Marked language in translation
Siri Fürst Skogmo, ILOS
Thursday 7th May at 14.15 in PAM 489
In 1995, Gideon Tory claimed that there is a “law of growing standardisation” within translation, which he elaborates in this way: “Textual relations obtaining in the original are often modified, sometimes to the point of being totally ignored, in favour of [more] habitual options offered by a target repertoire” (1995: 268). While his decision to use the term “law” has been criticised, the idea that markedness is lost in translation has not been challenged, even by his most ardent opponents. Mona Baker refers to the same phenomenon under the term “normalization”, which she describes as “a tendency to exaggerate the features of the target language and to conform to its typical patterns” (1996: 183).
The claim that translations tend be more “standard”, less creative and show less linguistic variation is supported by evidence from larger corpus investigations (by for example Dorothy Kenny and Sara Laviosa) as well as studies of individual literary works in translation (by for example Kirsten Malmkjær and Mary Snell-Hornby). There are very few studies where translations are found to challenge the linguistic/literary norms of the target culture (a notable exception being Laura Routti’s study of the Finnish translations of A Catcher in the Rye).
In my study, I investigate the translation of marked language in seven novels originally published in English, translated into Norwegian in the last 35 years by seven different translators. The focus of my investigation is twenty-odd different marked features, ranging from loanwords via tag questions to deviation in word order, and the shifts that happen in the translation of these features into Norwegian.