Linguistic Interference in Literary Translations from English into Hebrew of the 1960s and 1970s

Rachel Weissbrod

Abstract

In the years leading up to the 1960s and in the beginning of that decade the system of non-canonized literature in Hebrew was inundated with translations from English. These were usually characterized by strong interference of that language. In the system of canonized literature, on the contrary, linguistic interference in translations from English was rather restricted. The gap between the two systems in this respect gradually narrowed during the 1970s. The dynamics in translated literature as regards the interference of English may be explained as deriving from processes of change in Israeli culture and in its redeployment with respect to the West, especially with respect to American culture.

Table of contents

In the years leading up to the 1960s and in the beginning of that decade, Hebrew literature was flooded with an unprecedented quantity and variety of non-canonized literature. Almost all of it was translated (or pseudotranslated) [ p. 166 ]from English. At the same time, English acquired a more and more central position as a source language for translations in the system of canonized literature as well. The growth of non-canonized literature and the resulting re-stratification of the polysystem of Hebrew literature may be explained on the basis of the theoretical assumption that any system strives to fill in missing parts and to arrive at a whole and stratified structure (Even-Zohar 1978: 43; Toury 1974: 15). The realization of this striving at the specific time when it occurred was due to the decrease in the role of ideology in Israeli society and culture in the years following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 (Eisenstadt 1967: 368-390; Sachar 1976: 595-598). As part of this process, former ideological pressures on Hebrew literature weakened. While in canonized literature their weakening brought about the abolishment of the "social" norm that had demanded of literature that it share in the national effort (Shaked 1971: 11–70; Gertz 1983: 9-68; Levin 1984: 26-34), in non-canonized literature the result was a drastic expansion of the system, until then almost non-existent. The important role English played as a source language for translations in both systems, of canonized and non-canonized literature, was due to the tightening of the relations of Israeli culture with the West, especially with the American culture, and its own redeployment with respect to these.

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[ p. 179 ]References

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