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Translating Emotion

Studies in Transformation and Renewal Between Languages


Edited By Kathleen Shields and Michael Clarke

This collection of essays can be situated in a development that has been underway in translation studies since the early 1990s, namely the increasing focus on translators themselves: translators as embodied agents, not as instruments or conduits. The volume deals with different kinds of emotion and different levels of the translation process. For example, one essay examines the broad socio-cultural context, and others focus on the social event enacted in translation, or on the translator’s own performative act. Some of the essays also problematize the linguistic challenges posed by the cultural distance of the emotions embodied in the texts to be translated.
The collection is broad in scope, spanning a variety of languages, cultures and periods, as well as different media and genres. The essays bring diverse questions to a topic rarely directly addressed and map out important areas of enquiry: the translator as an emotional cultural intermediary, the importance of emotion to cognitive meaning, the place of emotion in linguistic reception, and translation itself as a trope whereby emotion can be expressed.


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CORMAC Ó CUILLEANÁIN - Channelling Emotions, Eliciting Responses: Translation as Performance -67


Cormac Ó Cuilleanáin Channelling Emotions, Eliciting Responses: Translation as Performance The present essay sets out to ref lect on how translators can approach the task of transmitting emotional content and ef fects. This theme will be explored on the assumption that translation is, among other things, something of a performing art, and that performers are compelled, in many circumstances, to take personal ownership of each work they transmit, whether this is a song, a speech or a written text. Especially in cases of creative or personal communication, the translator or interpreter must convey a sense not only of what was said but also of how, where and why it was said, who said it, and what ef fect was anticipated. While the weighting of these various questions will be af fected by the purposes and intended readership of the translated text, the solutions adopted must originate from the source text, or bear a meaningful relation to it; otherwise we would not be dealing at all with translation as a specific activity. The process of transmission is not always straightforward: some of the elements that constitute the message may be implied rather than contained in the source text, and some may be hard to trace and to define. If the present discussion appears undisciplined or opinionated in places, this may be partially excused by the consideration that in discussing emotion at the level of detailed example, some element of subjectivity is inescapable, as emotional responses are personal, spontaneous and non- transferable....

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