The Linguist

The Linguist 56,5 – October/November 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 16 of 35 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER The Linguist 17 uncreative and close-minded. Orality is about heterogeneity through performance. Thick translation 'Thick translation' is one strategy for translating texts that are highly embedded in a very different culture. The use of footnotes, endnotes and glossaries are regularly used to explain local terms, phrases or values. 'Négresse en Laisse' by Ndèye Coumba Mbengue Diakhaté is a text that could be translated in this way: 6 Le voile d'or de Ndiaré, De Ndaté, reine sereine, Njimbot Mbodj, la sublime, Et Laama, ma lin'guère! The golden veil of Yoff's spirit Ndiaré, Of Ndaté, serene Queen, who fought the coloniser, And her sister, Njimbot Mbodj, the sublime, And her Majesty, my ruler! Embellishment could be used as an alternative to a glossary, which would need to be extensive, possibly taking away from the reader's experience. However, it is not possible to include all the information you would find in a glossary while keeping some semblance of a poem, and the translator may be left wondering if it is really worth disrupting the rhythms and sounds of the poem simply to include more information within the text. Would it be easier just to take inspiration from the poem and create something entirely new, without feeling some kind of debt to the source-text writer and culture? By embracing the concept of inspiration in translation, it then becomes acceptable to create a new version: 'Waalo' Ndiaré casts her golden veil Over our stolen earth Over our serene kings and queens From Yoff to the Senegalese River And beyond the Atlantic Long departed This poem makes reference to the Waalo kingdom and its location, royalty, colonisation and the Atlantic slave trade. These elements are inferred in the source text but developed and refreshed in the target text. It is not so much about clarifying content, but creating something new. Griot project To test this idea further, it would be interesting to launch a project that would mimic the communication of orality but on the written page, proposing a contemporary need to move beyond strategies of adaptation to a model of 'inspiration'. It would recreate the path of an African oral tale as it is passed from one generation to the next by passing a translated text (in French, English or Wolof) from one translator to another, each only using the last translator's text as a source. Another poem by Mbengue Diakhate could be used as the first step in the process. It is aptly called 'Griot de ma race': Je suis griot de ma race: Poète, troubadour; Je chante très haut ma race, mon sang, Qui clame qui je suis. Bard of my clan: Troubadour and poet; Singing loudly of the clan, Singing loudly of the spirit, That declares who I am. This translation has very different characteristics to the French text. It introduces rhyme, more overt repetition and a jaunty rhythm, as well as shifts in meaning ('race' to 'clan', 'blood' to 'spirit'). You can then imagine how this translation may transform as it is written or translated once again, and then again and again… Similar to Adam Thirlwell's Multiples, 7 which focuses on the changes in a short story, such a project would embrace the continual development over time and space of a poem, and move beyond traditional binaries of source and target in literary translation. It would analyse the translators' increasingly frequent attempts to break down the boundaries of literalism, and embrace adaptation, or inspiration, as a new model for the rewriting of poetry. Notes 1 Salama-Carr, M (2001) 'French Tradition'. In Baker, M, Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 409-415 2 Bandia, P 'African Tradition' (2001). In Ibid 295-305 3 Lord, A B (2000) The Singer of Tales. Cambridge: Harvard UP 4 Finnegan, R (1970) Oral Literature in Africa. Oxford: Clarendon Press 5 Ndiaye Sow, F (1990) Fleurs du Sahel. Dakar: NEA 6 Mbengue Diakhaté, N C (1980) Filles du soleil. Dakar: NEA 7 Thirlwell, A (2013) Multiples: 12 stories in 18 Languages by 61 Authors, Portobello Books ORAL TRADITION Senegalese griot Kadialy Kouyate RICHARD KABY, 'K ADIALY KOUYATE 72', 10/3/12 VIA FLICKR (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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