University of Bath

Dialects in translation: Travelling in space, time and medium

In this seminar, Dr Sara Ramos will be examining 20th century Portuguese translations of Pygmalion and My Fair Lady, and a variety of different media.

3 May 20181.15pm
3 May 20182.05pm

The use of a dialect in fictional texts presents itself as a moment of tension. Not only for its very localised meaning (both in time and space), but also for being always embedded in the source text with a pragmatic and semiotic significance. It can rightly challenge the translator who, when faced with the impossibility of looking for referential equivalencies and formal correspondences, is forced to decide on the importance and meaning of the use of a specific dialect in the text. That decision will define the strategies to be used, which can go from total standardisation of the text to a recreation of a linguistic variety in the target text.

In this presentation, guest speaker Sara Ramos will be looking at almost twenty Portuguese translations of Pygmalion and My Fair Lady spread throughout the 20th century and three different media: book, theatre and subtitling.

With the help of a multi-layered approach which includes the analysis of textual and contextual elements, it will be possible to discuss the solutions found by translators, but also the contextual elements that mediated those choices.

The speaker will also discuss how the decision to import these texts and the strategies used to translate dialects participated in the effort to bring Portuguese literatures closer to a wider transnational movement promoting a literary discourse less dominated by the standard variety. She will further address how the translation of dialects opened the door to new literary practices which, going against the grain, participated in the renovation of literary discourse.

By examining translations spread throughout the 20th century, Sara will consider how this movement of change evolved in time and will discuss the (in)existence of flows of communication and influence between different media.