Friday, 11 November 2011

Seminar: 'The Translator’s Other Invisibility: Stylometry in Translation', London, 17 November 2011

An interesting-looking seminar in the 'London Seminar in Digital Text & Scholarship' series at the School of Advanced Study in London:

Date: Thursday 17 November 2011
Venue: Room 265 (Senate House, second floor)
Time: 17:30 - 19:30

Jan Rybicki: 'The Translator’s Other Invisibility: Stylometry in Translation'

Mona Baker's statement on translators' styles (as 'somewhat neglected in translation studies') has always sounded as a memento for my own literary translation work and has always led to the same question: when my target-language readers pay for their Polish Golding, Gordimer, or Ishiguro, are not they swindled into only getting Rybicki (himself not a Booker Prize winner) instead? More complex issues and translatorial blunders aside, are the readers indeed getting their money's worth at least in terms of style? Is there at all a Golding style in Polish, or does it vary from translator to translator?
Somewhat against my intuitions (and misgivings), the application of stylometrical authorship-attribution methods to the problem paints a morally-soothing picture. In multidimensional analyses of most-frequent-word usage, authors of originals are usually recognized in translation despite the transfer into another language and its production by another hand; also, despite the obvious fact that most-frequent-word lists of originals and translations do not exhibit a simple word-to-word correspondence. It also presents new questions as to what it is that non-traditional authorship attribution methods really show. And it is a manifestation of a new kind of translator's invisibility unforeseen by Venuti.

Jan Rybicki (b. 1963) is Assistant Professor of English Studies at the Jagiellonian University of Kraków, Poland; he also taught at Rice University, Houston, TX. His interests include translation, comparative literature and humanities computing, especially stylometry and authorship attribution. He has worked extensively (both traditionally and digitally) on Henryk Sienkiewicz and the reception of the Polish novelist's works into English, and on the reception of English literature in Poland. Rybicki is also an active literary translator into Polish, with some thirty novels by authors such as Coupland, Fitzgerald, Golding, Gordimer, Ishiguro, le Carré, Oe, or Winterson.

The London Seminar in Digital Text & Scholarship focuses on the ways in which the digital medium remakes the relationship of readers, writers, scholars, technical practitioners and designers to the manuscript and printed book. Its discussions are intended to inform public debate and policy as well as to stimulate research and provide a broad forum in which to present its results. Although the forum is primarily for those working in textual and literary studies, history of the book, humanities computing and related fields, its mandate is to address and involve an audience of non-specialists. Wherever possible the issues it raises are meant to engage all those who are interested in a digital future for the book.

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