World Literature in Estonia: the Construction of National Translation Ethics


  • Klaarika Kaldjärv Tartu Ülikool, Lossi 3–420, 51003 Tartu, EESTI / ESTONIA
  • Katiliina Gielen Tartu Ülikool, Lossi 3–303, 51003 Tartu, EESTI / ESTONIA



translation ethics, literary translation, national translation histories


In addition to many other functions, translating may (and often does) also have a national agenda. Such agenda determines what is going to be translated, how and by whom. Depending on what the national agenda might be, various questions of ethics come into play. Such questions of ethics may be reflected in the translation norms, they may be concealed but still have an important role in constructing the image of translators as well as the idea of what translations should be like.

In Estonia, translation has been of pivotal importance among other things in the formation of the national canon and in developing the Estonian language. In addition to that, translation can be considered to be a means of implementing new ideologies as well as means of resistance. In the present paper, we will ask questions rather than try to answer them: What does ethics of translation mean in the Estonian cultural context? Considering Estonian translation history, can translation ethics be said to be dependent on a particular historical-political situation? And, who has the right to judge translations and the activity of translators?


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