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Partisanship or Loyalty? Seeking Textual Traces of Poetry Translators’ Ideologies

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Francis Jones



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Earlier studies by the present author showed how the ideological stances of ‘teams’ (source poets, editors, translators, web-posters, etc.) publishing translations of Bosnian and Serbian poetry into English during and after the Yugoslav breakup were reflected in the projects’ ‘structural features’: which poems were selected, the publications’ titles and where they were placed, and paratextual comments (in prefaces, etc.). The present study explores how far translators’ textual (semantic and stylistic) ‘shifts’ between source and target poem might also show an ideological stance. Analysis of poems from forty-three Serbian-to-English projects identified in earlier studies shows that ideology operates much less strongly at textual-shift than at structural level. This suggests that an ethic of loyalty to source poets usually keeps translators from revealing their own ideologies in the translation. Nevertheless, ‘textual ideologising’ was identified in eleven of the 143 poems analysed. This appears enabled by a specific combination of factors. Fixed-form translations of fixed-form source poems inevitably involve semantic change; when such source poems not only have salient socio-political content, but also are tackled by translators prepared to embellish or change the poem’s message for the sake of target-language effectiveness, the resulting modification in point-of-view can modify the source poem’s ideological stance. Free-verse translations, by contrast, are usually semantically very close to their source, and hence rarely show textual ideologising.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jones FR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Translation and Literature

Year: 2016

Volume: 25

Issue: 1

Pages: 58-83

Print publication date: 01/01/2016

Online publication date: 01/03/2016

Acceptance date: 13/11/2015

Date deposited: 24/01/2016

ISSN (print): 0968-1361

ISSN (electronic): 1750-0214

Publisher: Edinburgh University Press


DOI: 10.3366/tal.2016.0237


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