Translating heteroglossia in contemporary Scottish fiction into German: the case of Ian Stephen’s 'A book of death and fish' from theoretical and practical perspectives
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date14/06/2024
This thesis investigates the translation of linguistic variation from theoretical and practical perspectives, using the case of contemporary Scottish prose fiction where the use of different regional and social dialects is seen to be particularly prevalent. In translation studies, it has been argued that such linguistic heterogeneity provides a major challenge for translators and that a general tendency of standardisation and homogenisation can be observed. Taking a translator-researcher perspective, this thesis challenges current theoretical positions on the translation of linguistic varieties: firstly that linguistic variation, in particular when caused by regional dialects, is a “problem” (and an unsolvable one at that) in translation and secondly that using geographical target language varieties is not a workable translation approach. Mikhail Bakhtin’s (1981) notion of heteroglossia forms a key theoretical grounding of the thesis, as a tool to dissect and interpret the complexity of a linguistically heterogeneous source text and as a theoretical foundation for a translation approach that seeks to reconstruct this diversity in the target text. These questions are explored using the case of Ian Stephen’s novel A Book of Death and Fish (2014), which is written in an idiosyncratic blend of colloquial Scottish English, Hebridean dialect, dialects of Scots and individual Gaelic words. The German translation of an extended extract from A Book of Death and Fish, which forms an inherent part of the thesis, combines dialect-to-dialect translation – implemented by using Swiss German dialects – with the preservation of cultural elements. By testing a theoretical model on a real case in an iterative process, this thesis highlights the potential of employing regional target language dialects in combination with other strategies to retain linguistic variation in fictional prose. In doing so, it also sheds new light on the role of the translator-researcher and the function of translation practice as a research tool.