The premise of this volume is a question: What can the concept of minority bring to the practice and study of translation? Minority is understood here to mean a cultural or political position that is subordinate, whether the social context that so defines it is local, national or global. This position is occupied by languages and literatures that lack prestige or authority, the non-standard and the non-canonical, what is not spoken or read much by a hegemonic culture. Yet minorities also include the nations and social groups that are affiliated with these languages and literatures, the politically weak or underrepresented, the colonized and the disenfranchised, the exploited and the stigmatized.
Translation today is itself a minor use of language, a lesser art, an invisible craft that commands less cultural capital and fewer legal privileges than original composition. Yet the focus in this collection is not on what translators worldwide have in common but on the distinctive forms that translating takes when it is done by or on behalf of minorities. The articles in this volume present a variety of case studies that illuminate the linguistic and cultural problems posed by such translating, as well as the economic and political agendas it has served. Together, these pieces show that the concept of minority is worth exploring because it inspires innovation in translation practice and research. Minor cultures are coincident with new translation strategies, new translation theories, and new syntheses of the diverse methodologies that constitute the discipline of translation studies.
Table of Contents
Introduction, Lawrence Venuti, pp 135-144 The Cracked Looking Glass of Servants: Translation and Minority Languages in a Global Age, Michael Cronin, pp 145-162 Translators working in minority languages have often been ignored in theoretical and historical debates on translation. If however 'minority' is treated as a dynamic as opposed to a static concept, then the experiences of minority languages have much to reveal to other languages in a world increasingly dominated by one global language. This article examines the role of minority languages in the context of scientific and technical translation, particularly with respect to the Internet and the emergence or Cyber-English. The effects of time-space compression on the practice of minority language translation and the working conditions of translators is discussed in the context of globalization and the 'minoritization' of all languages. The position of major/minor language translation in the light of debates on difference and universalism is considered and arguments are advanced for the more active incorporation of minority languages into translation sutdies research. Translation and Postcolonial Identity: African Writing and European Languages, Moradewun Adejunmobi, pp 163-181 Critics and authors of the corpus of texts designated as African literature often consider problematic the role of European languages in this literature. A discourse based on the practice of translation represents one strategy among others for resolving the crisis of identity of African writing in European languages. Three kinds of translation found in African literature are discussed in this paper. Both compositional and authorized translations seek to confirm the African identity of the European-language text: the former by reference to imaginary and the latter by reference to original versions in indigenous African languages. Complex translations, on the other hand, embrace mobility between languages and identities as inescapable in postcolonial Africa. While these varieties of translation appear to reconcile the desire for authenticity with the exigency of writing in a foreign language, the relationship between the various versions indirectly confirms the continuing hegemony of European languages in contemporary African writing. Translation Strategies in a Rapidly Transforming Culture: A Central European Perspective, Piotr Kwiecinski, pp 183-206 This article examines cultural asymmetry, a feature engendered by rapid cultural transformation and posited to be a crucial contextual factor in translating into and from weaker or dominated cultures. It argues that the asymmetry affects translators' choice - often implicitly - in terms of domestication and foreignization and presents an analysis of an extensive corpus of English-Polish translations in two genres: voiceover and news articles. The findings demonstrate a marked dominance of highly foreignizing procedures in the translation of culture-specific items, a trend which in the majority of cases cannot be attributed to formal or genre-related restrictions, audience design, or lack of competence on the part of translators. In addition, the article provides an overview of the effects of the Polish cultural transition on translation practices and suggests ways in which a cotext-and context-sensitive analysis of individual translations can be accommodated within a quantitative study. The French Connection: Mediated Translation into Catalan during the Interwar Period, Silvia Coll-Vinent, pp 207-228 English novels generally came into Catalan culture during the interwar years via France. The process of mediation is reflected in the canon of authors translated during a period of renewal, which witnessed heated debate on the novel in both France and Catalonia. According to French critics, the English novel was an alternative to their own tradition, and their discourse of mediation informed the translation projects and practices of Catalan writers and critics. A Catalan translation of Joseph Conrad's 'Typhoon' reveals not only the depth of the French mediation, but the extent to which the objectives set by the Catalan cultural elite were fulfilled. Bilingualism and Translation in/of Michele Lalonde's Speak White, Kathy Mezei, pp 229-247 Michele Lalonde's poster-poem, 'Speak White', reflected the ideology of Quebec nationalists in the 1960s as they sought independence from Canada and promoted the preservation of French language and culture. For Lalonde, to 'speak white' signified English linguistic, cultural and economic imperialism. This paper examines the function of 'English' in the poem from several perspectives, including textual and official bilingualism, code-switching from French to English, and the language debates of Quebec. It then reviews D.G. Jones' translation of 'Speak White' into English and the paradox of this particular translation act. Finally, the paper contextualizes the reading of the poem then (1968) and now (1998) Politics and Poetics in Translation: Accounting for a Chinese Version of 'Yes Prime Minister', Nam Fung Chang, pp 249-272 Using largely acceptability-oriented strategies, the author of this article wished his Chinese translation of 'Yes Prime Minister' to be a well-formed literary text in the target system and a satire on Chinese politics by way of allegory. It posed a challenge to the dominant translation poetics that favours adequacy, and also to the dominant ideology that upholds loyalty to those in power. After a description of the socio-cultural background - including the political situation, the system of literary patronage and the translation tradition, the skopos and constraints of translating, and translation strategies - this paper demonstrates that in the Chinese context an acceptability-oriented translation can be a non-transparent text that makes the translator visible, reforming rather than being conservative with regard to certain traditional values in the target culture, and rebelling against the majority culture from which the text is appropriated. Jack Spicer's Pricks and Cocksuckers: Translating Homosexuality into Visibility, Eric Keenghan, pp 273-294 Queer-identified authors may use translation to articulate their own sexual identity or to develop a queer politics. The gay American poet Jack Spicer was particularly interested in using his translations for both ends. To be openly gay (what is referred to here as 'visible') in the United States during the 1950s was both a dangerous and politically charged position. Through his 1957 translations of the work of Federico Garcia Lorca, a gay Spanish modernist poet, Spicer forces Lorca into this precarious position of gay visibility while reclaiming the American poet Walt Whitman from a critical tradition that insists on masking his homosexuality. Spicer's translation of Larca's 'Oda a Walt Whitman' gives us a better understanding of how and why his utilization of a recognizably homosexual lexicon pushes homosexuality into his possibly resistant readers' attention, demonstrating how the lexicon and register of translated texts can serve as critical apparatuses that create forms of alternative politics in a socio-historically specific manner. Translating Camp Talk: Gay Identities and Cultural Transfer, Keith Harvey, pp 295-320 This paper examines the association of a specific verbal style, known in English as camp, with male homosexual characters in French and Anglo-American post-war fiction. The implications of such an association are considered in relation to the translation of this fiction. It is argued that camp presents a complex problem for translators in that while it draws on similar formal devices in both English- and French-language texts, it fulfils different functions in the literary and cultural contexts of post-war France, Britain and the United States. An attempt is made to link up the texts and their translations with these distinct contexts. Reference is made notably to the emergence of gay fiction as a literary genre in the English-speaking world and to the alleged resistance in France to the proliferation of subcultural identities. Rewriting Tibet: Italian Travellers in English Transl