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Tuesday, 10 May 2016
Source Text Status

Translation, Rewriting and the Manipulation of Literary Fame,
Andre Lefevere, Routledge Publications, 1992, page 87

In chapter 7 of this book, Lefevere looks at the way the status of a source text influences the way it is translated. Also significant, he claims, is what the translator thinks will be acceptable in the receiving culture:

This attitude is heavily influenced by the status of the orignal, the self-image of the culture that text is translated into, the type of texts deemed acceptable in that culturem the levels of diction deemed acceptable in it, the intended audience, and the "cultural scripts" that audience is used to or willing to accept.

In this particular case, Lefevere is refering to the way in which certain sections of Homer's Iliad have been translated during, for example, English culture in the Victorian era. Another example might be the way Rashi translated Song of Songs into the rabbinic world of the 10th century CE. There were simply some things you did not say or, in the latter case, did not think G-d could say, so translation decisions were taken that were very different from a literal rendering.

The status of the source text can run the whole gamut from central to peripheral in either the source or target culture. A text that is central in its own culture may never occupy the same position in another culture.

So a text may be central in one place or time, but completely marginalised in another. The Bible as a whole, or individual books of the Bible may suffer marginalisation even between different faith communities in the same time and place. The book of Leviticus, for example, has a very different status between a contemporary English Christian community and a contemporary English Jewish community.

Posted By Jonathan, 8:05am Comment Comments: 0