Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Exploring New Frontiers

Before coming to UEA I was very closed minded when it came to translation. For me translating was just about reproducing what the source text said, but mainly focusing on meaning. The most important thing was to get the meaning, and if you had to leave something out, it had to be the stylistic features.

When I arrived here, I came across so many different theories of how to translate that it turned out to be a little overwhelming, but after a while, I managed to adapt and I started to explore each of the theories a little bit more. When I was studying my B.A in Translation, we talked mainly about out-dated theories and authors, but here in UEA is all about contemporary authors and theories; which makes it all more interesting. The most fascinating thing I found while going through all the new information I was receiving, was the notion of foreignization.

Foreignization is the strategy of retaining information from the source text, and involves deliberately breaking the conventions of the target language to preserve its meaning (Gile, Daniel. 2009). The thing that caught my eye when I read this definition of foreignization is the part when it says that foreignization involves deliberately breaking the conventions of the target language to preserve its meaning, but what if we break the conventions to the extreme? Normally when talking about making a text foreign, people think that you are tacking the reader to the writer, which is true, but what if we not only take the reader to the writer, but also to the writer’s culture?

When practising foreignization, translators limit themselves to just leave certain words in the source language because either they couldn't find a word in the target language that suited perfectly or because they wanted to give the text that feeling of exotic and new, but why not going a little bit further?

Sapir-Whorf stated that there is a connection between the grammatical categories of the language spoken by a person, and the way this person sees the world, and that is true, our language limits us to conceptualize the world in a certain way, but it is also true that by learning a new language, you also learn a new way to perceive the world, because you are not only receiving the linguistic knowledge, but also a part of this new culture; therefore I think it is also possible for translation to provide the reader of the target language, with extra knowledge of the culture in which the text was written, and we can do that by using foreignization.

When we translate we come across all kinds of difficulties, one of them being the translation of proverbs. Normally a translator will try to find the equivalent of the proverb in the target language, but what if we use foreignization and leave the proverb as it is? If we do so we will be providing the reader of the target language with culture of the source language. It will definitely be a challenge for the reader of the target language to understand the proverb of the source language, but with the context and a little extra analysis the reader will be capable of comprehending and learning about the culture in which the work was written.

Foreignization is a technique that can be use to help the readers of a target language learn some culture about the source language through the translation of proverbs, and it will also make the target text more challenging and interesting for the reader, not to mention that the translator will gain visibility.

Andrea González Garza translates from English to Latin American Spanish and she is currently doing a master degree in Literary Translation at UEA. You can contact her in Ahndiee@gmail.com

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