Aspects involving the translation of heterolingual texts

There are different methods or techniques available to render linguistic multiplicity. However, before choosing the most suitable method, the translator has to face certain conditions - not all of them related to the essence and formal characteristics of the heterolingual text - that will most certainly influence the way the translation will be undertaken. Before plunging into this debate, I would like to advocate that the translator should try to establish the different categories of heterolingualism within the source text and “describe the kind of alterity they represent” (Vale de Gato, “Aliens”, 279) in order to obtain in the target text the effects sought by the writer when he/she decided to pursue the intertwinement of languages in the original text. This can help the translator choose “compensatory instances for the introduction of the foreign language, maintaining the diversity of languages even in such cases when the target language for translation coincides with what in the text functions as a kind of mock-source” (Vale de Gato, “No Beginnings” 156).

Translation, however, does not only depend on the appropriateness of the translator’s analyses and choices. There are certain verdicts that cannot be ignored when the translation is pursued. “How heteroglossic can or must a translation be in a certain context”? (Meylaerts, “Heteroglossia” 86): this is the question underpinning the path taken by translators and other agents involved in the process of rendering a given text. The answer to this question will depend, to a great extent, on the publishers and editors’ decisions, on the reviewers’ analyses of the text but also on the reactions of the reading public (who may need to be reminded that it is reading a translation). As Grutman says, “in many cases, the choice of one option over the other exceeds matters of text and style, but can be related to the target community’s views regarding foreign languages and cultures in general (and translation in particular)” (“Refraction” 23-24). Thus even though the achievement of cultural identity can be obtained in the source text through linguistic difference, the translator (or the agents involved in the process of translation) may find it necessary to erase traces of linguistic difference. In fact, the position occupied by the translator in his/her field, by the literature to be translated and the expectations of the reading public may, among other factors, determine the extent to which translators are free to decide on the contents of their work. This being said, one should not forget, however, that translation is re-enunciation and that consequently the translator as a re-enunciator is bound to leave signs of his/ her presence within the translated text (some of these signs are directly detectable in paratexts, for example, but some of them can only be traced by comparing source and target text). Nevertheless, in order to have their translations pass as source texts, translators usually erase their presence by “performing invisibility” (Suchet 161).

As translation scholars have pointed out, the process of translating heteroglos- sic texts normally reduces the interlingual tensions that are present in the source text, thus homogenising the texture and familiarising the embedded language that was intended to remain foreign. This outcome lays bare the existing discrepancy with regard to different literatures and different languages from different countries. In 1990, Even-Zohar wrote that “there is no symmetry in literary interference”(apud Grutman, “Refraction” 25), which demonstrates once again the unequal relationships between established and less or non-established literary systems: “The choice to either delete or maintain the original’s multilingualism will depend not only on the translator’s personal ethics [...] but also on the (in)dependent status and prestige of the source literature in respect to those of the target literature, as well as on collective attitudes towards the languages from which one is translating, each having their perceived socio-cultural importance and relative weight on the world market of linguistic goods” (“Refraction” 26).

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