Translating Laila Lalami

by Emire Gül Yildiz

As a group, we chose the translatory strategy of foreignization to translate the excerpts from The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami because we wanted to retain the source text’s information without changing the meaning (cf. Bassnett 2014, 47). For example, the novel has many Spanish and Arabic words. Therefore there was no intention to translate them into German, like the word Señor (Lalami 2014, 47).

Each of the group members took over a specific part of the text and first translated this excerpt individually, which is the part of our translation that I am going to focus on in this post:

During the translation process, I didn’t encounter significant difficulties. However, due to our decision to stay close to the original text, we had to find the balance between maintaining the original meaning and writing a grammatically correct German translation. Sometimes this was not as easy as it seemed.

Furthermore, another problem was the grammar, primarily because of the different sentence structures. When I began translating in the same sentence order as the English text, the result showed that the German text was full of grammatical errors and changed the meaning of the source text. Consequently, I had to find different approaches to modify the sentences until the syntax and meaning were both accurate, which took some time.

All in all, I can say that I had much fun translating my text excerpt. I learned a lot during the translation process, especially the importance of deciding which translation method to choose for the text. The procedure demands an understanding of the cultural references of the source text because we choose how to connect the author and the readers. By deciding on foreignization, we ensure the author can deliver her message without distorting the meaning.

Works Cited
Bassnett, Susan. Translation. London / New York: Routledge, 2014.
Lalami, Laila. The Moor’s Account. New York: Vintage, 2014.