What kind of revision for children’s literature?

Giovanna Scocchera, University of Bologna (Italy)
Adult readers of translated literature form such a heterogeneous group in terms of age, linguistic and cognitive skills, knowledge of the world and reading expectations that any attempt to create a profile of a target reader is rendered futile. Once this state of affairs is accepted, the translator in fact has much greater room for manoeuvre when choosing a translation approach or strategy.  In contrast, when the translator’s task is that of addressing young readers, an age-related linguistic, cognitive and encyclopaedic profile is not only far easier to create but essential, since it is the features of this profile which determine the appropriate translation and revision strategies. In an effort to achieve the right balance between adequacy and acceptability as formulated by Toury (1980), revisors of translated children’s literature must address a series of primarily textual and narrative issues including the credibility of the narrator’s voice, authenticity and idiomaticity of dialogues and tone and register appropriate to both the characters’ and readers’ ages.  In addition, the need for spatial and cultural adaptation strategies must be constantly gauged and any revisions of this type evaluated.  Skillful attention to these considerations may provide a very young reader with sufficient support for a full understanding and appreciation of the text to be achieved.  For a teenage reader, however, the very same strategies may result in “reverse foreignization”, a failure to meet his/her reading expectations and to allow scope for linguistic and cultural development.  In this paper the revision strategies most frequently applied in translated children’s literature will be reviewed and illustrated by examples drawn from the English >Italian language pair.

Giovanna Scocchera has worked as a professional literary translator since 2000. She has translated and revised both adult and children’s literature for several Italian publishing companies. After attending literary translation seminars and workshops both in Italy and abroad as a student, she has become a translator trainer herself and has been involved in leading literary translation courses for over ten years.  She has been teaching English > Italian editorial translation at SSLMIT – Scuola Superiore di Lingue Moderne per Interpreti e Traduttori in Forlì, University of Bologna, for four years and is now a PhD student at the same Institution. Her current interest in literary translation revision is one she applies to academic research but also to her own professional practice and to translator training methodology.