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A Critical Review Contrasting Venuti’s “Ethics of Difference” and Foreignization with Berman’s Understanding of Foreignization

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ABSTRACT

This paper explores two different aspects of “foreignization” in translation with respect to the translator’s role and the concepts of translation discourse. Foreignization is a notion that dates back to the well-known German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher, and it has been discussed by many translation theorists with regard to its binary opposite, “domestication”. Lawrence Venuti, one of the most active post-colonial theorists in translation studies, tries to reveal the asymmetrical relations inherent in any translation project, intending to subvert the hegemonic language and culture by revealing the inequalities present in translation. Venuti starts his argument in a very controversial work based on the post colonial perspective, “The Scandals of Translation: Towards an ethics of difference,” by agreeing with Berman’s suspicions of “any literary translation that mystifies the inevitable domestication as an untroubled communicative act”. Berman suggests examining the deforming tendencies in translation “to receive the Foreign as Foreign,” which he calls “the analytic”. What makes the distinction between the ideas of Venuti and Berman is the translator’s status they define. Venuti claims that the translator should never be invisible and the translator’s “heterogeneous discourse” is critical in foreignizing translation. In contrast, Berman says the analytic in translation focuses on “the universals of deformation inherent in translating as such.” He maintains that the “negative analytic” should be extended by a “positive analytic”, an analysis of operations which have always limit the deformation, and it should be practiced in literary translation by a manipulation of signifiers.

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