(2) - 2018

Reconstruire la britannitude : la traduction des clichés dans Expo 58 (Jonathan Coe)

Frédérique Brisset



Rebuilding Britishness: Translating clichés from Expo 58 (Jonathan Coe) into French


Expo 58 is a novel located in Brussels in 1958, at the heart of the World’s Fair. The protagonists include a pair of foolish British secret agents who speak mostly in clichés. Each and every line they utter reflects grotesque prejudices, via clichés used to assert the British supremacy; Coe exploits this rhetorical device for comic purposes but also as a way to render the uneasiness his country was facing in the middle of the Cold War. The aim of this article is to study how such a culturally loaded speech has been translated into the French edition of the book, knowing that clichés are typical of a very national spirit. Linguistically speaking, their form is also a challenge to the translator, as they are often built on fixed patterns and dead metaphors which usually do not have an exact equivalent in another language. Our case study draws on translation studies, reception theories and pragmatics to see if systematic choices can be observed throughout the novel, on a corpus of clichés compared with their translation by J. Kamoun, and to understand the strategies used in conveying similar effects onto the French readers.


Britishness, cliché, metaphor, translation, French, Jonathan Coe (1961-)

DOI 10.17462/para.2018.02.01