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Title: The epistemological paradox of translating autobiography : evidential stance in translated vs. non-translated autobiographies in English and Japanese
Author: Marshall, Sally Victoria
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2013
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Much has been written on the position of the translator; the concept of ‘position’ being understood variously in terms of spatial, ideological, sociological, philosophical, or narratological orientation. The present research project contributes to this body of work through the empirical investigation of translator position as an epistemological function, examining patterns of evidential stance-taking in original vs. translated autobiographies. A defining characteristic of autobiographical writings is a NARRATOR=EXPERIENCER relationship: the narrator has privileged access to the memory from which the narrative is sourced. However, when an autobiography is translated, the connection between the narrator and the source of the narrative – the memory of the experiencer – is interrupted. The translation of an autobiography, then, presents an epistemological paradox: the translator’s first person discursive position is at odds with the evidential basis from which he or she narrates. This research aims to investigate the extent to which the translator’s occupation of the position of an autobiographical ‘I’ is purely nominal or extends to the experiential, asking whether the textual production of a translation reveals distance between the narrator and the autobiographical experiences being narrated – a NARRATOR≠EXPERIENCER relationship – or reveals empathetic identification between the narrator and the author, projecting a NARRATOR=EXPERIENCER relationship. Based on an assumed contrast between the phenomenological and narrative character of memories acquired by first-hand experience vs. memories based on other sources, a framework is developed for the analysis of evidential stance-taking in the narration of autobiographical memories. Focusing on the narration of acts of recollection and descriptions of how recalled experiences ‘seemed’ to the experiencer, patterns of complement choice (e.g. remember –ing vs. remember that) are differentiated on the basis of their construal of memories as being either ‘experiential’ or ‘non-experiential’ in character. Applying the framework to a purpose-built, bi-directional comparable corpus of translated vs. non-translated autobiographies in English and Japanese, the study reveals a tendency towards a less frequent construal of memories from an ‘experiential’ stance, and more frequent construal of memories from an ‘non-experiential’ stance in translated texts in both English and Japanese. However, variation in stance-taking exhibited between the individual texts comprising respective sub-corpora is also in evidence. The findings are interpreted as a manifestation of the NARRATOR≠EXPERIENCER relationship characteristic of translated texts in general, but also as a possible indicator of the influence of variable degrees of translator-author identification on individual translators’ negotiation of position.
Supervisor: Bunt, Jonathan; Baker, Mona Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: translation ; autobiography ; evidentiality ; English ; Japanese ; position ; distance ; empathy ; memory