A Meta-analytical Critique of Antoine Berman’s Retranslation Hypothesis
Keywords:Antoine Berman, Meta-analysis, Retranslation, 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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