M2: Unit 3 – Q11.1 Answer

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There are many ways of utilising a narrative theory model in translation and interpreting studies research. As we have seen, narrative theory can be used to explore questions of ethics and activism. It can be used to examine why certain choices are made within a specific text analysis; to look at the behaviour of a particular group of translators (both in terms of what the group agree on and disparity within that group); to analyse the nature of translation and interpreting studies as an academic discipline; to analyse trends in specific areas of translation or interpreting (always leaving room for exceptions to the rule), or during specific time periods or political regimes.

To provide an example of one way of applying a narrative theory approach to adaptation in children’s literature, here is a link to a sample MA-level essay on the subject. The basic premise of the essay is as follows:

  • Children’s literature tends to consider faithfulness to the source text as less important than in adult literature. There is a tendency towards adapting children’s books to the target culture,  demonstrated by practices such as changing characters names to target culture names. There is also a tendency for translators of children books to intervene in the text, for example changing or deleting certain scenes or phrases which are deemed ‘too complicated’, ‘unsuitable’ or even ‘too foreign’ for children.
  • A narrative approach is selected to explore this phenomenon. The benefits of this approach are explored.
  • We tell stories to children in order to provide them with narratives with which to begin constructing their own realities and identities, in training for adult life.
  • The behaviour of translators of children literature in adapting and manipulating the source text can be seen as stemming from their sense of responsibility towards the child reader.
  • From their position of power, adults (either translators, authors, publishers or the parents who read children’s books aloud, sometimes editing as they go) adapt the text according to what they see as the child’s needs.
  • In conclusion, translators of children’s literature actively adapt elements to fit with the public and private narratives they subscribe to regarding what a child should be. This is based both on the public narratives circulating in a society at any given time and on their own personal experiences of childhood.

With a friend or colleague, discuss how a narrative theory approach can be applied to your own areas of interest.