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104 LETTERS IN CANADA 1991 Translations JANE KOUSTAS In a recent article in which she studies translation in the United States, Raine Schulte stresses the importance of cultural exchange and its potential as a catalyst for the development of a nation's own culture. She states: History has shown that a decline of translation activities that foster crosscultural exchange and renovation can easily lead to intellectual and artistic stagnation. Perhaps we are in danger of moving toward such a point. In moments of crisis it is natural to retreat to that which was before, that which apparently has worked before and therefore might constitute a pillar for the future. Uncertainty in cultural, political and ethical orientation reduces receptivity to multi-cultural perspectives. And it is exactly in those moments of external and internal insecurity that taking in foreign perspectives can contribute to the crystallization of those values and creative impulses that build the backbone of a nation and its language as a way of seeing. ('Translation and the Publishing World,' Translation Review no. 34-5 (1990-1)) Canada has a long history of translation dating back to Jacques Cartier's Iroquois-French lexicon. This well-established tradition, as well as the volume and variety of recently published translations into English from French and from other languages, suggests that English Canada does indeed appreciate the need to remain receptive to multicultural perspectives . Furthermore, the rapidity with which the publication of translations follows that of the original demonstrates a desire to remain abreast of the most current literary trends. The translation of older texts, such as Jane Brierly's rendering of Philippe-Joseph Aubert de Gaspe's Divers (C.O. Beauchemin et fils 1893) as Yellow Wolf and Other Tales of the Saint Lawrence, suggests as well an interest in French Canada's literary history. The variety of genres translated (poetry, drama, short stories, novels as well as nonliterary texts) is also significant and indicates that translated works have a wide audience. However, recent studies, and indeed some touched on here, indicate that merely invoicing the number of works or words translated does not give an accurate reading of the health of the translation industry. Antoine Berman, whose recent death came as a shock, reflected extensively (in a contribuiton to Les Tours de Babel, ed G. Granel, in 1985) on translation as a potential tool of cultural appropriation . He maintained that translation could be used to promote ethnocentrism and stated: 'Ethnocentrique signifera ici: qui ramene tout asa propre culture, ases normes et valeurs et considere ce qui est situe en dehors de celle-ci - l'Etranger - comme negatif ou tout juste bon aetre annexe, adapte, pour accroltre la richesse de cette culture.' TRANSLATIONS 105 Far from seeking to expand 'receptivity' to multicultural perspectives and thus contributing to cross-cultural exchange, translators in this instance, to the extent that they eliminate the presence of the Other and thus 'claim' the work, promote the intellectual and artistic stagnation against which Schulte warns. While the debate as to whether the translator should 'extract and bring home' (G. Steiner, After Babel:Aspects of Language and Translation, 1975) or 'traduire oui mais sans traduire' Q. Brault, Poemes des quatre cotes, 1975) is not new, the degree to which translations respect or eliminate the Other from the original is not always considered. As the field of translation studies expands and begins to reflect on its own theoretical framework, attention is being focused on the translation process (see, for example, W. Lorscher, Translation Performance, Translation Process and Translation Strategies, 1991), on the ideological premises qf the translator, and on the repercussions of these in the work. As the following example indicates, the ideological standpoint can be reflected in a seemingly minor detail. At the recent Cannes festival, two screenings of Being at Home with Claude were billed as follows: 'Version originate, Quebecois, sous-titre anglais' and 'Version originate, Quebecois, sous-titres frarn;ais' Qay Scott, Globe and Mail, 22 May 1991). Thus, as Sherry Simon stated in a recent article in this journal, while nothing is easier than criticizing another's translation, particularly on a 'word for word' basis, a study of the translator's orientation is indeed more...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 104-120
Launched on MUSE
2017-05-25
Open Access
No
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