Chapter published in:A World Atlas of Translation
Edited by Yves Gambier and Ubaldo Stecconi
[Benjamins Translation Library 145] 2019
► pp. 243–270
Translation tradition throughout South African history
In this report South African translation history is approached from the perspective of asymmetrical power relations with a view to revealing various functions and conceptualisations of translation throughout the country’s notoriously turbulent past. Translation is viewed in a reciprocal relationship with social forces, being stimulated and shaped by them and affecting them in return. Translation is considered from its earliest documented practice by Khoikhoi interpreters in communications with colonists in the 17th century until the present. Changes and trends in the practice and conceptualisation of translation are investigated ranging from translation’s use in manipulating and controlling people under colonialism and apartheid to its use in bringing about transformation in contemporary democratic South Africa. Translation is not only used to bridge communicative barriers according to traditional views, but is seen to extract information and intellectually subjugate, culturally and religiously convert, culturally elevate, manipulate, control, separate, resist and transform. This proves that translation analysed as socially contextualised communication unveils various covert functions of translation, contributing fresh insights to its conceptualisation.
Keywords: South African translation, extraction, cultural conversion, cultural elevation, separation, resistance, transformation
Published online: 05 February 2019
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