“Una semana de siete días” as “A Week is Seven Days”: Translating Magali García Ramis for my Senior Thesis Project Rebecca Garonzik May 10, 2005
Introduction This paper is the result of a year-long process of translation that began with my loosely formed desire to develop a text in English that would convey the beauty and power characteristic of aSpanish-language original. This process is now culminating in a fully translated story, a submission for publication, and a presentation of what I have learned as a result. When I say the words, “what I have learned,” the first things that come to my mind are patience and perseverance, these two most indispensable characteristics of a translator that I have struggled to develop over the course of the past year.Learning to focus my attention on one project for so long without abandoning it whenever the work seemed insurmountable or when I temporarily lost interest at first came as an enormous challenge to me. The year seemed to stretch out endlessly before me, and sometimes I wondered, “what could I have possibly been thinking when I chose to subject myself to such frustration?” Now as I have become morefamiliar with the process of translation, I have found that it is a living thing, a space that I have chosen to inhabit and have grown accustomed to, and I believe that it will come as something as a surprise to me when the project is finished. The topics that I intend to address in this paper are the knowledge and skills that I have developed in response to being exposed to the challenges of thetranslating space and why I perceive what I have learned as valuable. I will use material from my preliminary thesis paper to present some of the intentions and expectations that I had in embarking upon this project and will compare these with what actually occurred in my experience. Much of the literary analysis that I presented in my first paper has remained
3 consistent and will appearlargely unaltered in this paper with perhaps a few minor additions. Regarding the extent to which I have actually utilized translation theory or seen this theory manifest itself in my own translation process, my experience has often coincided with theories that I have studied. At other times, due to the complexity of translation itself, the experience has surpassed anything that I could have imaginedor that any theory could have possibly accounted for. One of the chief concepts that I addressed in my first paper was the notion that translation and interpretation are not dissimilar acts. I will open this paper by articulating the significance of this concept for the person who sets out to translate a work of literature. A great many theorists, artists, and philosophers have toiled with thequestion: What is translation, exactly? While this question lies beyond the scope of this paper, I will say that my experience translating has confirmed the view of many theorists which claim that 99.9% of translation is interpretation and that, in the case of literary translation, interpretation takes the form of literary analysis. It has been said that the role of the literary critic is to‘translate’ the language of literature into a different discourse, namely the discourse of literary criticism. The role of the literary translator is similar to that of the critic in that both are dependent upon literary analysis. However, instead of leaving his or her analysis in the discourse of criticism, the literary translator translates that analysis back into the discourse of literature and intoanother language. A lot of the conflict surrounding the act of translation comes from the assumption that there is a possibility of direct transference between two languages. Such an assumption fails to acknowledge the presence of the person performing the translation and the preferences and preconceptions that he or she brings to this process. Any attempt
4 to reduce a translation to some...
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