Translation Studies An Anglo American Perspective

Lawrence Venuti
 Born in Philadelphia
 Graduated from Temple University
 PhD in English from Columbia University (1980)
 Works as professor of English at Temple University
 Lectures in Creative Writing at Princeton University
 Member of the EB of The Translator (Intercultural Communication)
Translation awards
Renato Poggioli for Barbara Alberti's novel Delirium
PEN American Center
Italian Government
National Endowment for the Humanities
1983, 1999
National Endowment for the Arts
Guggenheim Fellowship in Humanities for Giovanni Pascoli's
poetry and prose
Our Halcyon Dayes: English Prerevolutionary Texts and
Postmodern Culture
Rethinking Translation: Discourse, Subjectivity, Ideology
(an anthology of essays, editor)
The Translator's Invisibility: A History of Translation
The Scandals of Translation: Towards an Ethics of
2000, 2002, 2012
The Translation Studies Reader (editor)
Translation changes everything: Theory and practice (a
collection of essays)
His theoretical posture
 Substantially differs from mainstream theorists
 Places emphasis on translator-centered translation
 Criticizes the fact that the translator is too often an invisible figure
 Insists that translators should make themselves visible in the text
 Critiques linguistics-oriented approaches to translation
 Advocates translation theories and practices which aim to
communicate linguistic and cultural differences instead of
removing them (fluency)
Making SL & SC evident
 Considered an intense figure in modern translation theory
 He points to
 the political/ideological nature of translation
 the importance of translation
 in the construction of culture
 in the construction of national identity
 The Translator’s Invisibility: controversy & debate since publication
 The Scandals of Translation: domestication & foreignization
strategies: how much a translation assimilates a foreign text to the
translating language and culture or signals the differences
Translation is politics
 The Scandals of Translation. Towards an Ethics of difference
a harsh critique of the discipline of translation studies:
“With rare exceptions, scholars have been reluctant to negotiate
areas of agreement and to engage more deeply with the cultural,
political, and institutional problems posed by translation (for
an exception see Hatim and Mason 1997)" (Venuti, 1998: 9).
Against the Polysystemic Model
 Venuti also criticizes Gideon Toury's polysystem
 This model proposes a set of norms for determining the production
and reception of translations
 According to the Polysystemic Model (Multidimensional Model or the
School of Manipulation), from the recipient culture perspective, every
translation implies a certain degree of manipulation of the ST for a
given purpose
 The criticism focuses on its tendency to disregard ideological
factors, which have a considerable impact on the translator’s
 Venuti poses that fluency has prevailed over other translation
strategies to shape the criterion of foreign literatures in English
 Fluency in translation
 refers to the absence of linguistic or stylistic peculiarities that
makes a text seem transparent
 gives the impression that it reflects the foreign writer’s
 reflects the essential meaning of the foreign text
Aim of fluency
 It means giving the appearance that a translation is not in fact a
translation, but an “original.”
 It means having the smooth continuity of the original to the
detriment of transparency (translator’s visibility)
 The emphasis on fluency is a conscious or unconscious strategy
meant to preserve the status quo of culture
Fluency and publishers
 Translations are judged acceptable by publishers, reviewers, and
readers when they read fluently
 Newspaper reviewers rarely address translation at all, but when they
do, the dominance of fluency in the language is evident
 Comments focus on style and neglect other possible questions:
 accuracy
 intended audience
 economic value in the current book market
 relation to literary trends in English
 place in the translator’s career
Fluency appreciated
 Post-WWII literary journalism lexicon  filled with terms to indicate
the presence or absence of a fluent translation discourse:
“wooden” (stiff)
 Pejorative neologisms to criticize translations that lack fluency
 Under the regime of fluent translating, translators work to make
their work “invisible”
 They produce the illusory effect of transparency: the translated text
seems “natural,” i.e., not of a foreign origin, not translated
Ethnocentrism in translation
 Another concept profusely discussed by Venuti is the ethnocentric
violence of translation
 He regards it as inevitable: in the translating process, foreign
languages, texts, and cultures will always undergo some degree of
reduction, exclusion, and intricacy (complication).
 The violent nature of translation consists of evaluating other peoples
and other cultures according to the standards of one's own culture
Implications of ethnocentrism
 Two disadvantages for the translator:
Translation is defined as a second-order representation: only the
foreign text can be original, an authentic copy, true to the author’s
personality or intention, whereas the translation is derivative,
fake, potentially a false copy
Translation is required to delete its second-order status with
transparent discourse, producing the illusion of authorial
presence so that the translated text can be taken as the original
 Invisibility, term used by Venuti to describe the translator’s situation
in contemporary Anglo-American culture. It refers to two phenomena:
 an illusionistic effect of discourse, of the translator’s
manipulation of the language
 the practice of reading and evaluating such translations
 The translator’s invisibility is a kind of self-annihilation, a way of
reinforcing the marginal status it has in Anglo-American culture
How invisible is the translator?
 Reviewers seldom discuss translation as writing
 The typical mention of the translator in a review takes the form of a
brief aside in which the transparency of the translation is judged
 The person behind a translation is largely ignored (invisible) in the
debates on translation
 Example: e are familiar with the name of Tolstoy, but not with the
translator who made it possible for us to read that work in a
language we know and understand
Invisible by law
 Invisibility is further maintained in the legal status of translation in
American culture:
 in copyright law
 in contractual arrangements
 American law defines translation as
 “adaptation” or
 “derivative work”
 based on an “original work of authorship”
 whose copyright belongs to the author
 Translator  subordinated to the author
 Author  controls the publication of the translation during
copyright for the original text: the author’s lifetime plus fifty years
Fluent = publishable
 What constitutes a ‘good’, publishable translation? (Venuti, 1995: 5)
 One that is rendered into language that is modern
 One with vocabulary that is commonly used by the people
 One that will generally follow the syntactic pattern of the target
 One that will make the thoughts of the foreign text accessible in
“domesticated” language
 Translations, in their attempt to be fluent in the TL, tend to downplay
the distinctive qualities that might mark a work in the SL
 Publishers, driven by the logic of the marketplace, encourage the
publication of ‘smooth’ translations
Translation copyright
 American publishing firms demand the copyright for the translation
(Venuti, 1995)’
Most American publishing houses term a translation as “work made
for hire”
Translator hand over the finished ‘product’ to the publisher and
have no claim over it after that
This affects payment
In most cases, translators are paid per thousand words or per printed
After a flat one-time payment, the translator gets nothing else even
if the book does well in the market and goes for repeated editions
The author, however, gets a royalty for each edition
Domestication (Venuti, 1995)
 Domestication  type of translation in which a transparent, fluent
style is adopted to minimize the foreignness of the ST for target
readers (e.g. Nida)
 Aim  to make the translation process invisible, i.e. to make a
translated text read totally naturally for the target audience
Domestication: other terms coined
Domestication has also been called
 minoritization (Venuti, 1998)
 acculturation (Bassnett, 2002)
 naturalized translation or naturalization (Jacquemond, 2004)
Foreignization (Venuti, 1995)
 Foreignization  type of translation which deliberately breaks target
conventions by retaining the essential foreignness of the original.
(e.g. Venuti)
 Aim 
to allow the reader to understand the flavor of the ST,
usually at the cost of fluency
Foreignization: other terms coined
 Foreignization has also been called
 majoritization (Venuti, 1998)
 exotized translation or exoticization (Jacquemond, 2004)
Schleiermacher and foreignization
 Schleiermacher’s lecture
‘On the Different Methods of Translating’
Delivered to the Royal Academy of Science
Berlin, 24 June 1813
already discussed
 foreignization (literalist or word-for-word)
 and the opposed movement, domestication
(naturalization or sense-for-sense)
 Whatever the terms, Schleiermacher clearly preferred relative
literalism, i.e. translation that would retain its essential
‘foreignness’ (Pym, 1995: 1)
Revisiting domestication and foreignization
 Venuti’s domestication and foreignization strategies explain
 how much a translation assimilates a foreign text to the
translating language and culture, and
 how much it rather signals the differences of that text. (Venuti,
[1995] 2002)
 Is foreignization a respectful gesture towards foreign cultures and
 According to Venuti (1995: 22)  all translations are acts of
“ethnocentric violence” perpetrated on the ST, as they intend to
satisfy the values of the target culture alone
Venuti advocates foreignization
Venuti (1995: 20) explains
 domestication refers to an ethnocentric reduction of the foreign
text to target-language cultural values
 while foreignization intends to register the linguistic and cultural
difference of the foreign text
 foreignization can be part of a nationalist strategy that aids in the
building up of a national culture
Venuti’s conceptual contribution
 The translator is an invisible figure, i.e. inconspicuous, neglected,
ignored, not given deserved value, not taken into consideration,
 A translated text that reads fluently is judged acceptable, i.e. when it
reads as if it were an “original”
 Ethnocentric violence in translation is inevitable: in the translating
process, foreign languages, texts, and cultures always undergo some
degree of reduction or exclusion
 Foreignization is ethnocentrically less violent than domestication as
it helps retain the flavor of the original
Anthony Pym
 Born in Perth, Australia
 PhD in Sociology
 Post-doctoral research on translation history at the University of
Göttingen, Germany
Translator and journal editor
Has taught at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the
Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Founded the Intercultural Studies Group in 2000
Currently teaches at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona
Pym defends Venuti’s work
 According to Pym (1995), Venuti has created debate about the
politics and aesthetics of English-language translation, perhaps
more than anyone else in recent years
 Pym (1995), a fan of Venuti’s, criticizes him for having changed his
recipes over the years
 Pym (1995: 9): “Although I personally would not follow his “call to
action” on any of the fronts he names, I willingly give the reaction
Venuti most clearly wants and deserves, namely public debate on
issues that are being sidelined [removed from the center of attention]
by the linguistic and systemic technocrats of contemporary
Translation Studies”
Maria Tymoczko
 Belgian-born translation theorist
 Presently works at the University of Massachusetts (comparative
Translation Studies, Celtic Medieval Literature, and Irish Studies
Her critical studies
Has co-edited several volumes on translation
Most recent book: Translation, Resistance, Activism (2010)
Uses translations to study the imbalances of power between cultures
Venuti’s work in Tymoczko’s eyes
 Tymoczko thinks Venuti is inconsistent as he does not employ a
unified terminology
 She criticizes the style of his argument: very informal, even lax at
 Although he has developed an impressive number of terms useful
for analyzing aspects of translation related to engagement, power
and politics, he does not carefully define any of them
 This is in part because the concepts he develops and the terms he uses
are not strictly speaking his own invention
Venuti’s work in Tymoczko’s eyes
 She poses that Venuti tends to assert things rather than argue for
them or present evidence for them
 For example, he claims that fluency is the dominant standard for
translations in the United States today
 He offers little evidence of that claim: his own experience, based
primarily on the translation of nineteenth- and twentieth-century
literary works between European languages
Where Tymoczko agrees with Venuti
 Tymoczko agrees with Venuti in that dominant English-speaking
culture tends to colonize the cultural products of other cultures
 Cultural dominance – they agree - results in translations
 with deformed textual and cultural representation
 this representation serves the interests of the dominant
receptor culture
Where Tymoczko disagrees with Venuti
 Unlike Venuti, Tymoczko thinks this deformed representation should
not necessarily be related to one translation method (fluency)
 In her views, any translation procedure can become a tool of
cultural colonization, even foreignizing translation
 She poses Venuti does not say how much would be enough to
characterize a translation as foreignizing
 That is, how much resistance should there be for a translation to
count as resistant
 Or how much abusive fidelity or foreignizing language is necessary
for a translation to be counted as foreignizing
Venuti’s resemantizations
 Tymoczko (2000) claims that Venuti’s distinction between
foreignizing and domesticating translations is based on earlier
conceptualizations of domestication formulated outside translation
theory and used broadly in literary criticism
 Resistance, at the root of Venuti's concept of resistant translation or
resistancy, has wide political and ideological associations, evoking,
for example, La Resistance, the French name for the opposition
movement to the Nazis during World War II
More resemantization
 Tymoczko states Venuti’s recent term, minoritizing translation
evokes the concept of a minor literature developed by French
philosophers (Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari).
 His discussion of the remainder in translation (the unpredictable
effects of translation) is based on the work of Jean-Jacques Lecercle
 His emphasis is on a translator-centered translation: the insistence
that the translator should inscribe him/herself visibly into the text
is older than Translation Theory.
Venuti’s political views
 Tymoczko is sympathetic to and shares most of Venuti’s political
position, which he openly acknowledges in his writing.
 Venuti suggests that the translator with a social conscience should
 attempt to benefit humanity
 further social justice
 by picking a text and a translation method that challenge
dominant cultural standards (imperialism or neoimperialism)
 Tymoczko poses many translators have acted upon those principles
long before Venuti ever began to write
The militant against
 Venuti is said to radical for he “militates against” not “for”:
 against fluency
 against the canon
 against convention
 against the bourgeoisie
 against censorship
 Venuti is said to be a critic who uses literature as a battlefield in
which he expresses academic-political conflicts:
 men against women in feminist critiques
 class against class in social analyses
Tymoczko’s view of commitment
 Translations are inevitably partial
 As a result, translators must make choices, selecting aspects of a
text to transpose and emphasize
Partiality is not only a defect, a lack, or an absence in a translation
Partiality also makes translation partisan: committed, either
implicitly or explicitly
Commitments are often demonstrable in the paratextual material
surrounding translations: introductions, footnotes, reviews, literary
criticism, etc.
Partiality is what makes translations political
A Canadian look
Luise von Flotow
Canadian by birth with strong German cultural influences
PhD in French, University of Michigan
Established at the University of Ottawa since 1995
Professor and Director of the School of Translation and Interpretation
 Translation and Gender (1997)
 Translating Women (2011)
 Translation researcher reflecting feminism as it developed in Canada
during the eighties
 Over 20 book chapters and 25 articles on the topic
Von Flotow’s interests
 Her work deals with
 the translator’s ambiguous status
 issues of "fidelity”
 contextualisation
 linguistic and cultural paradoxes
 above all, political and ideological influences on translation,
specifically translation and gender
Von Flotow’s key concepts
 Has revisited ways in which translation has historically given
women empowerment (when excluded from artistic and cultural
 Has come to the conclusion translators’ feminist commitment is
often more visible in their metatext than in the textual product
 The term gender has been used to discuss the effects of sexual
differences in cultural, social and political configurations
Women writers according to Von Flotow’s
In her book Translation and Gender (1997), she describes
women’s writing:
 full of word play on aspects of culture
 invented words
Translators have had to resort to compensation strategies in
order to achieve balance and replace inevitable losses
Von Flotow’s feminist translation strategies
 In her article Feminist translation, context, practice and theories
(TTR, 1991), she puts forward three “feminist” translation
 Supplementing = compensating
 Prefacing/footnoting = explaining specific matters dealing
with the feminine
 Hijacking = deliberate feminization of the TT.
Translation and feminism
 In the past 40 years, translation has strongly affected
 women’s movement
 feminist politics
 feminist academic study
Not only in English-speaking countries buy all over the world
 Translation practice, theory and criticism have also been powerfully
affected by the focus on gender
 Translation has become an important site for the exploration of the
cultural impact of gender and the gender influence of culture
Gender does not stand for the feminine only
 Von Flotow’s article Translating Women: From Recent Histories and Re-
translations to «Queerying» Translation, and Metramorphosis (2012)
deals with issues relating to
 sexual orientation and gender identity, i.e.
 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and cultures
 This area of analysis has also been labeled as
 Sexual Diversity Studies
 Sexualities Studies
 Lesbian/Gay Studies (among others)
Translation and feminists in the 1990s
 Before the idea of «feminist translation» emerged in the 1990s,
translation was important for Anglo-American and other feminisms:
 Translations of women authors allowed massive exchange of ideas
 Re-readings, re-evaluations, and re-translations of existing «key»
texts of Western, and feminist culture became important
 The discovery of long lost, newly-unearthed women writers led to
more and more translation
 Translation was re-examined
What is gender in translation?
 “Heterosexual activity in the form of intercourse can no longer claim
sexual sovereignty and legitimacy in the name of human procreation
and survival." (Ulrika Orloff, Norwich, 2000, unpublished)
 The heterosexual myth of figures of
 an active, virile, aggressive and penetrating male
 a passive, fertile, submissive and receptive female
 is effectively undermined
 Inspirational for Von Flotow
A new gender situation
 What will the new gender situation mean for translation?
 The socially constructed notions of what constitutes social and
biological motherhood or fatherhood are changing
 Queer couples, too, intend to have and have and raise children
 The legal establishment is responding with the tools at hand
 This is creating curious connections between creativity, reproduction,
and motherhood
Thank you!
[email protected]

similar documents