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My intention is to translate Catcall which has not yet been translated to Romanian. The target readership consists of Romanian teenagers of similar age. The demand for this translation is to make the readers aware of the issues involved in the personality crisis of a young person in United Kingdom (UK) and possibly associate with similar experiences in their own lives and in their own context.
My aim is to produce a translation of few excerpts from this book which would be understood by the target readership, match their expectations of fluency while trying to be faithful to the original text and transmit the specific behaviour pattern and cultural individuality that the author intends. In the same time, I attempt to communicate in my translation the psychological tension that surrounds the main characters and help the readers follow the heroes throughout their experiences.
In order to achieve these I will first point out some general and contextual notions that will help me in my analysis of the extracts. And in order to examine how the identity shifts in Jamie’s personality crises are constructed I will analyze particularities of voice, lexis and dialog which illustrate these shifts.
GENERAL AND CONTEXTUAL CONSIDERATIONS
‘Catcall’ is a recent middle years fiction book targeting young people of age between 11 - 16 in UK. The book is dealing with Jamie’s strange behaviour in the midst of various changes in his family. The whole action in the book happens in London and nearby, places as High Wycombe and M25 are mention as locators . In order to capture readers’ attention the book is scattered with drawings of lions, cats, legends and information about various cats, all part of what is called Josh Book of Cats. The book title Catcall is what I would call multi-meaning and the book theme according to the author’s statement, was inspired by the author’s encounter with the lion’s gaze while visiting Cotswold Wildlife Park . The book is divided in 25 chapters each of them having significant titles in building the book as a unit, e.g. chapter 12: Mask, chapter 13: Leo and chapter 16: Jungle.
Romania is a new member of the European Union and visiting UK becomes a feasible reality. Hence the encounter of young Romanian people with the English context and life patters through this book would benefit them in developing their understanding of cultural differences would they come across them in the future. Therefore the book might be considered as having an educational aspect. However that is what the author decides to select for the readership. Hunt defines this selection of information in form of content, vocabulary and so on as the assumed or attempted control. There might be a possibility of intended educative element in Catcall which Newbery chooses to convey to the reader by means of specific institutions which the author could use as channels to express her world view. Example of such institutions frequently met in children fictions are pointed out by Knowles and Malmkjaer. They include family, friendship, home etc. Even though as Knowles and Malmkjaer indicate, the effects of what children read on their behaviour is a difficult task to tackle, the author might have an intention to affect readers’ behaviour . However, opinions are divided concerning the educative element in children fiction as Lesnik points out that children’s fiction is a category free of instruction and education and that it had originated from distancing away from instruction.
Romanian children have been already exposed to the classic English literature for their age group . Presently, like everywhere else in Europe, youngsters are consuming bestsellers as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. However at this time in Romania, novels for young people as Catcall are very rarely translated to Romanian.
The excerpts that I have translated deal closely with the development of lion behaviour in Jamie and how this affects the other members of his family and community (e.g. his brother Josh). The other dimension to be observed in these excerpts is the continuous mission of Josh, Jamie’s older brother, to understand him and to rescue him out from this unusual experience.
IDENTITY SHIFTS ACCOMPLISHED THROUGH VOICE
There are many valuable opinions of literature critics about the implied author, implied reader, or implied narrator, but it is not my intention to tackle them in this essay. Nevertheless, I can identify two different voices throughout my excerpts. The voice of the narrator which in the present case overlaps with Josh, Jamie’s older brother voice, establishes the narrator’s presence in the story, what Genette refers to as homodiegetic . Genette classifies the narrator by his relationship to the story and by its narrative level. According to Genette, in Catcall’s case I can consider the narrator as following intradiegetic-homodiegetic paradigm because he is present in his own story through Josh. In this case we have internal focalization because the narrator is part of the story. The other voice is the one of other characters (Jamie, Arran, Mike, Mr. Rose, Mike, and even Josh). As Leech and Short identify David as the I-narrator in David Copperfield, I can refer to Josh as the I-narrator in Catcall. However, we can only assume that Josh speaks directly to us and that there is nobody else there listening to Josh which parallels Leech and Short’s conclusion in the case of David Copperfield .
Not only is the narrator overlapping with Josh, but there can be noticed a blend of narrative voices and the character voice, in this case also Josh, e.g. ‘‘Who are you?’ I asked Jamie, all casual.” Here we have Josh’s question, in direct speech: “Who are you?” and the indirect speech: “I asked Jamie….”
There is also a noticeable blend of other characters’ voices and narrator’s voice in the other characters interaction with Josh, e.g. “You’ve made a mask of Jamie?” “He pulled a face.” “Well, tried. It’s not very good.” “Put it on!” Here we have a direct speech performed by Josh, “You’ve made a mask of Jamie?”, then a narrative speech performed by the narrator, “He pulled a face.” We have Arran’s direct speech, “Well, tried. It’s not very good.” Finally we have Josh input, “Put it on!” which can be defined as giving an order in direct speech. Characters are also interacting with each other, e.g. “Have you come to live with us?” (Mike)... “I might stay for a bit”… “I live wherever I want. I’m Leo,” indeed surrounded by the narrative voice.
IDENTITY SHIFTS ACCOMPLISHED THROUGH LEXIS
The choice of lexis is a crucial part in constructing the identity shifts that Jamie goes though. This choice might be made according to the image that Newbery, the author has about the readership of the present book, in this case young people between the age of 11 and 16. The importance of this child image is essential also when translating a child story to another audience. In this case the translator has to construct an image of the child/target readership he/she has in mind.
Throughout the excerpts from the Catcall one can observe a very illustrative language used in descriptive way or in comparisons and associations as in “Jamie’s sign of the Zodiac is Leo…” or “Leo for Lion, panthera leo , but also it’s his middle name.” The very frequent use of Leo, cat and lion, points out the significance of the lion (Leo) identity that Jamie had lived with for a while, identity which Jamie acknowledges at times, e.g. “…I’m Leo.” However, sometimes he tries to escape from this identity, e.g. “Make him go away! [The lion] Please - make him go away!”
A forced comparison used in order to emphasise the presence of the lion can be observed in the following examples: “Deep, mysterious eyes. My eyes, lion eyes…stronger than my Josh self, as big as a lion...he – I – we – looked fierce and dramatic.”
IDENTITY SHIFTS ACCOMPLISHED THROUGH DIALOG
The play between Jamie-as-Leo and Arran-as-Jamie is a fictive dialog when compared to the real conversation. Even though I cannot identify syntactic anomalies as Leech & Short label one of these indicators, the presence of hesitation through pause and repetition in the following case, “Jamie-as-Leo: ‘I looked at you and I said – Pause,’” creates an illusion of a real conversation. This is also recognised by Leech and Short when mentioning the skills of a novelist in building the dialog. Through these tools, the author tries to build the image of a rational dialog between the two friends, Jamie and Arran offering the reader an expected dialog suitable for the age of Arran and Jamie. Even more, she attempts to construct the identity shift in Jamie’s personality and his fear of this new role. Jamie’s identity with the lion in the following example is very obvious though in the first line of the example, Jamie refers to his identity as a lion in the simple past tense “...I was a lion.”
“Jamie-as-Leo: When I was a lion.”
“Arran-as-Jamie: But you are a lion.”
“Jamie-as-Leo: I know. I mean when you came to see me. When you looked in my cage and I looked back at you.”
Once Jamie puts into effect his new identity as Leo, he expresses his new role through displaying his power as it is obvious in the following example: “Jamie-as-Leo: You. Because you have to follow me. I make you.” The structure of the sentence gives power to the brave Leo. The direct speech in this case, “I make you,” through the simple structure, conveys that there is no room for negotiation.
ADAPTATION AS DEFINING THE METHODOLOGY EMPLOYED IN MY TRANSLATION
It is rather difficult to draw a clear line between domesticating, foreignizing and adaptation in my excerpts translation to Romanian even more since there are a variety of opinions on this subject in translation studies. However, I consider that adaptation would encapsulate better all the adjustments that I have considered as necessary in order that the Romanian young people, the intended readership of this translation could understand and benefit from this present book. That is because, on the one hand, I translated the text for the same age group as the original targeted readership and, on the other hand, I had to adapt the style of my translation to match the Romanian young people who do not understand the humour in the same way as the British ones. Therefore sometimes I had to substitute Romanian phrases in order to bring clarity on specific English ones at the expense of not being faithful to the English sentence structure. As an example, I have succeeded to keep the same meaning in the following case, even though using Romanian regional phrases: “If Jamie had caught the Lion thing — only turbo-charged — and now he was a head case, it must be down to me to sort it out, mustn’t it?” My translation to Romanian reads “Dacă Jamie a prins boala leului – sărind peste cal– şi era acum ţicnit, îmi revine mie să-l rezolv, nu-i aşa?” In this case I have translated the “..Lion thing” to what in word-for-word translaion to English would read “Lion’s illness.” I have translated “turbo-charged” as “to jump over the horse” and “…and now he was a head case” as “… şi era acum ţicnit,” in English “... he went nuts.”
Concerning, names I left them unchanged as in the original (Jamie, Josh, Mike, and so on), because I was interested to keep the cultural element in the text. However in the case of Mr. Rose I have used Domnul Rose which retains the English name but attempts to provide the polite form which will adapt to the language a young Romanian boy would employ when addressing a teacher.
In order to maintain the simplicity of the dialog in the play between Jamie and Aran I had used the language that an eight year old would use in Romania in a similar situation. I have done this without loosing the rigid attitude of Jamie (Leo), and therefore I have managed to communicate a similar psychological state as in the original context.
Throughout this exercise of translation I have become conscious of the importance of paying constant attention to the image of my target readership (the young people in Romania). Throughout the process of translation, this has guided me in order to produce a translation that would be understood by the readers and to which they could relate similar experiences in their own context. In the same time I have retained the cultural individuality and psychological state that the present excerpts communicate facing the young Romanian readership with new patterns of attitude and expression which are specific to the British context.
To further explore the cultural individuality of Catcall, a study of how to translate the humour in Catcall for Romanian young people would be a demanding but rewarding task. That is mainly because of the cultural differences and humour patters adopted from American comedy by the young generation in Romania which has been more exposed to this type of comedy than to the British one.
Catcall (Synopsis). [online]. Available at http://www.lindanewbery.co.uk/midyearsfic.html. Accessed on 20 September 2007.
Ducrot, Oswald & Tzvetan Todorov. Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Sciences of Language. Translated by Catherine Porter. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1981.
Genette, Gérard. Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. Translated by Jane E. Lewin. New York: Cornell University Press, 1980.
Hunt, Peter. Criticism, Theory, & Children’s Literature. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991.
International Baccalaureate Organization. Middle Years Programme at a Glance: What is the Middle Years Programme? [online]. Available at http://www.ibo.org/myp/. Accessed on 12 December 2007.
Knowles, Murray and Kirsten Malmkjaer. Language and Control in Children’s Literature. London: Routledge, 1996.
Leech, Geoffrey N. & Michael H. Short. Style in Fiction: A Linguistic Introduction to English Fictional Prose. Harlow: Longman Group Limited, 1981.
Lesnik-Oberstein, Karin. Children’s Literature: Criticism and the Fictional Child. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994; reprint, 2001.
Newbery, Linda. Catcall. London: Orion Children’s Books, 2006; reprint, 2007.
________. Catcall (website dedicated to the book, October 2006, updated May 2007 to include readers' contribution). Available at http://www.lindanewbery.co.uk/catcall.html. Accessed on 20 September 2007.
Oittinen, Ritta. “No Innocent Act: On the Ethics of Translating for Children.” In Children’s Literature in Translation: Challenges and Strategies. Edited by Jan Van Coillie and Walter P. Verschueren. 35-46. Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing, 2006.
Pascua-Febles, Isabel. “Translating Cultural References: The Language of Young People in Literary Texts.” In Children’s Literature in Translation: Challenges and Strategies. Edited by Jan Van Coillie and Walter P. Verschueren. 111-122. Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing, 2006.
Stephens, John. Language and Ideology in Children’s Fiction. London: Longman Group UK Limited, 1992.
Wilde, Oscar. Prinţul Fericit. Bucureşti: Regis, 2000.
Catcall was first published in 2006. Linda Newbery, Catcall (London: Orion Children’s Books, 2006; reprint, 2007).
Categorised as such in the author’s website. Catcall (Synopsis), [online], Available at http://www.lindanewbery.co.uk/midyearsfic.html, Accessed on 20 September 2007.
International Baccalaureate Organization, Middle Years Programme at a Glance: What is the Middle Years Programme? [online], Available at http://www.ibo.org/myp/, Accessed on 12 December 2007.
L. Newbery, Catcall, 10.
The author herself reveals her affinity towards a one word title with more than one meaning. L. Newbery, Catcall (website dedicated to the book, October 2006, updated May 2007 to include readers' contribution), Available at http://www.lindanewbery.co.uk/catcall.html, Accessed on 20 September 2007.
The author herself reveals her affinity towards a one word title with more than one meaning. L. Newbery, Catcall (website dedicated to the book), [online].
Peter Hunt, Criticism, Theory, & Children’s Literature (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991), 109.
Murray Knowles and Kirsten Malmkjaer, Language and Control in Children’s Literature (London: Routledge, 1996), 31.
Karin Lesnik-Oberstein, Children’s Literature: Criticism and the Fictional Child (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994; reprint, 2001), 38.
E.g. Oswald Wilde short stories (Happy Prince). Oscar Wilde, Prinţul Fericit (Bucureşti: Regis, 2000).
According to Ducrot and Todorov, this is the one who organises the text. Oswald Ducrot & Tzvetan Todorov, Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Sciences of Language, trans. Catherine Porter (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1981), 330.
Gérard Genette, Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method, trans. Jane E. Lewin (New York: Cornell University Press, 1980), 245.
Geoffrey N. Leech & Michael H. Short, Style in Fiction: A Linguistic Introduction to English Fictional Prose (Harlow: Longman Group Limited, 1981), 264.
G. Genette, Narrative Discourse, 253.
L. Newbery, Catcall, 78.
Ritta Oittinen, “No Innocent Act: On the Ethics of Translating for Children,” in Children’s Literature in Translation: Challenges and Strategies, eds. Jan Van Coillie and Walter P. Verschueren (Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing, 2006), 41.
L. Newbery, Catcall, 76.
Note here the use of Latin term panthera leo. Latin terms are commonly used in science for animals and plants.
L. Newbery, Catcall, 78.
My addition for clarity.
L. Newbery, Catcall, 114.
G. N. Leech & M. H. Short, Style in Fiction, 161.
L. Newbery, Catcall, 79.
G. N. Leech & M. H. Short, Style in Fiction, 164.
L. Newbery, Catcall, 79.
John Stephens treats extensively the words of power subject in John Stephens, Language and Ideology in Children’s Fiction (London: Longman Group UK Limited, 1992), 244.
L. Newbery, Catcall, 79.
Isabel Pascua-Febles acknowledges that there is a current tendency toward internationalization of the proper names in Children’s Literature in Translation. Isabel Pascua-Febles, “Translating Cultural References: The Language of Young People in Literary Texts,” in Children’s Literature in Translation: Challenges and Strategies, eds. Jan Van Coillie and Walter P. Verschueren (Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing, 2006), 116.