Translation Studies

Factors behind retranslations: What can we learn from the scholarly discourse on (filmic) remakes?

Jonathan Ross (Boğaziçi University, Istanbul)

In the first decade of the twenty-first century, several Translation Studies scholars turned their attention to the phenomenon of retranslation and undertook research that often ended up questioning the validity of the ‘retranslation hypothesis’ (e.g. Koskinen & Paloposki 2003; Venuti 2004; Brownlie 2006; Susam-Sarajeva 2006). According to this hypothesis, which had its roots in a special issue of the journal Palimpsestes in 1990, retranslations are usually attempts to compensate for overly ‘domesticating’ first translations by getting ‘ever closer’ to the source text; in addition, they may be motivated by a perceived need to supplant supposedly ‘aged’ translations. Research on various countries and periods, however, has revealed the retranslation hypothesis to be simplistic and suggested that multiple factors, alone or in combination, may lie behind the retranslation of verbal texts.

A few years before what one might call the ‘retranslation turn’, researchers in Film Studies had started displaying increased interest in the remake (e.g. Durham 1998; Horton & McDougal 1998; Mazdon 2000; Forrest & Koos 2002), that is, a new version of an old film, the two films frequently sharing a common literary source. The retranslation of written texts differs on various levels from the remaking of audio-visual texts, not least because of the different media and modes they involve and the divergent conditions under which they are produced and received. All the same, remakes and retranslations are both instances of cultural reiteration, where something that exists already is to some extent reproduced, possibly begging the question ‘Why?’ Like researchers into retranslation, researchers on the remake have identified a range of reasons why directors and film studios choose to rework old films. Drawing on the growing scholarly discourse on the remake, in my paper I will explain and illustrate these factors. While arguing that some of them are specific to remakes, I will also point to the substantial overlap between the reasons for retranslation and those for remaking. In doing so, I hope to demonstrate that a familiarity with the secondary literature on remaking can open up fresh ways of looking at retranslation, and vice-versa.

Biography

Dr. Jonathan Ross studied German and Politics at the University of Edinburgh and went on to do a doctorate in East German Literature at King’s College London. He is now an assistant professor in the Department of Translation and Interpreting Studies at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, where he teaches a range of practical and research-oriented courses. His research interests include telephone interpreting, community interpreting in Turkey and various aspects of audio-visual translation. Articles by him have appeared in The Translator, Target and Across Languages and Cultures, and he is currently working on a corpus-based study of a medical interpreting line initiated by the Turkish Ministry of Health in 2011. He has also published numerous Turkish-English translations, including eight books, two films, and several short stories and articles.

Nov 30 2016 -

Factors behind retranslations: What can we learn from the scholarly discourse on (filmic) remakes?

In this paper Jonathan Ross examines the substantial overlap between the reasons for retranslation and those for remaking.

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