Witness between Languages: The Translation of Holocaust Testimonies in Context

By Slodounik, Rebekah | German Quarterly, Summer 2019 | Go to article overview

Witness between Languages: The Translation of Holocaust Testimonies in Context


Slodounik, Rebekah, German Quarterly


Davies, Peter. Witness between Languages: The Translation of Holocaust Testimonies in Context. Camden House, 2018. 266 pp. $90.00 (hardcover).

Defining translation as the "interlingual translation of texts" (19), Davies focuses on the primary role translation has played, and continues to play, in disseminating and constructing knowledge about the Holocaust from the immediate post-war period to today. Survivor testimonies and the translations of testimonies have actively contributed to changing conceptions of testimony and witnessing but are also affected by the historical, political, and national context in which survivor testimonies and their translations are produced. Davies concentrates primarily on testimonies translated between English and German; and testimonies from French, Polish, Russian, and Yiddish into both English and German.

Davies begins his study with a discussion of misconceptions that readers, as well as scholars not situated in translation studies, often have concerning the translation of texts. For one, a translation of a text does not involve an easy, oneto-one relationship to each individual word from the original language into the target language, but the translator engages with the text using different strategies, or "translation-specific practices" based on the context of the translation (27), which includes the "translation situation" (25), "target culture" (16), and "target readership" (27). In short, the translator is not a silent participant in the translation process, but necessarily makes aesthetic and linguistic choices affected by knowledge of the audience for whom the translator is translating the text.

This active role of the translator, Davies explains, necessarily becomes a source of anxiety when one ventures from translation studies into Holocaust studies, since a main tenet of Holocaust testimony is that the witness shares his or her lived experience with the reader via the testimony. Much of the understanding of Holocaust testimony-both in and outside of scholarship-is predicated on reading the translation process as primarily invisible and latent, since to suggest that the survivor's testimony could change would be to suggest that the survivor's account is malleable, and therefore, could potentially contain elements of falsehood. Davies astutely highlights this significant point of tension between conceptions of the "original" text written by the survivor-witness, and the concern over any attempt to have an impact on the witness's voice, of which translation can be one. Countering this bifurcation between the view of the initial witness text as the original, and the translation of the testimony as automatically secondary, and thus, inferior, Davies argues-supported with strong textual analysis- for viewing translators as engaged collaborators in the shaping of Holocaust memory. Rather than attempting to ignore translators and these processes of translation, Davies demonstrates how such an analysis can enrich our current and past understanding of how Holocaust testimonies and their translations have shaped Holocaust memory in public discourses situated within their historical and linguistic context.

Chapter 1, "Translation and the Witness Text," establishes the theoretical underpinning of Davies's approach in bringing translation studies and Holocaust studies into productive conversation with one another. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Witness between Languages: The Translation of Holocaust Testimonies in Context
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.