The Translator's Voice in Translated Narrative

Theo Hermans


When we read translated narrative, the original Narrator's voice is not the only which comes to us. The Translator's discursive presence in the translated text becomes discernible in certain cases, e.g. when the pragmatic displacement resulting from translation requires paratextual intervention for the benefit of the Implied Reader of the translated text; when self-reflexive references to the medium of communication itself are involved; when 'contextual overdetermination' leaves no other option. The ways in which the Translator's discursive presence manifests itself are demonstrated on the basis of different translations of the Dutch novel Max Havelaar (1860).

Table of contents

When Boris Yeltsin speaks through an Interpreter, do we really want to hear the Interpreter's voice? We listen, surely, because we want to know what Yeltsin has to say. To the extent that we are conscious of hearing the Interpreter's voice, it is as no more than a minor distraction. We regard—or better: we are prepared, we have been conditioned to regard—the Interpreter's voice as a carrier without a substance of its own, a virtually transparent vehicle. Anything that takes away from this transparency is unwelcome [ p. 24 ]'noise' in the information-theoretical sense of the term.

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