A Scamp and Domestication vs Foreignization

I actually did some research today. I sat down with my laptop and my dissertation notebook, and read articles and op ed pieces that relate to the work I am doing for my thesis. It is the first time that I have looked at anything related to my dissertation in almost 2 weeks. I would be patting myself on the back for this, but I lost valuable time, and I am in a mini panic mode about the number of words that I have to have written by August 16th versus the number of words that I actually have written (that number would be 600 out of the needed 15,000). I let my focus be pulled by friends, family and cute boys, but now I am starting to see that I am going to need to be a hermit for the next three years if I am going to get anything done.

Today I spent a lot of time reading articles about two very important concepts in translation studies: domestication and foreignization. I’m going to break my rule about using Wikipedia for a second because it actually does a really good job of defining the two terms. The definitions read as follows:

Domestication is the strategy of making text closely conform to the culture of the language being translated to, which may involve the loss of information from the source text. Foreignization is the strategy of retaining information from the source text, and involves deliberately breaking the conventions of the target language to preserve its meaning.[1] These strategies have been debated for hundreds of years, but the first person to formulate them in their modern sense was Lawrence Venuti, who introduced them to the field of translation studiesin 1995 with his book The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation.[1][2] Venuti’s innovation to the field was his view that the dichotomy between domestication and foreignization was an ideological one; he views foreignization as the ethical choice for translators to make.[1] 

He estimates that the theory and practice of English-language translation has been dominated by submission, by fluent domestication. He strictly criticized the translators who in order to minimize the foreignness of the target text reduce the foreign cultural norms to target-language cultural values. According to Venuti, the domesticating strategy “violently” erases the cultural values and thus creates a text which as if had been written in the target language and which follows the cultural norms of the target reader. He strongly advocates the foreignization strategy, considering it to be “an ethnodeviant pressure on [target-language cultural] values to register the linguistic and cultural difference of the foreign text, sending the reader abroad.” Thus an adequate translation would be the one that would highlight the foreignness of the source text and instead of allowing the dominant target culture to assimilate the differences of the source culture, it should rather signal these differences.[3]


These terms are very important to my project in terms of the language choices used in the picture books I am studying, but they also got me thinking about my return home. I am not thinking of the terms in the way they are used in translation, and translation studies, but I was thinking about the roles they play in culture and identity. My transition back to life at home has not been an easy one. I feel like I need to slide back into the role that is accepted by the people here, but I am not sure how to do that. I am a lot different than I was 9 months ago, and that new person is being lost in translation here. It was said a week or so ago that I was maladjusted and socially awkward since my return to California. While that comment made me laugh (I mean, come on, I’ve always been socially awkward, and I have not been home long enough to adjust), it did make me think about how I am being translated now that I am home. The problem with some of the people here is that they are trying to domesticate me and make me fit into the culture of living here. They are trying to stick me into a mold that I don’t fit into. The hardest part of this is that while I struggle to maintain the culture and identity I developed living abroad, they are trying to stifle me back into a little box. I no longer want to be caught up in petty drama, or stuck in rut with my career and life goals. Now that I know this, my first inclination is to just withdraw and not see anyone. I have friends and a cousin in San Diego that just had babies that I have yet to meet, friends in Orange County that I want to see and catch-up with, but I am not sure that I am ready to share how great it was to be in Scotland, and how much I miss it. Everyone expects me to be super happy that I am home, and while I am happy to be with my family, I miss Scotland terribly. I miss my little bubble there.

In order to adjust and try to snap myself out of the funk I let myself fall into I did what any good girl would do: I bought three pair of shoes and a dress that can really only work in a place like California.

One comment

  1. Paulyne · June 11, 2013

    ❤ to you Bito!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s