Manipulating the next generation: Translating culture for children

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Translators are interpreters of culture; they are the ones who make a source text and the culture that informs it available to a target readership, and they therefore have a certain amount of power over the readers. This is doubly the case when it comes to children's literature, as children do not always have the ability to recognise in what ways a text is being manipulated. Since adults write, edit, publish, translate, purchase, and teach literature for children, they are thus the ones who construct culture for them. The works adults choose to translate and how they do so can reveal what they think is appropriate or important for children, and why.When texts have culture-specific features, translators, whether for adults or children, have to consider the target audience. One major issue here is whether the readers will recognize or should learn about these aspects of the source culture. This is, in essence, the question of domesticating versus foreignisation, or, put another way, whether to bring the reader to the text or the text to the reader. In my studies of children's literature, I have found that translators tend to domesticate or change more than they would for adult readers, and this creates a very different, perhaps even manipulative, reading experience for the target audience. Since children's literature and its translation can be said to be a power play between adults and children (Rose 1993, p.2), the question then is: 'In what way adults (ab)use their power?'.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-76
Number of pages36
JournalPapers: Explorations into Children's Literature
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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