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Title: The adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Jim in China: A case of what corpus pragmatics can do for the translation of dialect
Authors: Rodríguez Herrera, José Manuel 
UNESCO Clasification: 570113 Lingüística aplicada a la traducción e interpretación
Issue Date: 2017
Journal: Digital Scholarship in the Humanities 
Abstract: Over 100 years after the publication of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, it still remains a highly reputed classic not only in America but also elsewhere around the globe. However, Twain's representation of linguistic diversity in his native Missouri region has given rise to a heated dispute, still ongoing, over his, according to some detractors, vaudeville-like characterization of Jim. Such controversy has been further spurred by recent voices lampooning Twain for, allegedly, having portrayed Jim as one more ethnic caricature. Translators seem to have paid no heed to Twain's cautionary words in his preface, stating that he was using several dialects from his region and that his recording of these dialects had not been done in a `haphazard fashion' but `painstakingly'. Unfortunately, many translations have either rendered a standardized version in which all characters speak alike or, worse still, a twisted mirror in which Jim appears speaking in the dialect of a far remote region, say Andalusia or Naples. The effect in the target culture is a considerable distortion, and yet, translators still keep claiming that it is utterly impossible to do otherwise. Given the current state of affairs, one may ask, is there a way to legitimize the translation of dialect? Was Twain's intention parody or was it, on the contrary, authenticity? Determining this is of paramount importance prior to undertaking a translation of this work into a foreign culture. Corpus linguistics, as I would like to prove heretofore, can greatly contribute to gauging whether dialect has been transcribed consistently or accurately. A thorough linguistic inquiry into Jim's corpus and a comparison with the corpora of other characters can yield very interesting results. As some Chinese translations of this work have shown, drawing from linguistically oriented data can be very helpful in using the right translation strategies.
ISSN: 2055-7671
DOI: 10.1093/llc/fqv058
Source: Digital Scholarship in the Humanities [ISSN 2055-7671], v. 32 (2), p. 385-397
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