May Reduction Serve Foreignisation or What Happened to Sierotka Marysia in English Translation

Aleksander Brzózka


The translation of Maria Konopnicka’s O Krasnoludkach i sierotce Marysi (The Brownie Scouts) into English is an interesting fusion of two translation strategies usually considered mutually exclusive. At first glance, this careful and faithful rendering of passages describing Polish tradition, culture, history, geography and folklore is a good example of foreignisation. Taking the reader who represents a dominant culture on a trip to an unknown peripheral culture, it seems to counter Lefevere’s understanding of how cultural capital and asymmetries between cultures influence the translator’s decision to adapt the source culture’s exotic elements to the target reader’s horizon of expectations. Thus, her decision not to domesticate the original positions Katherine Żuk-Skarszewska (née Hadley) in a group of translators called bridgeheads by Cay Dollerup. They aim at familiarising the target language audience with most interesting and valuable aspects of the source language culture. Yet this assumption is undermined by Żuk-Skarszewska’s frequent use of reduction technique, which helps her to deal with the culture-specific elements she considers less important. The Brownie Scouts uses two strategies: the translator’s efforts to faithfully preserve some items and fragments characteristic of the source language culture are counterbalanced by her decisions to cut other elements and passages in order to make room for what she judges more worthwhile. As a result, reduction controls the intensity of the overall foreignising effect. This unusual strategy becomes even more interesting to observe, as the elements most readily given up are usually those related to the child (characters, subject-matter and folklore). Paradoxically, it is children who lose most in this translation of the book about them.

Słowa kluczowe: children’s literature, folklore, Konopnicka, translation, foreignisation

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