Pseudotranslation

Carol O’Sullivan

Table of contents

Pseudotranslations, or ‘texts which resemble translations’, have referred to a number of different phenomena over the decades. Pseudotranslations may generally be defined as “texts which have been presented as translations with no corresponding source texts in other languages ever having existed – hence no factual ‘transfer operations’ and translation relationships” (Toury 1995: 40). In this definition, Toury follows Anton Popovič, who included in his 1976 taxonomy of translation types ‘fictitious translation’ (1976: 20) whereby an author ‘may publish his original work as a fictitious translation in order to win a wide public, thus making use of the readers’ expectations’. Pseudotranslations tell us, inevitably, much more about the patterns of the receiving culture than about the patterns (faked, imitated or pastiched) of the putative source culture. It is for this reason, and for the questions they raise about the permeability of systems, that pseudotranslations constitute an attractive object of study for Descriptive Translation Studies-oriented research and research grounded in Polysystem Theory; they tell us “about the notions shared by the members of a community, not only as to the status of translated texts, but also as to their most conspicuous characteristics” (Toury 1995: 46).

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