The Linguist

The Linguist 54,5

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 7 of 35

8 The Linguist Vol/54 No/5 2015 Reza Shirmarz looks at censorship in Iran and how it affects and limits the work of literary translators T here is some debate as to when censorship in Iran began. Some scholars believe it dates back to the Arab invasion, when atheistic ways of thinking and irreligious arts, such as dance and poetry, were largely boycotted by the new authorities. However, for many, it goes back to pre- Islamic Iran, when the Persian kings proscribed politically contradictory thought, and social critics became outlaws. Over the centuries, Iranian thinkers have expressed themselves through metaphor and allegory in an attempt to avoid the censors. Thus they have gradually become trapped in self-censorship. Despite the constitution's emphasis on a variety of freedoms, including the freedom of speech – both before and after the 1979 revolution – the Iranian literati have faced unceasing constraints imposed by Shahs and Ayatollahs. The current form of censorship was in place by 1836, when print technology was introduced. Censorship in Iran is clearly not only a religious but also a political phenomenon. During the pre-revolutionary period, politicians suppressed opposing thinkers, jailing or killing many of them. Since the Islamic revolution, the centres of political and facilities, gifts and opportunities. Such institutionalised discrimination has caused a deep sense of frustration among many translators, and pushed some to go abroad. Getting the censors' approval The publishing process is full of complications, and approval from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance can take several years. Over the past decades, the authorities have banned or censored translated books with content that opposes their ideology or deals in any way with sexuality, pornography or love affairs. This can be considered as profanity, corruption, disruptive or destructive to Islamic values. When I translated Aristophanes' play Lysistrata three years ago, it underwent huge censorship. It had been published with minor changes a decade earlier, in the time of President Khatami, but under Ahmadinejad, the censors announced that, in addition to the omission of several paragraphs, sentences and words, 13 pages of the 60-page comedy must be entirely omitted. I tried to side-step some of these cuts using adaptation techniques to keep the structure stable and to recreate the omissions in the form of words, sentences and actions that paraphrased the original meaning. religious power have been monopolised by the Ayatollahs and censorship has increased dramatically year by year. Any idea contrary to the theocratic government is banned using the 1995 Press Law. Literary translation is also censored. Translators are accused of being subversive and are considered to be anti-government, especially since the controversial presidential elections of 2009, which were met with allegations of irregularities and fraud. Translators who oppose the mainstream ideology by translating Western literature into Farsi are not supported by the government. Yet the authorities provide translators who uphold their world view with considerable Dancing in chains FEATURES © SHUTTERSTOCK Translators are accused of being subversive and are considered to be anti-government

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Linguist - The Linguist 54,5