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Reading against the Grain: Transcodifying Stimulus Meaning

Authors: Aba-Carina Pârlog


The paper shows that on transferring sense from the SL to the TL, the translator’s reading against the grain determines the creation of a faulty pattern of rendering the original meaning in the receiving culture which reflects the use of misleading transformative codes. In this case, the translator is a writer per se who decides what goes in and out of the book, how the style is to be ciphered and what elements of ideology are to be highlighted. The paper also proves that figurative language must not be flattened for the sake of clarity or naturalness. The missing figurative elements make the translated text less interesting, less challenging and less vivid which reflects poorly on the writer. There is a close connection between style and the writer’s person. If the writer’s style is very much altered in a translation, the translation is useless as the original writer and his / her imaginative world can no longer be discovered. The purpose of the paper is to prove that adaptation is a dangerous tool which leads to variants that sometimes reflect the original less than the reader would wish to. It contradicts the very essence of the process of translation which is that of making an original work available in a foreign language. If the adaptive transformative codes are so flexible that they encourage the translator to repeatedly leave out parts of the original work, then a subversive pattern emerges which changes the entire book. In conclusion, as a result of using adaptation, manipulative or subversive effects are created in the translated work. This is generally achieved by adding new words or connotations, creating new figures of speech or using explicitations. The additional meanings of the original work are neglected and the translator creates new meanings, implications, emphases and contexts. Again s/he turns into a new author who enjoys the freedom of expressing his / her own ideas without the constraints of the original text. Reading against the grain is unadvisable during the process of translation and consequently, following personal common sense becomes essential in the field of translation as well as everywhere else, so that translation should not become a source of fantasy.

Keywords: Translation, substance of expression, transformative code, Speculative aesthetics

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