Sunday, August 16, 2009

Daniel Gagnon

Daniel Gagnon is a Canadian writer, who self-translated two of his books and wrote a few articles about this experience. His first language is French, his two literary languages are French and English. His two self-translations are The Marriageable Daughter/La Fille à marier and My Husband the Doctor/Mon Mari le docteur, both originally written in English, and then translated by the author into French. How the publication orders influences the perception of the original/translation is well illustrated by these two books, as Gagnon states:
Since French is my mother tonge, and publication of the French text preceded that of the English original, both translations, La Fille à marier and Mon Mari le docteur, were received in Quebec as original texts [...] (Gagnon 2006b, p. 46)

This perception was even intended by the publisher despite the wishes of the author:
In the case of The Marriageable Daughter, the French translation appeared first, as if it were the original. The English original was published four years later in Coach House's Translation series, under the banner, "Translated by the author", despite my efforts to have it recognized as the original text. (Gagnon 2006a, p. 125)

This example illustrates why research on self-translation can not just rely on the publication indications. In most cases self-translations are not even indicated, and if they are indicated this might be a wrong track as seen above. Another problem occurs if one version is not even published as it is the case with the English original My Husband the Doctor.

For further reading:

Gagnon, Daniel (2006a): Bilingual translation/writing as intercultural communication. In: A. Pym u.a. (ED.): Sociocultural Aspects of Translating and Interpreting. Amsterdam, S. 117–127.

Gagnon, Daniel (2006b): Cross-writing and Self-translating. One Canadian/Québec Experience. In: Madelena Gonzalez et Francine Tolron (eds.): L'identité de la traduction et la traduction de l'identité. Cambridge Scholars Press, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, p. 46–59.

Gagnon, Daniel (2007): Les mots du Doctor Hat. In: Louis Jolicoeur (ed.): Traduction et enjeux identitaires dans le contexte des Amériques. Culture française d'Amérique. Québec: Presses de l'Université Laval, p. 165 –176

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tschingis Aitmatov

Tschingis Aitmatov (1928-2008) had - like Beckett and Brink - two literary languages. He has written his books in his first language Kirghiz and in Russian. First he wrote in Khirgiz and translated his works into Russian. Later he decided to write them first in Russian so they could get translated faster in other languages, but he still tried to continue self-translation now in the other direction (Russian > Kirghiz):
Unfortunately, the language in which I write is not always my own decision, but is often a matter of circumstance. I often write in Russian now, because it is in my interests to do so; books get published and disseminated faster, and are also translated more quickly into other languages. Time is short, so I take the quickest way. I make a point, though, of at least trying to translate my own work into Kirghiz-though it is not always possible to do so. (Aitmatov, 1990:197)

For further reading:
Aitmatov, Chingiz (1990): Voice from the Republics. An Interview. In: Third World Quarterly 12: 1, p. 194–200.