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An Interpretation to Retranslation

  • Nethmie Wijebandara
  • 234-243
  • Mar 4, 2023
  • Language

An Interpretation to Retranslation

Nethmie Wijebandara
Department of Languages, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka

Retranslation Hypothesis

Retranslation is the idea of having multiple translations towards one source text. Research on retranslation of literary texts since 1990s have specifically helped to widen the notions and interpretations regarding the concept of translation and has led to many controversial discussions. Retranslations also have provided essential results for a number of areas in Translation Studies which have not yet receive attention fully, especially due to its newness in the discipline of Translation Studies. Anyhow it goes without saying that this retranslation concept is bound with certain motives in the present day. Theorists have presented substantial findings comparing first and later translations and most of them have praised the recent translation due to its rightness.

Koskinen and Paloposki (2010) defines retranslation as:

Retranslation (as a product) denotes a second or later translation of a single source text into the same target language. Retranslation (as a process) is thus prototypically a phenomenon that occurs over a period of time, but in practice, simultaneous or near-simultaneous translations also exist (Koskinen & Paloposki, 2010, p. 294).

Paul Bensimon and Antoine Berman are known to be the theorists who embossed the features in retranslation and introduced ‘Retranslation Hypotheses’ in their preface written in special edition of Palimpsetes back in 1990. Paul Bensimon (1990) claims that essential differences could be identified between the first translation and retranslations where first translations act as introductions of the source text to the target audience and are naturalizations which cater to the target culture. These first translations would try to convert foreign cultural elements to target readers by adhering to target language perspective. Bensimon (1990) also claims that after the introductory part is completed by the first translation, second translations do not have to carry on the same procedure, but they try to communicate the foreignizing effect while maintaining the distance (Bensimon, 1990, as cited in Paloposki & Koskinen, 2004).

Berman (1991) mentions that first translation is always an introductory one (domesticating) which can never become a great translation and while second (foreignizing) translation could communicate the true elements and features of the source text. Thereby, later translations that occur will return to the source text after finally become faithful to the source text (as cited in Paloposki & Koskinen, 2004, p. 28). Brownlie (2006) translates Berman’s (1995) idea as:

In order to arrive at a great or canonical translation, a series of stages is played out by retranslations: First there is a courageous ‘introduction’ without literary pretension (usually for those studying the work); then comes the time of the first translations with literary ambition – they are generally not complete translations, and as is well-known, full of flaws; then come the (many) retranslations…Eventually a canonical translation may be produced which will stop the cycle of retranslations for a long time (p. 148).

The domesticated version of a translation is the ultimate result of an attempt to familiarize the foreign culture or the knowledge to the target reader and produce a comprehensible text to the readers of the target culture (Paloposki & Koskinen, 2004, p. 28). Theorists have tried to distinguish the line between domestication and foreignization stating that the difference is not regarding the expression or merely the usage of target terms in translations, but it is the way when first translator understands and renders the message by standing on the side of target culture while the retranslator or the second translator performs the same scenario by standing on the side of source culture.  This situation is called the ‘invisibility of the translator’ as per Lawrence Venuti (2013). Venuti (2013) further adds and states that transparency, fluency, invisible style, transparent reading assimilated to TL norms, translation becomes like an original, free translation, translator leaves the reader in peace and move the author towards reader, confirming to TL cultural values can be identified as features of domesticated translations. On the other hand, Venuti (2013) explains that  foreignization strategy is the opposite as it contains these qualities such as, absence of any linguistic or stylistic peculiarities, making visible the foreign, the appearance – reflects the foreign writer’s personality or intention or the essential meaning of the foreign text, literal translation, writer is left in peace by the translator and move the reader towards the author, resistant reading, challenging TL norms (as cited in Munday, 2008). Koskinen and Paloposki (2004) contradicts the idea that there is no rule to which each and every source text’s first translation should produce domesticating features and while second translation tend to be foreignizing, which is closer to the original. They also argue that above-mentioned scenario will get the other way around, i.e. later translations become target oriented or domesticated while first translation become source oriented or foreignized.

The nature of Domestication and Foreignization has become a prominent characteristic in translations and retranslations which are being addressed by researchers. These strategies can be discussed incorporating the following extracts were taken from the first translation Bädden Sidādiyaṭa (1974) by P. R. H. Wijesinghe and the retranslation Hiru Bæsa Giya Pasu (1999) by Gamini Viyangoda of Chinua Achebe’s novel, No Longer at Ease (1960).

This extract reveals that TT1 adhere to the colloquial usage of terms than direct translation of the words whereas TT2 is being loyal to the content of the ST. TT1 renditions “කතිසේරු මහත්තයෙක්katisēru mahattayek” is a local term used by the Sri Lankan people and “කැතිකිස්මවාදියෙකු”-“kätikismavādiyeku” in TT2 is the exact dictionary term for ‘catechist’.

ST – Being a Christian convert—in fact a catechist—he could not marry a second wife. But he was not the kind of man who carried his sorrow on his face.

TT1- කිතු දහම වැළඳගෙන කතිසේරු මහත්තයෙක් වෙච්ච ඔහුට දෙවැනි බිරියක් කාර බැඳගන්න ඉඩක් ලැබුණෙ නැහැ. ඒ වුනත් හිත් තැවුල් එළිපිට දක්වන්නෙක් නොවෙයිනෙ ඔහු.

TT1 transcription – “kitu dahama välaňdagena katisēru mahattayek vecca ohuṭa deväni biriyak kāra bäňdaganna idak läbune nähä. Ē unat hit tavul eḷipiṭa dakvannek neveine ohu.”

TT2 – ක්‍රිස්තියානි ආගමට හැරුණු කෙනෙකු වශයෙන් සත්තකින්ම කැතිකිස්මවාදියෙකු වශයෙන් ඔහුට දෙවැනි විවාහයක් කරගත නොහැකි විය. එහෙත් ඔහු වූ කලි සිය මනස්තාපය මුහුණින් පළ කළ පුද්ගලයෙකු නොවීය.

TT2 transcription – “kristiāni āgamaṭa häruṇu keneku vaśayen sattakinma kätikismavādiyeku vaśayen ohuṭa deväni vivāhayak karagata nohäki viya. Ehet ohu vū kali siya manasṭāpaya muhuṇin paḷa kaḷa pudgalayeku novīya.”

Following extract provides the instance where TT1 has omitted religious reference ‘blood of the Lamb of God’ to avoid the reader from any strangeness. TT2 has rendered the expression as a literal translation without hindering its foreignness to provide the reader with each and every information in the ST. Moreover, TT2 has followed the sentence structure of the ST.

ST – “Umuofia would have required of you to fight in her wars and bring home human heads. But those were days of darkness from which we have been delivered by the blood of the Lamb of God.

TT1 – ඉස්සර කාලෙ එහෙම නං මේ ගැටයා ඕනෑ වෙන්නෙ හටන් වැදිලා හරකුන් බිම හෙළල උන්නෙ ඔලු ගෙඩි ගමට ගේන්නයි. ඒ අඳුරු යුගේනෙ. දෙවියන් වහන්සේගේ පිහිටෙනුයි අපි ඒ අඳුරු යුගෙන් මිදුනෙ.”

TT1 transcription – “issara kāle ehema nṃ mē gäṭayā ōnǟ venne haṭan vädila harakun bima heḷala unne olu gedi gamaṭa gēnnayi. Ē aňduru yugēne. Deviyan vahansēge pihiṭenuyi api ē aňduru yugen midune.”

TT2 – ඉස්සර නං මේ වගේ ගැටයෙක්ව උමෝෆියා පළාතට ඕන කළේ යුද්දෙට ගිහිල්ලා මිනිස් ඔලු අරගෙන එන්න. ඒත් ඒ අන්ධකාරෙන් අපි අද නිදහස් වෙලා තියෙනවා. දෙවියන් වහන්සේගේ බැටළු පෝතකයාගේ ලේවලට පිං සිද්ධ වෙන්න අද අපි මේ ළමයාව යවන්නේ දැනුම අරගෙන එන්න

TT2 transcription – “issara nṃ mē vage gäṭayekva umōfiyā paḷātaṭa ōna kaḷe yuddeṭa gihilla minis olu aragena enna. Ēt andhakāren api nidahas wela tiyenava. Deviyan vahansēge bätaḷu pōtakayāge ḷēvalata pin sidda venna ada api mē ḷamayava yavannē dänuma aragena enna”

The two translations display a significant difference in translating culture-specific vocabulary. In the following examples, the TT1 has replaced ST word ‘Palm Wine’ and ‘Pot of Stew’ with “රා පීප්පත්” – “rā pīppa” and  “මස් හට්ටියක්”  – “mas haṭṭiyak” respectively by adopting to the local cultural setting, while the translator in TT2 has borrowed the foreign words into the target text and rendered keeping the foreignness just as it was in the ST and translated as  “වයින් පීප්ප” – “vayin pīppa” and “ඉස්ටු ඇතිළියක්” – “istu ätiḷiyak” respectively.

ST – “Two stalwarts emerged from the kitchen area…a simmering pot of stew hot from the fire. Kegs of palm wine followed, and a pile of plates and spoons….”

TT1 – හැඩිදැඩි දෙන්නෙක්….උනු උනුවේ දුම් දාන මස් හට්ටියක් ලිපෙන් උස්සාගෙන ආවා. රා පීප්පත්..හැඳි පිඟන් තොගයකුත් ගෙනාව.

TT1 transcription – “hädidädi dennek unu unuvē dum dāna mas haṭṭiyak lipen ussāgena āvā. Rā pīppat häňdi piňgan togayakut genāvā.”

TT2 – විශාල බත් මුට්ටියක් ඔසවා….ඉස්ටු ඇතිළියක් ඔසවාගෙන ආවෝය. කුඩා වයින් පීප්ප…..තිබූ පිඟන් සහ හැඳි රාශියක්ද ඉන් පසු ශාලාවට සැපයුණේය.

TT2 transcription – “viśāla bat muṭṭiyak osavā isṭu äṭiḷiyak osavāgena āvōya. Kudā vayin pīppa tibū piňgan saha häňdi rāśiyakda inpasu śālāvaṭa säpayuṇēya.”

Achebe’s works are a result of a chaotic time where Africans were experiencing a transitional period. Clash of identity and falling apart of culture are vividly portrayed in Achebe’s trilogy. This particular study’s storyline is based on the colonialism in the British period in Nigeria, Africa. The following extract is also a pure African expression unique to Nigerians. TT1 has achieved a natural narrative style with interesting choice of words adopting to local context by replacing the ST with the words likeවරිගෙ එකාට – “varige ekāṭa” and “වරිගෙ ඇත්තෙක් – “varige ättek” Further, the exact sentence structure has not been followed by the translator; instead, the expression has more natural taste than TT2. The translator of TT2 is faithful to the ST with regards to its sentence structure, form, and style. The contradiction between the two translations is that TT1 has an indigenous touch and adopted into the Sri Lankan dialect with the use of specific words related to Vedda people. Therefore, the readership feels the text is closer to their own culture than the foreign elements.

ST – “For, as the President pointed out, a kinsman in trouble had to be saved, not blamed; anger against a brother was felt in the flesh, not in the bone.

TT1 – “අනතුරේ වැටිච්ච වරිගෙ එකාට දොස් කිය කිය ඉන්න එකයැ හරි…..වරිගෙ ඇත්තෙක් එක්ක නෝක්කාඩු වෙන්න ඕන මතුපිටින්. ඒ නොහොඳ නෝක්කාඩු ලේ මස් විදගෙන ඇටකටුවලට කිඳා බහින්න ඕනැයැ.”

TT1 transcription – “anaturē vaṭicca varige ekāta dos kiya kiya inna ekayä hari..varige ättek ekka nōkkādu venna ōna matupiṭin. ē nohoňda nōkkādu lē mas vidagena äṭkaṭuvalaṭa kiňdā bahinna ōnäyä.”

TT2 – “මන්දයත් සභාපතිතුමා පෙන්වා දුන් පරිදි තමන්ගේ ගෝත්‍රිකයෙකු අමාරුවේ වැටුණු විට ඔහු එයින් ගොඩගැනීම මිස කළ යුත්තේ ඔහුට බැන වැදීම නොවන බැවිනි. සහෝදරයෙකුට එරෙහි කෝපය මසට දැනුණත් ඇට මිදුළුවලට දැනිය යුතු නොවේ.”

TT2 transcription – “mandayat, sabhāpatitumā penvā dun paridi tamangē gotrikayeku amāruve väṭuṇu viṭa ohu eyin godagänīma misa kaḷa yuttē ohuṭa bäna vädīma novana bävini. sahōdarayekuṭa erehiva kōpaya masaṭa dänunat äṭamiduluvalaṭa däniya yuyu novē.”

Overall, domesticated first translation and the foreignized retranslation portray characteristics with regards to culture specific terms, vocabulary, style, sentence structure, literal translation, free translation, readability, and extent of faithfulness.

Paloposki (2002) tried to examine the claims given by Berman and Bensimon (1990) through Finnish translations during the period of 1809-1850 since these translations marked the initial stage in the development of literary translation in Finnish and accordingly, it was confirmed that domestication was more or less evident in those translations and it is just like the adaptation technique which was identified in the early stages of translation. Thus, he mentions that, in the same way, domestication in Retranslation Hypotheses is now identified as it existed in the early stages of literature, but one cannot expect domestication to be seen not in all first translations unless to be considered as a feature in the texts which have been subjected to literary movements in the past. (as cited in Koskinen & Paloposki, 2004, p. 29).

Thus, the selected excerpts are from the worldly renowned work of Chinua Achebe, an award-winning Nigerian novelist whose author profile starts from the publication of his trilogy including three novels namely ‘Things Fall Apart’ (1958), ‘No Longer at Ease'(1960) and ‘Arrow of God’ (1964) based on the colonialism in the British period in Nigeria, Africa.  His works are mainly of colonialism, identity crisis, independence, and the chaotic times where Africans used to face during the transitional period. Thus, the examples are related to a literary movement as Koskinen and Paloposki mentions and accordingly features of Domestication and Foreignization were witnessed in both translations.

Researchers have tried to measure closeness of translation to its source text. Koskinen and Paloposki (2004) state that reviewing Finnish translations would help to understand how and why Retranslation Hypotheses came into existence. Koskinen and Paloposki (2010) further argues that Berman’s model alone is not sufficient to study Retranslation Hypotheses because retranslation process depends on several other intratextual and extratextual factors. According to Antoine Berman (1990), one would always witness an incomplete translation at the beginning rather than a complete translation (as cited in Brownlie, 2006). Berman (1990) (as cited in Baker & Saldanha, 2020) claims that any translation is an incomplete act, and it can only achieve completion through retranslations. Therefore, it is through the retranslation process this completeness could be achieved during a span of time. Berman (1991) argues that this completeness means getting closer to the source text and also the situation where a quality representation of the relationship between the translator and the source language which highlights the success of the translation (as cited in Baker & Saldanha, 2020, p. 485). As Gambier (1994) mentions; first translation is always subjected into editorial and cultural considerations later in time (as cited in Dastjerdi and Mohammadi, 2013).

This is an example extracted from the novel ‘To Sir with Love’ by E. R. Braithwaite and its first translation ādaraṇīya gurutumani by Syril Chandrasekara Gunawardhana and its retranslation gurutaruva obayi by Muditha Gunatillake. The first translation has 14 reprints starting from the year 1999 and the retranslation was first published in 2006.


Been teaching long?”

“Not really. Actually, this is my first appointment.”

“Ouch.” She grimaced. “Don’t go too highbrow on me; we call them jobs,

not appointments,” and she laughed, a pleasant lazy sound, unexpectedly at

variance with the staccato crispness of her speech.


“Yes, R.A.F. aircrew. Why?”

“Oh, just something about you. Staying to dinner?”


“හුඟ කලෙක සිට උගන්වනවාo?”

මේ මාගේ මුල්ම පත්වීම – මම කීමි.

මීට පෙර ආරක්ෂක සේවයේ?

ඔව්, රාජකීය ගුවන් හමුදාවේ- ඉගිළුන කෙනෙක්. කමක් නැද්ද?

අපූරුයි! කෑමට අපිත් එක්ක හවුල් වෙනවාද?”

TT1 transcription –

“huňga kalek siṭa uganvanavāda?

Mē mage mulma patvīma – mama kīmi.

mīṭa pera ārakṣaka sēvayē?

Ovu rājakīya guvan hamudāve igiluna kenek. Kamak nädda?”


“ඉතින් උගන්නන්න පටන් අරන් ගොඩක් කල් ද?

ඇත්තම කියනවා නම් මේ මගේ පළවෙනි පත්වීම

පත්වීම කීවට බර වැඩියි. මම නම් කියන්නෙ රස්සාව කියලා. කළින් ආමි එකේ හිටියද?

ගුවන් හමුදාවෙ.. කොහොමද දන්නේ?

ඔයාගෙ පෙනුමෙන්ම හිතුණා. කෑමට ඉන්නවද?˜

TT1 transcription –

“itin ugannanna paṭan aran godak kal da?

Ättama kiyanavā nṃ mē mage paḷaveni patvīma.

Patvīma kīvaṭa bara vädiyi. Mama nam kiyanne rassāva kiyalā. Kalin āmi ekē hiṭiyada?

Guvan hamudāve. Kohomada danne?

Oyāge penumenma hitunā”

The major error of this extract is that ST sentence “Yes, R.A.F. aircrew. Why?” is ambiguous in TT1, as translator has rendered it as which creates a huge confusion on the target reader as ඔව්, රාජකීය ගුවන් හමුදාවේ- ඉගිළුන කෙනෙක්. කමක් නැද්ද? – ‘Ovu rājakīya guvan hamudāve igiluna kenek. Kamak nädda?’ The confusion here is that the translator has translated the word ‘aircrew’ as ‘ඉගිළුන කෙනෙක්Z -‘igiluna kenek’ and ‘why’ as zකමක් නැද්ද?.’ – ‘Kamak nädda?’  In contrast, TT2 translator has rendered it clearly as ගුවන් හමුදාවෙ.. කොහොමද දන්නේ? – Guvan hamudāve. Kohomada danne? by understanding the context, dialogue and the meaning and leaves the reader without any confusion or misunderstanding. TT1 has more instances like these which has harmed the overall usability and the clarity of the text in a large scale.

The major issue in the first translation was that it projected many cuts and changes, inaccuracies due to word-to-word renditions, distortions of meaning as an outcome of ignoring the purpose of the literary text, lack of competence in source language and target language, excessive use of omissions or unwarranted distortions of emphasis and order, disloyalty, and lack of knowledge about the story of the novel. Both translations provided substantial results regarding translation errors, but overall, first translation’s renditions were hard to follow due to its excessive use of omissions which also led to omission of passages and chapters and additions. Moreover, due to its frequent dispose to mistranslation, unfaithfulness, literalness and language errors, the translation has not been a productive and a faithful rendition. Retranslation on the other hand overall revealed that it has minimum number of errors compared to the first translation. Thus, Retranslation Hypotheses is relatable to this scenario as the retranslation has taken place consciously or unconsciously due to the inefficiencies, unfaithfulness, and inaccuracies of the first translation. Overall, both translations projected translation errors but after comparatively analysing the first translation and retranslation, it has shown the effect of retranslation is positive in all terms in minimising translation errors in the literary translation and that the retranslation is an improved and efficient version than the first translation. Retranslation also confirmed that it has achieved a comparatively quality translation after analysing the translation errors of the two translations. It was also confirmed that retranslation is faithful and closer to the original text than the first translation.

Brownlie (2006) translates Berman’s (1991) opinion and states that the success or the improvement of later translations can be identified only when those translations have transferred the true essence of the source text, when the target text is faithful to the source text and when successive translations come closer to the source text (p. 148).  Berman (1991) states that retranslations occur due to a lacking of pure element of the source text in the first translation and consequently that translators can always refer to the first translation and produce a better version by communicating the true essence of the source text (as cited in Paloposki & Koskinen, 2010, p. 295).

Berman mentions that translations tend to age with the span of time while the original source text remain the same. So aged translations encourage new translations to take over and make a fresh translation according to the specific target audience’s needs in that specific era. What Robinson (1999) admits is that the timeless original text should be translated several times by each generation according to the era’s preferences.  As reasons for ageing, Poucke (2017) argues, scholars have examined the scenario and concluded that these changes and aging have been associated with the readers’ cultural backgrounds from time to time and ideological factors but not merely on the evolution of syntactic, lexical or stylistic features in language.  Further, it is also determined that language and linguistic knowledge and aesthetic taste of readers have affected the aging process of a translation (Hanna, 2016). Moreover, it is evident that socio-political contexts, economic or geographical changes, and overall readers’ expectations according to different knowledge levels that represent specific eras also affect this scenario to take place. Later it was also discovered that translation and language norms have also affected for rating translations as out of readers’ expectations.

“Translations and retranslations are said to vary according to different ideologies and norms prevailing in different time periods in the culture which initiates the translation” (Brownlie, 2006, p. 150). When compared with first translation with other retranslations the approach in discipline the translators display towards the source text is different than recent translations. Thus, as Gürçağlar (2020) argues, although many researchers have tried to link the retranslation with those drivers there is no direct relationship between those drivers and the process of retranslation because sometimes it shows partial, contradictory, and moderate results. As Koskinen and Paloposki (2004) concludes in their studies about Retranslation Hypotheses concept, it has shown partly true results and partly false. There are numerous (re)translations which also fit for Retranslation Hypotheses but also with opposite results and some instances where foreignization and domestication have become irrelevant for some retranslations (p. 36).

As Venuti (2004) describes, translations always create value in linguistic and literary, religious, and political, commercial and educational in relation to the particular text, and then the retranslations will be contributing to those values over and over again through the process of retranslation where the translator introduces foreign elements and also his or her own and unique values to the target reader (p. 25). Venuti (2004) observes the retranslation process by emphasizing more on the adequacy, accuracy, and the completeness of the translation. Koskinen and Paloposki (2015) says that praising the recent retranslation as “fluent, accurate, faithful, and more pleasurable” after reading is not productive because there are also linguistic mismatches, awkwardness, clumsiness in language and negative points in the old version that the reviewers have to pay their attention to.

Koskinen and Paloposki (2015) also focuses on the voice of first translator in retranslation assuming that the second translator has a potential source of dependency related to the first translator’s profile, mental image or the textual construction. But Pym (1998) believes that some retranslations are produced without any contact with the first translation or knowledge of previous translations. It is the claim of Koskinen and Paloposki (2015) on the relationship between retranslators’, first translators’ and belief on publishers’ often urge on reworking on first translations as the first translation lack the competence. Anyways, according to Paloposki and Koskinen (2010), there is always a reaction towards the previous translation coming from the side of retranslation proving that there is a connection somehow or the other.  Koskinen and Paloposki (2015) also states that since retranslations are often associated with classics, it is the opportunity that translators get to display their professional skills and talent.

Reasons for Retranslation

Various scholars and researchers have tried to question about the specific reason for having multiple translations for one source text while some source texts do not as “in the case of peninsular Spanish, there are many instances of established authors from the canon of world literature whose work has not been retranslated at all” (Cadera and Walsh, 2017, p. 1). Anyhow, especially retranslation of religious canons helps to inculcate the orthodox belief and reinterpret the elements which are compatible with the present prevailing doctrines (Venuti, 2004).  Similarly, in academic institutions and social institutions retranslation process will reaffirm and redefine the canonical texts related to the specific fields and support for the strengthening of the authority (Venuti, 2004). Which is why Venuti (2004) insists on retranslation since the texts will ultimately become ‘classics’ and it will further encourage retranslations.

According to Koskinen and Paloposki (2010) most studies of retranslation are based on literary works and takes the form of a case study which also named as classics. Thus, these retranslations and canons are mutually dependent according to the need. Pym (1998) tries to distinguish those canonical texts with the general retranslation process saying that periodical retranslations of texts like Bible is completely a different scenario and they are translated to a long duration of time addressing wide long-term process of linguistic and cultural change. Pym (1998) recognizes this as an “active retranslation” and provides three examples for this; one is by explaining the three versions of Euclid in his text: the first version was directly translated from an Arabic text, second translation by adding didactic comments and omitting proof elements, and third translation by including the omitted proofs back into the translation (p. 82). According to Pym (1998), these active retranslations possess variety of possible causes, or in other words the effort has been put by translators according to given instructions by a distinguished person during a specific era, encouragement of patrons, on request of publishers or editors, or intercultural politics, and moreover in these retranslations, no significance between translation strategies was to be seen, and also active retranslations give a glimpse of historical importance (p. 83).

Pym claims that even retranslations could act as little rivalries in related to geopolitical and dialectological boundaries but not a conflict in knowledge versions and according to said reasons these retranslations could be identified as “passive retranslations” (Pym, 1998, p. 82). A comparative analysis of these passive retranslations would tend to provide historical changes, translation norms, changes in translation strategies, changes in target culture, changes in target language (Pym, 1998). Further, Pym (1998) states that re-editions and retranslations unveil a significant difference where re-edition forces on validity of previous translations while retranslation forces a strong challenge on that validity and also to bring the particular text closer to the original. As to Pym (1999), when there are disagreements regarding translation methods it has the tendency to have multiple translations for the same source text. Thus, seeking reasons for the occurrence of retranslations has become a widest interest among researchers.

Paloposki and Koskinen (2004) also questions about the essentiality in aging of first translation. The questions which Paloposki and Koskinen (2004) tried to address was:

Do first translations really ‘date’, always? Or is it that domesticating first translations date, creating a need for foreignizing retranslations (to test this, one would actually have to look at cases of non-retranslation as well) (p. 28).

Gambier (1994) also tries to force questions regarding ageing translations due to the increased knowledge of source language, language usage or cultural knowledge and then later retranslations become the best versions according to the current situation. (as cited in Mohammadi & Dastjerdi, 2013). Brownlie (2006) claims that when conducting retranslation studies both norms and ideological assumptions would be rejected, and the only focus will be on the time since it is the only factor which influence the retranslating act.

Paloposki & Koskinen (2010) claims that retranslation happens due to the lack of faithfulness, accuracy and norms of a translation which also emphasis the need for new translations. Sometimes this scenario can turn upside down when a first translation is a domesticated version. Domesticated versions have the tendency to become more fluent with the target language and translate according to the target audience’s expectations while foreignizing versions keep the cultural distance. This also can be the other way around where retranslations can also become domesticated versions while the first translation keeps the cultural distance.

Robinson (1999) believes that literary classics could be retranslated when most recent retranslation become outdated. Douglas Robinson (1999) also claims that these retranslations happen due to a whole lot of different reasons where some of them deals with the span of time and in some cases it may be due to the thought of editors, critics, translators, and/or readers that retranslation happens as a result of the previous translation’s narrow construction of the original, and those retranslations will capture more of the original elements, properties, meaning than the previous translation (p, 2).

Therefore, what Robinson (1999) promotes through retranslation is that if the “recent predecessor translation” has not promised an accurate and precise translation, later critics or translators could overcome the insufficiency through a retranslation which transmits almost all the elements in the source text. As Robinson (1999) says it will serve as a “qualitative supplement” which is “livelier or more brilliant than predecessor”.

According to Venuti (2004), a translator’s choice to retranslate a certain text comes after the encounter of the previous version, which he or she judged as “insufficient” for the target reader and “erroneous and lacks linguistic correctness.” As in Venuti’s (2013) observation, retranslations could also occur consequently as a result where subsequent translators form a thought that they can establish a difference, an impact or a better version through their translation than the previous ones, which means the retranslators “justify themselves by establishing their difference from one or more previous versions.” As Brisset (1990) states, retranslations can also emerge solely from the translator’s personal appreciation or the likeness towards ST (Brisett, 1990, as cited in Gürçağlar, 2020). Moreover, Venuti (2004) suggests the study and research on retranslation could be further improved and would give productive results only if cultural and political factors were studied collaboratively with linguistic elements.


Retranslation has now caught the theoretical attraction in the present and lacks contribution towards the area.  Further studies on retranslation should be conducted because retranslation as a concept is a complex scenario bound with innumerable arguments. In the future, studying retranslation hypothesis based on various approaches related to Sri Lankan context will provide productive results towards this particular under researched area in Translation Studies. Overall. it can be expected to will valuable arguments towards translation norms and the evolution of translation studies.


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