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Marcatori pragmatici richiestivi in Plauto:

una sfida per la traduzione in francese, italiano, rumeno e spagnolo


Piera Molinelli



This paper examines some Latin predicative expressions that have gradually developed a pragmatic and procedural function with a request value (quaeso, obsecro, amabo, rogo) and focuses on the challenge that their translations into French, Italian, Romanian and Spanish poses. The research is based on a parallel corpus of Plautine comedies together with their translations in some Romance languages (i.e. French, Italian, Romanian, and Spanish). The dialogues in the comedies offer one of the main resources to investigate pragmatic functions expressed by speakers in an ancient language. As early as in Plautus, some predicative expressions can also operate as functional signals or resources used by speakers in communicative exchanges to fulfil macrofunctions oriented to the discourse or to the context of interaction. We consider here those Latin verbs that most frequently are used in requests: they operate as markers oriented toward the interlocutor, whose pragmatic function is of promoting social cohesion. Indeed, they encode (a) the characteristics of the relationship between speaker and interlocutor, (b) their social identity (their degree of power and social distance within the context of communication), and (c) the type of speech act accomplished. Building on these premises, we analyse both at an interliguistic and at an intralinguistic level different choices and different solutions in the translation of these markers. The contrastive analysis highlights diachronic phenomena of convergence and differentiation among the Romance languages considered, in terms of maintenance or substitution of a given marker. In the end, this study aims to bring to light the empirical and methodological problems in translating these elements from an ancient language, in order to verify if and how a functional theoretical approach to pragmatic markers may suggest new and consistent interpretative solutions.


Keywords: Pragmatic markers • speech acts of request • politeness • pragmatic markers in translation

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