Collaborative translation of poetry: negotiating priorities

Sally Burgess, Clara Curell and Carmen Toledano Buendía — Universidad de La Laguna (Tenerife, Spain)
In this presentation we will briefly describe the working methods of the University of La Laguna’s Literary Translation Workshop (ULLLTW), focussing particularly on poetic translation. After defining the group’s objectives and describing the way in which these are prioritized and negotiated, we will focus on instances of explicitation - the introduction into the target text of information merely implicit in the source text (Vinay and Darbelnet, 1958).

Blum Kulka (1986), who argues that explicitation  is a translation universal, was concerned largely with explicitation of cohesion, but other researchers have noted additional motives, among them differences in syntactic and semantic structures (Englund Dimitrova 1993) mismatches in cultural background knowledge (Pym 1993) and the translation process itself (Séguinot, 1988). Many of these studies describe cognitive processes in the translation of prose but less has been said about explicitation in the translation of poetry and less still about the effect of the circumstances in which translators work on translation shifts.

Drawing on examples from drafts and published translations into Spanish of several poetic texts as well as notes taken during the ULLLTW sessions, we will show how shifts both towards and away from explicitation are motivated both by features of the source texts and the working context and objectives of the ULLLTW.  Group discussion of a draft translation can lead to a target language (TL) text which is more explicit than the source language (SL) text and in which the reader’s interpretative options are constrained. While this may be a frequent temptation in English to Spanish translation, for languages more proximate to Spanish such as French or Catalan the impetus is not as strong.
Sally Burgess, Clara Curell Aguilà and Carmen Toledano Buendía are all members of the University of La Laguna’s Literary Translation Workshop and have published translations in collaboration with the group. Carmen Toledano Buendía is also the Director of the ULL’s Masters in Conference Interpreting and the Postgraduate Diploma in Community Services Translation and Interpreting. Clara Curell Aguilá lectures on translation in the Department of French Philology at the ULL and is a member of the research group Fran-Can, which examines cultural relationships between France and the Canary Islands. Sally Burgess is a lecturer in the English Philology department and is a member of the ENEIDA research group currently engaged in a nationally funded research project examining Spanish researchers’ publication motivations, strategies and training needs.