Conference at the University of Coimbra May 14-15

At the Digital Literature Studies conference at the University of Coimbra one of the observations made in Yvonne Leffler’s investigation of the translations of Emelie Flygare Carléns novels was discussed: how come she was so much translated to Czech? And how come some novels were retranslated? The abstract is available here.

In the presentation “Tracing Cultural Transfer through Multiple Translation Analysis” Jenny Bergenmar and Leif-Jöran Olsson, a colleague in Language Technology from the University of Gothenburg, tried to tackle these questions through a case study on Carlén’s last novel, The Merchant’s House on the Cliffs. Using the collation tool CollateX and parallel text alignment we tried to compare both the two translations to Czech (1872 and 1910) and trace the changes from the Swedish original to the German translation (which was the base text at least for the first translation to Czech) and from the German to the Czech.

Judging from a comparison of place and person names, the German translation is very faithful to the Swedish original, which is interesting since it is a translation from a dominated language to a dominating one and according to Pascale Casanova the dominating literary languages conform foreign literary works to their own norms.

The 1972 translation to Czech is definitely made from the German translation. The 1910 translation proved to be the most interesting case. The analysis made it clear that one of the reasons for the retranslation was keep a popular novel in the Czech language, but to update it and make it more remote from the German influence. This translation was evidently used in the building of a Czech literary market and culture. It might even be the case that the second translation is made from Swedish and not from German, but we need more evidence support this idea.



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