A Meta-analytical Critique of Antoine Berman’s Retranslation Hypothesis
The present article addresses the validity of Berman’s Retranslation Hypothesis (which posits that literary retranslations are closer to the original than first translations) through a systematic, meta-analytical investigation of the empirical studies conducted to the present day on this topic. To this end, a representative sample of the empirical studies regarding RH over the past three decades was collected. The list contained fourteen studies carried out in different settings and between different language-pairs. The results of the meta-analysis demonstrated that empirical data has failed to confirm RH as roughly 60% of the studies have refuted it while the remaining 40% have lent support to it. Furthermore, the results illustrated that all the studies conducted shared one finding: apart from ‘ageing’ of the translations, there are more important motivations giving rise to retranslation including source and target literary norms, translational norms, ideology, socio-political relations, translators’ attitude and experience, and so forth. The meta-analysis conducted also revealed that Berman has apparently overlooked the influence of two important factors in the formation of retranslations: text type, and the potentials of multiple (re)interpretations of texts. In light of the data, his claim that retranslations occur because first translations are ‘incomplete’ also faces serious challenges.
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