Traversing the unfamiliar: German translations of Aboriginality in James Vance Marshall's The Children and Phillip Gwynne's Deadly Unna? and Nukkin Ya

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The tendency for Western cultures to emphasise imperial attitudes and experiences in their literature has been described by Edward Said as the primary means by which colonised people assert their identity and the existence of their own history (xii). The tradition of Australian children s literature, which first grew out of contributions made by European colonisers and largely ignored any indigenous past has been referred to as a product of colonial history (Bradford, Representing Indigeneity 90) and a shamelessly racist catalogue of prejudice and misinformation, of superficial cliches, offensive stereotyping and entirely subjective interpretation (McVitty 7). Historians Robert Hodge and Vijay Mishra use the term Aboriginalism - a variation of Said s notion of Orientalism - to describe the way in which colonial powers traditionally constructed ideas about the colonised other within patterns of discourse, aptly masking their racist objective and appearing to function constructively (27). Focusing on three Australian children s texts translated into German, this paper examines how the notion of Aboriginality - at different points in time - is presented in the source text and dealt with in translation. While consideration of the purpose - the skopos (Vermeer 1989/2004) - of the translation forming the backbone of contemporary translation theory, the so-called aims of children s literary translation also cast an important light on the way in which translation strategies are informed. Furthering the international outlook and understanding of young readers remains the most commonly agreed upon objective of children s literary translation. In real terms, the execution of this aim often comes down to the decision to foreignise or domesticate. The problem, as translator Anthea Bell writes, is that one wants readers of the translated text to feel that they are getting the real book, as close as possible to the original , but which - vitally - includes respecting
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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