The Amateur Translation of Song Lyrics: A Study of Morrissey in Brazilian Media (1985-2012)

  • Luciana Kaross

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis investigates the field of amateur translation in Brazil, with particular emphasis on the translation of Morrissey's lyrics for understanding purposes in four different sources: magazines, fansites, virtual communities and general websites. It examines whether existing theories on the translation of popular songs (Kelly 1987, and Low, 2003, 2005, 2008) find some resonance in the practice of amateur translators. The collective construction of meaning, and the social acceptance of the Target Text are essential parts of the process. The analysis follows Toury's (1995) descriptive model in order to systematise how these translators operate. The Brazilian amateur translators' regularity in the use of particular techniques to render meaning to lyrics for understanding purposes enables the description of their practice as a genre its own.Following the theoretical framework, chapters four, five and six focus on the translation of the main challenges amateur translators of Morrissey's lyrics face. The translation of cultural aspects proved to be an exercise of creativity in which the translators had to provide equivalents to culture-specific items (Aixelá, 1996) that find no mirror in the target culture. Ambiguous lyrics tended to present translations as varied as the translators' personal agendas, understanding of the lyrics or target language's limitations, such as lack of neutral personal pronoun. The different humour and irony styles in source and target culture resulted in every group of translators finding their own strategies to render meaning. As the first project aiming to rationalise amateur translators of lyrics in Brazil, this study represents an attempt to enrich and broaden the discussion on the translation of pop songs, with special attention to the practices of translation for this type of texts in a country where the audience is high dependent on translations in order to understand the lyrics are in great demand.  
Date of Award1 Aug 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorBarbara Lebrun (Supervisor), Iris Bachmann (Supervisor) & Siobhan Brownlie (Supervisor)


  • Translation
  • Song lyrics
  • Amateur translation
  • Cultural aspects
  • Humour and Irony
  • Ambiguity

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