Research Publication Title

Nation and Translation: The Question of Cultural Status

Presenter Information

Matthew SampsonFollow

Major

French

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Hedwig Fraunhofer

Keywords

translation, french, german, cultural, foreign, language, nation

Abstract

In the age of Google Translate, some believe that translation is only a simple copy and paste from an original text into a target language. My paper, however, demonstrates that translation is a more complex process. Analyzing key texts of translation theory, I ask: What are different writers’ views of the function of translation, of the desired relationship between source text and translated text and between the cultures in which they are embedded? I will explore, for instance, whether in nineteenth century Germany translators viewed the function of translation in the context of growing nationalistic concerns. Was the translation of prestigious ancient authors seen as a way to strengthen the native language and culture in an age in which a divided Germany was vulnerable to the invasion of Napoleonic forces? How did translators from other cultures address the question of cultural prestige? I will utilize a standard text of translation theory, namely Lawrence Venuti’s The Translation Studies Reader, compiling diverse writers’ philosophies of translation. In a unique contribution to the field of translation studies foregrounding the question of cultural prestige , my paper establishes a conversation between writers/cultures/periods not usually linked: a) nineteenth century German writers (Schleiermacher, Goethe, Nietzsche); b) Nicolas Perrot D’Ablancourt, a seventeenth- century French translator of Latin and Greek works; and c) Saint Jerome, a Christian priest who in the fourth century translated the Bible into Latin. I will analyze and compare how these different translators theorize the relationship between their translations and the cultural prestige of their source texts. My expected conclusion is that the German writers ultimately aim to absorb the prestige of the ancient texts for their own nationalistic purposes. D’Ablancourt asserts the cultural prestige of modern French culture against the ancients; and Jerome integrates the prestige of the Bible into Roman imperialism.

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Nation and Translation: The Question of Cultural Status

In the age of Google Translate, some believe that translation is only a simple copy and paste from an original text into a target language. My paper, however, demonstrates that translation is a more complex process. Analyzing key texts of translation theory, I ask: What are different writers’ views of the function of translation, of the desired relationship between source text and translated text and between the cultures in which they are embedded? I will explore, for instance, whether in nineteenth century Germany translators viewed the function of translation in the context of growing nationalistic concerns. Was the translation of prestigious ancient authors seen as a way to strengthen the native language and culture in an age in which a divided Germany was vulnerable to the invasion of Napoleonic forces? How did translators from other cultures address the question of cultural prestige? I will utilize a standard text of translation theory, namely Lawrence Venuti’s The Translation Studies Reader, compiling diverse writers’ philosophies of translation. In a unique contribution to the field of translation studies foregrounding the question of cultural prestige , my paper establishes a conversation between writers/cultures/periods not usually linked: a) nineteenth century German writers (Schleiermacher, Goethe, Nietzsche); b) Nicolas Perrot D’Ablancourt, a seventeenth- century French translator of Latin and Greek works; and c) Saint Jerome, a Christian priest who in the fourth century translated the Bible into Latin. I will analyze and compare how these different translators theorize the relationship between their translations and the cultural prestige of their source texts. My expected conclusion is that the German writers ultimately aim to absorb the prestige of the ancient texts for their own nationalistic purposes. D’Ablancourt asserts the cultural prestige of modern French culture against the ancients; and Jerome integrates the prestige of the Bible into Roman imperialism.