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)?