Perspectives on Translation

Published by: University of Ottawa Press

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Perspectives on Translation

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Translating Canada

Edited by Luise von Flotow and Reingard M. Nischik

In the last thirty years of the twentieth century, Canadian federal governments offered varying degrees of support for literary and other artistic endeavour. A corollary of this patronage of culture at home was an effort to make the resulting works available for audiences elsewhere in the world. Current developments in the study of translation and its influence as cultural transfer have made possible new assessments of such efforts to project a national image abroad. Translating Canada examines cultural materials exported by Canada in addition to those selected for acquisition by German publishers, theatres, and other culture brokers. It also considers the motivations of particular translators and the reception by German reviewers of works by a wide variety of Canadian writers -- novelists and poets, playwrights and children's authors, literary and social critics. Above all, the book maps for its readers a number of significant, though frequently unsuspected, roles that translation assumes in the intercultural negotiation of national images and values. The chapters in this collection will be of value to students, teachers, and scholars in a number of fields. Informed lay readers, too, will appreciate the authors’ insights into the different ways in which translation has contributed to German reception of Canadian books and culture.

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Translating Women

edited by Luise von Flotow

Feminist theory has been widely translated, influencing the humanities and social sciences in many languages and cultures. However, these theories have not made as much of an impact on the discipline that made their dissemination possible: many translators and translation scholars still remain unaware of the practices, purposes and possibilities of gender in translation. Translating Women revives the exploration of gender in translation begun in the 1990s by Susanne de Lotbinière-Harwood’s Re-belle et infidèle/The Body Bilingual (1992), Sherry Simon’s Gender in Translation (1996), and Luise von Flotow’s Translation and Gender (1997). Translating Women complements those seminal texts by providing a wide variety of examples of how feminist theory can inform the study and practice of translation. Looking at such diverse topics as North American chick lit and medieval Arabic, Translating Women explores women in translation in many contexts, whether they are women translators, women authors, or women characters. Together the contributors show that feminist theory can apply to translation in many new and unexplored ways and that it deserves the full attention of the discipline that helped it become internationally influential.

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Translation and Gender

Translating in the 'Era of Feminism'

Luise von Flotow

Translation and Gender places recent work in translation against the background of the women's movement and its critique of "patriarchal" language. It explains translation practices derived from experimental feminist writing, the development of openly interventionist translation practices, the initiative to retranslate fundamental texts such as the Bible, translating as a way of recuperating writings "lost" in patriarchy, and translation history as a means of focusing on women translators of the past.

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Translation Quality Assessment

An Argumentation-Centred Approach

Malcolm Williams

Outlining an original, discourse-based model for translation quality assessment that goes beyond conventional microtextual error analysis, Malcolm Williams explores the potential of transferring reasoning and argument as the prime criterion of translation quality. Assessment through error analysis is inevitably based on an error count - an unsatisfactory means of establishing, and justifying, differences in quality that forces the evaluator to focus on subsentence elements rather than the key messages of the source text. Williams counters that a judgment of translation quality should be based primarily on the success with which the translator has rendered the reasoning, or argument structure. Six aspects for assessment are proposed: argument macrostructure, propositional functions, conjunctives, types of arguments, figures of speech, and narrative strategy. Williams illustrates the approach using three different types of examples: letters, statistical reports, and argumentative articles for publication. Translation Quality Assessment offers translators a new set of flexible and modular standards.

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Worlding Sei Shônagon

The Pillow Book in Translation

Valerie Henitiuk

The Makura no Sôshi, or The Pillow Book as it is generally known in English, is a collection of personal reflections and anecdotes about life in the Japanese royal court composed around the turn of the eleventh century by a woman known as Sei Shônagon. Its opening section, which begins haru wa akebono, or “spring, dawn,” is arguably the single most famous passage in Japanese literature.

Throughout its long life, The Pillow Book has been translated countless times. It has captured the European imagination with its lyrical style, compelling images and the striking personal voice of its author. Worlding Sei Shônagon guides the reader through the remarkable translation history of The Pillow Book in the West, gathering almost fifty translations of the “spring, dawn” passage, which span one-hundred-and-thirty-five years and sixteen languages. Many of the translations are made readily available for the first time in this study.

The versions collected in Worlding Sei Shônagon are an enlightening example of the many ways in which translations can differ from their source text, undermining the idea of translation as the straightforward transfer of meaning from one language to another, one culture to another. By tracing the often convoluted trajectory through which a once wholly foreign literary work becomes domesticated—or resists domestication—this compilation also exposes the various historical, ideological or other forces that inevitably shape our experience of literature, for better or for worse.

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