Bühnentexte als Übersetzungsproblem
Georg Büchners Woyzeck
Translations for the stage are problematic, because they have to satisfy the demands of theatrical performability and speakability. Mary Snell Hornby's (1984) approach to understanding texts for the theater in a holistic and hermeneutic framework and the consideration of speech criteria have been adopted here. The identified criteria for stage texts are "spoken stage language", multiperspectivity (word play, irony, metapher), rhythm, speakability and audience perception. Applying these aspects, a meaningful translation critique seems possible, because the characteristic features of the play and its demands of performability are considered.
This paper discusses multiperspectivity (word play), rhythm, and holistic features in short segments of Georg Büchner's play Woyzeck. These segments are compared with three English translations of Woyzeck in terms of these criteria. The translations chosen are the most recent ones: David G. Richards (1977), John Mackendrick (1979) and Michael Ewans (1989). Even this small selection of texts and stage criteria suggests that a critique of a stage translation should go beyond comparing dictionary equivalents. The criteria of stage language and the holistic focus seem to be a meaningful tool to determine whether the translator has meet the demands for stage effectiveness of the author's original play.