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Translation of Literature and Translation of Culture: A Case Study on the Translation of Korean Literature into English

  • The Journal of Translation Studies
  • Abbr : JTS
  • 2004, 5(1), pp.97-111
  • Publisher : The Korean Association for Translation Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Interpretation and Translation Studies

JINIM PARK 1

1평택대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

This article attempts to highlight the importance of understanding culture in which certain national literature was produced when one translates literature. I assume that in order to make a good translated work, the translator must selected good original texts to begin with and that the translator should train himself or herself to have good sensibility toward literature. However, to have a good sense of more than two languages and literary sensibility are not sufficient. One of the assets a good translator must have is full knowledge of the culture of the society in which the original texts are produced. Based on my review of the works of translation submitted to the Korean Bureau of Translation in pursuit of the grant the bureau promises to the best qualified translator of Korean literature, I draw out some patterns of common errors in applicants’ translation. I conclude that most of the errors occur when a translator is not fully aware of the cultural context in which the original text was produced unless the translator’s command of two languages, the language of the original text and the language into which the original text is translated, which are Korean and English in this case, is limited. Thus, I conclude that a good literary translation means a good translation of its culture as well. Letter to letter translation out of the cultural context, as seen in the case of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in the translation of Land by Park Kyung-Ni, results in an absurd and non-sensical mistranslation. A good translator, therefore, would mean one who can actually bridge the cultural gaps and interstices between two heterogeneous cultures, not to mention a good bilingual speaker. Good translators should be borderlanders and “both and” people in terms of culture.

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