Web Translation Projects/Approaches to Translating Dialect/Neutralisation

This strategy involves a full intralingual and interlingual translation of the SL text. It neutralises all kinds of dialect markers - phonetic, morphological, syntactic, and lexical. This results in the original text, which is written fully or partly in SL dialect, being rendered in the translation fully in the TL standard. Berezowski allows in this strategy for trace amounts of dialect markers, which he claims to be "below statistical relevance."[1] The effect of this strategy is twofold: on the one hand, the translator can avoid false intertextuality, because no TL dialect, and therefore social deixis, is introduced; however, for the same reason, the use of this strategy makes it impossible to differentiate the social identity of dialect speakers from the identity of the speakers of standard, because there are no linguistic traits to anchor the speaker in any language community. While employing dialect to introduce social deixis to a character's speech may be the point of a literary work, in which case this strategy would not be a good translation choice, Berezowski lists two situations in which neutralisation may be appropriate: firstly, when the original text does not use social deixis to differentiate between social group membership of different characters but is only a way of asserting the author's stance against the standard, either because the work is a monologue, or because all characters speak the same language variety; or if the translator decides that it will cause less damage to the integrity of the work to forego some of the meaning than to risk introducing false intertextuality by the use of TL dialect.

The example below illustrates the use of the neutralising strategy:


R. Burns, To a Mouse


Do myszy (translation by S. Barańczak)

Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie.

O, what a panic's in thy breastie!

Thou need na start awa sae hasty,

Wi' bickering brattle!

I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,

Wi murd'rin pattle!


But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane

In proving foresight may be vain:

The best laid shcemas a mice an' men

Gang aft a-gley

An' lae'e us naught but grief an' pain

For promised joy.

Maleńki, cichy, bojaźliwy stworze

Ileż popłochu w piersi twojej gorze!

Cóż się tak zrywasz, czemu w swej norze

Dalej nie drzemiesz

Myślisz, że życie twoje też rozorze

Morderczy lemiesz?


Lecz Myszko, innych też nadzieja łudzi;

Przewidywaniem mózg próżno się trudzi:

Przemyślane plany i myszy i ludzi

w gruzy się walą

Nasze zapały zawód zwykle studzi

Zwątpienia stalą

Comments The original uses the Scottish dialect. It is manifest in

phonetic, lexical, and morphological dialect markers.

The translation is rendered almost fully in standard Polish, except for some

elements marked for informality. Some of the changes from SL dialect into

the TL standard are the following:

- phonetic markers

wee 'little' -> maleńki

tim’rous 'timorous' -> bojaźliwy

- morphological markers

beastie 'beast' -> stworze

breastie 'breast' -> piersi

- lexical markers

[gang aft] a-gley 'awry' -> walić się w gruzy

References edit

  1. Berezowski, Leszek. 1997. Dialect in Translation. Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego