Translation and comparable transfer operations

Gorp, Hendrik Van 2004. Translation and comparable transfer operations. In: Harald Kittel et al. (eds), Übersetzung: Ein Internationales Handbuch Zur Übersetzungsforschung; An International Encyclopedia of Translation Studies. Berlin: Gruyter, 62-68.

A glance back at ancient rhetoric and stylistics may make this matter clearer. Indeed, it will be beneficial not to consider 'translation' as a text processing activity on its own, but to give it its place within a wider, open concept of text and text operations. (Gorp 2004: 62)
This sounds a lot like what Jakobson did. In this way, translation surpasses "text operations" (or translation pure and simple) and becomes a linguistic, literary or cultural operation.
Lausberg (1960, 251 ff.) mentions adiectio (addition), detractio (abbreviation), immutatio (substitution) and transmutatio (rearrangement). With reference to Kristeva (1974, 345) a fifth can be added: Repetition, understood as identical transformation. After all, however paradoxical, each time a text(element) is repeated, a non-identical relationship to the repeated element arises. (Gorp 2004: 62)
At first sight this reminds me of Lotman's notion of repetition as metaphor, but since it's Kristeva and she dealt with Bakhtin, it may be that this relates to Bakhtin's discussion of how one's own exact words can be used to say something other. E.g., "The devil shouts into Ivan Karamazov's ear Ivan's very own words, commenting mockingly on his decision to confess in court and repeating in an alien tone his most intimate thoughts." (Bakhtin 1984: 221) // The non-identical relationship that arises from repetition is a consequence of the synfunction.
The repetition-transformation is especially important when it concerns diverse text fragments, text elements or constituent aspects. Popovič (1976b, 28) speaks of "reproductive continuation" here, based on the principle of direct speech. Repetition by means of compilation of various text fragments in a large text is an age-old literary phenomenon and has manifested itself strongly in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages in the 'text genre' of the anthology or collection. Even the cento (patchwork) is built on this principle, although it mostly consists of shorter sections of texts. On the other hand texts can borrow certain elements from other texts so as to give them another meaning in a new context. This is often the case with citations, collages and pastiches (see also section 3. on substitution), while allusion plays on both repetition and reference. The borrowing can also be partial so that the repetition works as an identical background against a different foreground. Thus, 'contrafactures' (Lat. contrafacturae) were often written in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, i.e. new texts written to an existing melody (e.g. sacred texts to secular melodies, etc.). This phenomenon can be compared to present day 'covers' of song texts (cover versions). The intention of these and other 'borrowings' can be of a constructive as well as a destructive nature (e.g. respect, ridicule, polemic). (Gorp 2004: 63)
Exactly what I do in this blog. I like to think that my operation is constructive: the numerous quotes that I collect are supposed to help me remember what I've read, as well as to construct new ideas on the basis of old ones.
Adaption can occur on the level of both form and of content. For example, formal adaption can be found in the 'translation' of lyrical or epic verse into prose or in the adaption of narrative texts to the requirements of the stage (creating dialogue in place of the original text as part of dramatisation and such like) and for a different audience or readership. Indeed, the term adaption is used especially for translations of dramas, adaptions for television and versions for young audiences, probably because the direct impact on the audience is of crucial importance for the success of a production or story. (Gorp 2004: 65)
Adaption in this sense makes a lot of sense, but if I were to "adapt" Powys's philosophy of solitude into estonian, it would not be because of the audience, but because of the differences in language. Powys is too English to be translated word-for-word into estonian.
Technically speaking, adaption is a form of text processing which as it were imposes itself when the cultural context of the source text is unknown or exotic to the target audience and therefore has perforce to be adapted if the 'translation' is to be understood. In the case of exoticism the traslation has the tendency to strengthen the 'foreign' character of the source text as much as possible (historicizing, archaicizing, etc.). Exocticism puts the emphasis on the unusual thematic and expressive linguistic elements of the original. In Popovič's words: "This means a choice of elements that are typical of the culture of the original while being atypical of the style (topic and language) of the translation" (Popovič 1976b, 6). (Gorp 2004: 66)
My example of adapting Powys is anything but exoticism. The idea is to purge exotic elements (e.g. countless references to Dante) from the text so as to simplify it's core arguments.
In the other case - and this occurs much more frequently - translation makes the foreign into something more or less familiar and adapts it to the new readership or audience and its taste, by way of a familiar setting, characters and/or motives for example. (Gorp 2004: 66)
Yup. This is exactly the case. The idea is to "adapt" Powys's The Meaning of Culture in a manner that would be congruent with the local semiotics of culture, for example.
Cases of extreme acculturation through updating and relocating can create the impression of a new primary text, merely inspired by one or more source texts ('after' 'adapted from', 'inspired by', etc.). (Gorp 2004: 66)
Mhm. That's why I wouldn't name my loose adaption of Powys "Üksinduse Filosoofia" (as the original was titled A Philosophy of Solitude), but "Isemuse Filosoofia" (something like Philosophy of Selfhood) so as to keep the original word-for-word title available for a case of a competent translator actually translating the work.


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