Kim Fischer, a PR person at Temple University, has a puff piece on Lawrence Venuti, a translator and translation theorist and (not coincidentally) a Temple English professor, which irritates me with its breathless treatment of him as the Hot New Thing in translation:
A leading theorist in his field, Venuti is at the forefront of what might be called a translation renaissance. … The most prevalent translation strategy has been to adhere to the current standard dialect of the translating language, which is the most familiar and least noticeable to the reader. This kind of translation, according to Venuti, effaces the translator’s presence and erases cultural distinctions.
“Translation rewrites a foreign text in terms that are intelligible and interesting to readers in the receiving culture. Doing so is akin to committing an act of ethnocentric violence by uprooting the text from the language and culture that gave it life. Translating into current, standard English at once conceals that violence and homogenizes foreign cultures,” he said.
You know what? There are a million different ways to translate, and you can perfectly well do a good job at it in your own preferred way without giving in to the temptation to paint everyone who does it differently as a retrograde perpetrator of ethnocentric violence and eraser of cultural distinctions.
But never mind; a sidebar quotes Venuti’s translation of one of the poems from Edward Hopper, a collection by Catalan poet Ernest Farrés (and it also irritates me that both Fischer and Venuti keep calling Catalan a “minor language”), and I liked it well enough I don’t care about his excuses for translating it the way he likes or his blackguarding of people who do it differently.
[N.b.: the title of my post comes from the line “she looked real swell, sure enough”; you can read the rest of the translation at the first link.]
Thanks for the link, Annie!