Tim Parks has a piece on NYRblog suggesting that since the days of “the experimental writing of the 1960s and 1970s,” when there was “a mining of linguistic richness … that tended to exclude, or simply wasn’t concerned about, the question of having the text travel the world,” there has been a change:
It was when I was invited to review in the same article a translation of Hugo Claus’s Wonder (1962) alongside Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses (2003), and Gerbrand Bakker’s The Twin (2006) that it occurred to me that over the forty years between Claus and the others an important change had occurred. These more recent novels had, yes, been translated, from Norwegian and Dutch into English, but it was nothing like the far more arduous task of translating Claus and many of his peers. Rather, it seemed that the contemporary writers had already performed a translation within their own languages; they had discovered a lingua franca within their own vernacular, a particular straightforwardness, an agreed order for saying things and perceiving and reporting experience, that made translation easier and more effective. One might call it a simplification, or one might call it an alignment in different languages to an agreed way of going about things. Naturally, there was an impoverishment. Neither of these authors have the mad fertility of Claus; but there was also a huge gain in communicability, particularly in translation where the rhythm of delivery and the immediacy of expression were free from any sense of obstacle.
Was it possible, I asked myself, that there was now a skeleton lingua franca beneath the flesh of these vernaculars, and that it was basically an English skeleton?
I have no idea whether he’s right or it’s just confirmation bias, but it’s an interesting (and dispiriting) idea.