A blog about translation, language, literature, and other related topics. Updated every approximately every five days.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Cultural References in Translation
How obvious do you have to make cultural references in translation? Recently, I was reading an English translation of a novel by a Japanese author. I caught phrases such as “going to a Japanese teahouse” and “X, the Japanese god of…” and so on. In other words, the translation gives more information than the original and emphasizes the “Japaneseness” of the text (I assume this anyway, since I can’t read Japanese, but I doubt a Japanese work would need to explain Japanese concepts for Japanese readers). Do you think literary translations should have added explanations (non-fiction translations require different strategies, as we know)?
Originally from Chicago, I lived in southern Sweden for nearly 5.5 years, and moved to southern Wales in September 2006. I completed a Ph.D. translation studies in June 2009 at Swansea University, with a dissertation on the translation of children's literature.
Now I live in Norwich, England, where I am a lecturer at the University of East Anglia, and I also work as a translator, writer, and editor.
Contact me at bravenewwords (AT) gmail (DOT) com.