Translating Culture - An analysis of the cultural transfer in literary translation

University essay from Malmö universitet/Kultur och samhälle

Abstract: The loss in translation between languages has long been debated, and a current issue within Translation Studies is that of the cultural aspect. Using two opposing concepts by Lawrence Venuti; domestication that is used to assimilate the source culture into the target culture, and foreignization that is used to preserve and highlight the foreign culture in the target text, this paper examines how culture is transferred in literary translation between English and Swedish. In order to establish which strategies are used, data consisting of 30 passages from the American novel Dead Until Dark (2001), and the corresponding passages in two different Swedish translations of it, is analysed linguistically. While the first translation is found to show no marked preference for either strategy, the second translation uses domestication thrice as often as foreignization. However, both translations use domestication in 9 out of 10 examples in the category ‘Figurative use of language’, which suggests a marked difficulty in preserving the source culture while translating metaphorical language. The analysis also shows a difference in the way the strategies are employed, suggesting a further division of the strategies into ‘passive’ and ‘active’. The author calls for further research on the effect of such a division.

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