lundi 14 mai 2012

Huston's _Prodigy_

Started reading _Prodigy_ by Nancy Huston last night. SO interesting - the narration alternates between all the characters. I find that the text "smells" like a translation, though, as if I can tell that it's translated from the French. Is it because I know it's translated, and that, in fact, the author translated it herself? I wonder.

I think the book could be useful for giving examples of French sentence structure "polluting" English texts. Obviously, in literary writing - and especially this book - it's fine. It actually gives the book a foreign feel, which works because the book is set in France and talks about French women and French culture a lot. (cf. "Translation as culture transfer," an article by Translation Studies scholar Paul Bandia.) It'd be interesting to re-translate the book, though. Give it an ethnocentric spin instead of a source-text-oriented one like Huston did. I could re-translate it using a more free-translation method. The book is short enough that it's a feasible summer project.

From Bandia's article:

"Cultural value systems are difficult to grasp as they are intricately woven into the texture of the native language. A conscientious translator, therefore, must be willing to make the extra effort that is required to unearth the full cultural meaning hidden in the language. He must be alive to the two sociocultural systems with which he is working in order to narrow the gap that separates them. His task becomes even more complicated when he is working between two languages of divergent sociocultural backgrounds and the issue takes another twist when the translation is between the languages of the "colonizer" and the "colonized." The translator must then be particularly careful about how he handles the material of the source language in his desire to be faithful to the target language and culture."

"Antoine Berman (1985) defines ethnocentric translation as "[la traduction] qui ramène tout à sa propre culture, à ses normes et valeurs, et considère ce qui est situé en dehors de celle-ci - l'Étranger - comme négatif ou tout juste bon à être annexé, adapté, pour accroître la richesse de cette culture" (p. 48). Ethnocentric translation gives priority to meaning over form (or style), paying particular attention to preserving the target
language structure and norms."

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