Research Article

DOI :10.26650/LITERA2020-0083   IUP :10.26650/LITERA2020-0083    Full Text (PDF)

Intellectio and Inventio in Turkish Poetry Translation

Rafael Carpintero

New Rhetorics has returned to the classical meaning of rhetoric as a science of discourse and not only as a study of literary figures. The contributions of contemporary linguistics, particularly pragmatics, to the analysis of discourse as «language in action» demonstrate the validity of the postulates of classical rhetoric. In this sense, it is perfectly possible to apply categories of rhetoric to the analysis of translation since it is a communicative activity that uses language as a means of transmission. However, it is convenient to overcome the traditional dedication at the most superficial level of elocutio and pay attention to other levels, be it before the performance of the discourse, such as intellectio, or being formants of it, such as inventio. We can consider the intellectio as the location of the author prior to the text from the point of view of field, mode and tenor. Inventio is an encyclopedia of topics and ways of treating them conditioned culturally and historically. The translation of a text can find problems at both levels that go beyond those strictly lexical, even if they end up being reflected in words. As an example, we use the translations into Spanish, with an intermediate language, of two poems by Ataol Behramoğlu originally in Turkish.

DOI :10.26650/LITERA2020-0083   IUP :10.26650/LITERA2020-0083    Full Text (PDF)

Intellectio e Inventio en la Traducción de Poesía del Turco

Rafael Carpintero

La neorretórica ha vuelto a tomar el sentido clásico de la retórica como ciencia del discurso y no únicamente como estudio de las figuras. Las aportaciones de la lingüística contemporánea, en particular de la pragmática, al análisis del discurso como lengua en acción demuestran la validez de los postulados de la retórica clásica. En ese sentido es perfectamente posible aplicar categorías de la retórica al análisis de la traducción puesto que se trata una actividad comunicativa que emplea la lengua como medio de transmisión. Sin embargo, conviene superar la tradicional dedicación al nivel más superficial de la elocutio y prestar atención a otros, bien previos al discurso, como la intellectio, o formantes de él, como la inventio. Podemos considerar la intellectio como la localización del autor previa al texto tanto desde el punto de vista del campo como del modo y el tenor. En cuanto a la inventio, es una enciclopedia de temas y formas de tratarlos condicionada cultural e históricamente. La traducción de un texto puede encontrar problemas en ambos niveles que van más allá de los estrictamente léxicos, aunque acaben siendo reflejados en palabras. Como ejemplo utilizamos las traducciones al español, a través de una lengua intermedia, de dos poemas de Ataol Behramoğlu originalmente en turco.


Since the mid-20th century, rhetoric has experienced a relative renaissance. From the Middle Ages until recently, rhetoric had been seen above all as the study of the figures used in literature, therefore called rhetorical figures. However, that was only one part of the classical rhetoric, which was actually the science of discourse, of oral expression, of speech.

It is in the same meaning of science of discourse that it has begun to be considered again with the beginning of neo-rhetoric studies. The development of linguistics has undoubtedly contributed to this, giving greater importance to speech/parole after structuralism, and, above all, to the appearance of pragmatics in linguistic studies, with its insistence on the theory of acts of speech and on discourse as a communicative fact.

Since translation is a communicative act that uses linguistic means, it should deserve the attention of neo-rhetorical studies and vice versa. However, there are very few studies of rhetoric dealing with translation and hardly any studies on translation using categories of classical rhetoric. The truth is that the so-called “translation techniques” can be reduced to the four basic operations of classical rhetoric (addition, subtraction, transposition and permutation) at linguistic as well as discursive and pragmatic levels. These operations usually refer to a single part of those that formed the art of rhetoric: elocutio, the form of expression. However, there are other levels at which deeper translation problems can arise: the intellectio and the inventio.

The intellectio is an operation prior to the generation of the discourse and, in brief, consists of the correct appreciation from a pragmatic point of view of the context - both referential and textual - by the addresser. Thus, before producing the text, the author must be fully aware of questions such as to whom it is addressed, what the situation is, the means of communication, or the conventions of the textual types of the subject being handled.

Classical inventio was a repertoire of themes and subtopics, as well as how to develop them. For example, if you wanted to talk about the passage of time, you could use themes such as tempus fugit or carpe diem. In the latter there should always be a poetic voice - presumably an adult man - addressing a young woman, the poem should begin with a description of this young woman - descriptio puellae - who must be blonde and of pale and delicate skin, etc.

Taking into account that the translator is a professional reader of the original text and also the producer of the translated text, it is evident that he must pay careful attention not only to the position taken by the original author - his/her «location» -, but also to his own. In other words, you have to carefully analyze the level of the intellectio before undertaking the translation in order to detect possible problems. The same is true for the level of inventio since not all subjects are treated in the same way in all cultures or at all times.

As an example of the problems that can arise both at the level of the intellectio and the inventio, we propose the translation into Spanish from a French or English version of two poems by the Turkish author Ataol Behramoğlu. In the first we can see problems in the approach to the feminine as a theme, a question clearly related to inventio. In the second, a difference, already visible in the English translation, appears in the previous position of the author and the translators, difference that would correspond to the level of the intellectio.

In sum, the categories that classical rhetoric offers us are perfectly applicable to translation analysis and need not to be limited to elocutio or rhetorical figures, but may include more “abstract” aspects dealt with by intellectio or inventio.

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Carpintero, R. (2020). Intellectio and Inventio in Turkish Poetry Translation. Litera: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, 30(2), 579-601.


Carpintero R. Intellectio and Inventio in Turkish Poetry Translation. Litera: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies. 2020;30(2):579-601.


Carpintero, R. Intellectio and Inventio in Turkish Poetry Translation. Litera: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, [Publisher Location], v. 30, n. 2, p. 579-601, 2020.

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Carpintero, Rafael,. 2020. “Intellectio and Inventio in Turkish Poetry Translation.” Litera: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies 30, no. 2: 579-601.

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Carpintero, Rafael,. Intellectio and Inventio in Turkish Poetry Translation.” Litera: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies 30, no. 2 (Jan. 2021): 579-601.

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Carpintero, R 2020, 'Intellectio and Inventio in Turkish Poetry Translation', Litera: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 579-601, viewed 23 Jan. 2021,

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Carpintero, R. (2020) ‘Intellectio and Inventio in Turkish Poetry Translation’, Litera: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, 30(2), pp. 579-601. (23 Jan. 2021).


Carpintero, Rafael,. Intellectio and Inventio in Turkish Poetry Translation.” Litera: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, vol. 30, no. 2, 2020, pp. 579-601. [Database Container],


Carpintero R. Intellectio and Inventio in Turkish Poetry Translation. Litera: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies [Internet]. 23 Jan. 2021 [cited 23 Jan. 2021];30(2):579-601. Available from: doi: 10.26650/LITERA2020-0083


Carpintero, Rafael. Intellectio and Inventio in Turkish Poetry Translation”. Litera: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies 30/2 (Jan. 2021): 579-601.


Published Online24.12.2020


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