Theoretical literature on poor source texts - suggestions needed
Thread poster: Cryptorchid
Mar 27, 2013

Hi all,

I'm not sure I'm in the right forum for this, but it was the closest I could find... I'm looking for theoretical literature on what you 'should' do as a translator if the source text is very badly written. To what extent should you re-write the original text? Note that I'm not looking for tips on what to do as such; I'm looking for theoretical literature on what to doicon_smile.gif

Any suggestions much appreciated!



Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:44
Chinese to English
I think you won't find much... Mar 27, 2013

...because most theoreticians assume that you never rewrite the source. Could be a very interesting new area to look into.

There's a bit in Newmark - he divides translation into three categories, and if the text is about the real world (journalism, scientific paper, etc.), he says that the translator has an obligation to describe the world accurately - an obligation to truth, as well as to the source text and to readers. That can serve as a justification for altering the source text.

I think I recall seeing some research on what translators do with number errors as well - you'll have to Google. But I don't think I've ever seen anything on rewriting because of poor quality in the source text.

(Though as an aside, if you search for reviews of Mo Yan (following his Nobel win), there's one rather caustic one out there which says Mo can't write at all, and all his style was created by his translator.)


Thank you! Mar 27, 2013

Pretty much as I suspected then... Hm. But thanks for your quick reply thoughicon_smile.gif


GoodWords  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
Becoming a Translator Mar 27, 2013

I don’t remember if Doug Robinson also treats this issue explicitly in his book Becoming a Translator: An Accelerated Course, but it is at least implicit in some parts of Chapter 1.


Oh - great! Mar 27, 2013

Thank you!!


Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:44
Chinese to English
Just thought of something Mar 28, 2013

You could look at the literature on feminist translation. They take an interventionist approach to texts, so you could see what kind of justifications they use, and try to apply them to the cases you're thinking of. Dunno if it would work, but might give you a few things to put on your bibliography at least!


Oh Mar 28, 2013

That's a great idea! Thanks!!!icon_smile.gif


Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:44
German to English
relay translations Mar 28, 2013

Another suggestion like Phil's: Research on "relay translations" is also likely to include a discussion of this topic.


THANK YOU!!! Mar 28, 2013

This is really great!! icon_smile.gif


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Theoretical literature on poor source texts - suggestions needed

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