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Before Nida: Olgierd Wojtasiewicz’s translation theory -connections, genealogies and isomorphisms- Paulina Drewniak University of Wrocław, Poland.

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1 Before Nida: Olgierd Wojtasiewicz’s translation theory -connections, genealogies and isomorphisms- Paulina Drewniak University of Wrocław, Poland

2 Olgierd Wojtasiewicz ( ) Education: law, oriental studies (sinology) Academic work: formal linguistics Translations: Chinese literature & poetry (into Polish), scientific papers and books, legal texts (the Civil Code) Formal linguist, sinologist, lawyer, logician, practicing translator

3 Alan Turing’s death (1954) Stanisław Lem Dialogi (1956, 1971) Noam Chomsky Syntactic Structures (1957) Roman Jakobson On linguistic aspects of translation (1959) Eugene Nida Towards the Science of Translating (1964) The intellectual landscape of the era

4 Main characteristics Theoretical approach: formal, structured, precision like that of the exact sciences as the main goal >Constantino: ‘mechanical dream’ Descriptive rather than prescriptive (though translator’s ‘guilt’, ‘inadequacy’ or ‘betrayal’ appear as usual) The ’ideal translator’ >Chomsky, Nida & Gentzler’s scathing critique of those two ‘Untranslatability’ : central, gradable, culturally conditioned Optimistic conclusion: convergence of cultures

5 “An Introduction to Translation Theory” -structure of the book- Introduction Chapter I: Definitions Chapter II: Untranslatability (part 1) [‘linguistic’] Chapter III: Untranslatability (part 2) [‘cultural’] Conclusions Appendix: On addressing persons in Polish and English

6 definition of translation Process producing an odpowiednik (equivalent, analogue) *Tytler (1797) The operation of translating text a formulated in the language A into the language B consists in formulating a text b in language B such that this text will evoke in its readers associations the same or very similar to those evoked by the original.

7 Untranslatability (1) ’Linguistic’: structural differences between languages Astrid spoke first (Jakobson) He is the man for the job. wysiaduje, przesiaduje, wojenka, chłopisko, numbers in Japanese Translation =< original (because we always assume the perspective of the original) Compensation strategies & the dangerous ’interpretation ’

8 Untranslatability (2) ’Cultural’: associations produced are different Technical terms (unknown or borrowed in TL): araukaria, edelweiss, wiatr halny, proper names (’untranslatable by definition’) Currencies & units of measure, weapons, social hierarchies (wojski, hetman, shogun), religious terms (totem, taboo)* ” Allusions ” (roughly: intertextuality) Wordplay >Malinowski: the untranslatables >Wierzbicka (’very few concept are universally translatable: the simplest facts of nature, human physiology and basic activities’); >Tabakowska (associations=cultural encyclopedic knowledge); >Catford (all reducible to collocations) >Venuti, Berman (alterity) *’That they have been borrowed by so many languages is the best proof of their absolute untranslatability’

9 Parallels: Jakobson (1959) Experience in Slavic languages Message, not word, as a basic ‘unit for translation’ “Languages differ in what they MUST convey” ( Astrid spoke first )

10 Parallels: Nida (1964) Experience in ‘exotic’ languages (ancient Greek, Chinese, Polish) Wojtasiewicz’s ‘precision’, Nida’s ‘rigorous description’ Translation as ‘science’ and process Cybernetics and information theory – a blind alley in TS now largely forgotten (see Nida’s binary models of communication) “Functional” conception of the message

11 Legacy in Poland ‘a venerable classic’ Hejwowski: ‘Olgierd Wojtasiewicz—the father of Polish translation studies’ Balcerzan recalls his “utmost devotion” to the scientific paradigm (in: Bukowski & Heydel) Stanaszek: ‘of light and dark’, comparison to Nida

12 ’That’s funny…’ A researcher is always somewhat surprised when the findings of a study turn out to be largely different from the initial hypothesis. This is what happened to the author of the present book. … The author had presumed, like most people who reflect on that probably do, that the problems and difficulties of translation are primarily linguistic, in that they are the consequence of structural mismatches between languages. Meanwhile, it turned out that the centre of gravity of translational problems lies, in fact, in the disparity of cultural traditions. Wojtasiewicz, O. (1957/1992). Wstęp do teorii tłumaczenia. [Introduction to Translation Theory]. Warszawa: TEPIS. Translation by PD.

13 Ending ‘A product of its times?’ Similarity to Wierzbicka: ’science’ vs. experience & intuition Endearing honesty, and the ability to transcend his own paradigm. …the mechanical dream lives on.

14 Thank you

15 References Wojtasiewicz, O. (1957). Wstęp do teorii tłumaczenia. [Introduction to Translation Theory]. First published in 1957 (Ossolineum, Wrocław-Warszawa). Republished four times, by the Polish Association of Sworn and Specialized Translators (TEPIS), including 1992 and 2007 (anniversary edition). Nida, E. A. (1964). Towards the Science of Translating. Leiden: E. J. Brill. Hejwowski, K., Topczewska, U., Szczęsny A. (2009). 50 lat polskiej translatoryki. [50 years of Polish translation studies.] Warsaw: Instytut Lingwistyki Stosowanej. Constantino, L. Teoria przekładu w Polsce. [Translation theory in Poland], pp Hejwowski, K. „Wstęp do teorii tłumaczenia” po pięćdziesięciu latach. [”Introduction to Translation Theory” after fifty years], pp Stanaszek, M. O blaskach i cieniach pionierskiej książeczki. Wstęp do krytyki „Wstępu do teorii tłumaczenia” Olgierda Wojtasiewicza. [On light and dark sides of a pioneering little book. An introduction into a critique of “Introduction to Translation Theory” by Olgierd Wojtasiewicz], pp Pisarska, A. O definiowalności przekładu w kontekście „Wstępu do teorii tłumaczenia” Olgierda Wojtasiewicza. [On the definability of translation in the context of ”Introduction to Translation Theory” by Olgierd Wojtasiewicz], pp Hejwowski, K. (2012). Olgierd Wojtasiewicz – ojciec polskiej translatoryki. [Olgierd Wojtasiewicz—the father of Polish translation studies]. „Przekładaniec” 26/2012, pp. 108–114. Gentzler, E. (2001). Contemporary Translation Theories. Bristol: Multilingual Matters Ltd., pp Bukowski, P. & Heydel, M. (Eds.) (2013). Polska myśl przekładoznawcza. Antologia. Kraków: Wydawnictwo Uniwesytetu Jagiellońskiego. Bukowski, P. & Heydel, M. Polska myśl przekładoznawcza. Badacze, teorie, paradygmaty, pp Malinowski, B. Tłumaczenie słów nieprzetłumaczalnych, pp Munday, J. (2012). Introducing Translation Studies, pp Last interview with Olgierd Wojtasiewicz, available in the Translegis online archive [in Polish]:


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