Translation and the reader: a survey of British book group members’ attitudes towards translation
Campbell, Catherine Siân Greenslade
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In commercial book translation, the reader is the end-user of the translated text; it is for his or her benefit that the translation has been produced, and it is the reading public whose money ultimately goes towards paying the translator‘s wages. Nonetheless, in Translation Studies, far more attention has been paid to the processes of translation or the finished translation product (see Saldanha and O‘Brien 2013) than to the users of such products, with reader-based studies few and far between. For this reason, there is little empirical evidence that the 'effects' and 'meanings' discussed by scholars in analyses of translated texts have any meaningful existence in actual reading situations, while the opinions and preferences of readers with regards to translation are virtually unknown (Leppihalme 1997; Kruger 2013). The present thesis therefore takes a first step in examining the attitudes of non-professional readers (that is, readers who are reading for pleasure rather than for criticism or analytical purposes) to translated books. The project reports on members of book groups in four UK cities, whose thoughts and opinions regarding translated texts, the act of translation and the role of translators were gathered using a written questionnaire and a series of interviews. Thus, the study combines a Descriptive Translation Studies approach with survey research. The results of this survey suggest that many readers have limited knowledge about what translation involves, as well as a certain ambivalence towards the finer details of the translation process. In addition, although they reveal a vigorous interest in considering and discussing linguistic, cultural and translation-related issues, readers‘ primary concern when presented with a text, whether translated or not, is the immediate reading experience. It is hoped that these findings will be useful in informing future approaches to the creation and dissemination of translated books to the British reading public.