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- On Errors in Rendering the Critique of Neo-Liberalism in the Polish Translations of Two Books by Joseph E. Stiglitz
- Las huellas de la dominación: traduciendo el léxico de la salud
- Textes et Paratextes du Manuscrit trouvé à Saragosse de Jean Potocki D’après l’exemple d’un intertexte méconnu : Chroniques, mémoires et recherches pour servir à l’histoire de tous les peuples slaves
- La Proprietas française à l’épreuve : Étienne le Blanc, premier traducteur des discours de Cicéron
- Asymmetrien im Kulturtransfer der Geschichtsverdrängung am Beispiel des Wassermotivs in der polnischen Übersetzung von Elfriede Jelineks Die Kinder der Toten
- Autour d’un poème de Philippe Desportes et de sa fortune en Pologne : traductions et polémiques
- Translation of Religious Texts of Judaism: A Case Study of the Mishnah
- Pourquoi une clé anglaise n’est-elle pas anglaise en polonais ?
- Газетные публикации СССР в связи с юбилеем Ф.М. Достоевского в 1956 году: попытка перевода художественной системы писателя на язык советской идеологии/A Content Analysis of Feature Articles Published on the 9th of February 1956: A Translation of the Language of Dostoevsky’s Artistic World to Soviet Political Language
- Littérature orale et transferts culturels : étude des chansons camerounaises contemporaines de Donny Elwood
- Роман Ф.М. Достоевского Идиот в переводе на язык кино (Идиот Ж. Лампена, Идиот А. Куросавы, Шальная любовь А. Жулавского)/“The Idiot” by F. Dostoevsky into the Language of Cinema (Film Adaptations “L’idiot” by G. Lampin, “The Idiot” by Akira Kurosawa and “L’amour Braque” by Andrzej Żuławski)
- Идеологические манипуляции миросозерцанием Ф.М. Достоевского в современном польском политическом контексте/Ideological Manipulations of the World Outlook F.M. Dostoevsky in the Modern Polish Political Context
- От свидетельства к истории, или Перевод как кнструмент идеологической аранжировки
- De l’autodafé à l’anthologie : censure et traduction d’Étienne Durand (1586–1618)
- Science Fiction Neologisms in Translation: The Translation of Selected Ideas in The Futurological Congress by Stanisław Lem
- Premiers éléments pour les traductions grecques de la littérature française sous les deux régimes dictatoriaux (1936/1941 et 1967/1974)
- Censure et propagande : le cas particulier de Wikipédia
- Translator as a Second Author: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in Grzegorz Wasowski’s Translation
- Der Begriff „Bildung“ und seine Übersetzungen ins Polnische am Beispiel der politischen Schriften von Thomas Mann
- Sakrale oder Umgangssprache?
- Why Study the Ethics of Interpreting?
- Elementos culturales y paratextos en la traducción española del Diario: la Divina Misericordia en mi alma de Santa María Faustina Kowalska
- The Medieval Idea of a Morality Play in Carol Ann Duffy’s Adaptation of Everyman
- Die Schlacht am Kahlenberg in den österreichischen und polnischen Schulbüchern für Geschichte
- Translatio and the Making of Chinese Modernity During the Late Qing Period (1894–1911)
- Index alphabétique
- Liste cyrillique
On Errors in Rendering the Critique of Neo-Liberalism in the Polish Translations of Two Books by Joseph E. Stiglitz
Abstract: The paper looks at a number of errors in fragments of the Polish translations of two books by the Nobel-prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz that present a critique of neo-liberal policy recommendations by such institutions as the IMF or World Bank. It is hypothesized that some of those errors could be facilitated and/or reinforced by the translators and editors of the Polish versions being imbued in the very neo-liberal discourse that Stiglitz criticizes.
Keywords: translation, translation errors, neo-liberalism, Joseph E. Stiglitz, economy, globalization, market fundamentalism, criticism, equity
Perhaps one of the best known economic ideas of the Western world is Adam Smith’s concept of liberalism, with its famous metaphor of the “invisible hand” of the market. According to it, the economy can function efficiently when it is based on competition within a free market (cf. Backhouse, 2002: 125–16). Since it was first formulated over two hundred years ago (An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations appeared in 1776), the ideas presented in Smith’s model have been served as a benchmark for both those who see it a source of inspiration and those who espouse quite different economic views. This concerns primarily economists, but politicians, too, often take a stand on, or are even directly influenced by, ideas deriving from Smith’s concept. Indeed, in the last two decades of the 20th century, the free-market idea underpinned major economic policies in the USA and in Great Britain. It also provided the ideological basis for the policies of the so-called Washington Consensus, a set of economic policy recommendations agreed upon by such international bodies as the International Monetary Fund or World Bank, in line with some of the economic policies followed in the USA. This had a major impact on the world economy, influencing the transformation of the ex-communist economies of East-Central Europe and shaping the course of economic globalization worldwide.
A critical view of how the free-market ideology affected globalization is presented in two books by the 2001 Nobel-prize winning economist, Joseph E. Stiglitz (2002, 2006). The books, addressed to a general, educated reader, deal with a number of problems involved in globalization, in its economic and social dimensions. One of the key points made by Stiglitz is that the free-market approach of the Washington Consensus, whose policy recommendations were based, he argues, on outdated and empirically unconfirmed economic models, led to a ←9 | 10→number of adverse developments in the emerging economies, thus causing globalization to be resented in many parts of the world. The current paper looks at how well the author’s critique of what he calls market fundamentalism was rendered in the Polish translations of the two books (Stiglitz, 2004, 2007), and focuses in particular on a number of translation errors in fragments important for the author’s argument. It also tries to account for the factors that may have contributed to those errors having been overlooked in the translation and editorial process.
2 A Brief Look at the Critique of Market Fundamentalism in the Books by Joseph E. Stiglitz
In his critique of international institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and WTO, and the policy recommendations they formulated for the economies of developing and ex-communist nations, Stiglitz points out that – contrary to the stated objectives of promoting global economic growth and well-being – their free-market fundamentalist (or neo-liberal)approach ultimately contributed to globalization having an adverse effect on countries which were supposed to benefit either from economic globalization, or from the advice and aid on the part of those institutions. Two quotations from Stiglitz’s first book (2002), in which he makes references both to the science of economics and to historical experiences, can serve as apt illustration of his argument; cf.:
Behind the free market ideology there is a model, often attributed to Adam Smith, which argues that market forces […] drive the economy to efficient outcomes as if by an invisible hand. […] [M];ore recent advances in economic theory […] have shown that whenever information is imperfect and markets incomplete, which is to say always, and especially in developing countries, then the invisible hand works most imperfectly. […]
The Washington Consensus policies, however, were based on a simplistic model of the market economy […], in which Adam Smith’s invisible hand works, and works perfectly. Because in the model there is no need for government – that is, free, unfettered, “liberal” markets work perfectly – the Washington Consensus policies are sometimes referred to as “neo-liberal,” based on “market fundamentalism” […]. In the aftermath of the Great Depression and the recognition of other failings of the market system […], these free market policies have been widely rejected in the more advanced industrial countries […].
(Stiglitz, 2002: 73–74)
The discontent with globalization arises not just from economics seeming to be pushed over everything else, but because a particular view of economics – market fundamentalism – is pushed over all other views. Opposition to globalization in many parts of the world is not to globalization per se […] but to the particular set of doctrines, the Washington Consensus policies that the international financial institutions have imposed.
(Stiglitz, 2002: 220–221)←10 | 11→
Stiglitz’s ultimate aim is to account for some of the failings of globalization, as well as to propose guidelines to improve its course and to change attitudes towards it.
Some of the relevant main critical points made by Stiglitz can be summarized as follows:
– a neo-liberal (or market-fundamentalist) approach wrongly assumes that the market always leads to economic efficiency and economic growth;
– the above approach also incorrectly assumes that where there is growth, everyone will automatically benefit from it; the issue of fair distribution of the benefits of growth, and more generally – of social justice, comes to the fore here.
3 Renditions of the Notion of “Equity” in the Polish Translations
An important facet of Stiglitz’s critique of market fundamentalism, and of the recommendations of international institutions such as the IMF or World Bank, is that neo-liberal policies fail to take into account social concerns, giving priority to economic efficiency and the assumed concomitant economic growth, at the expense of social cohesion and values such as social justice, fairness and equity. Central to the argument made by Stiglitz is the notion of “equity”, contrasted with the notion of (economic) “efficiency”, as in “equity-efficiency trade-offs” – it is the renditions of this notion (and its derivatives) in the Polish translations that the current section has as its focus.
While the term “equity” in the relevant sense is not to be found in the 2002 book (although it is used in the financial sense of “net worth” – Stiglitz, 2002: 110), the related notions of “fairness” and “social justice” feature in it quite strongly (see, for instance, Stiglitz, 2002: 78 and Stiglitz, 2002: 218, respectively).1 There is nothing that would pose any problems in the Polish translation of those notions. However, Stiglitz also writes of “inequities”, and here a problem does appear in the Polish translation: the noun “nierówności” (meaning “inequalities”) was used – this is potentially a classic case of a misinterpretation error, where two similar words are confused (see Hejwowski, 2004: 210; 2015: 299–300); cf. (all underlining mine – TK):←11 | 12→
This is especially the case when it is believed that there are massive inequities – such as billions going to corporate and financial bailout in Indonesia, leaving nothing left for those forced into unemployment.
(Stiglitz, 2002: 219)
[…] Jest tak zwłaszcza wtedy, gdy panuje przekonanie o istnieniu ogromnych nierówności – na przykład kiedy miliardy idą na wyciągnięcie z tarapatów sektora przedsiębiorstw i sektora finansowego w Indonezji i nic nie zostaje dla wyrzuconych na bruk.
(Stiglitz, 2004: 196)
This error seems rather surprising on several counts. Let us first look at the context in which the above fragment appears:
Adam Smith was far more aware of the limitations of the market […] than those who claim to be his latterday followers. Smith was too aware of the social and political context in which all economies must function. Social cohesion is important if an economy is to function […] But while social cohesion can affect economic performance, the converse is also true: excessively austere policies – whether they be contractionary, or fiscal policies in Argentina, or cutting off food subsidies to the poor in Indonesia – predictably give rise to turmoil. This is especially the case … [etc.]
(Stiglitz, 2002: 219)
The case of Indonesia being affected by IMF recommendations is discussed earlier in the book; cf. Stiglitz’s mention of the IMF’s insistence on the country “abolishing subsidies for food and kerosene (the fuel used for cooking by the poor) just as IMF policies had exacerbated the country’s recession, with incomes and wages falling and unemployment soaring” (Stiglitz, 2002: 77) – this ultimately led to riots, which had a further adverse impact on the economic situation.
There is thus talk of the interrelationship between social cohesion, on the one hand, and economic performance and/or policies, on the other. The phrase “when it is believed that there are massive inequities” clearly points to social attitudes, a sense of moral outrage at the government for not being fair to the poor (especially the unemployed), rather than to any putative assessments relating to the lack of equality (what entities would the alleged inequalities refer to in the quoted fragment, anyway?).
The error is also surprising because elsewhere in the book the translator had no problems in recognizing the ethical aspect of equity and rendering the related adjective “equitable” as “godziwy” (“suitable, fair, just”; cf. Stiglitz, 2002: xvi and 251, and Stiglitz, 2004: 12 and 222, respectively), although in at least one other case the Polish rendition of “[more] equitable” – as relating to growth – was less fortunate, if not altogether wrong, being “[bardziej] równomierny” (“[more] steady, even, uniform”; cf. Stiglitz, 2002: 53 and Stiglitz, 2004: 62).
Finally, on a more mundane level, had the translator (and/or editor) decided to consult a bilingual dictionary, such as one of the renowned English-Polish ←12 | 13→dictionaries available at the time when the book was translated (i.e. between 2002 and 2004), they would have found that “niesprawiedliwość, niesłuszność” are given as the Polish equivalents of “inequity” in the relevant sense (cf. Stanisławski, 1968: 424; Fisiak, 2003: 747; Linde-Usiekniewicz, 2002: 606; although the last dictionary also provides the highly dubious gloss of “social inequity” as “nierówność społeczna”, that solution is rather infelicitous and obviously not relevant to the current context).2
In the 2006 book, the author refers to “equity” on several occasions. The first two cases, in the preface, involve an explicit juxtaposition of “efficiency“ and “equity“, and are rendered correctly in Polish as “sprawiedliwość” (“justness”, “fairness”, “equity” – on the Polish dictionary equivalents of “equity”, see Stanisławski, 1968: 273; Fisiak, 2003: 488; Linde-Usiekniewicz, 2002: 395); cf.:
It used to be that conservatives could appeal to Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” – the notion that markets and the pursuit of self-interest would lead, as if by an invisible hand, to economic efficiency. Even if they could admit that markets, by themselves, might not engender a socially acceptable distribution of income, they argued that issues of efficiency and equity should be separated.
In this conservative view, economics is about efficiency, and issues of equity (which, like beauty, so often lies in the eye of the beholder) should be left to politics.
(Stiglitz, 2006: xiv)
[…] Nawet jednak wtedy, gdy musieli przyznać, że rynki same przez się nie musza tworzyć społecznie akceptowanego podziału dochodu, nadal twierdzili, że kwestie efektywności i sprawiedliwości należy traktować oddzielnie.
Według tego konserwatywnego poglądu, ekonomia dotyczy efektywności, a kwestie sprawiedliwości (która, podobnie jak piękno, zależy od tego, kto ją ocenia) należy pozostawić polityce.
(Stiglitz, 2007: 11)
There is also a case of a correct rendition of the adjective “equitable” as “sprawiedliwy” (see Stiglitz, 2006: 44 and 2007: 62).
Overall, however, there is a whole range of renditions of “equity” as “równość”, i.e. “equality”, thus resembling the erroneous rendition of “inequity”, or rather “inequities”, in the 2002 book (cf. Stiglitz, 2006: 17 and 2007: 36; Stiglitz, 2006: 27 and 2007: 47; Stiglitz, 2006: 27 and 2007: 47; Stiglitz, 2006: 35 and 2007: 54; Stiglitz, 2006: 46 and 2007: 64).3 Perhaps the most significant of those errors is the one where the ethical aspects of equity are explicitly mentioned in the original; cf.:←13 | 14→
I believe that it is important for countries to focus on equity, on ensuring that the fruits of growth are widely shared. There is a compelling moral case for equity; but it is also necessary if there is to be sustained growth.
(Stiglitz, 2006: 27)
Uważam, że bardzo ważne jest skupienie uwagi na równości, na zapewnieniu, żeby owoce wzrostu były szeroko odczuwane. Wynika to nie tylko z zasad moralnych, ale jest też konieczne z uwagi na trwałość wzrostu.
(Stiglitz, 2007: 47)
Now, there are, undoubtedly, some connections between the notion of “equity” and that of “equality”; thus, wherever significant social inequality (and particularly income inequality) is involved, one can hardly conceive of equity. Yet the two notions are certainly not identical – and in the context of economics it would be odd to talk of equality as such. Indeed, Stiglitz often mentions issues concerned with equality in the two books, but when he does so, he writes of more or greater equality, or of reducing inequality; and that makes economic sense, because too much inequality may threaten the economy by leading to social instability (cf. Stiglitz, 2002: 79, 153–154; 2006: xv, xvi–xvii, 8, 13, 49, 137), or it may weaken it by decreasing demand (cf. Stiglitz, 2002/2017: 387–388).
Remarkably, a rendition of “equity” (used in the quasi-term “equity-efficiency trade-offs”) as “równość” occurs also where the notions of “equity” and “equality” are mentioned within one paragraph; cf.:
But while resource-rich countries could (and I would argue should) have more equality than others seemingly less fortunate, that is not how it turns out. The distribution of wealth is not determined by a careful balancing of equity-efficiency trade-offs. It is not determined by reference to principles of social justice; rather, it is the result of naked power.
(Stiglitz, 2006: 137)
Lecz pomimo, iż bogate w zasoby kraje mogłyby (a twierdziłbym, że powinny) mieć więcej równości od innych, mających być może mniej szczęścia, to wcale nie dzieje się tak w rzeczywistości. Podziału bogactwa nie określa się przez zamienne wyważanie równości i efektywności. Nie określa się go przez powoływanie się na zasady sprawiedliwości społecznej; jest on raczej wynikiem nagiej siły.
(Stiglitz, 2007: 154)
On the whole, it must be said that the repeated use of Polish equivalents meaning “equality” for the English term “equity”, in the translation of the 2006 book, affects the quality of the translation in an obviously adverse way – it is, after all, one of the major notions in the author’s argument that fails to be correctly rendered in the Polish version.←14 | 15→
4 Some Other Errors in Translation
The errors discussed above are not the only ones to appear in the fragments relating to the critique of market fundamentalism made by Stiglitz in his books. Presented below is an overview of some of the most pertinent errors found in the material from the 2006 book collected for the purpose of discussion in section 3.
The first fragment where errors occur has already been signalled in section 3, as it involves the notion of “equity”; cf.:
In practice, the Washington Consensus put little emphasis on equity. Some of its advocates believed in trickle-down economics, that somehow all would benefit […]. Others believed that equity was the province of politics, not economics: economists should focus on efficiency, and the Washington Consensus policies, they believed, would deliver on that.
(Stiglitz, 2006: 27)
W praktyce konsens waszyngtoński nie przykładał wagi do równości społecznej. Niektórzy z jego zwolenników wierzyli w teorię “trickle-down”* – że w jakiś sposób wszyscy będą odnosić korzyści […]. Inni uważali, że równość jest polem do działania dla politologii, a nie ekonomii: ekonomia powinna się skupić na efektywności, a polityka konsensu waszyngtońskiego, jak sądzili, zapewni równość.
(Stiglitz, 2007: 47)
Not only is “equity” wrongly rendered as “[social] equality” (“równość [społeczna]”), but also the equivalent “politics” is wrong, as “politologia” refers to “political science” (the translator should have used “polityka”).4 Above all, however, the pronoun “that” was incorrectly interpreted as referring to “equity” (again wrongly rendered as “equality”)rather than to [economic] “efficiency” – a possible back-translation of the last clause of the Polish version would be: “economics should focus on efficiency, and the Washington Consensus policies, they believed, would deliver on equality”.
There are two points of interest as regards the translation of the above fragment into Polish. One is the failure to notice that in an earlier passage which involved an explicit juxtaposition ofefficiency and equity, the latter term was translated as “sprawiedliwość” – see the above-quoted fragment from the preface and its rendition in Polish (Stiglitz, 2006: xiv and Stiglitz, 2007: 11). The other is that confusing efficiency with equity (wrongly interpreted as equality) not only goes against the message of the book, but is also inexplicable in terms of the general knowledge of ←15 | 16→the translator or editor (cf. Hejwowski, 2015: 307), for neither equality nor equity are values associated with the Washington Consensus or, more generally, with the free-market approach.
Two other examples of obvious translation errors come from fragments that deal with the growing inequality and the notion of “trickle-down economics”, i.e. the assumed spreading of the benefits of economic growth to all social strata.
The first again involves a number of erroneous lexical and grammatical translational choices; cf. (the most relevant fragment has been back-translated into English; underlining and translation mine – TK):
The globalizers of the past twenty years may have thought that the economic doctrines they pushed for through the international institutions would by now have succeeded so well in enhancing the well-being of everyone that all would be forgiven. Perhaps they hoped that even if there were growing inequality, so long as there was enough money trickling down, the poor could be placated.
(Stiglitz, 2006: 288)
Rzecznicy globalizacji z ubiegłych dwudziestu lat mogą uważać, że doktryny ekonomiczne, które głosili poprzez instytucje międzynarodowe, odniosły tak duży sukces w podnoszeniu dobrobytu, że można im wybaczyć pewne niedoskonałości. Prawdopodobnie mieli oni nadzieję, że nawet gdyby wzrosła nierówność społeczna, to jak długo będzie pod dostatkiem pieniądza, który będzie „przeciekał w dół”, można będzie łagodzić los ubogich.
(Stiglitz, 2007: 298)
[… one would be able to alleviate the lot of the poor]
There is an obviously infelicitous lexical choice involving the use of the verb “głosić” (“advocate”) as equivalent for the much stronger “push for”, which hardly reflects the aggressive nature of market fundamentalism, as suggested by Stiglitz. Another problem is the translator’s failure to see the future-oriented, predictive nature of the phrase “would by now have succeeded so well” – the past tense form “would” is used for reasons of so-called backshifting, a phenomenon unique for the grammar of English; the Polish version employs the past tense form “odniosły”, instead of the future tense form “odniosą” (it also lacks the future auxiliary “będzie” with the modal verb “można”, further on in the clause). This is strange, as the next sentence begins with the future-oriented “they hoped” (correctly rendered as “mieli nadzieję”); it also presupposes that the successes were real, rather than just anticipated (cf. Stiglitz’s conclusion of this paragraph: “As we have seen, for too many the promised benefits did not materialize” – Stiglitz, 2006: 289).
Crucially, however, the above fragment involves a blatant translation error: there is an obvious difference between “placating the poor” and “alleviating the lot of the poor” (as in the Polish translation); the latter suggests no response on the part of the poor to the growing inequality, and thus weakens the strength of Stiglitz’s ←16 | 17→criticism of the trickle-down approach (and neo-liberalism as such), relating to its neglect of the social aspects of economic policies.
The other example involves a significant textual omission, which contributes to making the text of the translation lose its coherence and to removing the ironic sting out of Stiglitz’s criticism of market fundamentalism (the omitted fragment is marked with underlining and the omission itself is marked as Ø); cf.:
There are three ways in which the advanced industrial countries can respond to those challenges. One is to ignore the problem and accept the growing inequality. Those who take this position […] emphasize the underlying strengths of a market economy and its ability to respond to change: we may not know where the new jobs will be created, they say, but so long as we allow markets to work their magic, new jobs will be created. It is only when […]a government interferes with market processes by protecting jobs, that there are problems with unemployment.
But in both Europe and America, this approach is not working […]
(Stiglitz, 2006: 273)
… Ci, którzy zajmują takie stanowisko […] podkreślają siłę mechanizmów gospodarki rynkowej i jej zdolność do reagowania na zmiany; możemy nawet nie zdawać sobie sprawy, gdzie będą powstawać nowe miejsca pracy. Ø A problemy z bezrobociem występują tylko wówczas […] gdy rząd, chroniąc miejsca pracy, wtrąca się do procesów gospodarczych.
Jednak ani w Europie, ani w Ameryce, to stanowisko nie zdało egzaminu […]
(Stiglitz, 2007: 284)
Omission of the ironic mention of “markets work[ing] their magic” seems to go against the author’s intention, and the author’s credibility is further undermined by the lack of coherence in the translated version (the Polish version in effect has a sequence whose back-translation into English would read: “[they] emphasize the strengths of the mechanisms of a market economy and its ability to respond to change; we may even not know where the new jobs will be created. It is only when […]a government interferes with market processes by protecting jobs, that there are problems with unemployment.”)
Les auteurs abordent aussi bien des cas qui autorisent à identifier certains motifs et éléments récurrents accompagnant le processus de la translatio. La récurrence de ces aspects permet de formuler certains principes et règles, concernant le transfert langagier.
This book, a product of the "Translatio and the History of Ideas" conference and the third volume in the Translatio cycle, brings together contributions reflecting the advances in research on the Translatio and its role in the march of ideas. We see various conceptualizations of the image of the Other and his universe, due to the ideological and political determinants of the language transfer process. The objective of the investigations is to measure the inflections induced by the Translatio, the passage from one culture to another.
The authors approach the cases that allow identification of certain patterns and recurring elements accompanying the process of the Translatio. The recurrence of these aspects makes it possible to formulate certain rules and principles concerning language transfer.
Résumé des informations
- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (ePUB)
- ISBN (MOBI)
- ISBN (Relié)
- Date de parution
- 2019 (Juin)
- translatio original et traduction déterminants du transfert langagier idéologie censure image de l‘Autre
- Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2019. 292 pp.