The Effect of Language and Context Variability on the Translation of Literary Postcolonial Discourse in Portuguese

Rebeca Hernández 1
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1Universidad de Salamanca

Copyright ⓒ 2016, Sejong University Language Research Institue. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Published Online: Jan 01, 2017


This paper attempts to address questions related to the translation of postcolonial literary discourse in Portuguese, its meta-communicative functions and the capacity which translators have to occupy different ideological positions during the process of translation. Here, the choice of position is first related to the cognitive space which works as the referential locus for the representation of content and context through language. Secondly, it is presented as governed by variations in the principle of relevance, which may be to the source community, to the target audience, or doubly oriented. The paper argues that the way in which translators deal with the language and context of the text (by using plurilingualism vs. monolingualism, or by preserving or not cultural specifics) influences the reader’s mental re- construction of the world represented in the original. The analysis of the translator’s choices also helps to define his/her position as discourse interpreter, cultural negotiator, and his/her degree of implication in the recreation of the textual reality. To explore these issues, we will consider three cases of translations into English of postcolonial plurilingual literary texts in Portuguese, all of them presenting the typical characteristics of linguistic and cultural hybridity.

Keywords: translation; postcolonial literature; ideology; context of production; context of reception; mental models



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