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By J. Wash Watts

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Either the translator leaves the author in 20 The Translator’s Invisibility peace, as much as possible, and moves the reader towards him; or he leaves the reader in peace, as much as possible, and moves the author towards him” (Lefevere 1977:74). Admitting (with qualifications like “as much as possible”) that translation can never be completely adequate to the foreign text, Schleiermacher allowed the translator to choose between a domesticating method, an ethnocentric reduction of the foreign text to target-language cultural values, bringing the author back home, and a foreignizing method, an ethnodeviant pressure on those values to register the linguistic and cultural difference of the foreign text, sending the reader abroad.

His departures from the Exeter Book assumed a cultural situation in which Anglo-Saxon was still very much studied by readers, who could therefore be expected to appreciate the work of historical reconstruction implicit in his version of the poem. The symptomatic reading is an historicist approach to the study of translations that aims to situate canons of accuracy in their specific cultural moments. Critical categories like “fluency” and “resistancy,” “domesticating” and “foreignizing,” can only be defined by referring to the formation of cultural discourses in which the translation is produced, and in which certain translation theories and practices are valued over others.

Yet the translator’s strategy may also be glimpsed through certain peculiarities in the diction of the translated text: I now return to the forgetting of names. So far we have not exhaustively considered either the case-material or the motives behind it As this is exactly the kind of parapraxis that I can from time to time observe abundantly in myself, I am at no loss for examples. The mild attacks of migraine from which I still suffer usually announce themselves hours in advance by my forgetting names, and at the height of these attacks, during which I am not forced to abandon my work, it frequently happens that all proper names go out of my head.

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A Survey of Syntax in the Hebrew Old Testament by J. Wash Watts


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