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Friday, 6 May 2016
Translation Delicacy

Following what is presumably a well-known (modern) indelicacy in an ancient Greek play by Aristophanes, Lefevere makes the comment about one particular translator:

He translates the way he does out of reverence for the cultural prestige the original has acquired. The greater the prestige, the more "grammatical and logical" the translation is likely to be, especially in the case of texts regarded as the "foundation texts" of a certain type of society: the Bible, the Quran, The Communist Manifesto.

He compares this against the work of other translators who, less awed by the prestige or status of the original, have a rather different approach:

It is often his intention to shock his audience by "updating" the original in such a way that it tends to lose at least some of it "classical" status. He gladly takes the risks involved in anachronism. His rewriting is, in essence, subversive, designed to make the reader question both the prestige of the original and its "received" interpretation in both poetological and ideological terms.

This approach does, of course, carry significant risk. As Lefevere somewhat drily points out:

Many a "spirited" Bible translator, for instance was bruend at hte stake.

Posted By Jonathan, 8:14am Comment Comments: 0