Translating Multicultural Texts: Challenges and Solutions

by Evgeniia V. Zimina
Department of Romance and Germanic Languages, Kostroma State University, Russia.



Translating literary texts involves decoding not only the language but also the cultural elements integrated into the text. The situation becomes even more challenging if the translated text is multicultural. The original text may be full of references, allusions and subtexts that can present certain difficulties even for native speakers. The translator faces the double challenge: not only to convey the plot, which is the least difficult part but make the reader feel the subtleties and nuances of the cultures presented in the text.

Cultures are not necessarily associated with different ethnic and religious identities. They may also refer to cultures of certain periods in history, cultures of age groups, cultures of local communities. Oversimplifications made by the translator rob the reader of the pleasure of reading and may create a distorted image of the writer and the text.

We aim to analyse typical translation errors made by translators of contemporary Russian fiction into English. The analysis is based on Narine Abgaryan’s Three Apples Fell from the Sky and Dmitry Novikov’s A Flame Out in the Sea, both originally written in Russian and characterised by a high degree of multiculturalism. We also suggest practical ways to overcome the difficulties arising in the process of translating multicultural texts.

Keywords: multiculturalism in translation, lost meanings, translation errors, consistency, extended metaphors, Narine Abgaryan, Dmitry Novikov

This chapter is a part of: Contemporary Translation Studies (Eds. Tian Chuanmao, Ph.D.)

© CSMFL Publications & its authors.


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