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Afterword

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 September 2018

Bernard O'donoghue
Affiliation:
Wadham College, Oxford
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Summary

WHAT EXACTLY ARE we doing when we set out on a translation? Well, it depends; the first thing to establish is for what purpose and readership we are doing it. Since the early nineteenth century when there was a reinforced emphasis on the theory of translation in works such as Friedrich Schleiermacher's ‘On the Different Methods of Translating’ it has been essential for translators to recognise precisely what kind of version they were aiming at – most immediately whether the objective was correspondence to the original in a new language (what degree of ‘equivalence’ we are aiming at, in Lawrence Venuti's terms), or to produce a new work which was prompted by the original. Not that such considerations were new in the nineteenth century: in the Alfredian Preface to the Anglo-Saxon translation of Gregory's Cura Pastoralis the translator will proceed ‘hwilum word be worde, hwilum andgit of andgiete’ (‘sometimes word for word; sometimes sense for sense’). And of course there are other contexts too: in her very enlightening essay on Borges here, M. J. Toswell refers to Umberto Eco's summary idea of ‘translation as a negotiation involving original text, publisher, economic matters, the target text, various kinds of approaches to the translation and reader responses’.

Not all of these factors are the primary concern for the context here. In her essay on translations of Old English poetry into Modern English and Russian, Inna Matyushina reminds us of a crucial distinction: ‘Translation has traditionally been divided into two types: that on a spatial axis, from one language to another, and that on a chronological axis, within one language of different periods.’ The chronological axis of course is fundamental for translations of Old English to modern – the sole concern of four of the twelve essays here – as it is also for the two essays concerned with translations of early Irish texts into modern languages: Irish in the case of Tadhg Ó Siocháin and English by Lahney Preston Matto. A substantial part of what verse translators do is the recasting of earlier texts in their own language.

The eald languages in the twelve essays here are Old English, Old Norse, and Middle Irish. The ‘new’ languages are Modern English, Modern Irish, Spanish, Scots and Russian, so this is not only a matter of chronological translation.

Type
Chapter
Information
Translating Early Medieval Poetry
Transformation, Reception, Interpretation
, pp. 213 - 216
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2017

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