Volume 8, Issue 6 (2018)                   IQBQ 2018, 8(6): 191-214 | Back to browse issues page

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Bolouri M. Translators’ Agency in Footnotes and Notes of Contemporary Iranian Literary Translators. IQBQ. 2018; 8 (6) :191-214
URL: http://journals.modares.ac.ir/article-14-6415-en.html
Assistant Professor, Department of English Translation Studies, Allameh Tabataba’i University
Abstract:   (798 Views)
The present study examined the translator’s agency on the basis of footnotes and notes written by contemporary Iranian literary translators. The purpose, in the first place, was to classify the content of the footnotes and notes, to find the reasons behind footnote writing, and to reveal patterns of annotation; attempts were then made to analyze the translator’s agency – i.e. their everyday work, activities, roles, as well as their own perception of their duties – on the basis of the data gathered in the first phase. The study, thus, proceeded to answer the following questions: 1) How can the content of the footnotes and notes by contemporary Iranian literary translators be classified? 2) What can be learned about the distribution and abundance of footnotes and the reasons behind footnote and note writing? And 3) How can one analyze literary translators’ agency on the basis of the collected data? Based on the findings of other studies (e.g. Paloposki, 2010), the following hypothesis was stated: the main reason behind footnote writing by Iranian literary translators is to explain the unknown aspects of the source culture to the target language reader and this turns the literary translator into an agent of intercultural communication. To answer the research questions, the footnotes and notes in 24 literary books translated and published recently in Iran were gathered and analyzed based on the model presented by Paloposki (2010). Meanwhile the publishers of the books were interviewed to make sure that the footnotes and notes were written by the translators and not by a different agent. The results showed that the content of the footnotes could be classified into two general groups: 1) explanations on the source language, culture, society and literature, 2) explanations concerning the translation of the work. A large number of footnotes and notes were found in the books examined in the study; on average, there were 2.95 notes on each page and 97.41 notes in each book. This large number of footnotes and notes can be explained with regard to the type of literature analyzed; as the books examined here were all examples of serious, canonized literature in their source cultures, the translators seemed to have strongly felt the need to include their footnotes to explain the unknown aspects of those cultures to the reader and to make the reading of the work an easier experience. The distribution and abundance of the footnotes and notes were very uneven; the number of footnotes and notes in books translated from Western languages (i.e. English, Spanish, Italian, French, German) was considerably larger than the notes found in books translated from Arabic. This can be justified on the basis of the cultural differences between the Iranian and Western cultures on the one hand, and the cultural similarities between the Iranian and Arabic cultures on the other; the translators of the Arabic books seemed to have mostly felt no need to write footnotes on cultural or religious events, since they felt that the reader was already familiar with such facts; on the contrary, the translators of the Anglo-American books sensed more cultural, social and religious differences between the source and target cultures, so they seemed to have provided more explanations in the form of footnotes and notes. The most important reasons behind footnote writing were the need to fill the cultural gap between the source and target societies as well as a willingness to help readers better understand the text and a tendency to justify the translators’ decisions and choices. The translators played the role of a bridge between cultures, a facilitator of intercultural communication, a critic, a teacher and a guide in different situations. The study showed that translators see literary translation as an activity which consists in attempts to explain different aspects of the texts in the form of footnotes and notes and consider their explanations as necessary to the understanding of the readers.
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Article Type: Research Paper | Subject: Sociology of Language
Received: 2017/06/12 | Accepted: 2017/10/3 | Published: 2018/01/21

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