Academic journal article Journal of Literary Studies

Feminist Translation Strategies: Different or Derived?

Academic journal article Journal of Literary Studies

Feminist Translation Strategies: Different or Derived?

Article excerpt

Summary

This article explores the problem of difference in translation under the influence of deconstruction, with particular reference to four French-Canadian feminist texts by Nicole Brossard and their feminist translations into English (two translations by Barbara Godard and two translations by Patricia Claxton). These translators claim to utilise innovative translation strategies in challenging certain conventional views on translation. It is because of their explicit rejection of traditional views on fidelity and their emphasis on the individualistic and creative nature of translation as expressed in metatexts that feminist translators' work is seen as a threat to mainstream translation discourse. Equally, it is for precisely these reasons that feminist translators may make a contribution to contemporary translation studies, should their claims be substantiated in practice. But in my view, no critic to date has really questioned the basis upon which feminist translation rests: the contention that through the utilisation of innovative translation strategies a feminist translation becomes a deliberate mistranslation and extension of the source text, and that feminist translation, unlike conventional translation, constitutes difference and not derivation. If, following Derrida, all translation is transformation, we need to examine how feminist translation differs from conventional translation. And thus, my contention is, firstly, that in the texts analysed the feminist translation discourse is not substantiated by actual translation practice and secondly, that the unusual translation techniques used constitute a minor feature of the translations.

Opsomming

Hierdie artikel ondersoek die probleem van verskille in vertalings onder die invloed van dekonstruksie, met besondere verwysing na vier Frans-Kanadese feministiese tekste deur Nicole Brossard en feministiese vertalings daarvan in Engels (twee vertalings deur Barbara Godard en twee deur Patricia Claxton). Die vertalers maak daarop aanspraak dat hulle vernuwende vertaalstrategiee aanwend om sekere konvensionele sienings van vertaling uit te daag. Dit is juis hulle duidelike verwerping van tradisionele beskouings van getrouheid en hulle klem op die individualistiese en kreatiewe aard van vertaling soos dit in metatekste uitdrukking vind wat meebring dat feministiese vertalers se werk as 'n bedreiging van hoofstroomvertaling beskou word. Dit is eweneens die redes waarom feministiese vertalers 'n bydrae tot kontemporere vertaalstudie kan lewer, sou hulle aansprake in die praktyk bewys word. Maar dit is my mening dat geen kritikus tot op hede inderdaad die grondslag waarop feministiese vertaling rus bevraagteken her nie: die bewering dat 'n feministiese vertaling deur die benutting van vernuwende vertaalstrategiee 'n opsetlike "verkeerde" vertaling en verlenging van die bronteks word, en dat feministiese vertaling--anders as konvensionele vertaling--neerkom op verskil eerder as afleiding. Sou ons in navolging van Derrida aanneem dat alle vertaling transformasie is, noop dit ons om ondersoek in te stel na hoe feministiese vertaling van konvensionele vertaling verskil. Derhalwe is my betoog, eerstens, dat die feministiese vertaaldiskoers nie in die ontlede tekste deur werklike vertaalpraktyk gerugsteun word nie en, tweedens, dat die ongewone vertaaltegnieke wat ingespan word 'n ondergeskikte kenmerk van die vertalings uitmaak.

1 Introduction

Translation theorists have always grappled with one specific problem in translation--the fact that translations are not the same as their originals and can never be the same. This is clearly reflected in their theories, which, despite different approaches, have all depended on some notion of equivalence (whether aesthetic, formal, dynamic, functional or cultural) to evaluate translations. But the advent of deconstruction and the privileging of form over meaning have changed all this, resulting in a radical redrawing of the questions upon which translation theory is founded. …

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