Dichterlijkheid of letterlijkheid? prioriteiten in de Spaanse vertalingen van Nederlandstalige poëzie

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    Abstract

    Chapter 1 of this book explains that in most cases research does not appear out of the blue. Scholars want to achieve something new and will therefore argue with their predecessors, but they will also associate themselves with other scholars. In my own case, the new element consists of a descriptive method for poetry translation which will reveal the translator’s strategy and is based on an explanatory attitude. This means that I primarily want to find out why, out of all the possibilities that have presented themselves to the translator, he or she has selected one specific option. What motives could have played a role in this selection; what did the translator wish to achieve with this particular series of choices? Obviously, it is not possible to present an airtight case, but I will show that it is possible to give plausible suggestions for an explanation of a particular translation strategy that can be inferred from the translation. It seems evident that the primary focus of investigation is the product, i.e. the published translation. In addition, the present study assigns an essential role to the translation process, in the sense that I have always attempted to make a posteriori assumptions about the arguments a translator may have used in the decisions he or she has taken. Sometimes a tentative reconstruction of these considerations can be made, based on different versions of the same translation. Apart from the translation as a product and process, a third factor is included in this study: the function of the translation in the new culture and the literature of the target language - or rather, the way in which the translator anticipates this function. By opting for a particular translation strategy, for example frequent explications, normalization or, conversely, emphasizing irregularities in the source text, the translator may influence the way in which the translated text is received in the target culture. As far as my position in the translation studies tradition is concerned, I feel most comfortable with the principles of the so-called Manipulation Group. Generally speaking, these principles may be summarized by the phrases ‘descriptive approach,’ ‘focus on the target culture,’ ‘polysystem theory,’ and ‘literary perspective.’ This group of scholars also pays much attention to the translation as a product and to its function within the target culture. However, my consistent attempt to explain translation choices and the attention I pay to the translation process sets me apart from the Manipulation scholars, who are hardly interested in these aspects. The corpus consists of Spanish translations of poetry from the Dutch-speaking regions (the Netherlands and Flanders), in particular translations by Francisco Carrasquer. Chapter 2 contains an outline of contemporary research in descriptive translation studies. Here I discuss how my research has been influenced by various translation scholars and linguists (in particular Toury, Holmes, Hermans, Van den Broeck, and Leech and Short). Although I praise earlier studies, I also offer criticisms, especially when scholars disapprove of translations in which a particular decision seems, at first sight, to be incomprehensible or wrong. This mainly happens when the reader of the translation is fixated on the text’s micro-level (words or word groups). I therefore advocate the introduction of a macro-textual analysis of the source and target texts in addition to a detailed analysis, because the macro-analysis may reveal that a particular choice could very well be inspired by the translator’s decision to give priority to a particular aspect of the source text at the expense of another aspect, without this choice being reflected at the micro-level. This type of macroanalysis is lacking in the model developed by K.M. van Leuven-Zwart (1984). Since this is one of the two current methods that are explicitly aimed at revealing the translation strategy (in prose translations), I have discussed it at length. I argue that, partly because of this lacuna, the results obtained with this model - at least its comparative component - should be regarded with great caution. The other method aimed at revealing the translation strategy, N.F. Streekstra’s model (1994), was specifically developed for poetry. In this case, too, the emphasis placed on the micro-level obscures a perspective on translation decisions inspired by (supra) textual motives. What should a description of the translation that does sufficient justice to it look like? Chapter 2 presents an initial discussion, which is developed in more detail in Chapter 3 and particularly specifically in Chapter 4. At this preliminary stage, my proposal is as follows. The best results may be expected from a combined approach that is both ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’, in which a comparative macroanalysis of the translation and the original text is supplemented by a comparative detailed analysis of a representative sample of text fragments. The checklist of linguistic and stylistic features drawn up by Leech and Short (1981) may be used Summary 261 as a source of inspiration for the micro-level study. After these analyses have been made, one should investigate whether various shifts in the translation vis-à-vis the source text may be explained from the fact that another (textual or supratextual) aspect of the source text has been given priority in the target text, or whether compensation for an element that was lost elsewhere has taken place. Chapter 3 argues that translation contributes to an awareness of the opportunities for choice that may occur during the translation process, because it stimulates an active reading strategy. The endeavour to explain the translation choices is thus approached from a different angle. In the previous chapters, I assumed that this explanation was an a posteriori event, and that it involved a partial reconstruction of the translation process through a study of the source text. However, since I have had the privilege to supervise a poetry translation project, I have been able to experience the translation process ‘from within’ in a dual capacity as both participant and observer. What exactly went on in the brains of the participants in the project remained invisible of course, but the frequent discussions, spontaneous or wellconsidered translation suggestions and intuitions did provide some indications. While we were working on a translation, it became increasingly clear - much more so than during an ordinary reading process - that, especially in poetry, all kinds of textual features and layers are intimately linked and that a choice of a particular translation has serious consequences at another level. These observations led to a number of questions. If one assumes that the translator can never convey all aspects of the source text in the translation, what then is the basis for selection? What does one consider important? Which elements, if any, are dropped? Which motives play a role in this decision? Which principles are used, and when does one decide to abandon a well-loved principle because a different, even more important, choice must prevail? These considerations led me to draw up an empirical list of translation priorities in a hierarchy that may vary from poem to poem, which was used as a guideline for the translation of poetry in this project. If such a list, focusing on the interconnections between poetic features and translation consequences, can be drawn up in advance, it should be possible to unravel these priorities again afterwards. This notion led me to develop the method for the description of the translation of poetry presented in Chapter 4. It combines all elements that I believe should be included in such a model. For reasons that should now be clear, I have called it the ‘priorities model’. In accordance with the method outlined in this model, first the translation and then the source text should be analyzed as independent texts. When this order is followed, there is less risk of taking the source text as the absolute norm and more leeway for considering the merits of the translation which, after all, will take its place in the target culture as an autonomous text. The next step is to make an analysis of the degree of correspondence between aspects of the source and the target texts 262 Summary and to describe the observed shifts. These analyses enable one to reconstruct those aspects which have been given priority in the translation and thus to assess the strategy of the translator, including the motives he or she may have had. Obviously, there are many ways to classify textual features systematically. I have opted for a slightly modified version of the classification developed by Van den Broeck (1988). Like Holmes (1988) and Jarniewicz (1992), this translation scholar assumes that a translation cannot be equivalent to the original text at all levels. He describes six linguistic levels at which equivalence may occur. I have converted these into five categories - formal, phonological, pragmatic-semantic, syntactic and stylistic - to which I assigned the features for textual analysis described by Leech and Short. However, I have had to modify their checklist drastically in several respects: it was not designed for translations and not for poetry either. Since, as I have already suggested, the target text should be analyzed twice (once, like the source text, as an autonomous text, and once as a derivative of the original), I have included these features in two lists of questions, each with a different focus. The first list explores the features present in the poem in the target language and in the source language version and their functions. In the second list, each question has a comparative nature, in order to investigate the degree of correspondence between the features in the source language and the target language and the extent to which a similar poetic effect has been achieved. The findings obtained with the priorities model are used as a basis for a description of the translation: to which features has the translator assigned priority, and how can the translation strategy be characterized? Finally, an attempt is made to discover the translator’s motives for his or her decisions. In so far as these cannot be deduced from the translation itself, one may - with the necessary reservations - turn to extratextual factors, such as, for example, an apologia or preface to the translation, or to interviews or articles. After having described the model, I apply it in four different ways. The first application is included in this chapter and concerns two Spanish translations of the same poem by J.C. Bloem: one by Francisco Carrasquer, the other by Henriette Colin. These translations, and the original poem by Bloem, are first examined as autonomous texts. To reduce the unavoidable subjective nature of the analysis, I have worked with a group of native speakers to determine the effects various poetical features may have in Spanish. Then the target texts are compared with the source text and with each other. It is clear that the two translators have used different strategies. Apart from being illustrated by the translation choices themselves, their motives may be found in the preface to the translation (in the case of Colin) and in articles about translation published elsewhere (Carrasquer). The translators appear to have acted in accordance with their ideas, and in that sense have used a conscious and consistent strategy. The chapter ends with a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of both translations. In Chapter 5, two Spanish translations of the same Dutch poem, by Lucebert in this case, are again compared by means of the priorities model. The difference with the previous chapter lies in the fact that these translations are by the same translator (Carrasquer). The central issue in this chapter concerns the insights into the translation process that may be gained from a comparison of these two translations which were published with an interval of several years. I use a broad definition of ‘translation process’ here, which includes the considerations made by the translator when taking his decisions. It is usually difficult to study these deliberations, since documentation of this process is often lacking. However, if there are two translations of the same text in which elements of the first version have later been altered, it is possible to reconstruct the preferences and motives of the translator from the - we may assume improved - later version. A comparison of the two translations by Carrasquer provides information about the change in translation strategy between the first and second instances. In the first version, the translator appears to have used a ‘mixed’ strategy, to achieve a reasonably balanced mix between formal, pragmatic-semantic, syntactic, and stylistic priorities. Only the phonological features of Luceberts original have been lost to some extent. The second version shows a shift in priorities that is undoubtedly inspired by phonological motives. In this case, Carrasquer has evidently made a greater effort to convey the original rhyme, at the expense of the semantic accuracy in some instances. Chapter 6 again contains a comparison between various Spanish translations made by Carrasquer of the same poems by Lucebert, but it has a wider scope than the previous chapter. The research material is a small corpus of Lucebert poems (nine in all) that Carrasquer has translated three or even four times within a period of nearly forty years. My aim here is not to give a detailed description of the translation strategy for each Spanish version, but to gain an insight into the general tendencies of Carrasquer’s strategy. I therefore attempt to discover whether there is an overall trend in the various series of translations successively published in one book. If there are consistent shifts between these series, we might use these as evidence of an evolution in the poetics of the translator. In this analysis, one version stands out among earlier translations (and the later ones that go back to these earlier versions), namely a Spanish Lucebert anthology dating from 1978. Whereas in most versions the translation priorities are not clearly concentrated within one area, in this anthology the overriding concern in nearly all translations has been maintaining the pragmatic-semantic elements of the source text. Deviant elements from the original, for example neologisms or an unusual syntax, have been adopted into the Spanish versions, which often gives the translations in this anthology an audacious and alienating flavour - sometimes even more so than the Dutch originals. The last part of the chapter is devoted to speculations about the 264 Summary motives for these shifts in translation strategy, which may or may not be confirmed by the translator himself. These not only concern the development of his knowledge of the language, but also factors outside the text, for example the translator’s expectations about the reception of the poems in the target culture and the social and literary context in which the translations are published. The ‘personal factor,’ i.e. the translator’s ideas about translation, his poetic taste and even his inspiration, also appears to play a major part. Chapter 7 discusses the relationship between translation and interpretation. Certain complex poems, such as those by Lucebert for example, can only be understood by exploring initially unrecognized or unclear relationships, which may then be placed within a particular framework. This inevitably fairly subjective hermeneutic interpretation can then be tested against the poem’s impact on the reader. The reader’s response is the object of study of the empirical branch of literary scholarship. Within this subdiscipline, it is assumed that readers may assign different meanings to a text because of all kinds of individual discrepancies in their backgrounds and their particular focus on the text. In their role as readers, translators cannot escape having an individual perspective on the text either. How they have read and interpreted the source text will come out in their translation, which is a concrete product of their assimilation of the source text. As a new textual product in the target culture, the translation will subsequently control the interpretations open to target language readers too. To what extent will the interpretation options offered to the respective readers of the source and target texts correspond? To what extent will the interpretation of the source text direct the translation strategy? I have explored these questions in a discussion of a poem by Lucebert that has given rise to several distinct interpretations, in order to examine the consequences of these interpretations for the translation. For several ‘pivotal instances’ in the poem, I examine which translation choice is compatible with a particular perspective on the poem. My conclusion is that the translator has followed one of these interpretations and that his translation strategy fits it adequately: the target language reader will be able to interpret the poem in the same way. However, the ambiguity has disappeared, because the translation does not allow the other interpretation. This is another illustration of the relevance of the macro-analysis phase of the priorities model, since the choices made at the micro-level can only be assessed properly if they are related to a wider perspective. The final chapter of the book, Chapter 8, has the character of a conclusion. It summarizes the results of the study and evaluates the usefulness of the priorities model. Because it gives an insight into the priorities set by the translator, the model appears in all cases to be a practical tool for classifying the translation strategy and a useful starting-point for explaining the choices made by the translator. The main disadvantage, or rather risk, of the method lies in the fact that the results are largely Summary 265 dependent on the scholar applying it. This problem may to some extent be solved by having native speakers of the target language assess the translation, and by submitting one’s assessment of the original poem in one’s native language to one’s colleagues. However, the subjective component will always remain an element of the model. The chapter ends with various suggestions for further research. Finally, I would like to point to an extensive discussion in the Appendices to Chapter 1, in which I comment on the Dutch-to-Spanish translations published between 1945 and 1995. The basis for this discussion is a bibliographic survey in several reference years. I have not limited myself to poetry, because I wanted to show the place of the poetry translations within the entire corpus of translation. Here, too, the endeavour to explain is evident: I have consistently tried to find causes for the popularity or, conversely, the decline of a particular genre (theological works, children’s books, literary prose) in translation. Both social developments and individual initiatives appear to play a role here. As far as the personal initiatives go, the award for the major initiator in the field of translation of Dutch and Flemish poetry into Spanish should go to Francisco Carrasquer.
    Original languageDutch
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Supervisors/Advisors
    • van den Broeck, R., Supervisor, External person
    • Hermans, Hubertus, Supervisor
    Award date16-Mar-1998
    Place of PublicationAmsterdam
    Publisher
    Print ISBNs90-5170-445-3
    Publication statusPublished - 1998

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