Dissertation: Experienced Shakespeare translators negotiate themselves a stronger voice

Uutisen oletuskuva
M.Sc. Nestori Siponkoski’s study concentrates on the significance of the textual interplay of translators and editors in the context of an editing process relating to a contemporary project of translating Shakespeare’s dramatic works into Finnish. The field of the study is English language/translation studies.
(kuva/picture: flickrcc)

The study set out to explore how the interplay during the editing process affects the translation process and the translations themselves and, most importantly, how the status of the play as well as the translator governs this interplay. The interplay was approached in terms of negotiation which emphasizes the significance of power, authority and compromise.

– The interplay between the agents is mostly affected by the status of the translator. The voices of the established translators are stronger in relation to the non-established ones, that is, they are more likely to choose a negotiation strategy that bypasses the editorial comment. The translator’s status has an effect on how the editors comment the translation solutions, Siponkoski tells.

In addition to the collectivity of literary translation and the significance of the work of editors, the study also emphasizes the status and expertise of the translators. Thus it contributes to the recent discussions on literary authorship, the role of editors and the quality of translations.

The project (2004–2013) was commissioned by WSOY, a major publishing house in Finland. The primary material consists of the manuscripts of four contemporary Finnish translations of Shakespeare’s tragedies as well as the final versions of these plays published between 2004 and 2009. The manuscripts also contain the handwritten comments made by two in-house copyeditors and one external consultant.

Each of these tragedies was translated by a different translator, and these four translators were divided into established and non-established according to their experience as Finnish Shakespeare translators. Similarly, the four plays were divided into canonized and non-canonized according to their position in the Finnish literary/theatrical system. All manuscripts represent the first full drafts which served as the basis for the published versions.

The interplay of the translators and editors was analyzed by tracing the remnants of their textual interaction with the aid of a comparative textual analysis. The analysis consisted of three distinct stages, during which the negotiation strategies of the translators and editors were determined and described, and the interplay of these strategies and the significance thereof was assessed.

The analysis was conducted within a varied theoretical framework, the overarching point of view being André Lefevere’s systems-oriented idea of translation as rewriting and a process controlled by various control factors and governed by various constraints. This thesis defined the agents taking part in the editing process in terms of professionals and patronage, and the interplay between the agents as setting and negotiating various constraints. The negotiation strategies of the editors were defined in terms of the concept of normative expectations deriving from Descriptive Translation Studies, and those of the translators in terms of habitus deriving from Pierre Bourdieu’s sociology.

Public examination

The public examination of Nestori Siponkoski´s doctoral dissertation “Translation Under Negotiation. The Textual Interplay of Translators and Editors in Contemporary Finnish Shakespeare Translation” is on Friday 5th September at 12 o´clock in auditorium Kurtén (Tervahovi).

Professor Theo Hermans from the University College London will act as an opponent and professor Sirkku Aaltonen as a custos.

Did you like the article?