AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

West African Novels in Finnish Translation : Strategies for Africanised English

by Anne-Marie Lindfors

Institution: University of Helsinki
Department: Department of Modern Languages
Year: 2015
Keywords: englantilainen filologia
Record ID: 1130182
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/153241


Abstract This study investigates the translation of anglophone West African novels in Finland. It addresses the question of what happens to the linguistic and cultural hybridity present in the source texts when these are translated into Finnish. Anglophone West African novels often contain words borrowed from local African languages as well as unfamiliar cultural features and nonstandard language varieties, which can be called africanised English. The writers of these texts bend the language of the ex-colonisers to add local colour to their texts and to make the language better express local life. In addition, the use of africanised English may aim at weakening the hegemonic position of English, dismantling the colonial structures in the former colonies and changing the old stereotypes about Africa, i.e. it may have political and ideological functions. Thus far, fifteen anglophone West African novels have been translated into Finnish. The material of the study consists of twelve of these, nine from Nigeria and three from Ghana, and their translations into Finnish. The selected novels were written by nine authors, translated by nine different translators and published in Finland between 1963 and 2010. My hypothesis was that africanised English in hybrid West African novels has been normalised at least to a certain extent in the target texts, as there are no corresponding language varieties in Finnish, and also because the normalisation of linguistic and cultural difference is a general trend in translation practice. The linguistic and cultural details of African source texts and the translation of these features into Finnish have not received much attention in Finland before this study. The method of analysis was descriptive and comparative. I first studied what authorial techniques anglophone West African writers used to africanise their texts, after which pairs of target-text solutions and source-text problems were extracted and the translation relationships between them described. The texts were analysed both qualitatively and quantitatively, with a view to discovering general patterns in the relationships which would make it possible to establish the concepts of translation and to speculate on the nature of the norms that have governed the translating of the texts. The period of 47 years covered by my material was expected to make it possible to detect changes that may have taken place in Finnish translation practice and norms. Contrary to my expectation, the results of the analysis show that the translators of the twelve texts were inclined to retain the hybridity present in the source texts (foreignisation), but it was also observed that more recent target texts showed a trend towards less marked renderings (domestication). Both translation approaches have their problems: foreignised target texts may be considered uninteresting and even incomprehensible by target readers, while domesticated translations may affect the functions of the postcolonial source texts by maintaining the prevailing attitudes…