Italy’s Other Mafia: A Journey into Cross-Cultural Translation

Abstract : Following its translation into more than thirty languages, Roberto Saviano’s non-fiction novel, ‘Gomorrah’, has unveiled the endless saga of Naples’ organized crime to a vast number of readers. Literary critics and reviewers in the UK and in the US have widely acclaimed Saviano’s talent in depicting the corruption plaguing Naples’ gloomy and degraded hinterland, though the English version of his book has been described by some as stilted and “over-literal” (The Economist, 2008), at times inadequate at rendering Saviano’s fragmented and dramatic style. The socio-cultural context portrayed in ‘Gomorrah’ is naturally distant from the one deriving from the shared experiences of the English-speaking readership: the text is widely populated by culture-bound concepts and implicit meanings, which further complicates the translation process in its entirety. Through a contrastive analysis of the Italian and English versions of the exposé, the study aims at exploring the strategies employed in translating the voices and deeds of Naples’ mobsters, as well as the underlying socio-economic setting of the Camorra (from which the book’s title originates its bitter play on words). With reference to types of non-equivalence between the two language versions under examination, particular attention is devoted to strategies of cultural substitution, reduction, deletion or generalization (Malone 1988; Baker 1992; Fawcett 1997) used to overcome lack of specificity in the target language. For the purpose of the language analysis, particular relevance is given to instances in which, in relation to the reader’s ‘implied’ background information, the target text does not provide an appropriate elaboration of the intertextual references presented in the source text. In conclusion, the paper aims at investigating the “framing function of translation” (Baker 2006) and the way it is (or is not) successful in affecting the representation and the perception of the cultural scenario in which ‘otherness’ is embedded.
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Journal articles
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Submitted on : Saturday, January 16, 2016 - 12:02:18 AM
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Giuditta Caliendo. Italy’s Other Mafia: A Journey into Cross-Cultural Translation . Translation and Interpreting Studies, 2012, The Sociological Turn in Translation and Interpreting Studies. Special issue of Translation and Interpreting Studies, John Benjamins Publishing, 7 (2), pp.191-210. 〈10.1075/bct.66.06cal〉. 〈hal-01257212〉

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