The work of professional translators consist of something more than just instinctive translation of
a text. It is therefore not reasonable to expect a person who is just starting out in translation studies to demonstrate a level of knowledge equal to that of a translation agency. By learning, students have the opportunity to learn how to deal with translation problems, which result from insufficient knowledge related to a country, unfamiliarity with adequate vocabulary or lack of appropriate tools for the job. In this regard, what are the problems students come across the most?

Intertextuality, i.e. the links between the texts

Some texts have hidden second meanings within them, which require additional analysis and the necessary knowledge from the translator. Intertextuality is the study of relationships between texts. According to the Dictionary of the Polish Language PWN, “intertextual” means “concerning the links between a literary work and other literary works”. It is a phenomenon that it most likely to be observed by someone astute and perceptive, or someone who has encountered this phenomenon in the course of their studies, and is therefore prepared for the possibility of its presence in the work they are currently engaged in.

Students are most likely to have to work with intertextuality in classes where they are involved in translating journalistic and literary texts, for instance children’s stories, in which it usually occurs frequently. In the case of a text that was originally written in the translator’s native language, it is important to identify all the possible links between items during one of the first contacts with the text. In a situation in which the text is translated from a foreign language into the translator’s native language, it is important to understand the text well, to identify any elements that may be examples of intertextuality, and to focus on finding equivalents that are understandable to the recipients.

Domestication and foreignisation – what it is about

The first thing students ought to do before translating is to analyse the text. They have to establish its audience and choose a translation strategy suitable for the item. Most usually, the choice is between domestication and foreignisation. The first phenomenon is about bringing the text as close as possible to the target culture by simplifying the text, or by adding elements that the translator considers important. Domestication assumes translating the work in a way that makes the recipients feel like they are reading the original text, which can be achieved by changing a section of the work to be more suitable for a given culture, e.g. by replacing a joke with one that will also entertain in the target language.

When it comes to foreignisation, the translator is put under the obligation to provide a translation faithful to the original, by keeping identical forms and terms, in this case the joke should be left in its original form, which is not entirely entertaining and understandable to the audience. It is then useful to add a footnote that explains the given term, and refers to the culture of the country in question.

It is completely normal that students at the beginning of their careers will encounter issues or situations that are perplexing to them or that they partly do not understand. However, it is important to remember than everyone started out once and had to deal with the problems, minor or major, that lie in wait for translators in almost every work.


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