Academic journal article Antipodes

A Clockwise Smile of the First Australian Nobel Prize Winner: Translating Patrick White

Academic journal article Antipodes

A Clockwise Smile of the First Australian Nobel Prize Winner: Translating Patrick White

Article excerpt

IT IS A TRUTH GENERALLY ACKNOWLEDGED AMONG TRANSLATORS that the time and effort they put into translation generally go unappreciated by both the professional critics and wider readership. Not many bother to look at the name of the translator, let alone remember it. Some are not even aware that it is a translation that they are reading, and those who are usually fail to attribute any significance to the fact. Susan Bassnett finds it greatly ironic that in the translation debate "those very scholars who reject the need to investigate translation scientifically because of its traditional low status in the academic world do at the same time teach a substantial number of translated texts to monolingual students" (15). In such cases, anything that those academics teach about the writer's style and language might actually refer to the translator's writing skills and creative talent. In the words of Gregory Rabassa, the famous translator of Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, "the translator has been told that he writes well, not that he translated well" (510). The investigation in this paper approaches the issue from the opposite direction. What if the critics are silent or criticism is not favorable? Could the translator be responsible? And to what extent? This paper aims at a critical analysis and evaluation of the translation of The Aunt's Story into Serbian, which hopes to demonstrate the intricacies of the translation process and the translator's responsibility as well as the part they might play in both the critical and general response the translation generates in the target language culture.

Patrick White's third novel, The Aunt's Story ( 1948), was translated into Serbian in Belgrade in 1979 as part of the Nobel Prize Winners edition issued by the Slovo ljubve publishing house. In Serbian, The Aunt's Story became Pri&a Teodore Gudman (Theodora Goodman's Story / The Story of Theodora Goodman). The translation of the title, which retains its descriptive character but substitutes the common noun aunt with the name of the title character, invites an inquiry into the complex decision-making process undertaken by the translators. The reason behind the change is most likely to be found in the different expressive meanings that these two words have in their respective languages. In addition to its primary reference to the sister of one's father or mother, the semantic field of the noun tetka in Serbian includes a reference to a boring, chatty, intrusive old woman as well as to an effeminate male. The change in translation, therefore, could have been motivated by the translators' intention to preclude any possible negative connotations of the Serbian title Tetkina pri&a. On the other hand, the secondary meaning of the English noun aunt, usually used by children as a form of address for an older woman, is rendered into Serbian by a different word, teta. Furthermore, as stated by Roman Jakobson, "languages differ essentially in what they must convey and not in what they can convey" (116), which implies that all cognitive data can be successfully conveyed in any language, or as Eugene Nida formulates it, "anything which can be said in one language can be said in another" (Theory and Practice of Translation 4). Owing to the linguistic fact that Serbian has no articles, the title such as Tetkina pri&a does not make it clear whether it is "an aunt's story" or "the aunt's story." The functional role of the definite article in English is rendered into Serbian by the introduction of the aunt's name. This choice, however, sacrificed the allusive quality of the original title as well as an interpretative dimension of the main character, the dimension that seemed to be so important to the author that he decided to put it in the title. Namely, the role of an aunt to her sister's children and to the children in the neighborhood is perceived by Theodora Goodman, a spinster, as the relationship that determines and fulfills her as a social and human being. …

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