Positioning Translators by Professor Theo Hermans (UCL)

29/10/2014, 17:00 - 19:00

If translators transmit values along with the foreign texts they translate, it is important to devise ways of reading that will enable us to identify the translators’ presence in their translations. Starting from a set of examples showing translators using paratexts or code-switching to voice reservations about the works they are translating, I explore the similarities between this type of translation and what Dorrit Cohn calls discordant narration. I go on to argue in favour of viewing translation as a form of reported discourse, more particularly what Relevance theory calls echoic (and in some cases ironic) speech, a species of interpretive discourse in which the speaker’s attitude towards the words being reported is relevant. Viewing translation as reported discourse implies that the translated words are embedded in the translator’s reporting discourse. I conclude by suggesting that it is up to the reader to make a translator’s attitude relevant, and that deictic shifts from the framing to the framed discourse allow the reader to discern or construe the translator’s positioning.

Theo Hermans was educated at the universities of Ghent (Belgium), Essex and Warwick. He is currently Professor of Dutch and Comparative Literature at University College London (UCL). His main research interests concern the theory and history of translation. He writes in both Dutch and English, and edits the series Translation Theories Explored published by Routledge. He is the author of Translation in Systems (1999) and The Conference of the Tongues (2007), and editor of The Manipulation of Literature (1985), The Flemish Movement: A Documentary History 1780-1990 (1992), Crosscultural Transgressions (2002), Translating Others (2 vols, 2006) and A Literary History of the Low Countries (2009). He is a corresponding member of the Flemish Academy and an Honorary Research Fellow in the University of Manchester’s Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies.

Sponsored by Tesserae, Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies

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Room 2.18, School of Modern Languages
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