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H.K. Riikonen, Urpo Kovala, Pekka Kujamäki & Outi Paloposki (eds.): Suomennoskirjallisuuden historia 1–2

[History of literary translation into Finnish, volumes 1–2] Helsinki: SKS [Finnish Literature Society]. 2007, 697 + 625 pp, ISBN 978-951-746-889-3

Across Languages and Cultures
Ritva Leppihalme
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Translator reflections, whether concurrent or retrospective, and if the latter, supported by drafts and editorial feedback, and dealing with problems encountered and solutions arrived at in personal creative translation processes are one way into the “labyrinth” (Krings 2005) of translatorial decision-making, with the translators themselves as guides. This article presents and discusses retrospective reflections by two expert literary translators translating English classics into Finnish and by one novice working on his first book-length translation. The reflections consist of the M.A. theses of the three translators, done in 2002 and 2008 and available online. Each of the translators analyses stages of a past or on-going translation project that resulted in a published target text. The focus of the analyses is on solving specific problems; this is further linked to discussions of individual aims and translation philosophies. The translators were motivated to write at length on their own creative processes both to share their experiences with other translators and to stimulate exchange of views between translators and researchers.

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This paper discusses the translation of thematic allusions in literary texts, comparing the contrasting global translation strategies used in the North American translations of two novels by the Finnish writer Väinö Linna. One translation (1957) uses extensive cuts to remove allusions (and other culture-specific elements) while the other (2001-03) renders the author's words faithfully but provides little explicitation for source-cultural allusions unfamiliar in the target culture. Both strategies result in target texts in which part of the author's theme of questioning received interpretations of critical periods in Finnish history through allusions to nationalist and revolutionary sources is lost or obscured. The different translation situations and the role of editors are also considered, placing the study in a context of cultural imbalance and of translations of literature written in a language of limited diffusion.

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