9 may. 2006

Lawrence Venuti (in many books and articles) puts forward a dichotomy between domesticating and foreignizing translation, obviously preferring the latter: translations that make the text stranger rather than emphasizing the familiar codes. Another opposition: between the "fluent" and the "heterogeneous." I tend to sympathize with his position, but I like "fluent" translations as well. Since even "foreignizing" translations serve a domestic agenda, I don't necessarily see the dichotomy as sharply drawn. All translation secretes a kind of "residue" of domestic interest (Venuti's word). In some cases, this residue is foregrounded and cannot be ignored; in other cases, it conceals itself and must be teased out.

Here's an example. A translator uses the phrase "from sea to shining sea" in a translation from the Spanish poet Jaime Gil de Biedma. Here is a deliberate attempt to frame the Spanish poem in "domestic" terms. That phrase has nothing to do with the original context--only with the domestic, American reception. It wouldn't even work for a British reader unfamiliar with the song "America the Beautiful." I am not wholly opposed to such moves, but I don't feel it works here. The strain after a cultural equivalent is both domesticating and misleading. It's like saying "insert nationalist discourse here." if you were translating into French you'd say "enfants de la patrie."

If you read Venuti closely you will see he's really subtle, and doesn't ever assert this dichotomy in crude, good/bad terms without qualifying it in some interesting way; at the same time, he tends to be fixated on a few key ideas. What I do appreciate is the way in which he cuts across the grain of traditional thinking. I often find the reflections of translators on their craft to be incredibly banal and naive. Venuti's perspective is a useful corrective.

2 comentarios:

Gawain dijo...

Recommend one title, will you?

Jonathan dijo...

Scandals of Translation