Is Translation a Rewriting of the Original Text ?

Lefevere (1992a: xi) describes translation "a rewriting of an original text."


Wardhaugh (1986) states that the structure of a given language determines the way in which the speakers of that language view the world. Different languages reflect different values and cultures; therefore, in an attempt to mediate different languages, values or cultures, translations "nearly always contain attempts to naturalize the different culture to make it conform more to what the reader of the translation is used to" (Lefevere, 1999: 237). As a result, translations are rarely equivalent to the original. Bassnett (1980) further argues that translated texts are so far removed from the original that they need to be considered as independent products of literature.

Within the target-oriented approach to translation, which views translation as a cultural product of the target system, Toury (1995) focuses on the translated texts, their processes, features and functions, isolating them from their context and ideology, thereby not fully addressing the quality in translation. While Lefevere (1992a) also follows the view on translation as a cultural product of the target system, he addresses ideology and power which initiate the act of translation in his analysis.

Rewritings or translations reflect the rewriters'/ translators' efforts in adapting the text to function in a given society in a given way.
According to Lefevere (1992a: vii), translation is produced on the basis of an original text with the intention of adapting the original to a certain ideology or poetics of a different audience, and it is an activity performed under constraints of patronage, poetics and ideology initiated by the target systems, as such it is an act of rewriting of an original text to conform to certain purposes instituted by the receiving system. He also points out that of the different forms of adaptations that writers commonly engage in, including: translation, criticism, commentary, historiography and anthologies, translation is the most obviously recognizable type of rewriting that is influential in projecting and disseminating the image of original writers and their works beyond the boundaries of their culture of origin (Lefevere, 1992a: 9).

The excerpts will be studied by using a Systemic Functional Linguistics (systemic linguistics) approach which provides "a semantic account of the grammatical structures of the language" (White, 2001: 3) to demonstrate how the translator of the example text transports the source text (ST) messages into the target text (TT). Neubert and Shreve (in Lantaigne, 2001: 26) present the concept of communicative equivalence as encompassing the underlying value and ideology of the text. The communicative functions and meanings reflected in the structure and patterns of the ST and the TT will be examined for this purpose. By comparing the meanings and functions embedded in both texts, issues such as ideology and power embedded in the example text will be addressed. Furthermore, their influence on the target audience as well as on the projection of the original writer and his or her work will be discussed.

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