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Tuesday, 20 March 2012 09:20

The Translator: Studies in Intercultural Communication Volume 18, Number 1, 2012

The Translator: Studies in Intercultural Communication

Volume 18, Number 1, 2012

Now available to online subscribers


Translation and the US Empire: Counterinsurgency and the Resistance of Language
Author: Vicente L. Rafael, University of Washington, USA
Pages 1-22

In recent years, much has been written about the revival of counterinsurgency as the preferred strategy of the United States-led forces in their ‘global war on terror’. Such a strategy necessarily requires knowledge of the local languages and cultures. This essay focuses on the US military’s attempts to deploy language as a weapon of war through the strategic deployment of translation practices in consolidating military occupation. It looks into such tactics as the training of soldiers in foreign languages, the development of automatic translation systems, and the protocols for expropriating the mediating power of native interpreters. The essay also inquires into the limits and contradictions of such tactics and their implications for the success or failure of counterinsurgency. Finally, it asks whether there are other ways in which translation works in war time that tend to evade the militarization of speech.

Keywords: Counterinsurgency, Weaponizing language, Automatic translation systems, Native interpreters, English, Interlinear translation.
Translating Terror: The (Mis)application of US Federal Prison Rules in the Yousry Case
Author: Maya Hess, The City University of New York, USA
Pages 23-46

On 10 February 2005, a New York jury convicted Mohamed Yousry, an Arabic interpreter and translator, of two related offenses: (1) violating US federal prison rules, called Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), designed, inter alia, to prevent high-risk inmates from communicating with confederates on the outside; and (2) aiding and abetting an Egyptian terrorist organization

(U.S. v. Ahmed Abdel Sattar, Lynne Stewart, and Mohamed Yousry, 2005). By tracing Yousry’s path from judiciary interpreter to prisoner, this article explores the legislative history of the SAMs, discusses their application/misapplication and sheds light on how this landmark case transformed the professional landscape for interpreters in the United States post-9/11. To highlight some of the implications for the profession and the discipline, it draws on current literature on translation and interpreting in situations of conflict. It also positions the verdict in the larger context of US national security and offers policy suggestions geared toward protecting this increasingly vulnerable profession.
Keywords: Arabic, Attorney-client conversation, Code of ethics, Legal interpreting, Material support, National Security, Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), Terrorism, War on Terror

Dude (Looks Like a Lady): Hijacking Transsexual Identity in the Subtitled Version of Strella by Panos Koutras
Author: Dimitris Asimakoulas, University of Surrey, UK
Pages 47-75
Problematizing and relativizing components of culture and identity are a constant theme in translation studies, yet there arefields where culture and identity are radically deconstructed, rather than problematized and relativized; such is the case in the uncharted area of transgenderism. By definition, transgenderism entails both great freedom and great constraints with respect to shaping physical and discourse parameters of identity. Taking Cromwell’s (2006) concept of ‘transsituated identities’ as a point of departure, this article discusses the English subtitles for the cinema in Koutras’ recent film Strella (2009). It demonstrates that the filmic language of Strella adopts strategies which are geared towards unsettling fixed hierarchies in society. Harvey’s (2000) grid of strategies – namely, ludicrism, inversion, paradox and parody – is extended here for the analysis of filmic language. The analysis reveals that the move from a minor code (Greek) into a lingua franca, within the context of a transgender subculture, leads to recurrent shifts in the semiotic load of these resources in translation.
Keywords: Audiovisual, Greek, Identity, Gender, Culture, Minority, Humour

Borges and Us: Exploring the Author-Translator Dynamic in Translation Workshops
Author: Ben Van Wyke, Indiana University-Purdue University, USA
Pages 77-100

The traditional notion of the translator as someone who should remain invisible while reproducing the original and/or intentions of the author is still commonplace today in translation workshops. Although it has been radically called into question by poststructuralist theory, this type of theory often does not ‘translate’ into what students understand as the practice of the craft. The essay draws on a comparative study used with the author’s students that involved eight English versions of Jorge Luis Borges’s 1960 text ‘Borges y yo’ to indirectly introduce them to poststructuralist notions of translation, reading and authorship that can help them confront the limitations of the traditional conception of translation and assist them in developing the critical capacity to work responsibly through the complexities involved in the task of rewriting someone else’s text in another language. This activity – with its combination of close readings of the eight translations together with an analysis of the text’s plot in the context of the contemporary notion of the ‘death of the author’ – helps students discover that they cannot escape complex ethical decisions related to their agency both as readers of an ‘original’ and as authors of their translations, even when, as is the case with one of the translations, the author has collaborated with the translator.

Keywords: Translation ethics, Translation pedagogy, Borges, ‘Borges y yo’,Norman Thomas di Giovanni, Poststructuralism, ‘Death of the author’

Postcolonial Translation as Transformation: Ahdaf Souief's I Think of You
Author: Ahmad Gamal, Ain Shams University, Egypt
Pages: 101-118

Like translation, postcolonial writing involves an act of mediating across languages and cultures. Texts written in English by bilingual anglophone writers often include strategies of transformation similar to those used by politically engaged translators

to render the linguistic and cultural specificity of their source cultures. This paper examines this practice in the writing of the Egyptian novelist and cultural critic, Ahdaf Soueif (1950 - ). It discusses how in addressing a global audience of English speakers, Soueif avoids editorial intrusions and relies extensively on lexical borrowing, contextualization, historical and geographical references, colloquial conversational formulas, culture-distinct metaphors and idioms, relexification and grammatical deviation – all of which enable her English text to accommodate the Arabic language and culture. The paper argues that Soueif’s representation of the personal dilemmas of her female characters, including their physical embodiment, transgresses the dividing line between the private and the public and the sexual and the political in the Islamic-Arab world. In this way, Soueif’s delineation of female private experience in her semi-autobiographical fiction functions as a kind of cultural translation.
Keywords: Postcolonial translation, Postcolonial literature, Transformation, Cultural translation, Sexual politics, Radical bilingualism

Revisiting the Classics

The Importance of Text
Author: Christina Schäffner, Aston University, UK

Review of: Translation as Text. Albrecht Neubert and Gregory M. Shreve. Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press, 1992. 

Book Reviews

Carol Maier and Françoise Massardier-Kenney (eds): Literature in Translation: Teaching Issues and Reading Practices

Reviewed by Cees Koster, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Daniel Gile, Gyde Hansen and Nike K. Pokorn (eds): Why Translation Studies Matters
Reviewed by Andrew Chesterman, University of Helsinki, Finland

Christopher Rundle and Kate Sturge: Translation Under Fascism

Reviewed by Carmen Camus Camus, University of Cantabria, Spain

Inger M. Mees, Fabio Alves and Susanne Göpferich (eds): Methodology, Technology and Innovation in Translation Process Research - A Tribute to Arnt Lykke Jakobsen

Reviewed by Bartolomé Mesa-Lao, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain
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