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American Annals of the Deaf

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Toward a Deaf Translation Norm

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The interpreting field draws heavily from theories in translation studies and although some researchers have focused on various aspects of the interpreting process and SL-to-TL text comparisons, etc., a strong influence from the translation field remains. Linguistics has been used to try and measure the accuracy of translation. Catford (1965) measured shifts from one category to another in a translation: for example, does an adjectival phrase in the SL become an adjectival phrase in the TL and thus achieve formal equivalence or become an adverbial phrase and perhaps achieve textual equivalence? Cokely (1986) within sign language interpreting research also formally analyzed “additions” or “omissions” according to the SL focusing on linguistic transfer between languages, without looking at whether information was being delivered in a culturally sensitive way that was appropriate for the audience.

This token-for-token approach is often used to judge fidelity, but one must question what one is being faithful to, either single linguistic units or a greater communicative goal. Although the form plays some part in rendering a TL text as, “it is the linguistic form of the source text where many clues to meaning are found” (Janzen 2005, 71), in recent years, the general trend in translation studies has been toward cultural, rather than linguistic transfer (Hatim 2001, 10, 44).

Hatim writes, “the ‘cultural turn’ in translation studies has shifted the focus to the study of ideology as a shaping force . . . and to translation as re-writing within such trends as [for example] the gendered practices of feminist translation” (2001, 10). The move toward cultural rather than linguistic transfer encompasses not only sense-for-sense interpretation (Seleskovitch 1978), but also the adoption of the need for the T/I to be accountable for the wider informational content and culturally loaded information in a SL message.

Cronin (2002) also discusses the cultural turn in interpreting, translation, orality, and colonialism. He opens up the field of interpreting to consider much of the recent moves in translation studies within a context of translation and interpreting rather than the product solely as a scientific object for enquiry. Within a colonized context it is the voice of the oppressed group that wishes to be heard. We need to consider language differences such as the primary orality of a group of people whose language has no written form. We also need to consider how the T/Is position themselves with respect to the different language groups they work between and of which they are members.

Furthermore, within the area of ideology, Hatim (2001) writes there are two emerging trends, the ideology of translation and the translation of ideology. This research examines the ideology of translation from the perspective of translations favoring hegemonies. Specifically, the work focuses on the Anglo-American tradition where foreign texts, when translated into English, are normalized with foreign cultural references changed to be culturally appropriate for the home audience. This adoption of a transparent and fluent style works in favor of the dominant and powerful target culture. The translation of ideology “focuses on how ideology is conveyed in and through the use of language” (Hatim 2001, 11) and will be explored in greater depth in chapter 5.

Hatim also explains that although linguistics is capable of informing the study of translation, for example, by examining cross-linguistic variation and language typology, more than one discipline can be brought in to widen the scope and goals of this type of analysis. These disciplines include sociolinguistics, pragmatics, text linguistics, and discourse analysis. This gives us a good background from which to work, and Hatim (2001) discusses many different schools of thought and theory in relation to translation studies from the 1960s to the present. His diagram (43) provides a useful way to examine different models of equivalence and their orientation to the source or target language (refer to fig. 1.1 for a modified version).

In figure 1.1, the theories on the left-hand side of the triangle are orientated toward the SL and attempt to analyze or hold the translation accountable to it. Those on the right-hand side of the triangle hold the translation accountable to the TL. Amongst the feminist translators this involves in some cases a quite radical intervention. Hatim (2001, 53) gives an example of a traditional translation versus a feminist translation by Linda Gaboriau.

This evening I’m entering history without pulling up my skirt.

This evening I’m entering history without opening my legs.

The feminist translation makes the implication in the SL explicit. This explication fulfills the political aims of the feminist translator since it does not euphemize the exploitation of women throughout the ages. This is made clearer within the feminist translation style as the reference is a line about women. We might see similar explication by Deaf T/Is if a story refers to Deaf people or contains an explication of the Deaf experience. A mainstream audience might not understand nor desire an explicit translation that documents some of the atrocities carried out on Deaf people in the name of eugenics and oralism that a Deaf translator could make explicit.
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