A Comparative Analysis in the Context of Theater Translation: The Turkish Translations of Edward Albee’s Who Is Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in Literary and Theatrical SystemEmine Karabulut
Theater texts being intrinsically both literary and performance texts have made concepts such as performability, playability, speakability, and intelligibility debatable. Translators have been observed to choose their strategies based on two perspectives: translation strategies oriented to performability (translating for stage) and reading by target readers (translating for page). Thus, faithful vs. free translation has mostly been attributed to their evaluation. Sirkku Aaltonen (1997; 2000) posits that translation is a purpose-oriented activity that requires design and planning, adding that translators’ strategies change pursuant to the literary and theatrical system they work in. The translations are expected to comply with the cultural, behavioral, or ideological customs of the target culture. This study performed a textual analysis of the Turkish translations of Edward Albee’s Who Is Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962) translated by Asude Zeybekoğlu as Hain Kurttan Kim Korkar? (1985) and Tuncay Birkan as Kim Korkar Virginia Woolf’tan? (1993) for performability, playability, speakability, and intelligibility, and the literary and theatral system within which they function. It sought to explain how Aaltonen, with his systems, goes beyond the faithful vs. free bipolarization. Consequently, it was observed that while Birkan’s translation strategy is a translation for page within the literary system, Zeybekoğlu’s translation functions within the theatrical system as she translated for the stage. The study concluded that Birkan and Zeybekoğlu translated the text based on their goals and the conventions of the system they applied and Aaltonen’s system framework enabled to digress from this minimalist approach by going beyond the bipolarization.
Tiyatro Çevirisi Bağlamında Karşılaştırmalı Bir İnceleme: Yazınsal ve Teatral Sistem Çerçevesinde Edward Albee’nin Who Is Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Başlıklı Oyununun Türkçe ÇevirileriEmine Karabulut
Tiyatro metinlerinin doğası gereği hem yazınsal hem de sahneleme metinleri olması sahnelenebilirlik, oynanabilirlik, söylenebilirlik ve anlaşılabilirlik gibi kavramların tartışılagelmesine neden olmuştur. Bu metinlerin çevirisinde, çevirmenlerin stratejilerini, genel olarak sahnelemeye (sahne için çeviri) ve hedef okuyucular tarafından okunmaya yönelik olarak (sayfa için çeviri) iki ayrı kutupta şekillendirdiği görülmüştür. Bu sebeple, tiyatro metinleri çevirileri değerlendirilirken, çevirilere çoğu zaman “sadık/serbest” terimleri atfedilmiştir. Sirkku Aaltonen (1997, 2000) çevirinin amaca yönelik bir eylem olarak tasarı ve planlama gerektirdiğinden ve çevirmenlerin stratejilerinin çalıştıkları sisteme göre değiştiğinden ve ayrıca çevirilerin hedef kitlenin kültürel, davranışsal ya da ideolojik gelenekleriyle uyumlu olmasının beklendiğinden bahsetmektedir. Bu görüşlerden yola çıkılarak, çalışmanın ilk amacı, Edward Albee’nin Who Is Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962) başlıklı oyununun, Asude Zeybekoğlu tarafından çevrilen Hain Kurttan Kim Korkar? (1985) ve Tuncay Birkan tarafından çevrilen Kim Korkar Virginia Woolf’tan? (1993) başlıklı Türkçe çevirilerini sahnelenebilirlik, oynanabilirlik, söylenebilirlik, anlaşılabilirlik kavramları ve yazınsal ve teatral sistem çerçevesinde metinsel bir analizle irdeleyerek çevirilerin hangi sistemde işlev gördüklerini anlamaya çalışmaktır. Çalışmanın ikinci amacı ise, bahsedilen sistemleri ile Aaltonen’in, tiyatro metinlerinin sayfa ve sahne için çevirileri için atfedilen “sadık/serbest” ikili kutuplaşmasının ötesine geçmeye nasıl ışık tuttuğunu açıklamaya çalışmaktır. Çalışmanın sonucunda, Birkan’ın okunması amacıyla yaptığı çevirisinin yazınsal ve Zeybekoğlu’nun ise sahneleme amaçlı yaptığı çevirisinin teatral sistemde işlev gördüğü gözlemlenmiştir. Buna göre, iki çevirmenin de amacına ve çalıştıkları sistemin geleneklerine uygun çeviri yaptıkları ve Aaltonen’in öne sürdüğü sistem çerçevesinin iki kutupluluğun ötesine geçip bu indirgemeci yaklaşımdan kurtulmayı sağladığı sonucuna varılabilir.
Translators of theater texts generally choose their translation strategies from two perspectives: strategies oriented to performability (translating for stage) and reading by target readers (translating for page). Thus, their translation is evaluated based on how faithful or free their translation is. This study departs from this bipolarized problem and proceeds with two purposes. The first is a textual analysis of the Turkish translations of Edward Albee’s play Who Is Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Asude Zeybekoğlu—Hain Kurttan Kim Korkar? (1985)—and Tuncay Birkan—Kim Korkar Virginia Woolf’tan? (1993)— within the context of much-debated concepts in theater translation such as performability, playability, speakability, intelligibility, Sirkku Aaltonen’s point of view, and the literary and theatrical systems put forwarded by Aaltonen (1997, 2000) to assess the system they function in. The second purpose is to arrive at a conclusion on how Aaltonen, with his systems, sheds light on going beyond the bipolarization of faithful vs. free translation.
These concepts and Aaltonen’s points of view were used to shed light on the analysis of the two translations. With this aim in mind, the first section contains general information about theater of the absurd since the play to be analyzed in the study is an example of this genre. In the second section, the playwright, Albee is introduced as one of the American pioneers of the theater of the absurd theater. His plays have enjoyed critical acclaim, especially Who Is Afraid of Virginia Woolf? which has been performed several times in both state-owned and private theaters in Turkey. A detailed research of the translations of the play shows that Zeybekoğlu’s translation is the preferred one. The third section contains a brief discussion of the Turkish translators of Who Is Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and critical details of the e-mail interview with Birkan. In the fourth section, the general theme of the play is introduced and the shading in the original title of the play explained. Upon giving background information about the research objects of this study, a theoretical framework for the concepts performability, playability, speakability, intelligibility was discussed with an elaborative literature research. Then, in the next section, a panoramic view of the translation strategies used in theater texts was discussed. By bridging these ideas with the purposes of this study, Aaltonen’s points of view and the literary and theatrical system were clarified to shed light on the case study.
According to Sirkku Aaltonen (1997; 2000), translation is a purpose-oriented activity that requires design and planning and the strategies undergo a change defined by the system in which they work. Whereas translations that function within a literary system are devoted to the permanence of the language, translations that function within a theatrical system are devoted to performability, speakability, and intelligibility considering theater texts have special attributes such as their being bound to immediate context, immediacy of orality, and communality. Moreover, Aaltonen, adopting a functionalist approach, avers that translations are expected to appropriate the cultural, behavioral, or ideological customs of the target culture. In the case study, the examples selected from the source text and both translations have been explained in depth. Based on the findings in the case study, the final section contains concluding remarks in line with the analysis of the translations.
In conclusion, it was observed that Birkan’s translation functioned within the literary system as his goal was a translation for page as he stated in the e-mail interview. Zeybekoğlu made a translation oriented toward performability, speakability, and intelligibility that functions within the theatrical system with omissions and additions by probably considering that theater texts are bound to immediate context, immediacy of orality, and communality. Both translators translated the work based on their purposes and the conventions of their system. Then, it may be argued that making a bipolarized evaluation may lead to a minimalist approach in the translation of theater texts. However, going beyond the bipolarization to evaluate them enables researchers in the field to see different concepts such as purpose and function. In conclusion, Aaltonen’s system framework provides studies with an opportunity to make an evaluation on the basis of the concepts of purpose and function and getting rid of the minimalist approach by going beyond the faithful vs. free bipolarization.