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.

A Scamp Meets the Family

La Habra, California has been described as a place with a liquor store on every corner and more pitbulls than people. That is very different than the picture of La Habra I have, and the way I feel about it when I bring people home to visit. If that is the way I feel about the city I grew up in, I would say that is an accurate view of how my BFF feels about his home, Dundee, Scotland. Dundee would never be called a thriving metropolis, and is known for being a low socio-economic threshold, but it lies within the eastern central Lowlands on the north bank of the Firth of Tay, which feeds into the North Sea. The bus ride into Dundee is quite beautiful, and the bus ride out as the sun was getting ready to set makes the place look peaceful and calm. Even without all of that, I knew that I would enjoy Dundee for the simple fact that it is the birthplace of my BFF and he invited me home to meet his family.

With the exception of David’s family, families love me, and more often than not, I love them. I am also really competitive, so the fact that I am the first (and so far, only) person that has been invited meant that the day promised to be a good one. I was not disappointed. The only downside to the trip was that the day seemed to progress at warped speed and was over before I could properly blink. The trip started off with a quick bus ride. The BFF and I are never short on good banter, so the trip passed quickly. We then met a good friend of his for lunch in a fun little pub. We swapped stories, had some good grub, and then they treated me to a quick tour of the university where they did their undergrad. We followed lunch with a trip to Gran’s house. A good cup of tea and nice conversation followed. I also got to meet the aunt and uncle and very excited boxer. Listening to them all interact and chat with each other was fun. The BFF was very much relaxed, and very happy to be in his gran’s kitchen. From there we moved on to his mother’s house to meet the rest of the family. His mother was very nice and very welcoming. She tried to feed us, and then did the best thing ever and brought me a some great baby pictures. I even got to see him with a tan!!!! This is a big thing for those who don’t know my BFF. He is a proper Scottish boy, pasty skin and all. He hates the sun, and his idea of perfect weather is a cold light rain and possibly some wind. His mom sent us off with a backpack full of food, reminding me a lot of my mom whenever I would visit for the weekend when I was living in California.

The best part of the day was the fact that I had a few hours with the BFF that were just the two of us. We had some serious bonding in the backseat of the car in Belfast, but since then, we haven’t really had a lot of BFF bonding time. He didn’t really know the specifics about heartstompapoolza, but he made sure to show up when I needed a night out and offer me chats and his hatred for David. He is generally antisocial, but he always makes time for me, and checks in with a funny thought or insightful comment. He is one of the things that will most about Scotland.

 

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I got to end the night with some of the other reasons that I will miss Scotland. I got a home cooked Chinese meal and some much needed junk food. I love hanging out with the girls from my program because they understand the need to be random and ridiculous, and they are also quick to remind me that I am not a spinster in the making. They listen to my moans and complaints and fears about going home, and are quick to remind me all of the good that is coming from it.

Even though I am stretched way too thin this week, I am glad that they are willing to carve out time to spend with me before I return to the land of sunshine and movie stars.