(Emilio Goggio Publications Series, Toronto Italian Studies) Umberto eco is Professor of Semiotics, University of Bologna. Olga Zorzi Pugliese Chair, Department of Italian Studies, and Emilio Goggio Chair in Italian Studies This page intentionally left blank Introduction This book is based on the Goggio Public Lectures I gave at the University of Toronto in 1998.
He is known worldwide as the author of The Name of the Rose, Foucault’s Pendulum and A Theory of Semiotics. This printed version also contains many examples I was unable to give during the lectures owing to lack of time.
In my 6 Experiences in Translation lectures, therefore, my primary aim is to consider certain problems that I have tried to solve, not as a translation theorist or as a semiotician interested in translation, but as a translated author and as a translator. Note that the English version of the exchange is snappier than the Italian, and perhaps some day, on making a revised edition of my novel, I might use the English formula for the Italian original too. In spite of this, the English text says exactly what I wanted to say, that is, that my three characters were joking on serious matters - and a literal translation would have made the joke less perspicuous.
But making some remarks about my experience as a translated author does not mean providing either a critical evalua- tion or a global interpretation of my work. This is a piece of sophomore humour, a handy way of represent- ing the characters’ mental style. We are dealing with a ‘faithful’ translation even though it also looks referentially false: the original Italian text says that Casaubon said p while the English text says that Casaubon said q.
I shall use myself only as a privileged witness on very marginal problems, always with regard to the choice of a word or the way to interpret a sentence. The French and German transla- tors, for instance, had no problems: Translating and Being Translated 7 Diotallevi - Dieu a cree le monde en parlant, que Ton sache il n’a pas envoye un telegramme. Can a translation preserve the sense of a text by changing its reference?
But, on the one hand, this decision reflects the way in which I arrived at certain theoretical explanations, and, on the other, I deliberately wanted to discuss my experiences in the light of a ‘naive’ concept of translation. Theoreti- cally speaking, Achilles should never reach the turtle. No rigorous philosophical approach to that paradox can underestimate the fact that, not just Achilles, but any one of us, could beat a turtle at the Olympic Games.
Every sensible and rigorous theory of language shows that a perfect translation is an impossible dream. x Introduction People translate during business conventions and during sessions of the United Nations, and, even though many misunderstandings can arise, people of different languages agree on the fact, let us say, that the shoes of brand X are less expensive than those of brand Y, or that Russians do not approve of the decision to bomb Serbia.
EXPERIENCES IN TRANSLATION In this book Umberto Eco argues that translation is not about com- paring two languages, but about the interpretation of a text in two dif- ferent languages, thus involving a shift between cultures. University of Toronto Press acknowledges the financial support for its publishing activities of the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (BPIDP).
An author whose works have appeared in many languages, Eco is also the trans- lator of Gerard de Nerval’s Sylvie and Raymond Queneau’s Exercices de style from French into Italian. Contents Preface vii Introduction ix TRANSLATING AND BEING TRANSLATED 3 Equivalence in Meaning 9 Incommensurability versus Comparability 12 Sameness in Reference 1 4 Translating from Culture to Culture 17 Source versus Target 20 Foreignizing and Domesticating 22 Archaic versus Modern 25 Can a Translator Change the Story?
TORONTO ITALIAN STUDIES Goggio Publication Series General Editor: Olga Zorzi Pugliese UMBERTO ECO Experiences in TRANSLATION Translated by Alastair Mc Ewen UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO PRESS Toronto Buffalo London © University of Toronto Press Incorporated 2001 Toronto Buffalo London Printed in Canada Reprinted 2001 Reprinted in paperback 2008 ISBN 978-0-8020-3533-2 (cloth) ISBN 978-0-8020-9614-2 (paper) Printed on acid-free paper Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication Eco, Umberto Experiences in translation / Umberto Eco ; translated by Alastair Mc Ewen. I have also organized the material differently so that the first part deals more with personal experiences in translation while the second part is more theoretical in nature.
(Toronto Italian studies) (Goggio publication series) Based on lectures presented Oct. With respect to the Goggio Lectures, this second part has been enhanced by many considerations suggested to me in the course of the Seminars on Intersemiotic Translation held at the University of Bologna over the last two years.
I apologize in advance for relying so much on common sense, but common sense is not necessarily a bad word.
Elowever, I also have taken into account many examples of abnormal cases.
Overall, Eco identifies the different types of interpretive acts that count as translation. They constitute the first volume of the Goggio Publica- tions Series.