Cheetham, Dominic: The Amazing Maurice in Japanese and German: A Contrastive Study of Domestication Strategies and Ideology in Translation
Cheetham, David. ‘The Amazing Maurice in Japanese and German: A Contrastive Study of Domestication Strategies and Ideology in Translation’ English Language and Literature. Vol 53, 2017. pp 29-63.
……… In some cultures and languages, Terry Pratchett is a great success, in others his books go largely unnoticed and quickly fall out of print. This paper compares translations of Terry Pratchett’s The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents （2001） as published in Germany （Maurice, der Kater, trans. Brandhorst, 2005）, where the book has an on-going popularity, and Japan （天才ネコモーリスとその仲間たち, trans. Tominaga, 2004）, where it is almost unknown. The paper discusses domestication or cultural accommodation in translation with respect to non-conventional text types.
Comparing translations between European languages is relatively common, as linguistic and cultural similarities make divergent translation choices easily amenable to discussion （Cheetham, Translating 67-8）, and which conventionally makes divergence a point of criticism. However, comparing translations between languages and cultures as different as German and Japanese requires a more nuanced approach than the conventional tactic of direct comparison. For this study I focus mainly on the domestication and foreignisation strategies used in the two translations, and only focus on changes made to a text which are not required by the linguistic systems of the language of translation. Thus, where a translation could have been closer to the original English, but where the translator has chosen to make a change, I shall treat that change as significant. Where changes are either required by the language or are within normal variation of expression, then such changes will not be treated as significant. The underlying assumption is not that translated texts should aim for equivalence with the original, but rather that deviations, where not linguistically motivated, are choices, probably driven by a combination of artistic preference, and both conscious and unconscious cultureideological pressures. As an example, the opening to the English, German and Japanese texts, respectively, read:
They chased the dogs and bit the cats, they –– （9）
Sie jagten die Hunde und bissen die Katzen, sie … （7）
The German text is almost word for word the same as the English. It is easy to assume that this similarity is a simple result of the closeness of the English and German languages. However, this would be an over simplification. The critical literature is full of examples where European translators of children’s literature have chosen to introduce textual deviations, even though linguistic equivalence was possible （see Cheetham, Translating 67-8） and as such, the lack of change here is significant; the translator chose equivalence. Naturally, this choice, though significant, is less significant than active change, which necessarily requires more linguistic effort compared to no change.
The Japanese text is markedly different to the English original. The single word “Rats!” has at least four direct possibilities in Japanese; three are different ways of scripting the word, ‘ネズミ’, ‘ねずみ’,‘鼠’ （all read ‘nezumi’） and one a phonetic representation of the English loan-word, ‘ ラット’ （ratto）. All four options result in different nuance or reading experience. However, the translator has rejected all of these in favour of expanding a simple, one-word exclamation, to a full descriptive sentence. The point is not whether this is a good or bad choice, but rather that it is a choice, an active adaptation, which, by necessity, must have some underlying motivation.
The second part of this example is roughly the same for both German and Japanese, with the exception that the Japanese translation repeats the word ネズ ミ. This repetition makes no difference in meaning, though it does stress that it is the rats which are doing the chasing. Within the Japanese language it is quite normal to drop those sentence subjects which are self-evident, so this inclusion is especially significant as it is both a change from the English and a deviation from common Japanese usage. Again, the point is not whether this is a good or bad choice, but rather that this is necessarily a motivated choice, and as such a suitable object for analysis…………………….