Translating the "forest ethos" in Dalene Matthee's Kringe in 'n bos [Circles in a forest] with reference to Unter dem Kalanderbaum
Cloete, Willem Hendrik
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The significance of "space" as a context (historical, geographical, etc.) in the creation of cultural identity and consciousness, its capacity to evoke cultural associations, and its importance as a context for cultural knowledge has been a predominant topic in recent scholarship. The translation of a construct of "cultural identity" such as Kringe in 'n Bos enhances and contributes towards the definition of a uniquely South African representation of time and space in the global context. When translation is studied as a product of its socio-historical context, the translator is faced with problems of ideology and cultural identity, which are addressed under the rubric of Landeskunde or realia in Translation Studies. Realia constitute a particular challenge to the translator because, according to the definition, precise equivalents of these words do not exist in other languages. This could cause shifts in the target language text. The concept of translatability is considered and it is concluded that an adequate and satisfactory German translation should nevertheless be achievable. Several translation theorists have devised models for the identification and categorisation of realia. On the basis of Dagut's division of the "Referential void" an adapted model is created for the identification of ostensible realia in Kringe in 'n Bos. The counterpart (parallel) markers of the forest ethos are subsequently traced in Unter dem Kalanderbaum and then compared in terms of accuracy and types of translation strategies employed. The question of translatability assumes an interesting dimension as the Afrikaans novel was translated into English by the author herself. The privileged position of author-translator granted Matthee a near-perfect understanding of the different layers of meaning and intention of the source text and eliminated the gap between the author and translator. It is established that the German version does not always adequately translate realia that inform the original Afrikaans version. One gets the impression that the German translator (Stege) resorted to transference as a strategy to avoid translation and it emerges that most instances of definite mistranslations are, indeed, attributable to Stege's unfamiliarity with the South African context.
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