The Linguist

The Linguist 56,4 – August/September 2017

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

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Page 14 of 35 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER The Linguist 15 FEATURES and style (for example, some traditional poetry using rhyme and meter, and some free verse). According to Ndione, any anthology of Senegal would need to draw from materials written in Senegal's many languages by individuals of very different ethnic backgrounds, including Djola, Wolof and Bambara. That, indeed, would be a useful cultural artefact, as nothing like that yet exists. A pre-fabricated image of Africa The construction of an anthology can also depend on who it is for. Not just the contents, but the cover design and even the display of texts, including the font, are all part of this construction. In many cases, anthologies are produced for Western audiences and texts are chosen specifically for that readership. The Senegalese writer Sokhna Benga commented that exotic themes are favoured over urban realities, not just in anthologies, but also in literature and cinema. In fact, Benga has refused to work with a well-known publishing house who had preconceived ideas of what an African text should be, stating: "Je ne suis pas un clone." It is also not unusual for choices of texts and authors to be made before all submissions have been read. Sarr stated that "the person compiling the anthology has a concept they want to highlight. They have already made choices: choices of time- period, thematic choices, aesthetic choices," inferring that anthologies are constructed according to preconceived thoughts and perspectives. But do we always read and analyse texts in anthologies with this in mind? It could further be argued, on the basis of pre-selection and requested 'exotic' themes, that anthologies of African literature provide cultural forums in which the former European coloniser can transmit preconceived notions of Africa through the process of selective representation. This could even be considered a form of recolonisation; like the infamous colonial exhibitions of the early 1900s, African anthologies can stage a pre-fabricated image of Africa, forming a view of a continent, or part of it, to be 'consumed' by the Northern reader. Of course, there are many examples of editors and publishers who fight against this model. At Éditions Feu de Brousse in Dakar, for example, a large editorial committee reads submissions for anthologies and related publications, showing that attempts are made to widen the existing pool of well-known writers. This has the potential to launch lesser- known writers, and Benga believes that such anthologies provide an excellent springboard for the careers of young people. Representation in translation Of course, publishing an anthology in a range of languages can act as a deterrent to readers. This is where interlingual translation comes in. Flagship anthological publications of recent years have included works from across Africa, translated into English from a variety of African and European languages. Africa39: New writing from Africa south of the Sahara (2014) covered 18 countries and more than half its contributors were female. Women writers also seem to be gaining more visibility in other translation anthologies, including Writing Revolution: The voices from Tunis to Damascus (2013), which published testimonies about the Arab Spring. Modern Poetry in Translation ( focused an edition on the languages of Africa late last year, showing a real thematic and stylistic diversity, while moving away from more stereotypical European projections of Africa. When it comes to anthologies of translations, however, texts are usually chosen from those already published, sometimes in anthologies, so we are reading representations of representations. Further, the rewriter must choose particular translation strategies and will leave their own mark upon an anthologised text or group of texts. Such strategies could accentuate stylistic or linguistic features, or iron them out. Where texts are chosen to exoticise Africa, a foreignising approach could accentuate that. So, although we often expect anthologies to be representative of a particular group of people, some achieve this much better than others. There are many justified and less- justified reasons for non-representation, but it seems that publications are now attempting to redress the balance in terms of geography and gender, as well as incorporating lesser- known writers. An issue of representation does exist where anthologies of African literature are produced in the West for European readers who expect something exotic. This 'exotic' stereotype is then perpetuated, influencing our views on what Africa was and is. History books don't always extend to pre-colonial times in Africa, so we learn a lot through creative texts. Perhaps a problem lies in what we expect from an anthology, or what the anthology claims to do. More information on the compilation process, selection strategies, and strengths and weaknesses of representation in prefaces and forewords would be useful if we are to continue using anthologies to learn about cultures other than our own. DIVERSE CULTURE Clockwise from left: Adolphe Hastrel de Rivedoux's 'La Signare de Gorée avec ses esclaves' ('The signare of Gorée with her slaves') depicts an important part of Senegalese history, which should arguably be represented in any anthology of Senegalese writing; a view of life in Dakar; writer Felwine Sarr; and Léopold Sédar Senghor's seminal book of poems JBDODANE VIAWIKIPEDIA13/5/13 (CC BY 2.0) RAMA VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS (CC-BY-SA-2.0-FR)

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