OLD MEETS NEW: EVALUATING GERMAN TRANSLATIONS OF SELECTED NIGERIAN TEXTS
Colonialism and its spread across already multilingual African nations have led Anglophone African writers, from Achebe and Soyinka to Adichie, Atta, and Soneyin, to adopt language multiplicity and other linguistic techniques in order to foreground indigenous meanings in their works. Consequently, the all-important role of translation has long been recognized in transporting indigenous experience from L2 to L3 languages. Such practices, however, call for critical investigation, as translation can involve power and identity. Problems identified in some case studies include Germanizing and/or generalizing specifically African realities, omission of critical cultural information, and outright misrepresentation, all of which can lead to inadequacies and losses in translation. Moreover, common evaluation approaches have been largely oriented toward western literature and have not been able to address the specificity of African literature in translation. The research uses analytical tools to identify linguistic elements projected into the source text, revealing both the sociocultural realities of the source culture and how these are reflected in their German versions.
Ajibola Fabusuyi is a Lecturer 1 in the Department of Foreign Languages, Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, from which he holds a Ph.D. in German Language and Linguistics. A former AHP/ACLS Research Fellow at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, he is now deepening his knowledge of Translation Studies within both Linguistics and Comparative Literature.
„Fremde Sprachen und verfälschte Übersetzungen: Möglichkeiten und Grenzen der Übersetzung anglofoner westafrikanischer Literatur,“ in: Lügen, Täuschen und Verstellen, München, forthcoming 2019; „Sprachästhetik in anglofoner westafrikanischer Literatur und deren Übersetzung, am Beispiel Inge Uffelmanns deutscher Übersetzung von Wole Soyinkas „Aké: Years of Childhood,“ in: Acta-Germanica: German Studies in Africa 2018, pp. 79–93; „Notes on Translating the Anglophone African Text,“ in: Emerging Perspectives on the Twenty-First Century Nigerian Novel, Göttingen 2017, pp. 415–33.
Dialogues in many written West African literary texts are encoded in a consciously indigenized English language, a form of direct translation of indigenous languages, which strongly mirrors cultural and linguistic realities and experience. Considering that translators work under numerous constraints—cultural, linguistic, and extra-linguistic—and, in many cases, also under economic considerations: what evaluation criteria address the inherent peculiarities of Anglophone West African literature, including the texts’ code mixing and code switching, direct translation, indirect speech, metaphors, and extra-linguistic properties?