Less translated languages

Less translated languages. Ed. by Albert Branchadell and Lovell Margaret West. (Benjamins translation library 58.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2005. Pp. vii, 414. ISBN 1588114805. $156 (Hb).

Reviewed by Taras Shmiher, Ivan Franko National University

This book is an outgrowth of the 5th International Conference on Translation, ‘Interculturality and translation: Less translated languages’, organized by the Departament de Traducció i d’Interpretació at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain) in October 2001.

The concept of ‘less translated languages’ developed in this collection is inspired by the concept of ‘lesser-used languages’ (a term now current in the EU). ‘Less translated’ refers to those languages that are less often the source of translation in the international exchange of linguistic goods, and not to the number of people using these languages. This category serves equally well for widely used languages such as Arabic or Chinese and long-neglected minority languages such as Catalan. Albert Branchadell (1‑23) discusses the key terms ‘cultural turn’, ‘power turn’, and ‘nation-building’, which the collection uses to establish its theoretical background.

Part 1 considers the hegemonic position of English in cross-cultural communication. By using statistics and some mathematical operations, Anthony Pym and Grzegorz Chrupała (27–38) prove translation alone is neither a sufficient measure of nor a satisfactory remedy for the effects of globalization on cultural diversity. Some financial, political, social, and linguistic problems of European multilingualism are discussed by Vilelmini Sosonis (39–47). Since Arabic imports many terms from English and French, Hassan Hamzé (49–66) considers the possibilities for adopting systematic Arabic equivalents of Greco-Latin prefixes and suffixes. Nobel Perdu Honeyman (67–74) investigates indirect—from Arabic through English into Spanish—translation to determine the effect of such indirect translation on a religious treatise by Bahá’ulláh. Maria D. Oltra Ripoll (75–91) analyzes possible techniques for translating Anglo-Saxon cultural references in films.

In Part 2, minority languages are viewed through the prism of translation inequality. Oscar Diaz Fouces (95–104) outlines three criteria of translation policies (homogeneity, autonomy, and prestige) that might improve linguistic mediation. Marta García Gonzáles (105–23) has designed a model that allows us to describe Western minority languages using a common methodological framework. Albert Branchadell (125–35) presents the concept of a ‘mandatory translation language’ and examines the extent to which the Catalans can live through their own language without having to use another. The paper by Eva Espasa (137–45) reviews interculturalism in stage translation over the last twenty years, finding translation to be either enrichment or appropriation. Using a neurobiological approach in their view of ‘obscured cultures’ of Sub-Saharan Africa, Anna Aguilar-Amat and Jean-Bosco Botsho (147–61) reflect on the cognitive processes of adaptable individuals and translators.

Part 3 presents specific cases of translating from less translated cultures and languages. The case analyses help to develop important theoretical conclusions about the influence of postcolonial literature research on translation theory (Goretti López Heredia, 165–76), the translator’s invisibility (Andrés Xosé Salter Iglesias, 177–87), intercultural aesthetic translatability (Dora Sales Salvador, 189–205), sociocultural functions of Buddhist translation (Nicole Martínez Melis, 207–24), and the translators’ role in beyond-linguistic mediation (Leticia Herrero, 225–35). Sara Rovira-Esteva (237–54) presents specifics about the attributes of Chinese measure words and how they might be applied in teaching and translation.

Part 4 is given over to considering the project of translating into a specific less translated language—Catalan. Montserrat Bacardí (257–68) gives a brief survey of translation from Spanish into Catalan in the twentieth century, and the present state of work in the field is described by Cristina García de Toro (269–87). Irene Llop Jordana (289–311) uses a twentieth-century bibliography to survey works translated from Hebrew into Catalan.

The final section of the book is a symposium on six significant Catalan translators: Andreu Nin, Bonaventura Vallespinosa, Manuel de Pedrolo, Josep Vallverdú, Maria-Mercè Marçal, and Jordi Arbonès i Montull, all of whom played an influential role in the process of linguistic ‘normalization’.