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COMMENTARY TRANSLATION

In the commentary you will reflect critically on the translation of your texts, considering the issues that you have faced and how you have attempted to resolve them, assessing lexical, syntactic and grammatical characteristics, comparing the text types, and taking into account published translations where applicable. What does a commentary do and what is it for? In general, the commentary is designed to allow you an opportunity to reflect critically on your practice. In a useful summary of the process of writing a translation commentary, Margaret Anne Clarke (2009) has suggested that it should, in general terms, show insight in relation to the source language text (ST), its nature and content, and…. demonstrate how the translation problems which have been identified in the ST have been solved in the target language text (TT). The latter is commonly referred to as the translation strategy or strategies.’ There is no set way of writing a commentary. But in order to make clear your own translation strategy/ies, you will need to: explain your decisions regarding selection of a text. Here you will need to show your understanding of the context of translation, and engage with such issues as genre, style and register, readership, historical context of production and reception; show your understanding of the specific practical problems and questions raised by your translation. This can include, but may not be exhausted by, lexical, syntactical and grammatical issues including the use of terminology, metaphor or idiom, the length and complexity of sentences, the use of nominal as opposed to verbal structures etc.; it can also include questions of cultural transposition, accent, humour etc. consider the question of textual address. Your source text will have a specific implied readership. You need to consider who this is, giving evidence from the text and its context to determine this. You also need to think about how your own decisions are affected by the question of textual address: do you have an implied readership? Does it differ from that of the original, and if so, how has that affected your translation? Structure and Presentation As always, one of the most important things about coursework is making sure it is interesting. Some suggestions: make sure you have a clear introduction (which may set out the focus of the work) and conclusion. make sure the commentary is focused and interesting. You may want to discuss lots of disparate things, but be selective and go into detail so that the commentary is analytical and not simply descriptive. sub-headings are fine, but not imperative. provide the source text in an appendix and insert line numbers to this. Refer to the source text using line numbers in brackets within the commentary. Informing your Commentary We are not expecting you to use lots of translation theory in your commentary. However, this year you should actively build on any initial reading you may have done in first year using the reading list to familiarise yourself with key terminology, debates and issues in translation. These provide useful ways in to referring to some of the issues which you face as a translator and will help you situate the individual challenges you encounter in your translation in relation to broader questions of translation practice. In addition to material on the reading list, consider the other sources specific to your chosen texts which you can use to inform your commentary: if working on a text from a particular time period: historically contextualising secondary literature. if working on a journalistic text: secondary literature on the newspaper/on journalistic language. if dealing with a particular challenge (e.g. accent, untranslatables’, humour, archaic language, etc) or genre search within and around the reading list for secondary literature which covers this challenge from a translation studies perspective. PS: Source text (ST) The text to be translated. Target text (TT) The text that is a translation of the ST. Source language (SL) The language in which the ST is spoken or written. Target language = GERMAN (TL) The language into which the ST is to be translated. = ENGLISH