Hermeneutic Reflexivity of Creativity in TranslationJacob Cléophas Defo Nzıkou
Translation studies on this dilemma have become even more relevant at a time when the term “creativity” has been introduced to express a better understanding of what was once perceived as “betrayal”. The resurgence in recent years of the debate on faithfulness versus the creativity alternative, shows that we have not been dissuaded from breaking with the absolute vow of faithfulness which has kept translation in a dilemmatic status. From the point of view of hermeneutic expertise, this article attempts to argue that creativity is not a simple alternative, but a necessity which is essential when translating. To support this point, the analysis of the hermeneutic reflexivity of creativity in translation is based on the interpretative character of translating which brings into play the phenomenon of understanding. Starting from highlighting the fertility of the act, we demonstrate that it amply justifies the fact that a translation is equivalent. It is basically a question of demonstrating that translation is the construction of an equivalence of meaning and value. The article concludes that, in a manner consistent with the fact that creativity is not an alternative, the vow of faithfulness participates in the dialectic of the emergence of meaning and supports the idea that translation is a creative project.
Réflexivité herméneutique de la créativité en traductionJacob Cléophas Defo Nzıkou
Les études en traduction au sujet du dilemme qu’elle suscite sont devenues encore plus pertinentes à une époque où le terme “créativité” y a été introduit pour exprimer une meilleure compréhension de ce qui fut d’antan perçu comme de la “trahison”. La recrudescence du débat, ces dernières années, au tour de l’alternative fidélité versus créativité, montre que nous n’avons pas pour autant été dissuadé du fait de rompre avec le vœu absolu de fidélité qui maintenait la traduction dans un statut dilemmatique. Nous situant du point de vue d’une expertise herméneutique de la traduction, cet article tente de soutenir que la créativité n’est pas une simple alternative, mais une nécessité qui s’impose en situation. Pour étayer ce point, l’analyse de la réflexivité herméneutique de la créativité en traduction repose sur le caractère interprétatif du traduire qui met en jeu le phénomène de la compréhension. Partant de la mise en exergue de la fécondité de l’acte, nous démontrons qu’elle justifie amplement le fait qu’une traduction soit équivalente. Il s’agit au fond, de démontrer que la traduction est construction d’équivalence de sens et de valeur. L’article conclut que, de manière cohérente avec le fait que la créativité n’est pas une alternative, le vœu de fidélité participe de la dialectique de l’émergence du sens et conforte l’idée selon laquelle la traduction est un projet créatif.
Translation studies on this dilemma have become even more relevant at a time when the term «creativity» has been introduced to express a better understanding of what was once perceived as «betrayal». The resurgence in recent years of the debate on faithfulness versus the creativity alternative, shows that we have not been dissuaded from breaking with the absolute vow of faithfulness which has kept translation in a dilemmatic status. Generally speaking, academic perspectives on the question revolve around several notions that result from this dilemmatic status. The most recurrent are the concepts of equivalence and adequacy. These notions most often indicate divergent views which find their resonance at the level of practice. We therefore have the impression that there is a theoretical instability in translation if we refer to these two trends. The first considers textual faithfulness as an absolute wish, which aims to «instil in the translated work the spirit of a language which is foreign to it» (Schleiermacher, 1999). The second trend focuses on the power of action of the translator who, in the process of interpretative negotiation, engages in a creative project. Looking closely, through the prism of hermeneutics, we think that the concept of creativity somehow comes to assert a theoretical stability in this process.
In this theoretical landscape, the appearance of the concept of creativity seems to us to represent a turning point, because it characterizes the very essence of translation. We demonstrate this by referring to the hermeneutic breeding ground which allows us to see creativity no longer as an alternative, but a necessity which is essential when translating and which constitutes the very being of translation. By relying on the interpretative character of translating, we account for an intrinsic fruitfulness which materializes by the fact that we can always say it a different way. This is explained firstly by the fact that having a closure between the idioms means that translating consists of a production rather than a reproduction. Secondly, because the translator-interpreter only redeploys what makes sense according to his own understanding of the language. This implies a possibility of saying more in the face of the ineffable, thus exceeding what has been proposed. «Translation, like all interpretation, is a highlighting. A translator must understand that highlighting is part of his task» (Gadamer, 1996, p. 408). Thus, the restitution is creative, which side-lines any vow of textual faithfulness. What matters is coming to a proper understanding about the subject matter. As soon as there is an understanding, each sign is interpreted from its potential: meaningfulness. This reflects an ability to mean more. At the end of the day, the creative gesture which supposes it, consists of the search for equivalences of meaning. Creativity in translation relates to the idea that «a good translation can only aim for an alleged equivalence that is unfounded in an identity of demonstrable meaning» (Ricœur, 2004, p. 40).
However, we cannot ignore the question of limits or the infinity of interpretation. We cannot deny that the interpretation for more meaning could contribute to an abuse of meaningfulness. The creativity that prevails here can be seen as the effect of a refusal to impregnate the culture of the source language. Also, some authors, like Eco, think that «we must resist the temptation to help the text too much, by almost replacing the author» (Eco, 2006, p. 126). According to this author, for example, «a translation that can» say more «may be an excellent work in itself, but not a good translation» (Eco, 2006, p. 139). In any case, we believe that the value of a good translation is judged by the effectiveness of the meaning rendered - which a creative translation can do easily.
The article concludes that the vow of faithfulness participates in the dialectic of the emergence of meaning and supports the idea that translation is a creative project. This project seems to have mobilized elements attributable both to the «reception aesthetic» and to «language hospitality» for its effectiveness. Consistent with the fact that creativity is not an alternative, we can say that any translation aims for an equivalence of meaning and value between the two statements following an interpretative negotiation between the translator and the text.