La Femme Patiente: A Project in Translation
Translation seems to be a simple process: a translator with a strong command of two languages renders a phrase from Language A into Language B for the purpose of wider communication. Given her intimacy with both languages, it should be a relatively easy task to transport meaning from one language to another. Yet difficulties lay in the presentation and reception of this meaning: the structures of the individual languages affect how the message of the text is conveyed, and the translator’s own interpretation of the text influences how the message appears in the translation. Furthermore, the translator’s goals for translation, as well as her relationship and attitude toward the original text can determine the nature of her translation.
I explore these concerns by translating a French novel, La femme patiente, into English. One question in particular that has arisen repeatedly addresses a translator’s fidelity to the source text. How far may a translator stray from the original text while remaining “faithful”? How does maintaining the original author’s literary style contribute to fidelity?
The methodology employed for this project involved an initial sense-for-sense translation, followed by in-depth discussion and revision. Once the translation was complete and edited, a draft was sent to English-speaking volunteers to read and provide commentary on the flow and style of the English translation. I am currently using volunteers’ comments to develop my translation further. My goal is to reach a compromise between natural English composition and crisp language to recreate Alain Gagnol’s French style in English.
Faculty Mentor: Janel Pettes Guikema, French
Page last modified August 14, 2009