A rose by other name

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|ic|A Rose by Any Other Name |
|] ||
|[p|[pic] |
|ic|By Umberto Eco |
|] |Translated by William Weaver |
||Guardian Weekly, January 16, 1994 |
| |[pic]There are writers who do not bother about their translations, sometimes because they lack the |
| |linguistic competence; some sometimes because they have no faith in the literary value of their work and |
| |are anxious only to sell their product in as many countriesas possible. |
| |[pic]Often the indifference conceals two prejudices, equally despicable: Either the author considers |
| |himself an inimitable genius and so suffers translation as a painful political process to be borne until |
| |the whole world has learned his language, or else the author harbours an "ethnic" bias and considers it a |
| |waste oftime to care about how readers from other cultures might feel about his work. |
| |[pic]People think an author can check his translations only if he knows the language into I which he is to|
| |be translated. Obviously, if he does know that language, the work proceeds more easily. But it all depends|
| |on the translator's intelligence. For example, I do not knowSwedish, Russian, or Hungarian, and yet I |
| |have worked well with my translators into those languages. They were able to explain to me the kind of |
| |difficulties they faced, and make me understand why what I had written created problems in their language.|
| |In many cases I was able to offer suggestions. |
| |[pic]Theproblem frequently arises from the fact that translations are either "source-oriented" or "target|
| |oriented," as today's books on Translation Theory put it. A source-oriented translation must do everything|
| |possible to make the B-language reader understand what the writer has thought or said in language A. |
| |Classical Greek affords a typical example: in order to comprehend it atall, the modern reader must |
| |understand what the poets of that age were like and how they might express themselves. If Homer seems to |
| |repeat "rosy-fingered dawn" too frequently, the translator must not try to vary the epithet just because |
| |today's manuals of style insist we should be careful about repeating the same adjective. The reader has to|
| |understand that inthose days dawn had rosy fingers whenever it was mentioned. |
| |[pic]In other cases translation can and should be target-oriented. I will cite an example from the |
| |translation of my novel Foucault's Pendulum whose chief characters constantly speak in literary |
| |quotations. The purpose is to show that it is impossible for these characters tosee the world except |
| |through literary references. Now, in chapter 57, describing an automobile trip in the hills, the |
| |translation reads "the horizon became more vast, at every curve the peaks grew, some crowned by little |
| |villages: we glimpsed endless vistas." But, after "endless vistas" the Italian text went on: "al di la |
| |della siepe, come osservava...
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