X-Raying the Translation of Literary Style

Constantine Ngoran


The complicated nature of literature is reflected in the complicated nature of literary style. If literature and literary style are difficult concepts to define with precision, their translation from one language to another should be expected to be either as complicated as the concepts themselves or even more complicated. The difficulty involved in the translation of literature and literary style is evidenced by the variety and diverse literary translation procedures translation scholars and researchers have proposed over the years. This paper attempts a review of some of the most prominent of these literary translation procedures and proposes a definite procedure for the translation of all literary works. The procedure involves analysis of the source text using various literary criticism approaches, identification of the stylistic devices or the indicators of style or what is sometimes called ‘stylistic invariants’ and then using basically foreignization or the literal translation procedure to translate all the identified indicators of style or stylistic devices, and domestication or oblique translation that should be used only where foreignization would be unintelligible and nonsensical. In other words, foreignization, operationalized through the literal translation procedure, calque and borrowing, should be the rule in the translation of literary works, while domestication or the oblique translation method should be the exception where lateral translation would be overtly incorrect.


Domestication, Foreignization, Literary style, Translation procedures, Stylisitc decives

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