Macquarie University
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A functional socio-semiotic reading of the paradox of literary demotion and popular promotion in translated bestsellers: Paulo Coelho's O Alquimista as a case in English, Arabic and Turkish

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posted on 2022-03-28, 22:28 authored by Sawsan A. Aljahdali
With copyrights sold in 80 languages, the contentious bestsellerdom of Coelho's O Alquimista (1988) creates a unique form of communication implementing a symbiotic language-culture relationship. These acts of narrative translation represent an act of communication in which, according to Hatim and Mason (1997), meaning recreating is separate from while it is still dependent on the original writing. Here, the intersemiotic and interlingual transformations take language-in-context as the broadest environment of translation. Studying O Alquimista in English, Arabic and Turkish, the present study adopts a comparative intersemiotic view of the recreated narratives along the multi-stratal systems of language and narrative. The study ventures to address the complexity of meaning recreation as governed by the value systems in the contexts of interpretation. In this light, the study argues that in order for the recreated narratives to appeal better to the targeted readers and to attune more sufficiently with the socio-semiotic values of their cultures, the acts of translation embrace processes of accommodating recreated narrative structures to the contexts of interpretation, and of creating discourse patterns that accentuate unique and distinctive texts within each context. Some SFG-based concepts, such as Halliday's metaredundancy (1992), Hasan's semiotic distance (1986/2011), and Matthiessen's (2001) meta-context, typological distance are essential ones here. Translated narratives are addressed in relation to style and context in two studies along the following narrative and linguistic strata: (1) semantic and socio-semiotic, viz., in relation to the recreated 'narrative structure' and the value systems of the meta-contexts; (2) discursive, addressing 'focalisation', as a narrative aspect reflecting the narrative dialogic stance. Focalisation as re-discoursed in translation is studied experientially and logicosemantically in excerpts accumulating images of the focal focaliser, some places, and dramatis personae. The narrative structure for each of these texts is constructed twice: internally in writing and externally in reading (Yaktine, 1989/2005, 1989/2006).


Table of Contents

Chapter One. Introduction -- Chapter Two. Transtextually attempted, transculturally achieved : bestsellerdom and the socio-semiotics of narrative communication, context, and translation -- Chapter Three. Recreated narrative structure(s) in the light of the multiple contextualisations -- Chapter Four. Discourse, context and the semiotics of evaluation : focalisation in the three texts of O Alquimista -- Chapter Five. Reproduced focalisations in O Alquimista : places and personae as objects of focalisation in the three fnarratives -- Chapter Six. The paradox concluded-when translating narratives conforms to bestsellerdom -- References -- Appendices.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 264-270

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

David Grimston Butt

Additional Supervisor 1

Annabelle Lukin


Copyright Sawsan A. Aljahdali 2018. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (xiii, 436 pages) diagrams, tables

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