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De l'un au multiple

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Viviane Alleton
, 
Michael Lackner

III. Le traducteur parle

Traduction terminable et interminable

Terminable and interminable translation

Jacques Dars

Résumé

Literary translation has much in common with analysis: the labour of deciphering and recoding, the duration, the pains and surprises, the intellectual enjoyment and, finally, the always problematic achievement. As a scrupulous, perhaps desperate attempt to transpose a literary work while preserving the multiple idiosyncracies of the original, literary translation becomes infinitely perfectible or, if one wishes, prone to an infinite number of reprises.
In the face of a text transporting a multitude of meanings, apparent or hid-den, the translator has to confront three problems. The first is immediate comprehension which in the case of written Chinese can represent considerable difficulties due to the succinct, hermetic and sometimes ambiguous character of the texts and the peculiar, highly reduced structure of the language and the script. For the same reasons, translations, at least from classical Chinese, can-not avoid visual pauperization and spatial inflation. The second problem is the tissue of secondary meanings reflecting the manifold layers of culture, i.e., all elements of a text which one may englobe under the heading of “style”. In order to trace the enormous mass of citations and allusions the Chinese language has accumulated over the many centuries of its written culture, the translator has to undertake a scrupulously detailed analysis and must be receptive towards the specific tint of the language. The third problem concerns the historical, social and literary circumstances under which the text was written. Ideally the translator, of prose as much as of poetry, should also be wary and aware of everything beneath the surface of the phrases, or, in other words, be sensitive to what Barthes has called the “layeredness of discourse” (feuilleté du discours).
In the “final” version of the text, one should try to take all these factors into account. However, a historical survey of translations of the titles of Chinese works translated into European languages reveals that no translator has achieved more than an approximation, and no translation had more than temporal validity. Even if individual translators, like painters, may at one point feel that they are unable to improve on their work, the idea of a “definite” version of a text, and likewise the idea of a terminable translation, must remain illusive.

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Extrait du texte

Si j’ai eu l’impudence de paraphraser le titre d’un célèbre article de Sigmund Freud (« Die endliche und die unendliche Analyse », datant de 1937, et d’ailleurs assez récemment traduit « L’analyse avec fin et l’analyse sans fin »), c’est que traduction et analyse me semblent présenter, par leur labeur de déchiffrement et de recodage, leur durée, leurs résistances et leurs surprises, leurs joies pour l’intellect, et enfin par leur toujours problématique achèvement, pour ne rien dire du transfert écrivain-traducteur, beaucoup de similitudes.

La traduction, chacun peut le constater, nous est devenue aussi banale et vitale que la respiration.

Prenons un exemple trivial : j’achète une perceuse allemande (portant l’inscription Hecho in México), et voici se dévider en accordéon un mode d’emploi en une vingtaine de langues. Ma curiosité linguistique, immanquablement piquée, est presque immanquablement déçue, car ce type de traduction, calque mécanique, machinal, voire machinique – comme si un...

Auteur

Jacques Dars

Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Paris.

© Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme, 1999

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540

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