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The Fluidity of the Original Text: Translating Francophone Senegalese Womens Literature into English Georgina Collins 6 September 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "The Fluidity of the Original Text: Translating Francophone Senegalese Womens Literature into English Georgina Collins 6 September 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Fluidity of the Original Text: Translating Francophone Senegalese Womens Literature into English Georgina Collins 6 September 2010

2 Challenge the concept of the original text Demonstrate how this can alter our approach to translation Show how an understanding of the fluid nature of traditional orature can enable the translator to see new features of a text Open up creative possibilities to the rewriter of Senegalese womens literature Objectives

3 Key themes A culture of change Power relations Mediation and linguistic hybridity The influence of orature Resources Source texts Theories and models Primary research Situating this paper in my thesis

4 The truth of the matter is that our concept of the original, of the song, simply makes no sense in oral tradition... We might as well be prepared to face the fact that we are in a different world of thought, the patterns of which do not always fit our cherished terms. In oral tradition the idea of an original is illogical (Lord 101) The non-existent oral original

5 In ignoring and failing to account for interlingual oral literary translation, the terms of our very discourse about literary translation presuppose a framework about literature and the workings of literature that fails to account for the position of literature through most of human history (Tymozcko 53-54). A flawed framework

6 Rather than elevate the translation to the level of the original, poststructuralists see the translation as a work in its own right. For Derrida and de Man, neither the text to be translated nor the translation can be said to be an original semantic unity since both are derivative, heterogeneous and consist of diverse linguistic and cultural materials (Gyasi 11). A poststructuralist view of the original

7 different words changed content new structure facial expressions varied tone composition extemporisation elaboration The non-static oral text

8 Source text: Mère de la terre De ta sueur pétrie, Souffle chaud des savanes, Ton pas, rythme de Xalam Hommage à une jeune paysanne (Ndiaye Sow) Literal translation: Mother of earth Kneaded by your sweat, Hot breath of the savannahs, Your pace, the rhythm of the Xalam Rewritten text: MOTHER OF THE EARTH And your sweat Beats your brow In the burning Savannahs Of the Jolof. Your steps chase the rhythm As the Griot strums the Xalam Hommage à une jeune paysanne (Ndiaye Sow)

9 If a boundary exists at all between oral and written texts, it does not relate to structure and form, but to the different ways in which these genres interact with their audiences. Oral texts invoke or imply the accompaniment of musicians and dancers, and the presence of live audiences who participate in events (Newell 73). Interaction and the oral text

10 Écoute les lourds sanglots du Tam-tam Dioung.-Dioung... Écoute-Écoute Un circoncis est mort! Dioung! Les fusils de traite se sont tus La chèvre aux deux têtes Dont une seule visible aux humains La chèvre aux quatre yeux Dont deux visible aux humains La chèvre aux huit pattes Dont quatre visible aux humains Et qui plane Quand la terre accouche de ses nains La chèvre aux deux nez A saccagé une âme à lépreuve Dans le Bois sacré The importance of performance (Lël, Seck Mbacké)

11 ˘ ˘ ΄ ˘ ΄ ˘ ˘ ΄ Les fusils de traite se sont tus ˘ ΄ ˘ ΄ ΄ La chèvre aux deux têtes ˘ ˘ ΄ ˘ ΄ ˘ ˘ ΄ Dont une seule visible aux humains Sprung rhythm

12 ...pauses properly timed are part of the construction meter. Regular meter has a monotonic quality to the African ear; there is a felt need to alter the rhythm both within lines and between lines probably because the African ear demands rhythmic complexity (Oyebode 93). Rhythmic complexity

13 Listen to the intense sobs of the Tom-tom Boom-Boom... Listen-up, listen-up A circumcised boy is dead! Boom! The trade guns have died down The goat with two heads Just one visible to humans The goat with four eyes Just two visible to humans The goat with eight legs Just four visible to humans And it hovers When the earth gives birth to its runts The goat with two snouts Has destroyed a soul on trial In the Sacred Wood Applying performance to translation (Lël, Seck Mbacké)

14 Conclusions Traditional Senegalese orature does not stem from a fixed original work Viewing literature influenced by orality in this way can change how we approach translation Inspiration by, rather than adherence to, a source text Performance element of orality introduces new facets of a piece of work – interpretation and translation Move beyond Western ideologies – new creative freedom

15 Questions and Comments? Contact: Notes, bibliography and PowerPoint can be downloaded at:


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