A DISCUSSION OF “TRANSLATION AND CROSSCULTURAL RECEPTION” Things to think about as we discuss the article: • What do you think the role of the translator is? • Should a translator always be faithful to the text, or should changes be made to better fit the intended audience? • Where would you stand if you were translating children’s literature? If you chose to make changes, would you take any steps to explain them to your audience? A couple of important terms: • What is the different between source and target? Source refers to the original text, language, culture, audience, etc., whereas target refers to the intended text, language, culture, audience, etc. Why can’t translation be word-for-word? • Universal agreement does not exist amongst world languages. There are too many differences in sentence structure and lexicon, so literal word-for-word translation cannot occur from language to language. Take, for example, the Spanish phrase “Que lo pases bien.” A word-for-word translation into English would be “That it you passes good.” The meaning of this sentence is lost. A translator’s job is to rearrange the linguistic components of a sentence so that it will make sense in the target language. In this case, a better translation would be “Have a good time.” Why can’t translation be word-for-word? • Additionally, we know that every language contains a wide variety of synonyms. • Let’s look at synonyms for the word ‘great’ • Wonderful, marvelous, outstanding, awesome, fantastic, excellent, expert, first-class, tremendous, brilliant, terrific…we could go on and on! • It is the translator’s job to choose a synonym that creates a feeling that is similar between the source and target texts. Even though these words basically mean the same thing, different people tend to choose different words. • For this reason, no two translators will ever render translations that are identical to one another. Why is translated literature valuable for children? • According to the article, translated literature helps to expose children to other cultures and gives them a sense of awareness of other countries. • Can anyone think of a book or series that they read as kid that was translated from another language? Commonly translated children’s literature • According to Maria Nikolajeva, picturebooks are translated the most frequently, in part because they are the easiest to render from one language to another. • In current society, it is also recognized that the characters from popularly translated texts are more well known from television shows and movies than they are from books. • Additionally, 80-90% of children’s literary translations have an English source language, many of which are well known stories in which neither the original author nor the translator are mentioned even known. Literary Translation Theory • There are two common camps of literary translation theory. • The first group believes that a translator must be absolutely faithful to the source text so that both the source and the target texts are equivalents of each other. • The second group of theorists believe that a translator needs to keep the target audience in mind, and should make changes to the text so that the target audience can have the same experience while reading that the source audience had. Adults tend to be more familiar to foreign concepts than children are, so how do these theories apply to children’s literature? Literary Translation Theory as it applies to Children’s Literature • Though there are fewer scholars of children’s literary translation theory, there are two views that are often referenced. • Klingberg claims that children are perfectly capable of understanding foreign concepts, so there should be no deviations from the source text. The idea is that, as a result of this exposure to foreign elements, children will become more tolerant of concepts that are different from what is familiar. This theory is true to the text. • Oittinen, who offers a different point of view, highlighted a creative approach between the source and target texts. This approach will give the target audience the same experience as the source audience, and will exchange a foreign element for something more familiar to the target audience. The theory is true to the reader. Translation vs. Adaptation • What is the difference between translation and adaptation? According to the article, adaptation occurs when a text is changed according to what the translators believes will be more familiar to the target audience. Different types of adaptations can include the deletion of events or concepts, simplification of foreign elements, additions to the text, explanations within the target text, and a wide variety of other changes that are done with the target audience in mind. Can you think of any examples in literature where an adaptation has occurred? Are adaptations justifiable? • In children’s literature, foreign concepts are often domesticated (such as exchanging the term euro for dollar) so that the original meaning isn’t lost due to lack of comprehension. • Localization (i.e. exchanging Tokyo for New York City) can also be used to bring the story closer to home for the target audience. What is the translator’s goal in using these adaptions? Whereas adults are expected to have a basic understanding of foreign countries, children have less exposure to other cultures . If a child isn’t able to understand what is being read, then the meaning may be lost. For this reason, many adaptations within children’s literature are indeed justifiable. As the article points out, many children don’t even realize that what they are reading is a translation from a different language, which may or may not be a good thing. Representing the Foreign • In many ways, the translation of academic literature or technical texts offers more potential for fidelity. When a translator grapples with a foreign concept, metatexts can be used to offer an explanation of the significance of that term or idea. However, when a person is reading for enjoyment, it is not usually desirable to have to flip to an appendix or read a footnote to be able to understand what is going on in the story. • If a translator chooses to leave a foreign concept as a part of a translation in children’s literature, another option is to offer explanation, such as a simple definition, right within the text. In many ways, this practice offers an educational moment for a child to learn something new about a different country/culture. Translating Culture • Nikolajeva discusses how translation isn’t just about the transition of a text from one language to another, but deals with how the work will function within the target culture as well. • Literary translators have to think about how cultural elements will be received. If an element is absent or inappropriate in the target culture, an adaptation might be necessary for the translated work to be well received. Can you think of any examples of common aspects of American culture that might not be easily recognizable by a person from a different country? What’s in a name? • Similar to other topics in literary translation theory, there are polarizing ideas on what a translator should do with proper names. Some believe that the name should be left in the source language to preserve the foreign element, and others feel the target equivalent should be used to bring the text closer to the target audience. • Many literary translators will adopt a different theory for adult or young adult literature than they do for children’s literature. Because adults often understand that the text is literature in translation, proper names are left in the source language. In children’s literature, it is much more common for a translator to choose a similar name in the target language to make the text more accessible. What do we do with the “untranslatable?” • Literature poses many additional challenges that do not necessarily exist in technical translation. Examples of what may be considered “untranslatable” include jokes, allusions, rhyme, puns and other plays on words. • In these cases, a translator may choose to adopt what is called compensatory translation, which means that they replace the play on words with something different that will render the same effect. • When this method is used, some translators, particularly those who follow a more equivalent approach, feel that the original feel of the work is lost because the intended allusion is lost. In conclusion… • It is important to remember that there is no “right” or “wrong” theory when it comes to translation, whether technical, literary, or even for children’s literature. • While the theories that we discussed today are basically opposites of each other, there is a lot of grey area in between, which is where most translations will fall. • As we discussed earlier, each translator will choose to adopt his or her preferred method, and even if the same theories are studied and the same practices observed, no two translators will ever produce the exact same translation of a literary work. Revisiting our questions from the beginning: • What do you think the role of the translator is? • Should a translator always be faithful to the text, or should changes be made to better fit the intended audience? • Where would you stand if you were translating children’s literature? If you chose to make changes, would you take any steps to explain them to your audience? ANY QUESTIONS? 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