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Self-translation

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Joyce_wakeLiterary self-translation is a special form of translation in which the translator is also the author of the original text.

As in the case of non-authorial translation, the term self-translation can refer to the process of translating his own lyrics in another language or the result of this operation.

The practice of self-translation has attracted critical attention especially from the beginning of this century as a result of intensive investigation in the field of non authorial translation in the twentieth century.

Literary self-translation has been recognized as a special branch of translation studies at least since the publication of the first edition of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies in 1998.

Types of self-translation

Auto-translation can occur through a regular activity of the author or through an activity quite sporadic, which may be derived from a variety of causes. The latter is represented, for example, by James Joyce, which auto-translated into Italian two passages of his “Work in Progress” (then titled “Finnegans Wake“). Other cases in question are self-translation of Stefan George and Rainer Maria Rilke.

Auto-translation can occur through a trial in which the mother tongue or an acquired language is the source language, so that the target language changes accordingly. The latter is represented by some Belgian poets of the period between the two world wars (eg Avermaete Roger and Camille Melloy), which auto-translated their texts in Flemish shortly after finding the original in the French language acquired but perfectly dominated.

Auto-translation can occur some time after the original has been completed or during the process of creation, so that the two versions are developed almost simultaneously and influence each other. These two types are sometimes called “consecutiveauto-translation” and “concurrent auto-translation.”

Auto-translation may also involve more than a target language, no matter whether native or acquired. Such is the case of writers like Fausto Cercignani, Alejandro Saravia and Luigi Donato Ventura.

Factors that promote self-translation

The elitist nature of specific language can promote self-translation of that language in a local language, for example from Latin to a vernacular language during the Middle Ages and early modern times.

The cultural dominance of a specific language in a multilingual society can promote self-translation of a minority language in the dominant language.

Cultural domination of the national language can promote self-translation of a local dialect.

Cultural domination of a specific language in the international context can promote self-translation of a national language in a language recognized internationally, as, for ex., English. But English, as the target language, is more common in cases where the author migrates to an English speaking country.

A perfect or near perfect bilingualism can promote self-translation in both directions, regardless of market considerations.

The dissatisfaction with the existing translations or distrust translators can promote self-translation, regardless of market considerations.

Self-translation and not authorial translation

Whatever the intrinsic qualities of the secondary text, auto-translations are often considered preferable to non authorial translations. This is due to the fact that “the writer-translator is without a doubt considered best placed to meet the intentions of the author of the original than a regular translator.” If they are not based on the intrinsic qualities of the secondary text, the arguments against self-translation can reflect specific socio-cultural considerations or intend to express criticism of questionable editorial practices.

Translated from Wikipedia

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