Key Features of Post-Colonial Translation

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The Translation process involves communicating the meaning of a source language text by means of a target language. Etymologically, the English word translation, is derived from the Latin word ‘translation’, which means “carrying across”. The process of translation between two different written languages incorporates the changing of an original written text (the source text or ST) in the original verbal language (the source language or SL) into a written text (the target text or TL) in a different verbal language (the target language or TL). An age-old phenomenon, it is one of the basic human activities. GJV Prasad remarks: “all languages are born in translation”. In fact, the Translation process makes possible the coming together and communication among people from various regions and cultures.

Translation has also been an active participant in the process of colonization. It has helped the colonizers to communicate with and govern over the colonized. Although the idea was to gain an exposure of the orient, the secret agenda had been to ‘domesticate’ the Orient.On the other hand, for the colonized section, translation has been a patriotic act of exposing their country’s rich cultural heritage before the world.

Post-colonialism re-reads colonization as a part of the trans-cultural global process and decenters the nation-centred imperial grand narratives. It traces the movement of power and tries to expose the continuing tension of power relations. It is through Post-colonialism that all the exchanges taking places within the global context can be understood.

Post-colonialism is the reading and writing practice which questions the production of knowledge and discourse concerning the other. Translation in this context is understood not just carrying over message from one language to other, bridging the gap between two cultures, it becomes “a strategy of intervention through which newness comes into the world.”

There exists a qualitative difference between the translations of the pre- and the post-colonial period. While the periodization of translations as colonial or post-colonial is a diachronic marker, at the same time, it also encapsulates ideological and political implications. Post-colonial translation studies challenges the notion that knowledge is concentrated in the West and tries to move towards a broader scheme that is skeptical towards received knowledge and takes plurality into account.

Post-colonial translation deals with a major enquiry, i.e. it assesses whether the choice of texts for translation that were used in the colonial times matches the choice of texts in the post-colonial era and how they now serve a completely different political project.

A post-colonial translator addresses an intercultural audience. The translator must intimately understand the thoughts, cultural practices, language and situation of the source text. Thus, the translator’s task is to bridge the difference that exists between the culture of the source text and that of the target text.

Quite often, a translator takes recourse to footnotes, glossaries and prefaces to fill the gap between the two. Since the translator has to represent a vast cultural space, s/he has to make a choice as to which elements of the source text will be retained, and which are the elements that needs to be “domesticated” for the benefit of the target readers. This process of selection is politically and ideologically nuanced.


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Key Features of Post-Colonial Translation. (2020, Dec 15). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/key-features-of-post-colonial-translation/

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