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Friday, February 26, 2016

Some Things I Don't Like

I don't like, in translation, the "domestic residue." That's the idea of putting in some references that only have meaning to the target audience, like a Lorca poem alluding to an American Blues tune.

I don't like translationese: the use of an unidiomatic construction that is the result of the translator reflecting the source language too directly.

I don't like stuff that's "stuffing" or explanatory. Don't say "full of wood" when the original says "of wood."

I don't particularly like archaism.

I don't like added punctuation that wants to clarify but ends up blocking rhythms.

I don't like inappropriate registers, either too high or low.

I don't like anything that makes the translation blander. If there's a pine don't make it "tree."

I don't like enjambments that are gratuitous: having nothing to do with anything in the original.

y así sucesivamente....


There's a lot I don't like that puts me sorely at odds with contemporary translation theories and practices. I think I can articulate why I don't like all this, and justify my own preferences. Some of it is "common sense." The rest is simply a fact about myself: I happen to like limpid purity. It is the same reason I like classic prose style rather than signposting my readers to death.

So my guilty pleasure is beauty itself, I guess. I think that's a word you won't find in all of Lawrence Venuti's translation theory. I give priority to poetics over translation theory, but then I must also say that my poetics is my own. It's pretty much "some don'ts for imagists." You know, direct treatment of the thing, the rhythm of the musical phrase, no "dim lands of peace."