Baltic accent

2017 Vol. 8 №4

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On the Dual Role of the Translator of Poetry and the Division of Roles



This article deals with the roles and functions of a translator of poetry. The study identifies certain components of the process, within which a translator acts simultaneously as a transmitter of the original culture, a mediator between the reader and the author of the source text, a co-author, a linguistic innovator, a poet, and a linguist. The two latter roles are crucial for translating poetry. Translators of poetry create ‘their own’ texts. It is obvious that they cannot distance themselves completely from their poetic selves and their language personalities. At the same time, translators of poetry must convey the linguistic features of the original. This requires a comparison of the source and target languages and the solving of concrete linguistic problems. In some cases, these functions are divided between a poet and the author of a literal translation, who becomes another intermediary between the author of the source text and the reader. Literal translation determines what linguistic, rhythmic, and formal features of the original the translator will identify. In this situation, the quality of the final translation depends on the quality of the literal translation. This can make the translation either to liberal (if the literal translation was done poorly) or too literal (if the literal translation managed to convey all the details).


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