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Posts Tagged ‘Venuti’

Gaudeamus!

Ha aperto Amazon Italia, e un traduttore non può fare a meno di notare che, sin dal primo giorno, per i libri tradotti, il nome del traduttore compare accanto a quello dell’autore. Addirittura dice “di [AUTORE] e [TRADUTTORE]!

Essendomi sempre schierato, come molti altri prima di me, per uscire dalla venutiana invisibilità del traduttore (la maggior parte delle recensioni, in Italia, si ostinano ad omettere il nome del traduttore, a meno che la traduzione non sia una cosa davvero terribile) lo prendo come un piccolo segnale positivo. Forse sempre più persone cominciano a capire l’importanza del nostro lavoro.

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Il Professor Robert Dixon, dell’Università di Sydney, sta realizzando un sondaggio sulla traduzione della letteratura australiana, nell’ambito di un progetto chiamato Australian Literature in the Translation Zone. Se vi è capitato di tradurre delle opere australiane, potete partecipare scaricando e completando il questionario, e inviandolo al Professor Robert Dixon all’indirizzo e-mail robert.dixon@sydney.edu.au.

Riporto la prima pagina per darvi un’idea del progetto:

Australian Literature in the Translation Zone Survey

Australian Literature in the Translation Zone is project funded by the Australian Research Council and conducted by Professor Robert Dixon, Professor of Australian literature at the University of Sydney, on the translation of Australian literature.

Australian literature is now recognised as part of the larger field of world literature. Central to this expanded field is the role of the translator, so often rendered ‘invisible’, as Lawrence Venuti has observed. Australian writers and Australian literature belong to what Emily Apter calls ‘the translation zone’, which she describes as ‘a broad intellectual topography’ in and between national literatures.

Apter’s ‘translation zone’ is of course a spatial metaphor. But to understand how that space operates we need to populate it with data about the cultural economy of translation. Is there, for example, a single translation zone, or are there as many translation zones beyond Australian literature as there are languages and translators? Beyond English, does the reputation of an Australian book or writer spread from one foreign language to another, or are they siloed, communicating back through the English language and Australia? Is the impact of successive translations cumulative throughout a writer’s oeuvre, or is each translation a new beginning for the translator? How important are paratextual phenomena and events, such as writers’ festivals? How important is the agency of the author and translator in relation to other personnel, including authors’ and publishers’ agents, publishers, editors, and publishers’ scouts, in commissioning translations? Increasingly, it seems that overseas rights and translation contracts are initiated by publishers and their scouts at events such as the Frankfurt and London trade fairs. Are these commercial arrangements similar throughout the world or do they vary from one culture to another? As if confirming Venuti’s claim for the translator’s ‘invisibility’, there is to date no systematic, empirically-informed account of this ‘translation’ zone in Australian literary scholarship. This project aims to answer some of these research questions by populating the metaphor of the ‘translation zone’ with real data.

You can help in compiling this data about Australian literature in translation by completing the enclosed survey.

Professor Robert Dixon FAHA

Professor of Australian Literature

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Professor Robert Dixon, from the University of Sydney, is conducting a survey about Australian literature in translation, as part of a project called Australian Literature in the Translation Zone. If you are a translator of Australian literature, you can participate by downloading this questionnaire, filling it in and sending it back to him at robert.dixon@sydney.edu.au.

Here is a brief introduction to the project:

Australian Literature in the Translation Zone Survey

Australian Literature in the Translation Zone is project funded by the Australian Research Council and conducted by Professor Robert Dixon, Professor of Australian literature at the University of Sydney, on the translation of Australian literature.

Australian literature is now recognised as part of the larger field of world literature. Central to this expanded field is the role of the translator, so often rendered ‘invisible’, as Lawrence Venuti has observed. Australian writers and Australian literature belong to what Emily Apter calls ‘the translation zone’, which she describes as ‘a broad intellectual topography’ in and between national literatures.

Apter’s ‘translation zone’ is of course a spatial metaphor. But to understand how that space operates we need to populate it with data about the cultural economy of translation. Is there, for example, a single translation zone, or are there as many translation zones beyond Australian literature as there are languages and translators? Beyond English, does the reputation of an Australian book or writer spread from one foreign language to another, or are they siloed, communicating back through the English language and Australia? Is the impact of successive translations cumulative throughout a writer’s oeuvre, or is each translation a new beginning for the translator? How important are paratextual phenomena and events, such as writers’ festivals? How important is the agency of the author and translator in relation to other personnel, including authors’ and publishers’ agents, publishers, editors, and publishers’ scouts, in commissioning translations? Increasingly, it seems that overseas rights and translation contracts are initiated by publishers and their scouts at events such as the Frankfurt and London trade fairs. Are these commercial arrangements similar throughout the world or do they vary from one culture to another? As if confirming Venuti’s claim for the translator’s ‘invisibility’, there is to date no systematic, empirically-informed account of this ‘translation’ zone in Australian literary scholarship. This project aims to answer some of these research questions by populating the metaphor of the ‘translation zone’ with real data.

You can help in compiling this data about Australian literature in translation by completing the enclosed survey.

Professor Robert Dixon FAHA

Professor of Australian Literature

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Nel mio primo post sostenevo la necessità di riconoscere a dovere il prezioso lavoro del traduttore. Qualcuno, specie chi non parla una seconda lingua, potrà chiedersi cosa mai faccia un traduttore di tanto speciale, al di là della poetica immagine del contrabbandiere che ha dato il nome a questo blog. Cercherò di spiegarlo in maniera semplice, di modo che anche i non-addetti ai lavori che leggono possano partecipare alla discussione, imparare qualcosa sul nostro lavoro e aiutarci ad andare quel riconoscimento di cui sopra.

Un traduttore letterario è uno scrittore a tutti gli effetti, fama a parte. Certo, io parto da un libro già scritto, ma devo leggerlo più volte (quando c’è il tempo) coglierne lo stile, il tono, i registri, i vari livelli di lettura. Devo individuare le peculiarità linguistiche della voce del narratore e dei vari personaggi rispetto a quella che è la lingua standard. Devo immagazzinare queste ed altre informazioni. Devo digerirle, e mentre lo faccio devo seguire il meglio possibile la miriade di ramificazioni emotive che il libro mi suscita, in modo da farmi un’idea dell’effetto che dovrò ricreare.

Dopodiché comincio a tradurre. La cosa più ovvia, e anche la più facile, è traghettare nella lingua d’arrivo gli eventi, le immagini, gli elementi per così dire informativi del testo. Però bisogna anche che la voce dell’autore, il suo stile, e quindi il suo registro, il suo uso della punteggiatura, gli aspetti, appunto formali, vengano resi di modo che la traduzione rappresenti la cosa più vicina all’originale che si possa scrivere nella lingua d’arrivo. E qui cominciano i problemi, perché gli aspetti formali sono specifici di ogni lingua, e quindi è un’equivalenza dinamica e non formale, per dirla con Nida, quella che si cerca, una maniera di suscitare nel lettore della traduzione gli effetti che l’originale ha suscitato in me.

Dopodiché, voglio anche che le voci e la psicologia dei personaggi mantengano i loro tratti distintivi, trovando soluzioni per far sì che, per quanto possibile, vengano percepiti dal lettore della traduzione così com’erano percepiti dal pubblico dell’originale. E qui entrano in gioco fattori culturali, economici, sociali e politici, relativi non alla lingua, ma alle comunità che la parlano, ai diversi gruppi all’interno di quelle comunità, al modo in cui interagiscono. Si tratta di far capire a un italiano la percezione che un fattore texano ha del colletto bianco di Boston, per dire. E’ come far capire a un australiano il rapporto fra bresciani e bergamaschi. A parte che non posso spiegarglielo. Devo rendere l’idea tramite la mia traduzione – odio le note a piè pagina in narrativa. È una bella sfida, insomma.

E ancora, l’atmosfera, le sensazioni, i sentimenti, le idee, devono mantenere la potenza e l’impatto che l’autore ha conferito loro, anche e soprattutto quando non appartengono davvero alla cultura della lingua d’arrivo. Questo è il contrabbando di cui parlavamo qualche giorno fa. Il lettore si ritrova ad immedesimarsi in una mente che funziona diversamente dalla sua. Nuove connessioni prendono vita nel suo cervello. Le possibilità di crescita, umana e culturale, sono letteralmente infinite, se mi perdonate l’immodestia.

Vale anche la pena ricordare che dopo aver fatto tutto questo, e finita la prima versione, me ne restano altre cinque. In genere, alla sesta stesura, dopo aver letto il libro otto volte in due lingue, ogni cosa sembra finalmente al suo posto. Di solito sono passati due o tre mesi.

Insomma, quando leggete un libro di un autore straniero, e questo scorre, in bell’italiano, vi porta lungo il Mississippi o chissà dove, e pur straniti e straniati da quel luogo alieno riuscite ad entrarci, a capirlo, vuol dire che il traduttore ha fatto un gran bel lavoro. E il paradosso, la nostra invisibilità, per dirla con Venuti, sta proprio nel fatto che quando lavoriamo bene uno non si accorge del nostro intervento. Sarebbe bello se invece ci abituassimo a considerare quell’anello fondamentale che è il traduttore.

Tolta di mezzo questa necessaria ma pur sempre vaga introduzione del quadro d’insieme, nelle prossime settimane cercherò di affrontare alcuni di questi aspetti tramite esempi e casi di studio. Non mancate.

P.S. Un grazie di cuore a coloro che stanno seguendo questo blog nonostante sia soltanto in rodaggio. Vuol dire molto.

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In my first post I addressed the need to properly recognise the precious work of translators. Some of you, especially those who don’t speak a second language, might wonder what on Earth might a translator do that is so special, besides the evocative image of smuggling that inspired this blog’s name. I’ll try and explain this briefly, so that whoever doesn’t work in the field will be able to join the discussion, learn something about our job, and help it get the recognition we’re aiming for.

Technically speaking, a literary translator is a full-fledged writer, minus the fame. Of course, I start with a book that’s already been written, but I have to read it more than once (when deadlines allow) and grasp the style, tone, registers, its multiple levels. I have to identify the linguistic features of the narrator’s voice and the characters’ voices in relation to the standard language. I have to store this and other information. I have to digest it, and while doing that I have to be as aware as possible of the myriad of emotional ramifications that the book generates in myself, so that I have an idea of the effect I’ll have to recreate.

Then I start translating. The most obvious and easiest things to transfer in the target language are the events and images, the informative elements of the text, so to speak. But I also need to render the author’s voice, their style and register, their use of punctuation, the formal aspects of their work so that the translation represents the closest thing to the original that can be written in the target language. And here come the first problems, because formal aspects are unique to each language, so it’s a dynamic equivalence that I am after, not a formal one, as Nida would put it, a way to reproduce, in the reader of the translation, the effect that the original had on me.

Moreover, I also want that the voices and the psychology of the characters to maintain their distinctive traits, finding solutions in order for them to be perceived by my readers as they were by the original audience. Here we have to consider cultural, economic, social and political factors, unique not to the language, but to a community of speakers, to the social groups within that community, and to the way they interact. I need the Italian reader to understand how a Texan farmer might perceive a Bostonian white-collar. It’s like trying to make an Australian understand why people in Brescia and Bergamo, 50 kilometres apart, hate each other’s guts. Except that I can’t explain it. I have to convey it through my translation – I hate footnotes. It’ s quite a challenge.

And again, the atmosphere, all the sensations, feelings and ideas need to maintain the power and impact that the author gave them, especially when they don’t really belong to the culture of the target language. This is the smuggling we were talking about a few days ago. The readers find themselves identifying with a mind that works differently from their own. New connections fire up in the brain. The opportunities for human and cultural growth are literally infinite, if you forgive my lack of modesty.

It is also worth noting that once I’ve done all that, and I’m done with the first version, I generally have five more to go. Generally, by the sixth version, after I’ve read the book about eight times in two languages, everything seems to be in its right place. It’s usually been two or three months.

To sum up, if you’re reading a translating book and it’s flowing, in your native tongue, transporting you to some exotic place, and despite the strangeness, you feel that you’re in, that you’re getting it, it means the translator did a good job. And the paradox, our invisibility, as Venuti would put it, is that when we work well, people do not generally notice our work. It would be nice then to get used to considering that fundamental link that is the translator.

Now, having taken care of this very general but necessary introduction, in the next week I’ll try and deal with some of these themes with the help of examples and case studies. Stay tuned.

PS Thanks to all the people who have been following this blog even in these early days. It means a lot.

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