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Ideological Manipulation of Translation through Translator’s Comments: A Case Study of Barks’ Translation of Rumi’s Poetry

Bita Naghmeh-Abbaspour, Tengku Sepora Tengku Mahadi and Iqbal Zulkali

Pertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities, Volume 29, Issue 3, September 2021

DOI: https://doi.org/10.47836/pjssh.29.3.19

Keywords: Ideology, New Age, paratexts, Rumi’s poetry, translational manipulation

Published on: 27 September 2021

As purposefully crafted information around a text, paratext is a critical platform for ideological manipulation in translation. Translators’ comments as a form of paratext can cause ideological deviations between source and target texts that diminish the ideological context of the source text. On this ground, this study aimed to explore translators’ comments and how they can subtly recontextualize the ideology of texts and reframe them in new ideological contexts. Thus, choosing Coleman Barks’ translations of Rumi’s poetry as a case study. It aimed to probe the congruency of Rumi’s ideology with the ideology embedded in the translator’s comments on the verses. The study employed critical discourse analysis as its analytical methodology and explored the collected controversial examples of the translator’s comments. The findings illustrated a high level of ideological deviation between the source and target texts. Moreover, the findings implied the translator’s dominant approach toward a text from an inferior language comparing the superior English language. It has shown that ideological fidelity in translation is not only confined to texts but includes paratexts as well. The present study can be considered significant as it revealed the de-Islamization trend of a Middle Eastern text in the light of the relationship of the unequal languages. The study suggests that paratexts as an empowering platform for translators effectively direct the readers’ perception about the source text and its author. This study hopes to make the translator trainees more cautious in their comments on the original authors’ voices and ideology.

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