Translating Allusions: When Minimum Change Is Not Enough

Ritva Leppihalme

Abstract

This paper presents a systematization of translation strategies for key-phrase allusions, in the form of a hierarchical decision process. Actual translatorial practice in Finland, judging by seven translations of novels, favours the strategy of minimum change. This low-effort strategy is useful when allusions are transcultural, but will often lead to flat translations and loss of connotations in the case of unfamiliar allusions, even resulting in a failure to convey the message, as evidenced by reader responses. Adoption of a more creative and reader-oriented translatorial role would offer a wider variety of translation strategies and lead to a decrease of "culture bumps" in translations.

Table of contents

In a recent novel, David Lodge has a character musing on the achievements of the British motor-car industry:

Full-text access is restricted to subscribers. Log in to obtain additional credentials. For subscription information see Subscription & Price. Direct PDF access to this article can be purchased through our e-platform.

[ p. 192 ]References

Archer, Carol M.
1986 “Culture Bump and Beyond”. J.M. Valdes, ed. Culture Bound: Bridging the Cultural Gap in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1986 170–178.Google Scholar
Arnott, Peter
1971 (1 1961). “Greek Drama and the Modern Stage”. William Arrowsmith and Roger Shattuck, eds. The Craft and Context of Translation. Austin, Texas: The University of Texas Press 1971 83–94.Google Scholar
Freund, Elizabeth
1987The Return of the Reader: Reader-Response Criticism. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
Genette, Gérard
1980Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method, tr. Jane E. Lewin. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Hakola, Liisa
1992Letter to the author 27 March.Google Scholar
Jääskeläinen, Riitta
1993 “Investigating Translation Strategies”. Sonja Tirkkonen-Condit and John Laffling, eds. Recent Trends in Empirical Translation Research. Joensuu: University of Joensuu, Faculty of Arts 1993 99–120.Google Scholar
Leppihalme, Ritva
1990Crossing a Cultural Barrier: Allusions and Their Translation. Helsinki: University of Helsinki, Department of English. [Unpublished Licentiate Thesis.]Google Scholar
1992 “Allusions and Their Translation”. Heikki Nyyssönen and Leena Kuure, eds. Acquisition of Language—Acquisition of Culture. AFinLA Yearbook 1992. Jyväskylä: Kopi-Jyvä 1992 183–191. [Publications de l'association finlandaise de linguistique appliquée (AFinLA), 50.]Google Scholar
1994Culture Bumps: On the Translation of Allusions. Helsinki: University of Helsinki. [English Department Studies, 2.]Google Scholar
Levý, Jiří
1967 “Translation as a Decision Process”. To Honour Roman Jakobson II. The Hague: Mouton 1967 1171–1182.Google Scholar
Meyer, Herman
1968 (1 1961). The Poetics of Quotation in the European Novel, trs. Theodore and Yetta Ziolkowski. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Nyytäjä, Kalevi
1992Personal interview 5 February.Google Scholar
Villon, François
1974Testamentti, tr. Veijo Meri. Helsinki: Otava.Google Scholar
Weldon, Fay
1985 (1 1984). Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen. London: Hodder and Stoughton/Coronet.Google Scholar
Wilss, Wolfram
1989Anspielungen: Zur Manifestation von Kreativität und Routine in der Sprachverwendung. Tübingen: Niemeyer.Google Scholar

Fiction

Cross, Amanda
1985 (1 1984). Sweet Death, Kind Death. New York: Ballantine.Google Scholar
1990Ihana kuolema, hellä kuolema, tr. and abridged Anna-Laura Talvio. Anna 30. 41–56, 31. 41–56, 32. 41–56.Google Scholar
Kilpi, Eeva
1983Elämän evakkona. Porvoo: WSOY.Google Scholar
Lodge, David
1988Nice Work. London: Secker and Warburg.Google Scholar
1990Mukava homma, tr. Eila Salminen. Hämeenlinna: Karisto.Google Scholar
Lurie, Alison
1986 (1985). Foreign Affairs. London: Michael Joseph/Sphere Books.Google Scholar
[ p. 193 ]
1988Ulkomaansuhteita, tr. Elsa Carroll. Helsinki: Tammi.Google Scholar
McBain, Ed.
1984 (1 1976). Bread. London: Hamilton/Pan Books.Google Scholar
1981Verirahat, tr. Kalevi Nyytäjä. Helsinki: Tammi.Google Scholar
Parker, Robert B.
1987 (1 1980). Looking for Rachel Wallace. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
1988Kovaa peliä Bostonissa, tr. Erkki Jukarainen. Porvoo: WSOY.Google Scholar
Rendell, Ruth
1981 (1 1969). The Best Man to Die. New York: Ballantine.Google Scholar
1984 (1 1966). Vanity Dies Hard. London: Hutchinson/Arrow Books.Google Scholar
Weldon, Fay
1988 (1 1987). The Hearts and Lives of Men. Glasgow: Heinemann/Fontana.Google Scholar
1989Rakkauden Hot ja surut, tr. Liisa Hakola. Helsinki: Otava.Google Scholar