Ethnotextual mental translation and self-translation in African literature

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Abstract

Interest in African literature and translation is relatively new; it mainly emerged in the 1990s with the postcolonial turn in translation studies, under the influence of the cultural turn, the polysystems theory and the “Manipulation School”. Many African writers describe themselves as intercultural translators; they hover over the following questions: Is it a form of selfdenigration not to use one’s mother tongue as a medium of literary creation? How can their literary creations account for their postcolonial experience in the languages of former colonizers? Can these languages render the specificities of their distinct cultural worldviews? The linguistic choice made by African writers is hence highly political because it involves a compromise that rests on power relations. Their writing often involves a sort of translation from Source Language (SL) to Target Language (TL) whether through ethnotextual mental translation or self-translation.

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