Friday, August 31, 2007

IRSCL Conference and Galician Translation

I’ve just arrived in Sweden after being in Japan for the conference of the International Research Society for Children’s Literature. I loved Japan and really enjoyed the conference, which focused on different issues of power and children's literature. I learned about organizations related to children's lit and to educating children about literature, and also about awards for children's books, and I attended sessions on a variety of other topics, ranging from post-World War 2 literature in Asia to historical novels in Denmark, from anthologies by and/or about queer youth to wordless picture books, from anime to libraries, from books about transracial adoption to nonsense, and much more.

There were several presentations besides my own that looked at translation. I chaired one session that was about translation and national identities. The speakers were from Spain and they talked about translations from Spanish or English to the minority languages of Galician, Catalan, and Basque. One of the speakers focused on translations to Galician and she found that many translators added in Galician idioms or information about specific Galician cultural issues to the texts they were translating, and she claimed that this was a way of building a Galician identity. This is clearly a strongly domesticating strategy and it really struck me as being one that I personally wouldn't use or promote. However, the point the speaker and her co-authors made was that since Spanish is dominant in Spain, making texts Galician in this way helps create pride in the Galician language and culture, and that this is important for children who might otherwise feel that they should only or primarily use Spanish. Apparently, schools in Galicia now require children to have half of their subjects in Galician, so perhaps in a generation or two, the use of Galician will be more common, and children will gain the belief that Galician is a worthy identity, so translators won't feel the need to use this strategy anymore.

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