Portraying characteristics in English translation of Japanese : A case study of the speech of Kobayashi Midori in Murakami Haruki's Norwegian Wood
Sammanfattning: The distinguishing traits of characters in novels may appear to change in translation. One of the main means of conveying the individualities, personalities and moral qualities of characters is through dialogue, using the possibilities opened by, for example, the selection of register and use of gendered language. In order to gain insight on how apparent changes to characteristics can arise, this case study investigates whether, why and how the character Midori in Murakami Haruki's Norwegian Wood appears to change in translation, based on her dialogue. The study demonstrates how linguistic differences between the source and target languages and the adoption of an overall approach to translation, such as a foreignising or domesticating strategy, are major factors in determining the nature and magnitude of any observed change. Two of the most influential speech elements identified and studied are gendered language and casual language. Both terms represent similar but not identical concepts in the source and target languages and are manifested differently in the two languages, giving rise to wide-ranging translation problems. The study further suggests that a domestication approach, as well as modifying the fluency and cultural flavour of the text in general, can affect the characterisation of novels both indirectly and directly. The influence of a domesticating approach to translation focusing on its application specifically to dialogue or influence on characterisation may be a fruitful area for further research.
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