Translating Children’s Literature: A Summary of Central Issues and New Research Directions – Cristina García de Toro, Universitat Jaume I
In the last thirty years the study of translated children’s books has grown considerably in terms of both interest and visibility. For a new researcher, however, it is not easy to know where to begin. The field of study is vast, many are the topics that can be dealt with, and the information is scattered far and wide. Publications, whether articles, book chapters, or books, are not always included in journals and book series about Translation Studies.
This paper presents an introduction to the field. We will address concepts and topics that arouse most interest among researchers; we will briefly review texts considered seminal contributions in this domain; and we will outline some future research paths that are opening up in this promising area of research.
La traducción de literatura infantil: temas centrales y nuevas vías de investigación En los últimos treinta años el estudio de la traducción de textos para el público infantil ha experimentado un rápido crecimiento tanto en términos de interés como de visibilidad. Sin embargo, para quienes inician su andadura investigadora en este terreno, no es fácil saber por dónde empezar. El campo de estudio es amplio y son muchos los posibles temas de investigación. Y a ello se suma el problema de la dispersión de la información. Las publicaciones, ya sean artículos, libros, capítulos de libro, no siempre están incluidas en revistas o colecciones de traducción.
Este trabajo pretende ofrecer una introducción al ámbito de estudio. Revisaremos para ello los temas y conceptos que más interés están despertando entre los investigadores y las investigadoras, reseñaremos brevemente los textos de lectura esencial, y mostraremos las nuevas líneas de investigación que se abren en esta prometedora área de investigación.
According to Fernández (1996: 19), the main problem that the study of children’s literature faces is the lack of definition of the field. There are as many definitions as there are points of view, cultures, and disciplines interested in its study. Indeed, the borders of children’s literature are truly blurred. Illustrated books, novels for teenagers, audiobooks and even audiovisual texts consumed in new devices can be encompassed within it. Such heterogeneity makes it difficult to define and delimit (O’Sullivan 2013: 451). However, the same heterogeneity has triggered interest in children’s literature from different disciplines, including translation studies. As a re-sult, nowadays, a series of seminal books and articles can be listed, including Shavit (1986), Oittinen (2000), Lathey (2006, 2016), O’Sullivan (2013), among others. In these contributions, the authors deal with the hottest research topics in this area: the addressee, the adaptation to the target cultural context, ideological manipulations in translated texts, or the interaction between text and image essentially in picturebooks and illustrated books. But new research avenues are still waiting to be investigated: the translator’s marks and traces, the role of female translators, the role of translation from and to minoritised languages, the audience’s role in new multimedia products, and market studies, studies of children’s responses through experimental research such as the use of eye-tracking, studies of matricial and operational norms, and stud-ies of the representation of self-image and images of other cultures and ethnic groups through translations.
Finally, both old and new topics can be researched using four large approaches: cognitive studies, cultural studies, descriptive studies, and sociological approaches. Cognitive studies will help the researcher know what is perceived by the readers and the audience by using questionnaires, interviews, and new technologies, such as the eye-tracker. Cultural studies will reveal hidden agendas and ideologies behind some translation options, from translation policies to censorship. Descriptive translation studies will help the researcher build catalogues and map this field, which will reveal norms (matricial, operational). Sociological approaches will tackle the role of the translator, the agents, the market, and notions such as habitus or doxa in this field. As O’Connell (2006: 12) states, commercial success and the increasing status within the literary canon of children’s literature, as well as its gradual acceptance in academic circles as a topic that deserves serious and critical attention, point to a promising future for this vibrant and manifold branch of translation studies.