An Analysis of a Faithful Translation of the Novel Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult.
Linda van den Brink
Master Vertalen - Engels
1. Jodi Picoult
1.4 Target Audience
1.5 Dutch Translations
1.6 Dutch Publishers
1.8 On Keeping Faith
2. Translation Theories & Analysis
2.1 Explaining Translation
2.2 Skopos & Theory & Equivalence
2.3 Christiane Nord
2.4 Translation oriented Text Analysis
3. Stylistic Analysis
4. How to Solve a Problem Like Faith?
4.1 The Tools
4.4 Realia in Keeping Faith
5.1 Preface to the Translations
5.2 Translation Chapter Five & Footnotes
7.1 Source Text Chapter Sixteen
8. List of Works Cited & Books of Reference
Finding the correct subject for my final thesis took a rather long time. My head was overflowing with ideas; there were so many things I wanted to write about, with the result that most of my ideas ended up in the bin. It also had to be a subject I would enjoy working on, one I had personal affinity with. The biggest problem finding the right subject for my final thesis was the thesis statement upon which the thesis would be based. I was able to write about something, to explore a certain area of knowledge, but I was not able to set up an investigation and to ask questions about the material. The other prerequisite was to actually translate. To write a scholarly thesis about translation but without the actual task of translating, never truly appealed to me. I have always been more interested in the act of translation itself, other than to discuss the methods of translating.
I have always been interested in literary translations. From interpreting and expressing the original text and to re-write it, so to speak, the way the author had written the original text, has always seemed a challenge to me. I also found it interesting to have to make the same decisions as the author of the original text. To contemplate about the same punctuation marks as the author and to ponder the same cons and pros of a certain phrase or expression. Writing is a process that can take years, while the translator has to make the same decisions as the author, but in less time. The advantage of translating is that the original story and characters are already there, so the translator can pay more attention to the text itself, linguistically and stylistically. But I felt that the translator has to convey the same essence and purpose of the original text and has to achieve the same effect upon its readers in the target culture as the original had in the source culture. This is also one of the reasons why the translation of literary texts appealed to me.
As I looked for novels that intrigued me and that I would have liked to translate myself, I was drawn to the novels by Jodi Picoult. After reading several of her novels, I was interested in exploring her ‘what if’-storylines and Jodi Picoult’s compelling storytelling. Keeping Faith was interesting to me due to its paranormal undertone. As I have always been interested in the unexplained, this story appealed to me because of the alleged ‘stigmata’, combined with religious aspects and emotional issues. Add a nice love story, combine it with faith, the existence of God and the paranormal elements, emotions, the media, resurrections and clashing religions, and there was Keeping Faith. I therefore decided to make a longer, commented translation of Keeping Faith, which had not been translated into Dutch yet. I picked two chapters from the novel that were completely different from one another, in order to show how diverse the novel is and to use this diversity for the thesis, one of which will be discussed in this thesis.
In this thesis I will take a closer look at the novel and the methods of translating that were required to use and I will elaborate on the problems that I came across while translating the novel, such as the use of so-called ‘realia’ and the use of the appropriate register. I decided to use the skopos theory by H.J. Vermeer in order to create a translation that would be understandable to all readers from all layers of society and the notion of dynamic equivalence by E. Nida.
Chapter one will feature a short biography of Jodi Picoult, because in order to understand her work, it is necessary to understand where the author comes from and what inspires her. I will also discuss the themes of her novels and the genre. It is also necessary to understand her popularity in her home country and how the already existing translations were received and promoted in the Netherlands. The biography will be followed by a summary of Keeping Faith that will give a brief insight in what type of novel it is.
Chapter two will feature the skopos theory by H.J. Vermeer and Christiane Nord’s views. I will explain what the skopos theory is and why I chose this theory to translate Keeping Faith and why I considered dynamic equivalence to be so crucial to me.
Chapter three contains a stylistic source text analysis. The stylistic analysis will define the genre, the target audience, register and jargon, amongst others.
Chapter four will feature the problems that I came across while translating and that are common when making a literary translation. Some problems are related to style, others are related to punctuation, language and so-called ‘realia’. The concept of realia will be further explained in this chapter.
Chapter five will contain the final translations of the two chapters I picked from Keeping Faith (chapters five and sixteen), plus elaborate footnotes at the end, featuring and further explaining and motivating the decisions I made during the translation process.
The attachment consist of the source text of the translated chapter from Keeping Faith.
Jodi Picoult 1.1 Biography Picoult was born in 1966 in the small town of Nesconset in Long Island, New York. She wrote her first short story at the age of five, The Lobster Which Misunderstood. She always wanted to be a writer, but because she had a happy childhood, she never thought she had anything to write about. Her parents were happily married, she was healthy and happy and carefree. She was afraid this happy childhood was actually a hindrance to her lifelong dream to become a writer. But at one point she realised she did have something to write about:
“It took me a while to realize that I actually DID have something to write about […] That solid core of family, and the knotty tangle of relationships, which I keep coming back to in my books.”1
Picoult went on to study creative writing at the prestigious Princeton, trying to fulfil her dream to become a fulltime writer. She successfully wrapped up her years at Princeton, but to make both ends meet she took on several jobs just to pay the rent, such as an editor for a publisher, a technical writer for a Wallstreet brokerage firm, a copy writer at an advertisement agency and she was an English teacher for a while. This last job appealed to her, and she went on to finish a master’s degree in education at another ivy league university, Harvard. She got married and during the pregnancy of their first child she wrote her first novel, Songs of the Humpback Whale in 1992. She had a happy life and had not experienced any major catastrophes that could inspire her to write. Writing was never an outlet for her to exorcise her demons. She used her life at home as inspiration.
Picoult remained a part-time writer and a fulltime mother of three children and was struggling to find the balance between being a mother and being a writer.
Picoult’s ‘big break’ did not come until My Sister’s Keeper was published. She has sold over twelve millions copies worldwide and her latest novel, Nineteen Minutes, reached the number one position of the New York Times Bestseller List2 three weeks after its publication3.
1.2 Themes ‘What (happens) if?’-questions seem to form the base of Jodi Picoults novels. What happens when a woman finds out she was kidnapped as a child by her father (Vanishing Acts)? What happens when a young girl is ‘designed’ to save her sister’s life but suddenly refuses to be a living donor any longer (My Sister’s Keeper)? What happens if two teenagers shoot themselves not unlike Romeo & Juliet, but one of them survives (The Pact)? What happens when a young unreligious girl starts to show signs of stigmata and is able to bring the dead back to life (Keeping Faith)? Picoult’s latest bestselling novel, Nineteen Minutes (2007), covers the aftermath of a high school shooting. Controversial issues have always fascinated Picoult:
“ ‘If I come across a question that I can’t let go of,’ says Jodi, ‘and it’s still rolling around in my head three weeks later, that’s what leads me to want to write about it.’4 ”
Most of these storylines are written from the parents’ or parent’s point of view, but Picoult often uses a not so straightforward kind of storytelling by letting each and every character speak for him or herself, or she uses a narrator whose omniscience is limited to the main character of a certain chapter.
Family is the main theme that can be found in all of Picoult’s novels. Mothers willing to die for their children, sisters willing to die for each other, parents willing to sacrifice everything for their family. Picoult focuses on the elements of what keeps a family together and what has to be done in order to remain a loving family.
1.3 Summary As Mariah and her seven year old daughter Faith arrive home earlier, Mariah catches her husband Colin with another woman. Again. Eight years earlier he had his first affair, and when Mariah found out, she became suicidal and mentally unstable and was eventually admitted to a mental institution. But not this time. After a short period of time Mariah becomes her old self again and decides not the let the past catch up with her. She visits her psychiatrist and takes her medication, determined to be there for her daughter and to get back to her feet.
A divorce is inevitable and painful for everyone involved. Initially Colin does not claim custody over Faith, and she lives with her mother while Mariah’s mother Millie lives nearby and helps her daughter and granddaughter from time to time. They live in the little town of New Canaan in New Hampshire, where Mariah makes a living making miniature houses. But Faith starts talking about her ‘guide’; an imaginary friend who talks to her at night, a friend that knows things Faith is not supposed to know. Things that Faith cannot possibly know. One night Mariah finds Faith in the middle of the back yard, singing a verse that sounds familiar to Mariah. Mariah takes Faith to a psychiatrist who determines that there is nothing wrong with the little girl, that having an invisible friend is normal, that she does not have a psychosis and is aware of everything that happens around her, and that she plays like any other healthy little girl. Mariah suddenly realises that the verse Faith was singing in the garden was a Bible verse, which is strange since Faith has never been in contact with the Bible. Faith states that the imaginary friend is a woman and appears with a lot of light. Mariah takes her daughter to dr. Margaret Keller, a specialist in children with trauma’s. She makes the same diagnosis; Faith is absolutely fine. But she thinks that Faith is not talking to a ‘guide’, but to ‘God’. She asks Mariah authorisation to talk about Faith’s case at a seminar for psychiatrists, where a reporter calls his newspaper about this girl that talks to God. Even though dr. Keller did not use any names, investigators quickly manage to find the little girl and her mother and flock to their house, soon followed by religious fanatics who want to catch a glimpse of the girl. One of the reporters is television atheist Ian Fletcher with his own shows in which he visits so-called ‘miracles’ across the country to refute them. It is Ian’s job to prove that God does not exist and that there is an explanation for every so-called divine miracle. He plans on finding out whether Faith is another fraud or whether it is simply a cry for help by Mariah.
The White family is disrupted by this attention from the media and the religious fanatics. After an argument with Ian Fletcher right in front of the house, Millie has a heart attack and is declared dead by the paramedics and doctors in the ER. When Mariah and Faith are mourning, sitting by her side in the ER, Faith climbs on top of her grandmother, holds her head in her hands and brings Millie back to life.
The resurrection is national breaking news. The media attention gets worse, and although Ian Fletcher feels guilty about giving Millie a heart attack, he becomes reluctant to believe that Faith has actually brought the old lady back to life. He apologises for his behaviour towards Millie to Mariah, and for the first time he shows his true and kind nature. Meanwhile, dozens of doctors probe and poke Millie, but her heart is as fit as a teenager’s. The doctors want to do one more test to check everything thoroughly. Millie gives Ian Fletcher permission to film the test in an attempt to give him what he wants, in order to get rid of him. Mariah is astounded, but agrees on one condition: they will not film Faith. But while filming, Mariah notices that the camera is not focusing on Millie, but on Faith in the corner of the room. Mariah jumps in front of the camera in an effort to get the tape. Fletcher apologises once more and again shows his kind side, but he refuses to give her the tape. Mariah wonders who the real Fletcher is, the man behind the sweet Southern accent and the cigars and his sneaky demeanour, while at the same time Fletcher starts to show more interest in Mariah as a woman. Even though he is still determined to find the lie behind all these ‘miracles’, he starts to feel attracted to Mariah.
Resurrecting her grandmother is not the only miracle Faith performs; she also cures a baby that was born with AIDS.
One night, as Ian suffers from another sleepless night, he meets Faith outside the house. They start to talk, but as Ian tries to uncover what is really happening to Faith, she faints and seems to be bleeding from her hands. She is admitted to the hospital, but dr. Blumberg cannot find a cause for the bleeding. There is no actual wound, no damaged tissue or skin. He releases the girl, simply because there is no wound. He had consulted several journals and tells Mariah that there is the small possibility that Faith suffers from stigmata, the wounds of Christ when he was crucified. The doctor is careful with this diagnosis, because it is not an officially documented illness and he is not an expert. Soon this unofficial diagnosis reaches the reporters and the religious leaders. Rabbis and priests visit Mariah and Faith to talk to her and to examine whether the girl really suffers from the wounds of Christ, whereas Mariah only wants to know if there is a cure. The priest says that it cannot be stigmata, since Mariah was raised Jewish. And Faith mentions her ‘guard’ to be female, which conflicts the Catholic perception of God. None of the religious leaders can explain the wounds or the miraculous healings.
The attention from the media is growing day by day. Mariah decides to flee. Mariah and Faith take the first flight available towards Kansas, but appear to be in the same plane as Ian Fletcher. He is on a ‘secret’ trip he has to make every week, to a secret no one is supposed to know. At home Colin White thinks that Faith is being abused by Mariah, and he claims custody just as Mariah and Faith leave the state in their attempt to flee from the media. Ian starts to believe everything that has happened, and even cherishes the small thought that Faith really could heal people with her hands. He wants to put her to the final test. He manages to take Faith and her mother to an institution, where he introduces them to his autistic twin brother. Fletcher wants to see if Faith can cure him. But his brother gets very upset and Faith soon leaves the room without being able to heal Fletcher’s brother. Fletcher is almost convinced that Faith and Mariah are frauds.
Back at home Colin has hired a hot shot lawyer who is digging up Mariah’s past in the institution. Mariah and Faith travel back home to New Canaan where she hires her divorce lawyer Joan Standish as her lawyer during the custody battle. In Kansas, Fletcher visits his brother one more time before he leaves for New Canaan. All of a sudden his brother is clear and answers his questions. They even hug; something Fletcher had never imagined. This moment of clarity only lasts two minutes before his brother slips back into his old state, and Fletcher starts to believe in Faith and Mariah.
The custody battle begins. A guardian ad litem, Kenzie Van der Hoven, has been ordered to check both sides of the family and to find out where Faith would be better off. Malcolm Metz, Colin’s attorney, accuses Mariah of being a mentally unstable mother, suffering from depression and Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome. He claims that Mariah is making Faith sick to get attention herself after her divorce from Colin, and that she must be stopped. The tape with Millie’s medical tests are shown on which Mariah attacks the camera man, as to show the judge how mentally unstable she is. Metz claims that mothers suffering from Munchausen’s deliberately harm or even kill their own children to draw attention.
Faith has another seizure and appears to be bleeding from her hands again- and her side. At the hospital Faith is again treated by dr. Goldberg, who still cannot find any medical explanation for the bleeding. Faith’s vital organs shut down one by one, and as a test the judge denies Mariah access to her sick child to see whether she is inflicting the wounds upon her own daughter. As Faith is dying, other patients in the hospital are fully recovering against all odds. As Kenzie sees how Faith suffers and asks for her mother, she gives Mariah a disguise to visit her daughter. Faith recovers within days. Soon she enters the courtroom again, healthy as could be. Metz believes that he hereby proved his theory that Mariah suffers from Munchausen’s, until Kenzie states that she had led Mariah into the hospital in a disguise. Mariah wins the custody and Faith heals. Ian never finishes his show about Faith and he and Mariah are madly in love. Faith fully recovers and loses contact with her ‘guide’.
1.4 Target Audience Jodi Picoult’s novels are often centred around a family and its matriarch. It would be inappropriate to say immediately that women of all ages and social groups are the actual target audience, but Jodi Picoult’s themes and storylines of a rather feminine nature. The controversial issues as discussed in her novels often involve female main characters and their inner struggles, in which many female readers will be able to identify – more so than male readers. It is therefore safe to say that Picoult aims at female readers. It does not mean that the novels are completely inaccessible for men, but they simply are not the target audience. With Keeping Faith, the source audience was the same as the target audience, so the language is not very technical to begin with and it is understandable to readers from all layers of society. You also have to ask yourself when these readers usually read these books and why? Do they want to read this for knowledge or for fun? Even though Keeping Faith contains medical, legal and even religious terms, it is in no way a novel where the reader needs any prior knowledge in order to understand the text. Most of the legal terms that are used are common knowledge, or their meanings can be drawn from the context. Legal terms such as ‘approach the bench’ and ‘recession’ are in fact legal terms, but everyone understands what they mean without being a lawyer. When ‘approaching the bench’, lawyers approach the bench where the judge resides to either discuss a certain matter with each other and/or with the judge, out of earshot of the jury. ‘Recession’ is also used at schools and work and means ‘taking a break’. The text is not educational but it has entertainment value: it has to be read without having to grab a medical dictionary every few sentences. It has to be easy to read, so not only the words used have to be comprehensible, but the sentences also have to be simple without any complicated sentence structures that force you to re-read the sentence several times. Sentences that seem to go on forever, with so many subordinate clauses that at the end of the sentence you have forgotten how it started, should also be avoided. Keeping Faith is not ‘high’ literature and it does not target the top layer of intellectual readers. It has to be understandable for everyone and the reader has to read the novel without raising an eyebrow.
1.5 Dutch Translations Over the past few years several of Jodi Picoult’s novels have been translated into Dutch. Yet not all of her novels have been translated, and the novels have not been translated in the exact same order as they were written. Also, several publishers have published these translations, and sometimes years passed before a new publisher decided to publish a translation. In 1996 the first translation appeared, Verloren in stilte, a translation of Picture Perfect: Picoult’s third novel, dating from 1996. This novel was translated pretty quickly after its original, only a year, and published by Van Reemst. The next translation, De mantel der liefde (Mercy, 1996) appeared in 1998, also published by Van Reemst. Originally, this was also Picoult’s next novel, so Van Reemst followed the original order of appearance but never translated Picoult’s first two novels (Songs of the Humpback Whale and Harvesting the Heart). Publisher Archipel took over the next year, publishing the translation Het verbond (The Pact, 1998) in 1999, which was Picoult’s next novel and it was translated a year after the original was published. The next logical step would be a translation of Keeping Faith (1999), but instead, Archipel skipped Keeping Faith and published a translation of Plain Truth (1999), dubbed Strijd met de waarheid in 2001. This was the last Picoult novel to be translated for a rather long time, as Archipel stopped translating her novels altogether. After four years a new translation of a novel by Picoult was published. This time by another fresh publisher - The House of Books, a trendy new publisher. In 2005, The House of Books published De tweede dochter (My Sister’s Keeper, 2004), a year after its original publication. Several novels were skipped since Strijd met de waarheid in 2001, but this is partly due to the immense success of My Sister’s Keeper in both the US, Canada and the UK. After De tweede dochter, TheHouse of Books continued publishing translations in the correct order, for after De tweede dochter in 2005, they published Het verdwenen meisje (Vanishing Acts, 2005), also in 2005, soon followed by De tiende cirkel (The Tenth Circle, 2006) in 2006. Because The House of Books published more translations of Picoult’s latest novels, this could suggest that her translations were becoming increasingly popular. In March 2007, Picoult’s latest novel Nineteen Minutes was published and a translation can be expected early 2008. To fill the gap between De tiende cirkel in 2006 and the translation of Nineteen Minutes in 2008, The House of Books published De kleine getuige (Perfect Match, 2002) in June, 2007. Why they decided to translate this particular novel, instead of picking up where Archipel left, remains a mystery. But with this steady flow of published translations, one can conclude that Picoult is becoming more and more popular in the Netherlands.
1.6 Dutch Publishers Although several books of Jodi Picoult have been translated into Dutch, there is hardly any info about her. This lack of information also applies to reviews of her novels, so it is rather difficult to find actual facts about the success of the Dutch translations. In order to understand more about the way the translations have been published in the Netherlands, it is useful to examine the publishers, to determine whether they have a certain target audience and whether they publish a certain kind of texts. The website of Van Reemst shows no sign of Picoult’s novels, as if they were never published there, but this publisher represents itself as:
Uitgeverij Unieboek is een van de grootste algemene boekenuitgeverijen in het Nederlands taalgebied. De uitgeverij is bekend door succesvolle uitgaven en reeksen op het gebied van populaire fictie (thrillers en romans), non-fictie, kind & jeugd en reizen. Unieboek is opgebouwd uit diverse imprints [....] Van Reemst is het fonds dat zich voornamelijk specialiseert in uitgaven over toerisme, zoals de welbekende Capitool-reisgidsen en de Marco Polo-serie. Ook is Van Reemst een sterk merk voor romantische fictie.
‘Unieboek’ is the umbrella organisation with Van Reemst as a subdivision, publishing mostly books about tourism as well as so-called ‘romantic fiction’ under that name. The website learns us that Unieboek publishes books for all ages and both genders, without having an exact target audience.
Archimedes has a more defined target audience , as can be easily discerned from their website. Boekboek is another umbrella organisation of multiple publishers, such as De Boekerij and Archimedes. The website states that:
Archipel wil dé uitgeverij zijn voor vrouwelijke lezers voor wie ontspanning, emotie en herkenning bij het lezen voorop staan [...] Archipel is het rijk van het meeslepende boek.
This short description suits a publisher that publishes novels by Jodi Picoult, who writes books about mothers, about families and using ‘what if’-storylines about everyday people. Archipel hereby appears to be a perfect publisher for Picoult’s novels, but perhaps her novels were not successful enough to continue publishing the translations. The last publisher publishing Picoult’s novels is The House of Books, who quite recently took up publishing the translations of the most recent novels. The website of The House of Books pretends to be trendy; it is colourful, designed to appeal to women, as opposed to the website of Van Reemst and Archimedes, which appeared to be very businesslike and straight to the point. The House of Books is the opposite of the two previous publisher’s websites. They state:
The House of Books is een internationaal georiënteerde, algemene commerciële uitgeverij die succesvolle fictie, non-fictie en kinder- en jeugdboeken uitgeeft. We hebben weinig woorden nodig om ons oogmerk duidelijk te maken: eenvoud en helderheid. Op basis van die begrippen willen we boeken maken voor een breed en geïnteresseerd lezerspubliek.
They do not specifically aim at female readers, even though the look of their website seems to claim otherwise. They do admit to have a ‘frisse aanpak’, but the fact that they want to publish books for a wide audience and that it is a ‘commercial publisher, publishing successful fiction, non-fiction and children’s books’, do not really seem to mean anything. These statements seem to be simply empty vessels and they simply claim that all their books are successful and that they only want to be trendy in order to make more money. They also never state what they mean by ‘successful’ (do they simply claim commercial successes or literary successes?). Their website seems revolve about being trendy, about selling books by famous writers, including the popular chick lit by Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella, as well as true, dramatic stories and crime novels. The only information the House of Books can give about Picoult is:
Jodi Picoult schrijft romans voor een breed publiek. Haar bestsellers behandelen vaak waargebeurde onderwerpen die met veel inlevingsvermogen worden beschreven.
This does not really mean anything, but can help us define the genre that can be generally applied to her novels. When you look up Jodi Picoult’s books, you can find them in different sections. De tiende cirkel can be found under ‘crime’, whereas De andere dochter and Het verdwenen meisje can be found under ‘novels’.
1.7 Genre Deciding what genre a certain text is, is not that easy. Her novels, including Keeping Faith, have never been described as literature, but always as fiction. Why her novels are never considered as actual literature, one must be able to answer the question: ‘What is literature?’ This is a question without real answer, although literally literature means the entire body of written texts about a certain matter. There are many types of literature (medical, legal), but literature also stands for the ‘canon’ of written texts: texts that are widely accepted as intellectual and innovative, maybe even stirring a little unrest in several cultures and society. Keeping Faith may be literature because it is a written text, a novel, but it does not belong to the canon of literature, which is usually meant when someone refers to the term ‘literature’. Novels can grow in popularity and appreciation over time and be admitted into this ‘canon’ after a number of years, and this canon does not consist of a list written by literature professors all over the world who decided which books get the label ‘literature’. It consist of novels that are generally accepted and valued as high quality written works. Each and every reader is allowed to decide for him or herself what he or she considers to be literature and what not. Literature is not only appreciated for its fine style of writing, its creativity or aesthetic and artistic values; many works of so-called literature make a statement or tell a story set in an important cultural timeframe, representing the very thoughts of a decade or the intrinsic elements of a certain culture. But where the line between ‘literature’ and simply ‘fiction’ ends, is up to the readers and perhaps the literature experts to decide. But the canon is not a fixed body of written works; there is no literary worldwide database.
Many publishers sold Keeping Faith to the readers as popular fiction or modern fiction, as opposed to fiction dating back from the eighteenth or nineteenth century. It is modern because it treats modern controversial subjects such as stigmata and the question if God really exists by using a concept (stigmata and the existence of God, in this case) and blends it with fiction. Popular means that it is meant for the ‘big masses’ of readers and is more commercial than the so-called literary works that have more artistic value. The novel is legible for all layers of society, no matter what type of education they have enjoyed. That is what popular means; for general people.
1.8 On Keeping Faith The novel is a mixture of religion and rationality, faith and medical turmoil, a family story and a courtroom drama. It seems to mix the paranormal with common sense. Even though Picoult wisely steers clear of giving an actual answer to the question that many readers will have after having read Keeping Faith: Is there a God? It makes sense that Picoult never delves deeper into the subject of the existence of God, for it would create a catch-22: it would be devastating to her Christian fan base if she said that there is no God, and it might somewhat alter her believability for atheist readers if she stated that there is a God. So she ends the novel without a true answer to any questions related to religion. Yet the fact that Faith says God is a woman may also imply that she sees her mother Mariah as her own God, and thereby Picoult has saved herself out of this sticky situation concerning the existence of God, and all sides of her fan base are satisfied and no one is insulted. For some readers this ending can be quite disappointing, for it is an open ending; there are no answers to any questions the readers may have had while reading the novel. This is exactly what Picoult herself said about Keeping Faith:
Religion is a sticky subject. It nearly got me kicked out of a rabbi's office while researching KEEPING FAITH, and it's exactly what makes this novel a classic office-cooler/book club discussion book: the kind that inspires everyone to share an opinion because surely he or she is the one who's right. I wrote KEEPING FAITH because I wanted to explore what happens when religion descends upon someone who never asked for it. […] KEEPING FAITH is full of questions: Is Mariah putting her daughter up to this? Would a good parent support her daughter's opinions...or deny them in order to keep her from public scrutiny? What makes doubt turn into belief? I hope you'll join Mariah and Faith and Ian, as they struggle to solve questions that do not really have answers.5
In other words, according to Picoult there is no answer to the questions she poses in her novel. She also states that Keeping Faith is “the kind that inspires everyone to share an opinion because surely he or she is the one who's right (…)”. In another interview on her website, Picoult elaborates on her open ending:
“At the end of Keeping Faith, I wanted you to feel like Mariah and Millie and Ian and everyone else who comes into contact with Faith - like you've had to rethink what you believe. Whether you think she's a prophet or a messiah or a fake, she is ultimately a little girl who hasn't had her mom's attention before. And AT THAT MOMENT she does fake speaking to God, because she isn't willing to lose that attention. That said, I don't personally believe that Faith is faking all along…I think that God moves onto someone more needy in that last scene. But I did want you to remember that above all else, she's a kid - lest you fall into the same mistake that some of the media did during the course of the book.”
The ending is open, and even Picoult does not seem to be able to give her readers a clear answer.
Translation Theories 2.1 Explaining Translating The first question to ask oneself before translating is: What is a translation, or what is the process of translation? What actually takes place during this process? What is translating? Is it simply the process of transcribing a text from one language into another? In one way it is, but it also depends on the eventual product as much as the process. The concept of translation is very broad and does not only include transferring a text from one language into another. The product can be a text, a film, a song, a series, a play, a painting, et cetera. A text can be translated to the screen, for instance, when a novel is translated into a movie as happens so many times. Translation in general also includes sign language and simultaneous interpretation. But here we will stick to the written translation from one text (the source text, or ST) in a specific language (source language, or SL) to another text (the target text, or TT) in another language (target language, or TL). In Introducing Translation Studies: Theories and Applications by Jeremy Munday, Munday quotes Roman Jakobson’s paper ‘On Linguistic Aspects of Translation’, in which he describes several types of translations. He names a type of interlingual translation; the translation of one written language into another, intralingual translation (also known as rewording) and intersemiotic translation (also known as transmutation, when a text is translated into a movie, for instance). For now the attention is focused on interlingual translation: the translation of a text in one language into another language.
2.2 Skopos Theory & Equivalence There are dozens of translation methods, ranging from a faithful translation to a free translation or adaptation, to name a few. In my translation I want to focus on the skopos theory as introduced by Hans J. Vermeer, which prefers adequacy above equivalence. As mentioned in The Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies by Mona Baker, the word skopos is derived from Greek “and is used as the technical term for the purpose of a translation” (p. 235). It is most important to state that the most important goal of a translation is to focus on the target text and its readability for the readers in the target culture and to remain invisible as a translator. As stated in The Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, the context in which a translation is written cannot be ignored:
[T]he contextual factors surrounding the translation cannot be ignored. These factors include the culture of the intended readers of the target text and of the client who has commissioned it, and, in particular, the function which the test is to perform in that culture for those readers. Skopos theory is directly oriented towards this function.
It means that the target texts depends on the needs and orders from the client, also called the initiator, shaped by the needs of the target audience.
By using the skopos-theory I focus on the purpose of the text and use this theory to determine the methods of translation, resulting in an adequate target text, which Hans J. Vermeer refers to as translatum. Vermeer’s theory states that the translation strategy depends on the function of the target text in the target culture. In the case of Keeping Faith the text is determined by its skopos: its purpose. The translator has to make a target text that is comprehensible for a target audience that does not have any prior knowledge (prescience). The novel has to be readable for this target audience, resulting in an understandable jargon for readers that are not familiar with medical or legal terms. According to Vermeer:
What the skopos states is that one must translate, consciously and consistently, in accordance with some principle respecting the target text. The theory does not state what the principle is: this must be decided separately in each specific case.
In other words: it depends on the type of text what decisions the translator has to make. I concluded that the target text was most important: the reader should not realise that he or she is reading a translation, even though he or she already knows this beforehand. No strange sentence structures, no odd realia6 that the reader cannot place, nothing that disturbs the reader during the reading process. In the book Denken over vertalen: tekstboek vertaalwetenschap, Diederik Grit gives the example of the Czech Jiři Levý, who in the twentieth century came up with the ‘illusionistic translation’: a translator has to translate in such a way that the reader does not realise that he or she is reading a translation.
There have been criticisms on using the skopos theory for literary texts, saying: “What purports to be a ‘general’ theory is in fact only valid for non-literary texts. Literary texts are considered either to have no specific purpose and/or to be far more complex stylistically7.” Vermeer answered this criticism by stating that:
[G]oals, purposes, functions and intentions are ‘attributed to’ actions. Thus, a writer of a poem may have goals of having the resultant translatum (poem) published and of keeping copyright over it so as to make money from its reproduction. He or she may also have the intention of creating something that exists for itself (‘art for art’s sake’).8
So literary texts can have a purpose, like any other text. Writers and poets may write for a living or because they want to create art. Many writers or poets write because they want to express themselves, they want to be creative. So there are writers and poets that want to create something for the sake of art, and if they are lucky they earn a living with this. Picoult started writing in her spare time and is now successful enough to have her novels published. Therefore Picoult’s novels do have a purpose: to sell and to entertain the audience. Also, as stated in Munday’s book, “knowing why an ST is to be translated (…) [is] crucial for the translator”. Vermeer also suggests the ‘coherence rule’, which means that the TT has to be written in such a way that the target audience has to be able to fully understand it. In conclusion, the target text and the target audience are the most important factors a translator has to keep in mind while translating according to the skopos theory.
Another criticism is that, although a translation has fulfilled its skopos, it can still be inadequate. Andrew Chesterman made this comment, since the translation can be faulty when it comes to lexical, syntactic or stylistic factors. Peter Newmark criticises that skopos results in ‘oversimplification’, that ‘the emphasis [lies] on the message at the expense of richness of meaning and to the detriment of the authority of the authority of the source-language text’ (Routledge Encyclopedia, p. 237).
Although the skopos theory prefers adequacy over equivalence, I was interested in Eugene Nida’s idea of ‘dynamic equivalence’. Nida claims that equivalence is not only supposed to mean that the target text is intrinsically the same as the source text, but that the effect to the reader also has to be similar. This type of equivalence prefers to convey the exact thought and meaning behind a word or phrase over keeping the word order and the literal meaning of the word/phrase intact. In Introducing Translation Studies Jeremy Munday devotes more time to this idea by further explaining that in Nida’s idea of dynamic equivalence ‘the relationship between receptor and message should be substantially the same as that which existed between the original receptors and the message’ (p. 42). Nida prefers so-called ‘naturalness’ and he believes that the ‘foreignness’ of the source text setting should be minimized. This equivalent response can be achieved by using four requirements, which are stated in Introducing Translation Studies (p. 42):
Conveying the spirit and manner of the original;
Having a natural and easy form of expression;
Producing a similar response.
Nida also claims that ‘a word “acquires” meaning through its context and can produce varying responses according to culture’ (p. 38). Munday explains how Nida breaks this dynamic equivalence up into three sections: linguistic meaning, referential meaning and emotive (or connotative) meaning.
By using both the skopos theory and the form of dynamic equivalence as proposed by Eugene Nida, I translated one chapter from Jodi Picoult’s Keeping Faith. I focused on the target audience; the reader should not be aware that he or she is reading a translation. The legibility of the target text was most important to me.
2.3 Christiane Nord Of course the skopos depends on the assignment or the instructions given to the translator by his or her boss or client. According to Christiane Nord, the skopos theory means that the translation is made in accordance with the guidelines set up by the client, or initiator. These guidelines are not designed by the translator in regard to the target audience, but by the initiator. This initiator can ultimately become the target audience, but according to Nord this is not true and the client is the initiator, not the target audience. This can be quite confusing, as translator and professor in translation studies Anthony Pym describes in his review of Christiane Nord’s book Text Analysis in Translation. Theory, Method, and Didactic Application of a Model for Translation-Oriented Text Analysis:
How can Skopostheorie resolve ethical conflicts between the initiator's purpose and the translator's expertise? Nord tells us the translator remains ‘responsible’ for work carried out according to someone else’s criteria (...) and further posits that the translator's ‘loyalty’ is to both senders and receivers (…). All these concepts fit together nicely for as long as the principle of compatibility reigns. But surely ethical principles are only required in situations of incompatibility, when translators have to decide one way or the other?9
He wonders how the skopos theory can be set up by the initiator rather than the target audience and he states that it can be possible to satisfy both, but not always. He never gives a solution for this possible clash in interests, and he also undermines Nord’s opinion on the actual use of making a source text analysis, saying that:
If the main factor determining a translation is the target-text function as fixed by the initiator, why should any translator engage in extensive source-text analysis? Surely it would be enough to analyze the prospective target-text function and then take whatever elements are required from the source text. Indeed, if the two texts are to have different functions anyway (…), why venture into the previous function of the source text at all?
He throws the entire principle of source text analysis overboard, saying it is redundant, and that when the translator uses the skopos theory, he should focus on the target text and not so much on the source text. He finds it unnecessary to focus so much on the source text when it is the target text that counts. Pym simply asks the questions of why putting so much effort in something that is redundant according to the given theory.
2.4 Translation Oriented Text Analysis Before a translator starts to translate, he has to sit down and consider how he will start the translation process. He does this by making a source text analysis, in which he determines the type of text, the genre, the channel and the target audience. The most common question the translator has to ask himself is: “Who says what in which channel to whom with what effect?10” It is a formula designed by the American psychologist and sociologist Harold Lasswell in 1948, initially meant for mass communication (‘Wer - sagt was - über welchen Kanal - zu wem - und mit welchem Effekt?’11). Hans G. Hönig has written an article about text analysis (“Vertalen tussen reflex en reflectie”12), explaining how to make a text analysis by using these questions. The text analysis is meant to let the translator fully understand the source text and to give the translator more insight into the areas he has to pay more attention to and into his own abilities and competence. The translator can do this in order to decide for himself whether or not to accept the assignment in case he deems himself incapable to having enough knowledge about the subject – of being competent enough. Hönig states that the purpose of the target text analysis is to improve the translator’s competence. He claims that before writing the text analysis, the function of the target text has to be set. Mona Baker’s Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies refers to the theory by Christiane Nord: ‘[i]t is not the text in itself which has a function; rather, a text acquires its function in the situation in which it is received’ (p. 33). So Keeping Faith’s function would depend upon its target audience; women of all layers of society. The novel is not supposed to be informative or to change the reader’s minds about a certain subject. Picoult does not want to persuade readers; she simply wants to entertain them and possibly make them think about a certain controversial subject matter.
I had already read Keeping Faith before I decided to translate the novel, but assuming that I had not and that I simply had the the assignment from a publisher to translate this novelin accordance with their house rules, I also had to write a source text analysis, assuming that the client wants a translation that is fit for the Dutch market. This could mean that the target audience (women from all layers of society) remains the same, that the language used should remain the same and that foreign words or realia should be minimalised in order to create a target text that is a text on its own and not a simple copy of the original in which the original is still present.
Hönig gives a step-by-step walkthrough of writing a text analysis, which I will apply to Keeping Faith.
1) Who speaks where – and why he?
Keeping Faith is a text written by the American author Jodi Picoult in 1999. She is the author of over a dozen similar novels. For the medical, religious and legal jargon she consulted experts, so she is no expert herself; she simply used the acquired knowledge for the purpose or writing this novel in an attempt to make it sound as real-life as possible. Although Picoult is the writer, she speaks through narrators and characters and never shows herself as a writer. Her characters never address the reader and the writer keeps a distance from the audience. She is simply the medium, presenting herself as the omniscient narrator or as the one who wrote down the thoughts of the characters. The author is not a character herself.
2) What is the text about and why was it written in that way?
According to Hönig, the translator has to read the text thoroughly, but this would seem impossible with a book with 400+ pages such as Keeping Faith, and he adds that hardly any translators actually do this. The style in which the novel is written has to create a certain atmosphere. Dialogues play a big part in chapter five, whereas in chapter sixteen the interrogation is most important: short sentences, hardly any interruptions from the narrator. Only questions and answered going forth and back. Every once in a while Picoult injects a more emotional scenes by using more personal dialogue and focusing on the drama instead of on the interrogation, so the story as a whole does not lose its heart, its feeling. Since it is a novel, creating atmosphere is more important than giving information. Although Picoult has consulted experts, her primary goal was not to inform the reader of all the small details of stigmata or of courtroom rules, but to make the story sound more realistic.
3) What has to be translated?
In the third step, actual translation will take place. This question is focusing on the target of the translation, and the dictionary has to be consulted in order to fill up the gaps in the translator’s knowledge. This is the actual translation process where the goal of the text analysis shows its purpose: it makes clear how competent the translator is. Every translator has its own way of going about, such as the reading out loud-method, whereas others first write the dialogues and look up the technical jargon later on in the process. Keeping Faith counts well over four hundred pages, depending on the edition (US, UK, Australian, paperback, hardcover, maybe even a digital copy or an e-book). It is a lengthy novel, which the translator ought to keep in mind before starting. He has to be consequent in his translations and choices. He has to keep in mind the target audience, the style, the skopos and the deadline of the translation and whether he will be able to make that deadline.
Thanks to these three steps, the translator is able to realise whether he is competent enough and he has improved himself and his knowledge of the source language and the source socio-cultural elements. But because Keeping Faith is a novel and not an article in which the author shows her true colours, I cannot apply the given methods to distinguish author from speaker.
Christiane Nord used the same formula by the American psychologist and sociologist Lasswell on making an analysis of the source text ( ‘Who says what in which channel to whom with what effect?’). Nord and other translation studies experts also added ‘where’ and ‘when’ and ‘why’. The most elaborative scheme of the method by Nord resulted into:
Wer übermittelt wozu wem über welches Medium wo wann warum einen Text mit welcher Funktion worüber und was sagt er in welcher Reihenfolge unter Einsatz welcher nonverbalen Elemente in welchen Worten in was für Sätzen in welchem Ton mit welcher Wirkung?13
As Jeremy Munday explains, Nord first makes a distinction between ‘documentary translation’ and ‘instrumental translation’. A documentary translation ‘serves as a document of a source culture communication between the author and the ST recipient’. This is the case in literary translation, ‘where the [target text] allows the [target text] receiver access to the idea of the [source text] but where the reader is well aware that it is a translation’. So no matter how well the text has been adapted to the target audience, translated literary texts are always obviously translated, according to Nord. This clashes with the earlier mentioned ideas of Jiři Levý and his ‘illustionist translation’, with which he claims that the translator has to reproduce the original in such a way that the reader thinks he is reading an original.
Nord’s model of a text analysis consists of several factors that have to be taken into account when making a text analysis. The translator has to search for points where the source text and the target texts may be different when it comes to function, addressees, time and place, medium and the motive. When applied to Keeping Faith, one can say that there are no differences at all between the source text and the target text, apart from differences in literary stylistics (such as paragraphs, punctuation and the usage of pronouns) and the presence of realia that have to be considered. The function remains the same (a novel with entertainment value), as well as the audience. Keeping Faith aims at female readers of all ages, both in the source culture and in the target culture. The time and place remain the same (the novel was written in 1999, phrases like ‘two weeks ago’ will be literally translated, since the time frame in which the story takes place has not changed), as well as the medium (a written text, a novel, no pictures, and it depends on the client whether there is a maximum number of pages available) and the motive (entertainment). The style in which is was written should not be changed either. It is up to the translator whether or not to copy the subtle references to a Texan accent from one of the characters as well as how to translate the few Jewish expressions used by the mother of the main character throughout the novel, although these are not present in the two chapters I translated. The language used is mostly informal, as the novel consists of many dialogues between characters, but the language becomes more formal when the story takes place in the courtroom, where the legal jargon is applied.
Next, Nord has made a list of “intratextual factors”14, consisting of factors that define the role of the source text analysis. These are factors such as presuppositions, non-verbal elements, lexic and suprasegmental features. These are the factors that can be applied to the translation of Keeping Faith. Presuppositions, for instance, are elements that the writer assumes the reader already knows. Elements from common knowledge, for instance. This time, the author assumes the reader knows what stigmata is and assumes the average reader is aware of the medical and legal jargon that is being used, although several terms are being explained, whereas others are unexplained. In chapter sixteen, for instance, Picoult mentions heart diseases such as cardiomyopathy. It is possible that a reader does not know what this really is, other than a very serious heart condition. She places the jargon in a context from which the meaning can be derived most of the time, but every once in a while she uses ‘expensive words’ to make the story feel more real, without confusing the reader. Non-verbal elements are pictures, the use of certain fonts, italics, special margins, et cetera. Keeping Faith hardly uses such elements, only when she adds a newspaper clipping with special margins and she opens each chapter with a short and centred quote from the Bible or a short piece of poetry. These can be named non-verbal elements, since they require certain non-verbal actions and graphic styles. Lexical features can be found in dialect, register and jargon, such as the medical, religious and juridical jargon used in Keeping Faith, as well as the use of a certain Southern/Texan dialect by the character of Ian Fletcher ( ‘ma’am’, ‘Miz’), which is part of his arrogant tv-persona, in order to create a certain difference between the arrogant Ian and the friendly Ian. This dialect can also be applied to register, and the question arises whether the translator has to apply the same register and whether is it suitable for the target audience. Suprasegmental features include “stress, rhythm and ‘stylistic punctuation’ ”15. Keeping Faith is a novel, and contains stress and rhythm in several sentences to keep the reading fluent. She uses italics to put emphasis on words and there is rhythm is some sentences, such as: “She concentrates on where she is going, on when she will arrive.”16 One could distinguish some sort of iambic rhythm in in the first half this sentence, but this is not poetry, where elements like stress and rhythm are more common, but it does contain more of these sentences that ‘go with the flow’ so to speak, and are more legible and simply roll off your tongue would you pronounce them. It is up to the translator to maintain these features.
Stylistic Analysis For this stylistic analysis I focus on the style of a literary kind: the style a writer can express through words, to form an atmosphere in his or her story; his style of writing. The style of a novel is not one that should be ignored or passed; it is no less important than the actual translation of the words and their meanings. A novel’s success depends upon its style and whether it addresses the readers and manages to interest them. Since I was interested in Eugene Nida’s ‘dynamic equivalence’, I felt it was important that the target text would have the same effect on the target audience as the source text had on the target audience. To do so, the way the style of the text is treated is very important.
In their book Style in Fiction, Geoffrey leech and Mick Short explain what style truly is and what effect it can have on the text. They give their own definition of style, by saying: ‘[I]t refers to the way in which language is used in a given context, by a given person, for a given purpose, and so on’ (p. 9). They state that the term has been applied to ‘the linguistic habits of a particular writer […]; at other times it has been applied to the way language is used in a particular genre, period, school of writing or some combination of these’ (p. 10). Genre and themes play a big role in dissection a text’s style. The general notion of the linguistic study of style is called ‘stylistics’, Leech & Short state that :
[W]e […] study style because we want to explain something, and in general, literary stylistics has, implicitly of explicitly, the goal of explaining the relation between language and artistic function. The motivation questions are not so much why as what and how. (p.11)
When trying to dissect style as a reader, you do not have to look at the choices the author made piece by piece: you must set out to examine the pattern of choices the author made, the pattern that results in the author’s own style that has to make him unique as a writer and storyteller. The pattern has to be consistent and frequent enough to be noticed. In order to notice what elements of style ‘deviate’ from the rest of the text or from other texts, you have to realise what is so different from the rest. Short sentences? More than occasional usage of the passive? Lots of punctuation, subordinate clauses, adverbs and adjectives? The ‘oddities’ of the language that is used, have to be compared to a similar type of text in that same language in order to compare them. But what is ‘normal’ usage of language? There is no standard for the amount of adverbs and adjectives or subordinate clauses, or, such as in the example given by Leech and Short, the length of an English sentence. There is no average length of a sentence. The analyst also has to keep in mind the time in which the text was written in order to compare it with other texts, that have to be contemporary, because the style of texts and the usage of language, including certain expressions. change over time. This is an endless task of comparing numerous texts in order to find out what A) the ‘average’ of the language is, and B) to what extent way the text in question deviates from this. Leech & Short also state that it is quite impossible to make a list of all linguistic characteristics of a text, such as lexicon and syntax.
What can be studied, however, is the usage of combinations of vowels and consonants and the combination of words pairs, such as nouns and adjectives that are frequently used in the same sentence and in the same context. Leech & Short give the example of the usage of onomatopoeias (‘the representation of a sound by an imitation thereof’17). The element of foregrounding should also be taken into account when making a stylistic analysis. In his book Stylistics, Peter Verdonk gives the following interpretation of foregrounding in a text:
The bringing of particular textual features into prominence, e.g. distinct patterns or parallelism, repetitions, and deviations from general linguistic rules or from the style expected in a specific text type or genre, or context.18
This seems to enclose all earlier mentioned elements that could be analysed.
Keeping all these possibilities in mind, I will give a stylistic analysis based upon the two chapters I translated of Keeping Faith. First I must decide the actual genre of the novel, since it can decide what type of language suits this genre. As mentioned before in chapter one, Jodi Picoult’s novels does not seem to be easily to be contained in one genre.
For the actual stylistic analysis, Leech & Short have given a checklist in Style in Fiction, which I will use to analyse the two chapters of Keeping Faith. In case of a rather peculiar stylistic manner I will also explain how I decided to translate it.