"Tha' sounds like me arse!": a comparison of the translation of expletives in two German translations of Roddy Doyle's "The commitments"
Ghassempur, Susanne (2009) "Tha' sounds like me arse!": a comparison of the translation of expletives in two German translations of Roddy Doyle's "The commitments". PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
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The present study is a quantitative as well as qualitative investigation into the translation of swearwords in the dialogue of two German versions of Roddy Doyle's
The Commitments (1987). The novel was first translated into German in 1990 by Oliver Huzly and retranslated in 2001 by Renate Orth-Guttmann. The main question of interest
in the present study may be formulated as follows: 'How do two different translators deal with swearwords in the dialogue of an Irish-English literary work and what are the
results of their decisions?' More precisely, the main primary impression was that Oliver Huzly had a more source-text oriented approach when translating swearwords and did not consider their functions in Irish-English colloquial speech. An initial quantitative analysis comprises a comparison of frequencies and distribution of swearwords in the source text and its two translations. It was revealed that, from a quantitative point of view, the two German versions appear to be strikingly similar as they both contain a considerably lower number of swearwords than the original, pointing to milder and more standardised target texts.
The qualitative investigation is rooted in the framework of Descriptive Translation Studies and based on Toury’s (1995) coupled-pairs method. Instances of swearing in the
novel are isolated according to the function they perform in an utterance and coupled with the corresponding target-text segments with the aim of identifying translational patterns by one or both translators. The results showed a total of ten translational patterns that partly contradicted the results of the quantitative investigation as it was revealed that while both translators were inclined to omit swearwords in their translations both also showed a tendency to intensify swearing. The patterns are then subject to a subsequent explanatory nvestigation, which focuses on the notion of multiple causality in translation. It was found that one of the four ristotelian causes, the efficient cause (the translator him/herself), was the prime factor in shaping the translational patterns and that the two translators had very distinctive approaches to the translation of expletives in the text, further contradicting the quantitative data. Finally our impression was confirmed that one translator channelled more source-text interference thereby producing a German text that is potentially more vulgar.
The present study is the first to examine the functions that swearing can fulfil in two different languages. Specifically, this study constitutes the first attempt to
systematically examine swearing in a large corpus and draw conclusions about how two translators deal with the different functions of swearing in an Irish-English work of
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