Venuti – The Difference that Translation Makes

*my comments

“The Translator’s unconscious”

William Weaver

  • translating as an unreflective process
  • translator’s choices are “unconscious”
  • many choices are linguistic and cultural values
  • rules of translation process as unconscious too

The irreducible differences in translation

  • There are differences in ST & TT before a translator translates
  • Goal for Translation Studies: ultimately ethical one of developing a practice that describes, explains, and takes responsibility for the differences that translation inevitably makes

Derrida’s body of the ST

  • To relinquish materiality – that is the driving force of translation
  • translation creates another signifying chain proliferates semantic possibilities
  • translation as recontextualizing (domestication)

compensation – A translator may decide to vary the form and meaning of ST because the differences are so prominent and do not occur at the same points in the ST

  • a remainder may be unconscious on translator’s part, but highly significant in relation to the ST and the target¬†culture
  • Bass’s misconstrue of the passive and active voices
    • meaning is still retained
    • why the error?
      • it reveals what we can call the “translator’s dream” that a translation will restore the ST in it entirety, in its materiality, without loss or gain, that the translation will establish such a similarity to the ST as to overcome the irreducible differences between languages and cultures”
  • The translator’s unconscious can emerge through variations on linguistic and discursive structures through a remainder


Neruda’s poem translated by Walsh

  • close to Spanish
  • standard dialect of English
  • Walsh wanted to be insignificant during translation process
  • his practice/translation contradicts his intention

(Missing pages on Walsh’s translation of Neruda)

The unconscious motivation of false cognates

  • False cognates can potentially show a slip or desire in the translator’s unconscious
  • False cognate –¬†a translating-language word that closely resembles a source-language word in form, often because of a shared etymology, but that nonetheless signifies a very differentt meaning between the two languages that have undergone different historical developments
  • Usually unexperienced translators make this mistake

(Missing pages on false cognates)

The Translator, the Name-of-the-Father, and the Mother Tongue

  • Oedipal Triangle
    • lies at heart of Freudian psychoanalysis
    • For Lacan, “Name-of-the-Father” is used to designate the symbolic function that the father comes to assume in the chain of signifiers constitutive of the subject
  • Translator is placed between
    1. the Name-of-the-Father in the form of a source author and text
    2. the mother tongue and the translation produced in it
  • Law of translation is the source author and text
  • The translating process may reveal the translator’s repressed desire to challenge the source authority by releasing an unconscious remainder
    • How much of a translation do we make our own unconsciously because we, the translators, want to be visible?

Some Conclusions

  • Similarity in translation
    • between ST & TT
    • between TT & values in target culture
  • the irreducible differences in translation motivate the reductive search for such similarities, even with hoping to show the differences
    • Advocating for foreignization strategy
  • A cause of irreducible differences in translation is the translator’s unconscious
  • Is there a difference between the male and female translator’s unconscious?
Posted in Uncategorized permalink

About Tyler Candelora

Tyler Candelora is a first-year student at Bucknell University. He is from Coal Township, PA. He speaks English but is currently learning Spanish, French, and Arabic. Tyler is a comparative humanities and language major.

Comments are closed.