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Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Scandinavian Languages.
2009 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Free Translation in Medieval West Nordic Society (English)
Abstract [en]

In this thesis, medieval free translation is explored as a text-producing practice as it appears in Alexanders saga, a 13th century Old Norse translation of the medieval Latin epic Alexandreis. The practice is investigated through analyses of (1) the rendering of the source text and (2) the translator’s role in making the target text. The rendering is analyzed through a systematic comparison between source and target text using a method of analysis based on systemic functional linguistics (SFL). Contrary to what was assumed previously, the rendering pro­ves to be consistent in the text, but a surprising result is that the rendering in chapters 2–4 and in chapters 1 and 6–10 respectively represent two significantly dif­ferent patterns, the former being closer to the source text than the latter, pre­sumably due to two different translators. The investigation further confirms an observation in previous research on Old Norse free translation that the rendering of parts in direct speech are closer to the source than that of narrative and descriptive discourse. The rendering is closest where the translator indicates that he is quoting the author of the source text. These patterns are found in both groups of chapters, and as they are confirmed in other Old Norse translations, they might be interpreted as a translation norm. The conceptions of translation are further investigated by examining what kind of text-producing role the translator assumes. It is claimed that, despite the freedom in free ren­dering, the translator assumes the role of intermediary between the source text and the receivers of the target text rather than the role of independent text pro­ducer. From an analysis of the translator’s metatextual additions, it seems as though this is also what the translator assumes the receivers of the text expect him to do.

The results indicate the presence of certain conceptions of how translation was to be carried out in West Nordic society. The ”free” translation strategies did not mean freedom from or obliviousness to translation norms, but rather re­late to a specific text-producing practice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2009. , 285 p.
Stockholm studies in Scandinavian philology, ISSN 0562-1097 ; N.S., 51
Keyword [en]
Translation studies, medieval translation, free translation, translator’s role, translation history, Alexanders saga, Old Norse, Alexandreis, Latin, systemic functional linguistics
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
Scandinavian Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-29470ISBN: 978-91-86071-21-9OAI: diva2:233382
Public defence
2009-10-02, Hörsal 9, Universitetsvägen 10 D, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2009-09-10 Created: 2009-08-31 Last updated: 2012-09-10Bibliographically approved

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Pettersson, Jonatan
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