Gender, Sex and Translation : The Manipulation of Identities book cover
1st Edition

Gender, Sex and Translation
The Manipulation of Identities

ISBN 9781315760261
Published December 7, 2015 by Routledge
210 Pages

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Book Description

Gendered and sexual identities are unstable constructions which reveal a great deal about the ideologies and power relatinships affecting individuals and societies. The interaction between gender/sex studies and translation studies points to a fascinating arena of discursive conflict in which our intimate desires and identities are established or rejected, (re)negotiated or censored, sanctioned or tabooed.

This volume explores diverse and heterogeneous aspects of the manipulation of gendered and sexual identities. Contributors examine translation as a feminist practice and/or theory; the importance of gender-related context in translation; the creation of a female image of secondariness through dubbing and state censoriship; attempts to suppress the blantantly patriarchal and sexist references in the German dubbed versions of James Bond films; the construction of national heroism and national identity as male preserve; the enactment of Chamberlain's 'gender metaphorics' in Scliar and Calvino; the transformation of Japanese romance fiction through Harlequin translations; the translations of the erotic as site for testing the complex rewriting(s) of identity in sociohistorical term; and the emergence of NRTs (New Reproductive Technologies), which is causing fundamental changes in the perception of 'creativity' or 'procreation' as male domains.

Table of Contents

Gender, Sex and Translation: Contents


Frontera Spaces: Translating as/like a Woman, Pilar Godayol, pp 9-14

The theory and practice of translating as/like a woman, being a political and social discourse that criticizes and subverts the patriarchal practices which render women invisible, assumes a feminine subjectivity. That is, it makes plain that the common basis of its activity is a subject who lives in a feminine body. However, despite sharing a common politics of identity, the different feminisms, among them those in the field of translation, interpret feminine subjectivity in different ways. Similarly, they also differ in their definitions of their universal categories, such as 'women', 'identity', 'gender', 'sex', 'experience' and 'history'. As a result, some translators cast doubt on the possibility of building a feminist theory of translation given the contingency and mobility of its universal categories. This raises an urgent question: how can a politics of identity survive if it does not take into account the idea that its universal categories must be permanently open and questioning in order to lay the ground for the inclusions or exclusions of its future demands? This paper attempts to move closer to the unresolved question of the feminine subject in the practice of translation as/like a woman, as well as in all fields of general feminist study.

The Creation of A "Room of One's Own": Feminist Translators as Mediators Between Cultures and Genders, Michaela Wolf, pp 15-25

In the course of the 18th century, an increasing number of women tried to create their own space both through the formation of a specific literary discourse and the formation of a new professional group, the female writer. This paper discusses the way in which female translators - in a historical as well as contemporary context - can 'gender' their social and intellectual environment, thus contributing to the formation of female individuality through translation. Within the broader context of women's constitution of a 'female image' in the period of the Enlightenment, and drawing on the biographies of two German translators, Luise Gottsched and Therese Huber, the paper illustrates the ways in which these two translators subverted contemporary men-made translation practices and translation theories. In the second part of the paper it is shown that to a certain extent, even though under obviously different conditions, women are still struggling for a "room of one's own" in the translational domain. This is highlighted by the presentation of the results of a research project which was carried out in Austria and which focused on a comprehensive record of the state of the art of feminist translation in the various fields of research, teaching and practice in German-speaking countries. The emphasis of the project was on a theoretical survey of the fields of feminist translation and feminist translation studies, detailed surveys conducted in publishing houses concerning their 'policies' in relation to feminist translation, enquiries into guidelines for non-sexist language use in national and international institutions dealing with translation as well as in translation agencies, and interviews with feminist translators focusing on their working conditions.


Gender(ing) Theory: Rethinking the Targets of Translation Studies in Parallel with Recent Developments in Feminism, M. Rosario Martín, pp 25-37

This paper grew out of the conviction that drawing parallels between the evolution of gender studies and translation studies may be enlightening in order to foster new developments in our discipline. Firstly, comparing the evolution in the definition of the objects which are at the very basis of these two movements, i.e., the concepts of 'woman' and 'translation', allows us to posit that translation studies could enlarge its horizon by revising and de-essentializing (emulating the move in gender studies in relation to the concept of 'woman') both the ideal definition of translation that has traditionally been in force and the social yet biased definition of translation which descriptive translation studies claims as the (only) point of departure. In the second place, the comparison seems to be helpful not only in discovering the flaws of descriptivist approaches but also in questioning and problematizing the core assumptions of mainstream feminist translation theories. Gender studies, in short, proves to be instructive not only for redefining the general targets of the discipline but also for inspiring new feminist translation agendas which aim to circumvent the risk of essentialism.

Tracing the Context of Translation: The Example of Gender, Luise Von Flotow, pp 39-51

Starting from the premise that the contexts in which translations and translation studies are produced are of paramount importance (Lefevere 1992), this article looks at a number of instances where gender has played an important role - in the process of translation and/or in the studies of a translated text. It begins with the work of Julia Evelina Smith, Bible translator in the 1850s and suffragette in the 1870s, moves on to the challenges encountered when translating the eighteenth-century abolitionist discourse of French intellectual women for twentieth-century America, turns to gay writing and its translation in the 1990s, and returns to the Bible at the turn of the new century - the Vatican's Liturgiam authenticam instructions on Bible translation and the new French Bible 2001.

On the Women's Service?: Gender-conscious Language in Dubbed James Bond Movies, Nicole Baumgarten, pp 53-69

This paper deals with the construction of social gender through spoken language in film. The investigation of language in film and film translation has been a hitherto largely ignored field of enquiry. Before proceeding to present a concrete example of the type of cross-linguistic analysis undertaken on the basis of a large corpus of multimodal texts, the paper gives an outline of a model for the analysis of language in film and translated film dialogue ('the dubbed text'), which is based on a broadly systemic functional theoretical framework. Drawing on current research into the notion of cultural specificity in original and translated texts, the paper aims at describing the forms and functions of language specific textualization of 'extralinguistic concepts'.

Translation, Nationalism and Gender Bias, Carmen Ríos & Manuela Palacios, pp 71-79

The analysis of the connections between nationalism and translation allows for new perspectives on the issues of gender and language. An example of this is represented by the project undertaken by the Galician group Xeración Nós in the 1920s, as can be gathered from their translations into Galician of Irish texts which are concerned with nationalist issues. It seems that there is a gender bias in these translations, as both writers of the source texts and translators are usually men, whereas the nation is most often constructed in feminine terms. However, in order to avoid charges of essentialism, both source and target texts have been thoroughly analyzed to see how nationalist discourse constructs masculinity and femininity, as well as the degrees of appropriation of these patterns that translation may implement. The results of these analyses suggest that Galician translations of Irish nationalist texts in the 1920s have functioned as perpetuators of the gender bias of the source texts, maintaining all the stereotypes around masculinity and femininity which were characteristic of the Irish originals.

The Gendering of Translation in Fiction: Translators, Authors, and Women/Texts in Scliar and Calvino, Rosemary Arrojo, pp 81-95

This paper focuses on how the theme of betrayal in translation (or interpretation) is often treated in fiction in terms of love triangles in which the interpreter's 'betrayal' of the original is associated with some form of competition (between an interpreter and an author) for the love of a woman. The objects of analysis are the following works of fiction: Italo Calvino's Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore (first published in Italy in 1979), and Moacyr Scliar's short story entitled 'Notas ao Pé da Página' (published in Brazil in 1995). This type of analysis may help us further understand the often negative reputation translators seem to have in a culture that worships originals and tends to reject any activity that somehow 'touches' them. It may also help us reflect on why mainstream translation theories have always been so interested in controlling and disciplining translators and their 'subversive' interventions in the texts they necessarily have to rewrite.

Translating True Love: Japanese Romance Fiction, Harlequin-Style, Janet S. Shibamoto Smith, pp 97-116

Japanese preferences for fictionalized love affairs depicted in category romance fiction have been significantly affected by translated Harlequin-style western romance novels. Harlequins have been immensely popular since their introduction in the early 1980s, even to the point of triggering a 'Harlequinization' of Japanese romance novels. Harlequin translations are thus one important site for displaying the qualities and behaviours associated with portraits of desirable femininity and masculinity. This paper presents an analysis of three aspects of interactional style between the Harlequin hero and heroine that differ substantially from the typical styles of Japanese category romance novels. Dialogue drawn from the Harlequin lovers' interactions is analyzed and interpreted against native Japanese norms for the appropriate expression of emotion and against the speech and actions of counterpart lovers drawn from a sample of contemporary native Japanese category romances. Of the differences found, two serve primarily to construct a different kind of heroine, the third, a different hero. Together, they provide new spaces for imagined female equality and emotional helplessness, on the one hand, and for male verbal expressivity, on the other. Japanese-language Harlequins offer linguistic portraits of 'true' lovers inhabiting very different worlds of heterosexual desirability from their domestic Japanese fictional lover counterparts. The imported 'messages' about ideal heroines and heroes may not always flatter Western-style lovers, but they provide alternative ways of imagining loverly behaviour for the Japanese reader.

The Translation of Sex/The Sex of Translation: Fanny Hill in Spanish, José Santaemilia, pp 117-136

Sex is, without a doubt, one of the most intimate indicators of identity, as it conjures up images of sexual activity, eroticism, pleasure, taboo, fantasies, desire, etc. Likewise, language is the most intimate way of expressing sex. John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1748-49) is the most famous erotic novel written in English: it is both a pornographic work and a philosophico-rhetorical exploration of sex and sexuality as a key discourse in eighteenth-century England. It also offers provocative and mixed-up perspectives: a male (Cleland's) fantasy about female (Fanny Hill's) sexuality for a predominantly male audience. This wealth of perspectives places a great deal of importance on translation - the translation of sex becomes a political act, with important rhetorical and ideological implications. Since its publication Fanny Hill has been an enormously popular novel, which has enjoyed innumerable translations into the major European languages. The earliest documented translations into Spanish, however, come from the 1920s. In this paper I examine four Spanish translations of Fanny Hill from the late 1970s, after Spanish dictator Franco died: three of these translations were carried out by men (Lane 1977; Martínez Fariñas 1978; Santaemilia and Pruñonosa 2000) and one by a woman (Podestá 1980). The main objective is to test whether translating sexual language and imagery suggests different strategies for either male or female translators, whether there is any gender-associated struggle for rewriting the erotic into a different language.

Gender and Interpreting in the Medical Sphere: What is at Stake?, Orest Weber, Pascal Singy & Patrice Guex, pp 137-147

Like other Swiss urban centers, Lausanne has a high foreign population which includes a significant number of recent arrivals making use of the health care system. When medical specialists and migrants meet in this context, they often have little knowledge of the sociolinguistic and sociocultural systems used by their interlocutor. Recourse to a translator seems to be the only solution enabling the two parties to achieve mutual understanding. Traditionally, this third person is one of the patient's relatives or acquaintances. Due to the problematic nature of this practice, a group of Lausanne health care providers initiated a pluridisciplinary action-research. The major objective of this study was to advocate the introduction of professional Cultural Mediators/Interpreters (CMIs) and to measure the effects of this change on the representations made by the persons involved: patients, health care providers and CMIs. Data were collected in focus groups and interviews and subjected to qualitative analysis. The investigation of linguistic and social representations has revealed diverging views regarding the role of participants' gender in translated medical consultations. There seems to be a general consensus as to the existence of taboos linked to gender roles, whereas there are significant differences in opinion on the importance of choosing the health care provider and the translator/ress according to the patient's gender. Further analysis of this controversy reveals that underlying the question of gender, the place of a new group of actors (CMIs) in the medical field is being negotiated. Grasping the stakes of the discourses on gender of translators/resses implies considering them in their broader context because the hierarchy of this field rests on principles other than solely gender domination.


Who Wrote This Text and Who Cares?: Translation, Intentional 'Parenthood' and New Reproductive Technologies, Ulrika Orloff, pp 149-160

This article makes a connection between the ideologies forming the Western conception of human reproduction on the one hand and literary production on the other. By presenting the contingent, arbitrary and outdated foundation on which those ideologies are built the purpose is to pave the way to an alternative manner of perceiving creativity and the well-being of its offspring. Ultimately, to discuss the ability of a translator from the point of view of gender or the suitability of a parent from the point of view of sex would become superfluous. The opportunity for the latter and, consequently, the former has presented itself in the form of New Reproductive Technologies (NRTs) and their influence on how the notion of procreativity and parenthood is perceived in the eyes of the individual and, most significantly, the law. The concept of originality in the shape of artistic genius and units of transferable genes could be replaced by the idea that whoever is the best provider of care for the text or the child is also its rightful 'custodian'.

A Course on 'Gender and Translation' as an Indicator of Certain Gaps in the Research on the Topic, Şebnem Susam-Sarajeva, pp 161-176
This essay focuses on the challenges of giving a lecture course on 'gender and translation' and on the insights such a course offers into gender studies and translation studies. Based on the experience of the author in teaching this course in Finland, the essay first examines the advantages and disadvantages of setting up a course on translation specifically from the perspective of gender-oriented approaches. It states that while the course was useful in increasing students' awareness in translational matters and gender-related issues, certain problems arose in relation to addressee, genre, and languages involved, and the feminist interests underlying these approaches. The essay then raises certain questions concerning the present levels of exchange between gender studies and translation studies, and between these disciplines and 'the real world'. It points out certain gaps in the existing research on gender and translation and offers some suggestions for tackling these gaps.




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