Two Different Faces of Cavafy in English: A Corpus-Assisted Approach to Translational Stylistics

By Pantopoulos, Iraklis | International Journal of English Studies, July 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Two Different Faces of Cavafy in English: A Corpus-Assisted Approach to Translational Stylistics


Pantopoulos, Iraklis, International Journal of English Studies


ABSTRACT

A translator is seen to leave a personal mark on the text through their stylistic choices and the patterns formed by these choices. This article comprises a case study that uses a specialized comparative corpus containing translations of C.P. Cavafy's canon in order to explore the distinctive stylistic features of Rae Dalven and of Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard (working in collaboration), in both quantitative and qualitative terms. Exploring the different approaches to Cavafy's poetry on the stylistic level reveals the stylistic fragmentation of the poet after crossing over into a dominant language and literary market.

Overall word frequencies for each translation are examined, the stylistic features that are prominent in each case are identified, and their significance is considered. Special attention is also paid to the way a stylistic feature belonging to the 'universal aspects of literature' is treated by each translator. By foregrounding the translators and their distinct choices, the "homogenization" effects that often characterize translation into a major language are arrested. Instead, the focus falls on the factors that shape each translator's use of language and their impact.

KEYWORDS:

Literature, translation, corpus stylistics, mind-style, Cavafy, universal stylistic features, word statistics.

RESUMEN

El traductor deja una marca personal en el texto a través de sus elecciones estilísticas y los patrones que se forman a partir de dichas elecciones. Este artículo presenta un estudio de caso que emplea un corpus especializado comparado que contiene traducciones del canon de C.P. Cavafy para explorar las características estilísticas distintivas de Rae Dalven y Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard (en colaboración), en términos cuantitativos y cualitativos. El análisis de los diferentes enfoques a la poesía de Cavafy a nivel estilístico revela la fragmentación del estilo del poeta tras adoptar una lengua dominante y el mercado literario.

Se han examinado las frecuencias léxicas totales de cada traducción, se han identificado las características estilísticas principales en cada caso, y se ha considerado su importancia. También se ha observado el tratamiento que cada traductor da a una característica estilística considerada un "aspecto universal de la literatura". Destacando la labor de los traductores y sus distintas elecciones, se neutralizan los efectos de "homogeneización" que a menudo caracterizan a la traducción a una lengua mayor. En vez de ello, la atención se centra en los factores que dan forma al uso que cada traductor hace del lenguaje y el impacto causado.

PALABRAS CLAVE:

Literatura, traducción, estilística de corpus, visión personal del mundo, Cavafy, características estilísticas universales, recuento de palabra

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1. THE CURIOUS CASE OF C.P. CAVAFY

Nowadays, at the second decade of the 21st century and at a time when the flourish in interest in modern Greece along with its cultural and literary output has been largely replaced by indifference or even skepticism, the figure of the Alexandrian poet C.P. Cavafy remains aloof of these developments. Indeed, if anything, the Anglophone world's interest in Cavafy is reinforced through new translations and new readings (see below). Cavafy (1863-1933) was dead before the rise in interest in modern Greek literature in the late 20th century, and even before his own work had attained any widespread recognition outside of Greece. And yet, he constitutes one of the finest examples of a poet who worked in a language and a literature of lesser diffusion, as is modern Greek, and achieved major status in terms of impact, influence and recognition by peers and scholars alike. In terms of the translation of his work into English, he is the only modern Greek writer who has had their entire oeuvre translated by more than two different translators.

The availability of multiple published translations of the same work is more or less characteristic of literary translation. …

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