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“Letter of a Sicilian to one of his Friends” in Translation by Antiochus Cantemir (1726): History of the Text and Features of its Language

Dmitry V. Rudnev, Heng Fu


The article presents a many-sided analysis of a pamphlet by Giovanni Marana translated by Antiochus Kantemir into Russian in 1726. In the first part of the article, we describe various editions of Marana’s pamphlet and establish the one that became the source for Kantemir’s translation. This source is found out to be the publication of the pamphlet in one of the “Élite des bons mots” collections. Next, the correspondence between the text of the translation and the French text is analyzed, the deviations and errors in the Kantemir’s text are revealed and their explanation is given. It is concluded that the surviving manuscript of the translation was made from an earlier one and was not the final version of the text.

The manuscript of the translation was published in 1868 as a part of the collected works by Antiochus Kantemir and was subjected to a considerable revision. The second part of the article is devoted to comparing the text of the manuscript and the published text, describing spelling and punctuation corrections, as well as mistakes made during the publication of the manuscript. The contradictions in introduced spelling corrections are noted.

In the third part of the article, the technique of translation, ways of transferring lexical and syntactic units to Russian are analyzed. Kantemir uses a large number of borrowed words to describe the everyday life in Paris and France, however, mainly Slavic word-building models are used for translating the behavioral sphere vocabulary. The fourth part of the article describes the stylistic key of translation. While making the language of translation closer to the language of the French original, the translator left Russian as a basis, which he slavicised in two ways: first, with a small number of “background slavonicisms”, evenly distributed throughout the text; secondly, with “slavonicisms-inclusions”, creating points of stylistic tension. It is concluded that the degree of slavicisation of the text is not great.


DOI: 10.31168/2305-6754.2019.8.1.8


Russian language of the 18th century; Antiochus Kantemir; Giovanni Marana; hybrid text; translation technique; church slavonicisms; borrowings


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