Investigating a double translation of culture: The English-Maori classic postcolonial text Potiki and its German translation

Irmengard Wohlfart
School of Languages and Social Sciences, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand

Abstract

This article uses Mediated Discourse Analysis (Norris & Jones 2005) to investigate a dual translation: One, the English-Maori original Potiki by Patricia Grace (1986), a translation of Maori culture that issues a complex postcolonial challenge and neocolonial protest; and two, the German version of the book translated by Martini-Honus and Martini (2005 edition). Findings indicate that the book’s essence embedded in a complex interweaving of Maori myths and biblical parallels has not been recognized by professional reviewers of the German translation and that certain mistranslations distort important messages from the original. All readers of translations potentially contribute to indigenous people regaining their voice, but only if these readers can decipher the original actions and discourses in their languages. This article delivers a key to understanding Potiki, a classic text widely used in teaching and already translated into at least five languages, i.e. Dutch, Finnish, French, German and Spanish.

Keywords:
Table of contents

This article uses Mediated Discourse Analysis (Norris & Jones 2005) to investigate a dual translation: the English-Maori original postcolonial text Potiki by Patricia Grace (1986), which is a translation of significant aspects of Maori culture, and the German version of the book translated by Martini-Honus and Martini (2005 edition).

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