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Lexical Chains

With the exception of “I think”, the incidence of all other chains are negligibly small. The chain “I think” features most in the translator’s discourse: four times for Niggie, 13 times for Vaselinetjie and 10 times for In bushveld and desert. Examples from the translator’s discourse on Niggie include:4

Ek dink nie “came to a bad end” is reg hier nie. M.i. beteken dit hy is dood.

Dalk Hewer iets anders? [I don’t think “came to a bad end” is correct here. To my mind it means he’s dead. Maybe rather something else?] Ek dink “doubled up” word gewoonlik in die passief gebruik (die woordeboek se ook so), m.a.w. “to be doubled up with pain". Hier het ek dit verander, maar elders in die teks het ek dit gelos, omdat dit my daar nie so gehinder het nie. [I think “doubled up” is normally used in the passive (the dictionary also says so), in other words “to be doubled up with pain”. I have changed it here, but somewhere else in the text I have kept it, because it did not bother me there.]

In these cases, the use of “I think” lessens the impact made by the translator’s statements, rendering them as her opinion, and not necessarily universal truths (even when she is able to refer to the dictionary to back up her opinion). In the first example, “I think” is also followed by a question, indicating a lesser degree of assertiveness.

By contrast, authors use “I think” sparingly. Only Von Meek (the author of Vaselinetjie) uses “I think” (five times), but it serves the purpose of voicing her opinion rather than being an indication of unassertiveness. For example, she exclaims:

Ek dink “he-bitch ” pas perfek in die gees van die boek in. Ek is mal daaroor! [I think “he-bitch” perfectly matches the spirit of the book. I love it!]

Daar is versteekte voordele om in ’n rehab sentrum vir dwelmvers-laafdes jou boek te sit en oorskryf... so het ek dus by egte druggies gaan kers opsteek vir my nuwe dwelmwoordeskat om dit so EG en HEDENDAAGS as moontlik te maak! Hoop julle hou daarvan? Ek dink dit plaas Vaselinetjie weereens in die NOU en nie meer in die verlede nie. (Ek het ook selfone, Mxit en iPods ingebring.)Biere en sigarette is ge-upgrade na dagga, tik en crack. [There are hidden benefits to rewriting one’s book in a rehab centre for drug-addicts ... I could learn my new drug vocabulary from real addicts to keep it as REAL and CURRENT as possible. Hope you like it? I think it puts Vaselinetjie once again in the NOW and not in the past any longer (I have also added mobile phones, Mxit and iPods.) Beers and cigarettes were upgraded to marijuana, meth and crack.]

Speech Acts

Table 13.1 lists the frequencies for imperatives, requests, suggestions and questions found in the discourse surrounding the production processes of all three texts. (The left-hand column of the table gives an indication of the timelines of the agents’ comments on their revisionary interventions.)

For Niggie, all agents refrain from using imperatives. The translator makes limited use of suggestions (two) and requests (four), but frequently poses questions (11). The translator’s requests include her asking the author to reformulate a particular passage that she finds difficult to understand:

“in what way the appalling nature of the day had been affected”— ek is bevrees dit maak nie vir my sin nie. Sal jy asb maar herfor-muleer? [“in what way the appalling nature of the day had been affected”—I am afraid it does not make sense to me. Would you please reformulate?]

Table 13.1 Frequencies of speech acts

Agent

Imperatives

Requests

Suggestions

Questions

Niggie

Translator (initial round of

0

3

1

2

comments)

Author

1

1

0

3

Reviser

0

0

4

1

Translator (revision round)

0

1

1

9

Editor

0

1

43

2

Total Niggie

1

6

49

17

Vaselinetjie

Translator (initial round of

0

4

0

13

comments)

Editor

0

0

0

0

Author (round 1)

0

1

0

1

Editor

0

2

2

0

Author (round 2)

4

1

1

3

Author (round 3)

3

1

0

1

Translator revision

1

9

10

16

Total Vaselinetjie

8

18

13

34

In Bushveld and Desert

Translator (initial round of

2

12

6

30

comments)

Translator (additional

0

0

1

5

comments)

Author

2

1

0

0

Translator after compiler

2

2

4

3

Translator after editor

2

2

5

39

Proofreader

2

0

1

1

Author

17

0

0

0

Total In bushveld and desert

27

17

17

78

Her questions mostly entail her asking for the inputs of the other agents, giving the impression that she is not assertive regarding her choices:

“kotching”—dink jy ons kan wegkom daarmee? Of moet mens maar Hewer praat van “throwing up”? [kotching—do you think we could get away with that? Or should one rather speak of “throwing up”?]

She is also seen using the format of suggestions to present her textual choices to the other agents:

Ek het “absent-mindedly” voorgestel, anders is daar ’n herhaling van “distracted”. [I have suggested “absent-mindedly”, otherwise “distracted” is repeated]

The data therefore shows the translator as being less assertive, asking for inputs from the other agents rather than providing solutions herself. When she makes a change, she presents it as a suggestion.

The editor offers 43 suggestions in total, including the following where an alternative is offered:

“Old Ben and Old Reitz. I know this is a common form of address in Afrikaans, but in English it sounds plain corny. Perhaps old man, old chap or old fellow.”

The editor thus comes across as rather unassertive, and possibly views himself as a lesser agent in the process, therefore choosing to offer suggestions instead of demanding or requesting changes. (He makes only one request.)

Throughout the process, the author takes a rather neutral stance, although she also makes use of questions (next to one imperative and one request):

“I have changed some names to English. Others I have left as is. Should names like Japie Stilgemoed, for example, be explained in the glossary?”

This example shows her positioning herself as receptive towards inputs by other agents and that she does not wish to dominate the process.

In the case of Vaselinetjie, with the exception of one used by the translator during revision, imperatives are associated with the author, thereby implying a position of greater power taken up by this particular agent:

ek het die INTENSITEIT/kruheid? van sommige tonele “’n oktaaf hoer”gevat, maar terselfdertyd amper ’n paar “hoerskool” laivwighede en oordrewe beskrywings ingebring. Die soetsappige en romanties oor-dreive “it rained forever and ever” is ’n voorbeeld hiervan teenoor ’n meer nugtere “it rained as if it would never stop.” (Niks is egter uit my duim gesuig nie, dis hoe kinders om my, en met my praat.) Ek is BAIE INGESTELD om ’n egte beeld van ons kinders tveer te gee. Hierdie boek is nou nog meer die tverklikheid as sy voorloper. [I have taken the INTENSITY/crudeness? of some scenes “an octave higher”, but have simultaneously almost added a few instances of “high school” silliness and exaggerated descriptions. The corny and romantically inflated “it rained forever and ever” is an example of this versus a more sober “it rained as if it would never stop”. (However, nothing was sucked out of my thumb, this is the way children speak around me and with me.) I am VERY FOCUSED to portray a true image of our children. This book is now even more real than its predecessor.]

Dit het nie oral gewerk nie, dus wil ek graag he dat waar ek wel dit non ingelos het, ek meen dit MOET BLY. [It did not work in all instances; therefore I really want that where I have kept it in, I mean it MUST STAY.]

Die verwysings na beroemde mense wat die kinders of admireer of wil wees, is BAIE spesifiek so gekies. LOS DIT ASB. NET SO, al maak dit moontlik nie vir julle sin nie. Trust me, ek het deeglik my huiswerk gedoen. [The references to famous people whom the children admire or want to be, were chosen VERY specifically. PLEASE LEAVE IT UNCHANGED, although it might not make sense to you. Trust me, I have done my homework properly.]

The other agents are in positions of lesser power, especially the translator who makes a total of 13 requests (versus two from the author). One example entails her rather lengthy explanation of a particular translation choice, followed by a request directed at the other agents to review this choice:

Die huistannies - of net die tannies. Hulle word ook huismoed-ers genoem. Ek het op die webwerwe van kinderhuise rondgekyk en gesien dat die huismoeders wel op verskillende webwerwe house mothers genoem word. Ek het dit by tye so gebruik, maar dit voel nie vir my mens kan dit oral gebruik sonder dat dit hinderlik word nie. Ek het ook weggeskram van Auntie - dit net hier en daar gebruik. Wel in die geval van Auntie S'laki en ook Tannie Hilde en hier en daar Auntie Meredith. Wanneer daar dus van “die tannies” gepraat word, het ek dit dikwels “matrons ” gemaak. Dit werk vir my. Kyk gerus of julle saamstem. [The huistannies - or simply the tannies. They are also called huismoeders. I browsed websites of children’s homes and have seen huismoeders are indeed called “house mothers” on various websites. Sometimes I have used this, but I feel one cannot use this all over before it turns irritating. I have also steered away from Auntie - used this sporadically only. As in the case of Auntie S’laki as well as Tannie Hilde and in some instances Auntie Meredith. When “die tannies” is mentioned, I have frequently used “matrons”. It works for me. Please see whether you agree.]

The translator also offers 10 suggestions, once again revealing her position of lesser power, while the editor offers two and the author only one. One suggestion by the translator is:

“Surely you can’t wipe something through your guava? You could pull it through, though. And why would anuses be a good choice here? Asses seems a better bet.”

In the case of In bushveld and desert, the author’s dominant position is deduced from the high frequency of imperatives used (19 in total), while he refrains from making requests or offering suggestions. He resorts to imperatives especially during the last round of revisions, and uses cryptic sentences and capitals for emphasis, creating an impression of being very assertive:

Bat eared fox NIE bat eared jackal [Bat eared fox NOT bat eared jackal]

Hou die oorspronklike foto's [Keep the original photos]

The translator uses six imperatives, but her degree of power is countered by the high frequency of her requests (16) and suggestions (16). In the following example, the translator voices her opinion regarding her choice rather strongly, but immediately tempers its impact when she asks the editor for her input:

The battle of the mealie fields: p. 86: Suzette het verander aan die volgorde van die oorspronklike verhaal (ingelei met ’n paragraaf wat eers later gevolg het in die oorspronklike) en hoewel haar redes seker geldig is, bebodder dit steeds vir my die hele vloei van die verhaal (en die tenses). Ek verkies regtig die oorspronklike. Louise, sal jy kyk wat iy din kt [The battle of the mealie fields: p. 86: Suzette changed the order of the original story (opened with a paragraph which follows only later in the original) and although her reasons most likely were valid, it still disrupts the whole flow of the story (and the tenses). I really prefer the original. Louise, will you have a look and say what you think?]

She also prefers suggestions when she reviews the compiler’s choice, once again tempering the impact of the implied criticism:

Suzette se “early on an August morning” sou ek “early one August morning” maak. [Suzette’s “early on an August morning” I would make “early one August morning”.]

Regarding the translator’s use of questions, a close analysis reveals two types of question. The first type is specifically asking for guidance, found in the initial translation notes directed at the author. For example, the translator asks for clarification regarding the source text (Niggie):

Ben en Reitz beide op perde. Het hulle dan nie een perd en ’n muil gehad nie? [Ben and Reitz both on horses. Did they not have one horse and a mule?]

Similarly, in In bushveld and desert, she asks for guidance when she is not sure of the meaning of a word used by the author:

Ek weet ook nie lekker wat “boomeilande” is nie. Ek het gese “wooded islands”. Maar is dit 'n eiland in die rivier met borne op, of is dit lets soos “a clump of trees”, Christiaan? [I also do not know so well what “boomeilande” are. I have said “wooded islands”. But is it an island in the river with trees on, or is it something such as “a clump of trees”, Christiaan?]

This type of question is not an indication of unassertiveness, since she asks for information from the author that is vital to the translation.

The second type of question is the use of a modified imperative in question form directed at the author as an attempt to soften the imperative. Such questions are more assertive than the first type, but the modified imperative still indicates a lesser degree of power:

word na Gert Smal verwys as “the white man ” - daar sou ’n mens tog seker nie ’n hoofletter kon gebruik nie? Beter om dan maar die hoofletter heeltemal te vermy? [... referred to Gert Smal as “the white man” - there one could surely not use a capital letter? Better then to totally avoid the capital letter?]

“We kept the game paths leading to the camp open.” On second thoughts, sou dit nie beter wees om te se clear ipv open nie? [“We kept the game paths leading to the camp open.” On second thoughts, would it not be better to say “clear” instead of open?]

Regarding the use of imperatives, a negative correlation with the canonisation status of the author is observed, with the highly canonised author of Niggie engaging in only one imperative, while the uncanonised author of In bushveld and desert uses 17 imperatives. However, when Winterbach’s discourse is closely examined, we find she frequently makes use of direct statements in which an imperative is implied, e.g.:

“I have changed some names to English. Others I have left as is.”

Similar implicit imperatives are also found in Von Meek’s discourse:

Killer se hare is NIE blond nie. Dis wit. [Killer’s hair is NOT blonde.

It’s white.]

The implication of this type of statement is that these authors are probably more assertive than they seem to be on the basis of the number of imperatives used by them.

 
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