An examination of translators' subjectivity in literary translation
Cachucho, Maria Celina
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Recent research has pointed to a new paradigm shift in Translation Studies. In this paradigm, the role of translators is being examined not only in terms of who they are but also in terms of how their subjectivity impacts on the translations they render. Despite these recent developments which have reaffirmed the idea that it is extremely difficult to translate a literary work objectively, not much insight has been offered in terms of the degree to which the translator’s subjectivity extends. However, this insight concerning a translator’s subjectivity is important, especially in situations where critics vaguely evaluate literary translations as subjective, without quantifying subjectivity. The aim of this study is to address the aforementioned gap in the literature by proposing and testing a model for quantifying the translator’s subjectivity in literary translation. This empirical study is based on Antoine Berman’s twelve identified deformations in his literary negative analytic, which according to him, occur invariably in translated works of literature. This study follows the principles of Descriptive Translation Studies (DTS). The literary work Livro do Desassossego by Portuguese author Fernando Pessoa, and four different corresponding English translations by different translators were used in this empirical comparative study. Seven excerpts of the source text (ST) and corresponding translations were selected and used in the application of the proposed instrument of quantification. Since the nature of the study required both qualitative and quantitative analyses, a mixed method of research was used, which proved to be optimal. The findings revealed that the final translated versions of a literary work have different degrees of subjectivity, pointing to the fact that their renditions depend greatly on the translators’ individual abilities to understand and interpret the text and ultimately, on their personal choices in the process of translating.
- Humanities 
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