The Translation of Dune: An Encounter of Languages

  • Alice RayEmail author
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


Frank Herbert’s novel, Dune (1965), is special in the science fiction field; the originality of this novel lives not only in its content, but also in its form as the author uses some stylistic effects to make his point, and especially foreign languages. Arabic is greatly represented in the novel and takes on a particular meaning. Dune is a novel in which languages are in contact, and the translation adds another linguistic dimension to the work. Loanwords have two aims in Dune: creating an exotic paradigm inside an unknown alien world while appealing to the reader’s background about those particular languages. However, in a science fiction context the loanwords tend to be more complicated as their meanings do not always refer to their initial and real life meanings, they are fiction words, according to Angenot’s terminology. Frank Herbert uses some foreign terms and changes their meaning according to the context and the color he wants for his fictional world. The French translation of Frank Herbert’s work is thus constrained by the foreign color the author wanted to give his novel and the semantic distortion Herbert gave to the loanwords. A comparative analysis of the loanwords in both the original and French versions of Dune helps to understand how the translator has dealt with the linguistic encounter of the novel and also, in a larger scale, to understand how the particular features of science fiction universe are translated.


Dune Translation French English Science-fiction Fiction words Loanwords Arabic Frank Herbert 



I would like to thank Pr. ABOUDA Lotfi for his help with Arabic words.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Langues et Sciences HumainesUniversité de LettresOrléansFrance

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