The use of footnotes in the Malay translation of A Thousand Splendid Suns

Haslina Haroon


Footnotes are paratextual elements which appear at the bottom of a page in a text. In translated literary texts, translators may employ footnotes to assist readers in their understanding of the translation. Despite the use of footnotes in literary translation, there are few studies which have looked into their use in translations in Malaysia. This paper thus aims to explore the use of footnotes in a literary translation from English into Malay. More specifically, the aim is to determine the types of words which are footnoted in the Malay translation of the English-language novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and to determine the information provided in the footnotes. The paper also aims to determine the function served by the footnotes in the translation. To carry out this study, the footnotes in the Malay translation are collected and their content examined. The analysis reveals that the footnotes are generally linked to culture-bound words which are transferred unchanged from the source text to the translation. In terms of their content, the footnotes provide mainly dictionary-like definitions of the foreign words in the Malay translation. As such, the footnotes serve a purely informative function. This paper argues that footnotes must be used judiciously in a translation. Informative footnotes can play an important role in enhancing the readers’ understanding of the text and in bringing the text closer to the readers; measures, however, must be taken to ensure the accuracy of the content of the footnotes if they are to benefit the readers.


paratext, peritext, footnotes, translation procedure, literary translation

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