The cultural turn in South African translation: rehabilitation, subversion and resistance

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Peer-Reviewed Research


English: For many years translation was viewed as a faithful equivalent substitute for the source text. The cultural turn of the 1980s heralded a move on the part of contemporary translation studies away from the straightjacket of the earlier prescriptive and normative approaches. Two approaches to translation, the functionalist and the descriptive, developed independently but simultaneously and dethroned the primacy of the source text. Both proposed translation as a new communicative act that must fulfil a purpose for the target culture, so that target texts could potentially differ significantly from source texts. The establishment of postcolonial translation studies in the mid-1990s led to translations created to benefit the culture of the colonised at the expense of the culture of the coloniser/imperialist. The objective of this study is to indicate by means of critical analysis of several translations how a dominated target culture is rehabilitated, how a dominant source culture is subverted and how a dominant target culture is resisted by means of maintenance of the dominated source culture.