she swanks around in drop-dead gowns, pronouncing darkly

qwalentina

Member
Italian
Hi! I'm working on a translation of a newspapaper article about the movie Dark Shadows.
In the part that I'm analysing there's a reference to Bette Davis, who was a famous horror actress, if I'm not wrong. I'm not sure about the fact that the author of the article relates her groan to the way of speaking of the witch of the movie, Angelique Bouchard. Does pronounce refer to the way of speaking or is it another way of saying cursing? I haven't found any clip on YouTube about this Bette Davis groan, just to have an idea of the comparison he's using...

(...) she swanks around in drop-dead gowns, pronouncing darkly in a Bette Davis groan.
 
  • Elwintee

    Senior Member
    England English
    No, in this context 'pronouncing' is just a stronger way of saying 'speaking'. It does not mean that she pronounced the groan darkly, just that she spoke 'darkly', meaning that the content was dark and sinister. 'Prounounding' here means that the actress was putting over her speech with force, in a threatening manner.
     

    qwalentina

    Member
    Italian
    Now it's clearer, thank you :) But how could a groan be compared with a obscure and threatening way of speaking? What do this two elements have in common? If I think of a groan, I think of a person who's suffering, maybe he/she's also crying and saying something in an unclear way. I think of a dispaired person, not to an aggressive one.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Perhaps you are trying to interpret this passage too literally, Qwalentina. "...she swanks around in drop-dead gowns, pronouncing darkly in a Bette Davis groan" - when I read the passage, I get the image of a dramatic, wealthy woman who is dressing and speaking unusually for effect. I don't think you should worry too much about the literal meanings of the words "darkly" and "groan". The language doesn't seem to describe either aggression or despair. Instead, it describes drama or theatricality.
     
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    qwalentina

    Member
    Italian
    Ah, ok! If you say that it conveys the meaning, I'll trust you ;) But unfortunately I have to quote the reference to the actress in my translation. So, if I added ''in a Bette Davis way/style'', would you still get the same image?
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I would. Bette Davis had an unusual, husky voice. If the words "groan" and "pronouncing darkly" are going to cause confusion in your translation, you should leave them out. Something like "speaking in a Bette Davis style" should be enough for anyone who's familiar with her movies. However, removing those colorful words will probably weaken the effect of the original sentence.
     
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