Karin Bosshard

Dialect in contemporary Scottish fiction in translation – enabling fluidity and disrupting the flow in A Book of Death and Fish

It has been argued that the constant shifting between different languages and language varieties is not only a characteristic of many Scottish texts, but also one that presents a recurring challenge to translators (Corbett, 2010). My presentation explores this linguistic fluidity from two perspectives: First, it considers an extreme case of fluid linguistic boundaries, investigating what Bakhtin (1981) termed a “hybrid construction” in a contemporary Scottish novel. In this example, the linguistic fluidity is such that a single sentence contains two distinct linguistic varieties (and two underlying linguistic consciousnesses) that are impossible to separate with purely grammatical means. Secondly, the presentation explores how this fluidity in turn becomes a challenge for the translator and an obstacle to the flow of the translation. Using the case of German, it will illustrate how seemingly counterintuitively the flow of the German literary language needs to be disrupted to convey the fluid nature of the Scottish text. My presentation hopes to show how literary dialect acts both as a creator of fluidity and as a disruptor of the textual flow. 

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