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Positioning Translators – Theo Hermans (UCL) – Guest Lecture Cardiff University MLANG 29.10.14

theo hermans

  Theo Hermans is from University College London (UCL) and works in translation studies and in modern and Renaissance Dutch literature. His guest lecture at Cardiff University was to develop his ideas in his recent ‘Positioning Translators’ paper. Theo edits the series Translation Theories Explored published by Routledge. This was my first extra-curricular lecture at Cardiff University. We prepared for the lecture with a seminar in the afternoon run by my personal tutor, Dorota Goluch. I’d read Theo’s paper and it had been a little profound for me to take it all in yet after Dorota’s seminar I was feeling a little more confident in understanding the idea of ‘Positioning Translators’ and was ready fro the main event. Theo Hermans entered a jam-packed MLANG lecture theatre and under the light of recording video cameras, got his talk underway. Many of the ideas and examples were taken straight from the paper, but Theo had an excellent way of simplifying the ideas and making them more accessible in the lecture than they were in the plain text of the paper. He started with the example of Antjie Krog, a SoutH African translator who was deeply emotionally affected by his interpreting work for the South African Truth And Reconciliation commission as it sought to uncover the wrongs of apartheid. He talked of First Person Displacement – the way in which a translator or interpreter can get caught up in their work. Antjie Krog found that by referring to the unjust crimes as he interpreting them by using the first-person, he could not separate his won identity from the dark sins perpetuated by the more evil elements of the apartheid instigators. The lecture went on to develop how translators themselves are affected in their work and the various techniques they use to impose themselves on the reader. I think one of the biggest ideas that embedded in my mind from Theo’s talk was the nature of Irony in Translation. In a translated work there is not just a single voice talking. The author has his voice but the translator, in his work, has his own voice represented in the work. There is therefore two voices present, struggling against each other – the element of irony where the nature of what is being said has a duality. Different translators cope with this irony in different ways. Is the perfect translation where the translator is invisible? The…

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