“Translation is an inscription of a foreign text with intelligibility and interests that are fundamentally domestic…” (25)
The term interests is interesting. We haven’t study much about the potential material factors involved in translation. I wonder if Venuti will discuss that (Oh look he does later one)
Re translation are doubly domestic. Since they are also shaped by domestic concerns in regards to another translation
…strategies are shaped by the retranslator’s appeal to the domestic constituencies to various uses. (25)
Venuti argues that claims of accuracy or simple empirical superiority of a new translation are often used to hide other motivating factors be they ideological, commercial, etc.
Academic interpretations and translations have an interlinked relationship: seems to suggest that as interpretation of a text changes, new translation will be ‘needed’ to bolster the new view point. From a cynical point of view this almost seems an elabprate tautology vis a vi translation and interpretation.
Agency- one of the three issues Venuti discussion regarding the creation of value
Agency is always compromised by internalized norms, even when ‘reflexive self-monitoring is performed”, but that doesn’t remove the need for it. Agency can also be limited by force outside the translator’s control (e.g. the way that the publisher markets the book)
Intertextuality- the second issue that Venuti explores. Intertextuality is always approximate according to Venuti. There is a danger that reconstructed signifying chains suggest a one-to-one correspondence, when something has in reality been lost or added in the transfer into the source language. This is prevalent in methaphoric translation. Intertextuality also implies the various contexts that readers will bring to a work. The possibilities here are too vast for the translator to take them all into account.
History– third issue. translations are not timeless, usually they are linked strongly to the time and conditions of their production.
Venuti argues that the only effective strategy in confronting the ethical implications of these three issue is by inscribing transparently the retranslators particular situation and allowing that situation to open innovative paths for the translation.
The essay starts with an interesting example that is expanded upon and return to as the argument unfolds. The material as well as the linguistic aspects of the egpytian poem are considered. This method reminds me very much of Stephen Greenblat.
“In its brevity and its implicitly it stands as a kind of minimum of literary expression..” By demonstrating the difficulty in translating even this simple example, we can extrapolate out further the complicated practice that is translation
“It is not an easy matter, thought, to translate safely into the European universal world..” The word safely does a lot of work here. On the one hand it is a reference to the actual fragility of the papyrus. On the other hand, it suggests the dangers with which a universalizing translation is fraught.
The specifics that he engages with for several pages here are interesting, but I’m not making any big connections. Very much like the very long close reading in the middle of Derrida’s essay.
“There are limits to the extent to which a translation can or even should attempt to convey the full cultural specificity…” (419)
This seems about right to me. The example also highlights part of the reason: we don;t have the neccessary information to fully reconstruct something and fooling ourselves into believe we can truly reconstruct the recent past seems a danger. In other words, we always run the risk of thinking that we understand ‘what it was truly like’.
He takes issue with Foster’s translation (and from the few examples he give I don’t blame him) It is too modernizing and hence domesticating. Damrosch acknowledges that there can be no perfect reproduction or faithful translation, but it should do more than confirm a vision we already have of ourselves. (the ‘syrupy version of ourselves’).
“Foreignizing efforts are the translational equivalent of the contemporary championing of ethnic identity.”
I like the self-awareness to attempt to histroicize even the current moment as well as to question what those limits might be (e.g balkanization and parochialism)