Translating the Untranslatable: The Translator's Aesthetic, Ideological and Political Responsibility

Gillian Lane-Mercier

Abstract

Translation scholars have recently emphasized the importance of the translator's (in)visibility (Venuti) and of the ethical aim of translation (Berman). This paper argues that a) the translation of literary sociolects is paradigmatic of the way in which the translator's visibility is foregrounded within the target text; b) their translation requires a "visible" engagement on the part of the translator which is grounded in an ethics of translation, thus leading beyond the visible/ invisible dichotomy implied by Venuti and the positive/negative ethics dichotomy set up by Berman; c) the comments made by numerous translation scholars concerning the problems raised by literary sociolects reflect some of the contradictions besetting contemporary translation theory.

Table of contents

Few contemporary translation theorists would dispute the now well established fact that translation at once reproduces and generates meaning by way of what could be called the dual dialectics of fidelity and transformation, on [ p. 44 ]the one hand, and of loss and gain, on the other. However, opinions tend to differ on a variety of related questions, such as the very definition of the concept of fidelity, the nature of the transformations that inevitably occur, the types of meanings that are lost and/or gained, and, finally, the status and role of the translator.

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