Being a Translator : - With a Licence to Improve

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för språk (SPR)

Abstract: This paper sets out to investigate and discuss what a translator may do when the source text for some reasons needs to be improved. The analysis is based on examples from a source text in need of quite extensive editing. This editing is called for to be able to present a translation that is satisfactory as well for the target reader as for the translator. To achieve this, the translator has to deal with a series of crucial decisions. One important determinant of any decision on part of the translator is, of course, the quality of the source text, which may vary a great deal. Originals sometimes exhibit flaws of various kinds. In such cases, what is the translator supposed to do? Is (s)he supposed to deliver a translation that contains the same mistakes as the ST, or is (s)he supposed to rewrite a poor text? The main focus of the present study is to discuss possible strategies for changes and to find support for the translator to work with improving editing in a text that needs to be improved. More specifically, focus is on looking at the strategies that are available when it comes to three specific problem areas, viz person perspective, author visibility and repetition. The study initiates a further discussion of the translator's mission – should it include making a brilliant version of a poor source text? It was found that the translator should not transfer language flaws that might appear in a source text with no stylistic pretentions, but instead produce an improved target text, even if that entails rather extensive editing.

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