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The Notions Of Foreignisation And Domestication English Language Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 1341 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The domesticating sense-for-sense strategy was the dominant approach in translation until only recently. The 19th century saw a tendency towards the foreign, expressed mainly through the theories put forward by Friedrich Schleiermacher, who stated that the audience was to have “the feeling that they are in the presence of the foreign” (Fawcett 1997: 116). His views were later 5

revised by Venuti, who regarded foreignisation as a means of combating the dominant, assimilative position of the English-language culture.

1.1 Foreignisation and domestication

The terms ‘foreignisation’ and ‘domestication’ have been coined by Venuti as means of providing general classification for translation procedures (see 1.3). He defines them in detail in his influential work, titled The Translators Invisibility: A History of Translation (1995).

1.1.1 Definitions

According to Ventui (1995: 19-20), a foreignising strategy consists in acquiring a translation method which does not conform to norms and values prevalent within the target language system. Employing such an approach, which preserves linguistic and cultural differences between the two systems, requires a translation style designed to make the intervention of the translator visible (Munday 2001: 147), resulting in a non-fluent, alienating TT (Baker 1998: 243). This effect is usually achieved through close reconstruction of the ST structure and syntax in the TT and importation of foreign cultural forms.

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Domesticating translation strategy, as a contrast, entails an appropriation, or reduction (Venuti 1995: 20), of the foreign text into target-language conventions and makes use of stylistic devices, which provide for a transparent and fluent reading, minimizing the foreigness of the TT (Munday 2001: 146). Domestication is also said to involve selecting texts which adhere to domestic literary canons, resulting in “a conservative and openly assimilationist approach to the foreign text” (Baker 1998: 242), which is to serve domestic publishing trends and political alignments.

1.1.2 Brief history

Domestication strategies were in common use since ancient Rome, chiefly as means of conquering the SL (Baker 1998: 241). Latin translators not only deleted culturally specific markers, but also added allusions to Roman culture and deleted “resistant passages” (KwieciÅ„ski 2001: 17), that is to say, lexical elements which required a great deal of study since they could easily by misinterpreted.

The largest step for the formulation of domesticating translation theory is considered to be made by St. Jerome, the author of Vulgate Latin translation of the Bible commissioned in 384 CE. Following remarks offered earlier by Cicero, he identified the notion of word-for-word translation, a foreignising strategy, and opposed it with a domesticating alternative, a sense-for-sense strategy, as the correct method to render SL text, thus introducing an important distinction, which shed new light on the study of foreignisation and domestication.

The use of exoticisms in translation was advocated by Augustine, due to concerns about the reaction of the Christian community to the unfamiliar features of Jerome’s Latin text of the Bible. He does, however, oppose the use of Greek calques should these be incompatible with Latin or “resistant”.

Bible translation became a key issue, around which different approaches to translation surfaced (Bassnett 1991: 47). The domesticating strategy was employed in the Wycliffite Bible translation, where the sense-for-sense strategy aimed at rending the text in a common language so that the Holy Scripture be accessible to a layman, and not loosing scholarly accuracy at the same time.

Renaissance largely contributed to the development of the domesticating theory. The use of contemporary idiom and style was much advocated; in his Circular Letter of Translation (1530), Martin Luter emphasised the necessity to rely on the common language (Kwieciński 2001: 24). He recognised that exoticisms in certain cases cannot and should not be avoided, provided that the translator uses them after careful historical and philological study.

The 17th century translation style pushed domestication beyond earlier limits. Abraham Cowley’s comments in his ‘Preface’ to his Pindarique Odes (1656), in which he states that he has “taken, left out and added what I please” (Bassnett 1991: 56) while translating, are highly symptomatic of the general atmosphere affected by the Counter-Reformation movement.

The first systematic approach to the issue of translation strategies was offered in 1791 by A.F. Tyler in his Essay on the Principles of Translation. In it he points to three laws which should govern translation in general: a) the rendering is to be carried out sense-for-sense; b) style and register are to remain invariant; c) “the translation should have all the ease of the original composition” (KwieciÅ„ski 2001: 35).

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The 19th century saw a turn towards the foreign in thinking on translation. This new tendency, visible in the works of Shelly and Goethe, claimed translation to be a mechanical function, which consists merely of ‘making known’ a given text or author to the reader (Bassnett 1991: 66). This approach is conveyed in the theories offered by Friedrick Schleiermacher in his lecture Über die verschiedenen Methoden des Übersetzens (1813). The document deals with

two opposite concepts, “the foreginising reader-to-author strategy and the domesticating author-to-reader strategy … with no in-between area” (KwieciÅ„ski 2001: 39). The former option was favoured, through the use of which consciously archaic translations were produced, aimed at a minority of learned readers. Indeed, the audience was to have “the feeling that they are in the presence of the foreign” (Fawcett 1997: 116).

1.1.3 Domestication in theories by Eugene Nida

A significant shift in translation theory was brought forth by the influential theories of Eugene Nida, who addressed the issue of translation correspondence through the viewpoint of the receptor of the text. It is suggested that audience design has profound impact on the shape of the target text, and therefore “different translations will be ‘correct’ for different readerships” (Fawcett 1997: 56). Thus, meaning is to have precedence before style, the TT aiming at being an equivalent of ST rather than its identical representation. This return to Augustinian principles of sense-for-sense translations is exemplified by Nida’s formulation of notions of formal and dynamic equivalence.

The latter, domesticating strategy was seen as privileged since it aimed at “complete naturalness of expression” and finding “the closest natural equivalent to the SL message” (Nida 1964: 159). Dynamic equivalence acknowledged situations where foreign associations can hardly be avoided, in which case the use of importation combined with intratextual covert glosses was suggested as the proper way of approaching the foreign. Translations in the formal equivalence manner on the other hand, were regarded as cases where “semantic accuracy is given priority over naturalness” (KwieciÅ„ski 2001: 50). Such renderings were seen as acceptable and for certain types of audiences (the aforementioned accuracy is of great importance in legal texts, for instance). 10

Though Nida’s model has been challenged by some theorists, particularly for its departure from the notion of translation as exchange of information towards “appropriation of a foreign text for domestic purposes” (KwieciÅ„ski 2001: 50), the idea of function of a given text with respect to its readership was indeed influential for contemporary theories.


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