Towards a Methodology for Investigating the Style of a Literary Translator

Mona Baker
Centre for Translation Studies, UMIST

Abstract

Translation studies has inherited from literary studies its preoccupation with the style of individual creative writers and from linguistics the preoccupation with the style of social groups of language users. It also inherited from both disciplines the association of style with ‘original’ writing. Little or no attention has been paid so far to the possibility of describing the ‘style’ of a translator or group of translators in terms of what might be distinctive about the language they produce. This paper offers a first attempt to outline a methodological framework for investigating the question of style in literary translation—not in the traditional sense of whether the style of a given author is adequately conveyed in the relevant translation but in terms of whether individual literary translators can be shown to use distinctive styles of their own.

Table of contents

She [Ros Schwartz] said that when someone complained to a well-known Czech author that he had changed his style, his reply was, ‘No, I’ve changed my translator.’

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