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American Annals of the Deaf

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Toward a Deaf Translation Norm

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On the left-hand side of the triangle in figure 1.1 we see notions of translation explored with a SL focus. Catford’s approach is described earlier. Nida’s focus was on the readers of the TL responding to the text in the same way as readers from the SL culture when reading of the SL. Koller included both Catford’s formal equivalence and Nida’s dynamic equivalence within the five frameworks of equivalence he proposed, which included denotative equivalence, connotative equivalence, and text-normative equivalence. Beaugrande extended the narrow focus of other scholars to the notion of text as the unit for translation rather than word or sentence renderings, and while Venuti is also interested in text as the unit of translation, his focus is on ensuring that the reader is reminded that the source text and culture is foreign to the TL reader.

On the right-hand side of the triangle in figure 1.1 we see different notions of translation explored in relation to the TL. Holmes acknowledges the difficulties in translating (predominantly) literature and poems. He looks toward creating a TL that considers a network of correspondences because of the shifts encountered when translating from SL to TL that fit to a greater or lesser extent. Bassnett and Lefevere took this further by moving to a cultural level whereby the translation had to take on board the network of cultural symbols within which the translation was situated. This was followed with the idea of translation as production and not reproduction, as demonstrated by the feminist translators, and similarly with the notion of the TL being a response to the SL by the deconstructionists. Toury was interested in applying polysystems to look into the ideologies behind what was chosen to be translated, and manipulationists explored this theme in greater depth. They were interested in issues of the perpetuation of ideas about the SL being sacrosanct rather than allowing the TL to be a stand-alone product. Finally Skopos theory looked at the intended function of the TL within the TL culture and accepted that this function can be different from its function with the SL culture. Relevance theory (RT) occupies the center of the diagram, since RT provides a framework for equivalence measured by the cognitive effort of understanding rather than against the SL or TL, and will be explored in greater depth later as a central framework for this research.

When considering translation strategies, Hatim (2001, 87) describes them as a complex relationship between

1. A concern with the notion of “register” and issues related to the use and the user of language (this is within
    the source language orientation);
2. A concern with “intentionality” and other aspects of pragmatics such as speech acts, implied meaning and
    relevance;
3. A concern with the wider notion of “culture,” with the focus shifting to the status of text, genre, and
    discourse in the translation process (this is within the target language orientation).
These three factors are examined by investigating the interplay between the direction in which the T/Is are working (from or into first language) and the decisions that the T/Is make when constructing the TL.

Culture and Intentionality

Two factors needing consideration are intentionality and culture. RT explores how T/Is use contextual assumptions to make something optimally relevant to their addressees. These contextual assumptions include cultural knowledge and intentionality (what the speaker intends the addressee to understand as being communicated), and they are clearly culturally bound.

This research explores differences between the TL of Deaf and hearing T/Is in order to identify a Deaf translation norm. Pragmatics will be used to examine the types of translation shifts occurring between the SL and the TL, and it will provide a theoretical framework for the notion of cognitive cultural contact, which Stolze (2004, 43) defined as: “The two culture systems establish contact within the translator’s mind: in other words, her cognition as an expert reaches out into two different cultures and into various discourse fields.”

This will be understood in terms of pragmatic enrichment and impoverishment (Sequeiros 2002, 1998) discussed later. The shifts made will be analyzed in accordance with implied meaning and relevance. Insights can be gained into the cultural and linguistic transfer, and the ideology behind these transfers or shifts, by analyzing the texts of the Deaf T/Is (from the TL culture) and hearing T/Is (from the surrounding SL culture), and comparing these texts with interview data.

When discussing empirical research in translation studies, Hatim (2001, 154) acknowledges that four factors need to be considered.

1. The range of translators represented in a corpus
2. The level of expertise
3. Directionality (whether the translator is working into or out of the mother tongue)
4. The spectrum of textual practices represented (genre, text type, discourse)

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