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Feminist theories of translation


Verona Goslett

on 3 August 2014

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Transcript of Feminist theories of translation

Sherry Simon
Barbara Godard
Susanne de Lotbinière-Harwood
Lori Chamberlain Feminist theories of
translation Sherry Simon She sees a language of sexism in translation studies, with its images of dominance, fidelity, faithfulness and betrayal. Lori Chamberlain Chamberlain focuses on the gender metaphors that have recurred in leading translation theorists since the seventeenth century, demonstrating the enormous extent to which a patriarchal model of authority has underwritten the subordinate status of translation.

She suggests how a feminist concern with gender identities might be productive for translation studies, particularly in historical research that recovers forgotten translating women, but also in translation projects that are sensitive to ideologically coded foreign writing, whether feminist or masculinist. In conclusion: Barbara Godard "The feminist translator, affirming her critical difference, her delight in interminable rereading and re-writing, flaunts the signs of her manipulation of the text."
(Godard as quoted by Munday, 2012:199.) Susanne de Lotbinière-Harwood Her main aim in her work: Second area feminism, focused on: Reference List Chamberlain, L. 2000. Gender and the Metaphorics of Translation. (In Venuti, L., ed. The Translation Studies reader. London, New York: Routledge. p. 314-329).

Hatim, B. & Munday, J. 2004. Translation: an advanced resource book. New York: Routledge.

Hermans, T. 2009. Translation, Ethics, Politics. (In Munday, J., ed. The Routledge companion to Transaltion Studies. London, New York: Routledge. p. 93-105).

Munday, J. 2012. Introducing translation studies: theories and applications. 3rd ed. London: Routledge.

Simon, S. 1996. Gender in translation: cultural identity and the politics of transmission. London: Routledge.

Venuti, L. 2000. 1980’s. (In Venuti, L., ed. The Translation Studies reader. London, New York: Routledge. p. 215-220). 1. Uncovering female translators and their role in history.
An example: that women could only translate, mostly religious texts, but never write.

2. Tracing the historical and ideological construction of translation and its remarkable correlation with traditional gender constructions.

3. The translation of gendered language. Here it is about the role of the translator and his/her decisions regarding gender bias in texts, being both ethical and technical.

4. Feminist translation and criticism. An example: the translation of Simone de Beauvoir’s book The Second Sex, and the various problems it had.

Thus, feminism is about the inclusion or exclusion of certain parts of the society into translation, or a literary system, thus filling a gap. The feminist engagement with translation has been concentrated on four areas:
(Hermans in Munday Companion p. 100-101) Feminist theorists see a parallel between the status of translation, which is often considered to be derivative and inferior to original writing, and that of women, so often repressed in society and literature.

This is the core of feminist translation theory, which seeks to 'identify and critique the tangle of concepts which relegates both women and translation to the bottom of the social and literary ladder' (Simon, 1996:1) For feminist translators, fidelity is to be directed toward neither the author nor the reader, but toward the writing project - a project in which both writer and translator participate. Simon takes this a step further in the concept of the committed translation project: Gender difference has been played out not only in the metaphors describing translation, but in actual practices of translation, in the specific social and historical forms through which women have understood and enacted their writing activities. (Simon, 1996:2) Women in the Middle Ages George Eliot Translation was an important part of the social movements in which women participated, such as the fight against slavery. Women have translated in order to build communication networks in the service of progressive political agendas and in the creative renewal of literary traditions. Venuti, 2000:219 The historical and ideological construction of translation, and how this was influenced by the traditional gender construction of the time. This traditional gender construction, being patriarchal, led to translation being associated with submission, reproduction, loyalty and femininity – in opposition to the creative superiority of the original text. Les belle infidèles (unfaithful beauties) This centuries-old metaphor which see translation as being 'belles' (beautiful) and 'infidèles' (unfaithful). The word traduction is feminine in French, lending itself to be used in the metaphor which stressed the feminine and potentially untrustworthy nature of translation (the woman) compared to the masculine originality and trustworthiness of the source. Chamberlain sees this as the ‘sexualisation of translation’ But what does this mean for feminism theory? “Such a theory might rely, not on the family model of oedipal struggle, but on the double-edged razor of translation as collaboration, where author and translator are seen as working together, both in the cooperative and the subversive sense.” (Chamberlain:1988:341) According to Venuti (2000:219) Barbara Godard aims to challenge “the process by which translation complies with gender constructs". My understanding of the creative project of the author animates my work! Barbara Godard The ways in which translators draw attention to their identities as women - or more specifically as feminists - are highlighted here in order to explain the affinities or frustrations they feel in their translation work, and in order to elucidate texts which themselves exploit the resources of grammatical gender for imaginative or political purposes. (Simon, 1996:7) Godard also states that the translator is understood as being a servant, an invisible hand mechanically turning the word of one language into another. However, feminist writing and translation meet in their common desire to foreground female subjectivity in the production of meaning. Being the servant “My translation practice is a political activity aimed at making language speak for women. So my signature on translation means: this translation has used every translation strategy to make the feminine visible in language”
(De Lotbinière, as quoted by Munday, 2012:199). She was part of a group of French Canadian feminist translators, who made it their mission to challenge this dominating masculine discourse, which they called a translation project. “An approach to literary translation in which feminist translators openly advocate and implement strategies (linguistic and otherwise) to foreground the feminist in the translated text”
(Hatim & Munday, 2004:105) She uses an example of one of her own translation of French writer Michèle Causse’s work, where the “e” in French, which indicates feminine words, is in bold.

“nulle ne l’ignore” (no one is unaware) is translated as “no one ignores”

She does this to transfer the way the writer intentionally feminises masculine words in French.

She creatively highlights the feminine gender in English by “auteure” (author) as “auther”.

She also capitalises of the M in HuMan Rights to show the implicit sexism. Examples: Because they are necessarily "defective", all translations are "reputed females". Translators and women have historically been the weaker figures in their respective hierarchies: translators are handmaidens to authors, women inferior to men. Translators communicate, re-write, manipulate a text in order to make it available to a second language public. Thus they can use language as cultural interventions, as part of an effort to alter expressions of domination, whether at the level of concepts, of syntax or of terminology. Translation Project
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