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Related: world literature - adaptation - language - Index Translationum's top 50 most translated authors


Translation is the act of rendering text in one language - the source - into another, the target.

Among practitioners, a distinction is generally made between translation, where the source and target texts are written, from interpreting or interpretation, where the source and target are spoken. From the point of view of analyzing the processes involved (translation studies), it is perhaps more useful to treat interpreting as a subcategory of translation.

The translation process can be logically divided into two steps: 1. The meaning must be decoded from the source language, and 2. This meaning must be re-encoded with the target language. For precise translation, both of these steps often require knowledge of both the semantics of the language and the culture of its speakers.

A successful translation approaches two ideals:

A rigorous word-for-word copy of the text would lose much of the impact of the writing, not only because cultural differences would be ignored, but also because linguistic factors such as idioms would be trampled upon.

To be a good translator, one must be not only at ease in the source language, but also a skilled writer in the target language. For this reason, most translators choose to translate into their mother tongue. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Translation

Walter Benjamin On Translation [...]

" (A literary work's) essential quality is not statement or the imparting of information. Yet any translation which intends to perform a transmitting function cannot transmit anything but information—hence, something inessential. This is the hallmark of bad translations. But do we not generally regard as the essential substance of a literary work what it contains in addition to information—as even a poor translator would admit—the unfathomable, the mysterious, the "poetic," something that a translator can reproduce only if he is also a poet?" Walter Benjamin, "The Task of the Translator" (Introduction to his translation of Baudelaire's Tableaux Parisiens) 1923.

What Is World Literature? (Translation/Transnation) (2003) - David Damrosch

What Is World Literature? (Translation/Transnation) (2003) - David Damrosch [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Displaying great intelligence, immense literary and historical culture, and unassuming modesty, Damrosch intervenes in contemporary debates over 'world literature.' Readers will be dumbfounded by his range. He treats cuneiform-inscribed shards, Egyptian hieroglyphics, medieval German female mystics, Inca chronicles, Kafka translations and contemporary Native protest literature will equal philological attention, poise and erudition.

Product Description:
World literature was long defined in North America as an established canon of European masterpieces, but an emerging global perspective has challenged both this European focus and the very category of "the masterpiece." The first book to look broadly at the contemporary scope and purposes of world literature, What Is World Literature? probes the uses and abuses of world literature in a rapidly changing world.

In case studies ranging from the Sumerians to the Aztecs and from medieval mysticism to postmodern metafiction, David Damrosch looks at the ways works change as they move from national to global contexts. Presenting world literature not as a canon of texts but as a mode of circulation and of reading, Damrosch argues that world literature is work that gains in translation. When it is effectively presented, a work of world literature moves into an elliptical space created between the source and receiving cultures, shaped by both but circumscribed by neither alone. Established classics and new discoveries alike participate in this mode of circulation, but they can be seriously mishandled in the process. From the rediscovered Epic of Gilgamesh in the nineteenth century to Rigoberta Menchú's writing today, foreign works have often been distorted by the immediate needs of their own editors and translators.

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