Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Violence of Translation: Conquering and Colonizing a Text

To continue with the metaphor theme, I was intrigued by the book Translation and Empire by Douglas Robinson, which discusses postcolonial theories of translation. One chapter quotes from Jerome, Dryden, and other major figures from translation studies, and it is interesting to see their comparison of translators to conquerors or pillagers, who take what they want from a text and then make it over as they see fit in the target language. The text is thus rather violently colonized. In some instances, it seems that (male) translators view languages as female; it is, therefore, acceptable to “rape and pillage” a foreign tongue – to take what the translator thinks most important or useful – in order to protect the native language.

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