Academic journal article Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations

Translation Policies in Post-Communist Romania: A Case of Post-Colonialism?

Academic journal article Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations

Translation Policies in Post-Communist Romania: A Case of Post-Colonialism?

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT. This paper aims at presenting the situation of the Romanian writers' "export" abroad, i.e. the translation policies operating in post-Communist Romania. Starting from Lawrence Venuti's considerations on the asymmetrical relations between literatures, the "preliminary norms" identified by G. Toury, the concept of "cultural authority" (André Lefevere), and the post-colonial orientations in TS, this analysis will hopefully lead to a better understanding of the way in which Romanian literature is/could be (better) propagated abroad.

Keywords: translation policy; asymmetrical relations; preliminary norms; cultural authority; post-colonialism; Romanian Cultural Institute

Drawing on the cultural orientations in Translation Studies, and more precisely on the norms theory introduced by the Israeli scholar Gideon Toury, on Lawrence Venuti's considerations on the asymmetrical relations between literatures, on the concept of "cultural authority" introduced by André Lefevere and the post-colonial directions in Translation Studies, my paper aims at discussing the situation of the Romanian writers' "export" abroad, i.e. the translation policies operating in post-Communist Romania, as well as the way in which Romanian literature is/could be (better) propagated abroad. In order to exemplify the states of affairs concerning the presence of Romanian literature on the international book market, I will refer to the promotion policy led by the Romanian Cultural Institute.

Working from a target culture perspective, Toury (1978/ 1995: 199-204) introduces the concept of "norm" to discuss the constraints involved in the translation behaviour within a particular sociocultural context. He distinguishes between three types of translational norms: initial norms, preliminary norms and operational norms. The initial norms involve the translator's basic choice between whether to subscribe to the norms realized in the source text/language or to the norms of the target text/language, while the operational norms concern the decisions made during the act of translating itself. The preliminary norms, of particular interest to this paper, refer to the existence and nature of a translation policy. Translation policy refers to the factors involved in "the choice of text types; or even of individual texts, to be imported through translation into a particular culture/language at a particular point in time" (1995: 202). This brings about questions related to what we should export, since there is far too little agreement in this respect. The tendency leans towards the synchronisation in themes and formulas with what "sells in the West". But this synchronisation should not mean imitation; it should mean finding ways to promote the Romanian "specificity", proposing some Romanian themes which could be joined to human universality.

Additionally, André Lefevere, a translator scholar interested in the ideological dimension of translation, also assigns a highly important role to the translation policies practised by a certain culture at a specific moment, showing explicitly the institutions responsible with establishing the translation policies. In Lefevere's view, translations should no longer be seen as accumulations of texts in the target cultures, but rather as cultural and ideological processes likely to manipulate readers and to construct cultures at the same time.

In order to illustrate the biased character of (literary) translations, Lefevere made use of a set of concepts such as refraction, rewriting, image, cultural authority, target culture constraints (ideology, patronage, poetics, "professionals"), and cultural capital, that he exemplifies by case studies, translations carried out under the influence of different ideologies, in certain historical moments and in particular literary climates.

Through the concepts of rewriting and manipulation, Lefevere goes on tackling the problem of ideology and the control mechanisms operating in the target culture. …

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