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Culture in a Nutshell. A Vision of North American Culture through Cultural Notes in Bilingual French-English Dictionaries.

Abstract : The general-purpose bilingual dictionary is usually seen primarily as a translation tool. However, as stated by Dubois & Dubois (1971), the dictionary can be considered as a cultural object as it reflects the culture of those who have designed it. A bilingual dictionary is thus the repository of (at least) two different cultures, and is supposed to bridge the gap between them (Rodger, 2006). With this aim in mind, the Larousse-Chambers French English Dictionary innovated in 1993 by introducing a new component called "cultural boxes". Since then, all major bilingual English-French dictionaries have seized on the idea, and the Harrap's Shorter English-French dictionary (8th edition, 2006), for example, thus includes cultural notes defined as "extra information on culturally significant events, institutions, traditions and customs that cannot be given in an ordinary translation or gloss". Our purpose in this paper is to analyse the vision of North American culture conveyed by these notes. Relying on a methodology similar to that used by Francoeur (2003), we compare the treatment of culture-bound items related to North America in the latest editions of four major bilingual English-French Dictionaries: the Collins Robert French Dictionary, the Harrap's Shorter English-French Dictionary, the Larousse French-English Dictionary, and the Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary. What type of cultural knowledge is selected for dissemination? Is the information provided in the cultural boxes representative of the whole of North America, i.e. both the United States and Canada? Does this information actually make up for the loss in translation? Does the information serve primarily an encoding or a decoding purpose? Do the cultural notes draw parallels between the various cultures or do they simply describe them as separate entities? These are some of the questions our paper tries to answer.
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Contributor : Amélie Josselin-Leray Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 2:40:51 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 17, 2021 - 12:30:57 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-00961729, version 1


Amélie Josselin-Leray. Culture in a Nutshell. A Vision of North American Culture through Cultural Notes in Bilingual French-English Dictionaries.. Dictionaries in Global and Historical Context, Jun 2010, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. ⟨hal-00961729⟩



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