Translating Communities

Paul St-Pierre


This article will focus on communities which translate and communities which are translated, with an emphasis on the often unintended, unexpected, and unwanted effects of translation.

Beginning with the scepticism – ‘hostility’ would perhaps be a better word – shown by Augustine towards Jerome’s undertaking to produce a new Latin translation of the Old Testament based on the Hebrew text rather than the Greek version of the Septuagint, and from there moving on to Mark Fettes’s discussion (in In Translation) of the reception of the translation into English of Haida myths by the Canadian poet Robert Bringhurst, as well as to the translation, also into English, of literary texts in Oriya, one of the national languages of India, I will draw attention to what, in these cases at least, has been perceived by some – usually those left out of the process of translation – as the danger or violence of translation.

Given such a negative perception of translation, generalized in the Italian adage traduttore traditore, the question arises as to how this translation effect can at the very least be reduced, if not eliminated entirely, and how the “community with foreign cultures” that Lawrence Venuti writes of in “Translation, Community, Utopia” can come into being. A collaborative approach to translation involving participants from both source and target, foreign and domestic cultures – a new community of translators – will be put forward as a possible solution


Translation; community; Oriya

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ISSN 1920-0323