Translating Song Lyrics : A Study of the Translation of the Three Musicals by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus

University essay from Södertörns högskola/Institutionen för kultur och kommunikation

Abstract: The primary aim of the present study is to gain an understanding of the translation process involved when translating song lyrics by investigating to what extent 10 translation features occur in a corpus of 12 song lyrics from the musicals CHESS, MAMMA MIA! and Kristina från Duvemåla. Comparing the source texts to the translated texts, taking into account: number of words, syllables vs. words, word-for-word translations, additions/omissions, metaphors, rhymes, reorganization of text, paraphrases and last if there were any untranslated English words kept in the Swedish version – led to the conclusion that the translation strategy of using paraphrases (express something written in other words) was the most common translation strategy used when translating song lyrics. In addition, translating song lyrics also requires a translator who is musical, has good association skills, a large vocabulary and is also very good at playing with words. Taking the findings into consideration it could be said that the word 'translation' should be avoided in reference to the act of transferring the song lyrics of a musical in one language into another language. More apt descriptive phrases for this process would probably be 'text arrangement' or 'interpretation'.

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