Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 15. Nr. November 2003

7.2. Translation and Culture
Herausgeberinnen | Editors | Éditeurs: Gertrude Durusoy (Izmir) / Katja Sturm-Schnabl (Wien)

Buch: Das Verbindende der Kulturen | Book: The Unifying Aspects of Cultures | Livre: Les points communs des cultures

Report: Translation and Culture

Gertrude Durusoy (Izmir) / Katja Sturm-Schnabl (Vienna)


The aim in this section was to discuss the interrelation of the cultural reality and the process of translating using examples of translated works from many countries. In our group, there were nine active contributors and two virtual ones, so we could reach an interesting spectrum of translations from and/or into Slovene, German, Hebrew, Italian, Chinese, Spanish, English, French, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish and Jiddish. Each paper has been discussed just after presentation.

Some specific theoretical issues have been presented and discussed, among them the role of supplementarity versus complementarity in connection with literary translations of English into Italian or the ways of developing intercultural relations within translations of texts for special purposes from Czech into English where the aid of native speakers was recommended. A general approach, where translation of literary works means translation of cultures, was presented and illustrated through hungarian and german examples.

Most of the papers have focused on the cultural committments of translation of literature and have always been presented with semantical or linguistical illustrations from published translations. There was the case of puritanism in translation and it was discussed which role translation could have in shaping the new "Puritan Sabra", because in that case ideology was interferring into translations into Hebrew and erotica were not allowed to be translated. So the influence of censorship on translated works has been discussed. In our section, we have also dealt with extreme translation situations like the chinese version of Montale's poetry where the study revealed the major problem of translating the italian tenses of the poems when in the other culture there are no similar ways of expressing them or the specific problem of cultural blanks or non expressed cultural contexts. In the case of the translation of the same spanish novel into German, in the former GDR and by another translator in the GFR, the role of the metaphoras seemed to be the most important because of the possibility of interpretation. The same novel has been considered in the GDR as a political novel but in the GFR as a feminist novel. The discussion dealt with the possibilities of manipulation of translated texts according to peculiar objectives. The ways of understanding the literature of other cultures has also been investigated and shown in the case of Slovene; there also it has been stressed how important it is, to know the cultural background in order to understand a work. So it has been discussed, how much explanations or footnotes the translator may use for that purpose. The chosen turkish novel has shown, that the book itself was dealing with a different culture within the own country and that sometimes a single letter could be a cultural problem for translators into German and French. A yiddish text from 1602 translated into French was shown as having been written for women, who didn't know Hebrew, but had to be educated and entertained through readings. The content of the Holy Books was written by men with a didactic aim in a style adapted to the every day language of women and Yiddish was the bridge between Hebrew and German. So the French translation was facing huge cultural contents in a specific style.

It was an enrichment to be able to discuss about similar problems in translating not only different languages but also and mainly different cultures. In hearing solutions found in different cultures we could imagine how to deal with cultural differences in translating literature. We were aware, that the translator's work could be manipulated in order to fit into the ideologies of the moment ant that the censorship is still a reality even if it isn't declared as such. Mainly the cultural items being hidden in metaphoras, it seems important to decide, how much of the not expressed words have the right to appear on the surface of the translated text.

© Gertrude Durusoy (Izmir) / Katja Sturm-Schnabl (Wien)

7.2. Translation and Culture

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For quotation purposes:
Gertrude Durusoy (Izmir) / Katja Sturm-Schnabl (Wien): Report: Translation and Culture. In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 15/2003. WWW:

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