Autoritõlke teoreetilisest ja praktilisest väärtusest Jaan Kaplinski luuletuse "Valgus ei saagi vanaks" näitel / On the theoretical and practical significance of self-translation on the example of Jaan Kaplinski's poem "Light Does Not Get Old"


  • Ekaterina Velmezova Lausanne’i ülikool / University of Lausanne



tõlketeooria, autoritõlge, Jaan Kaplinski, leksikaalne ja semantiline analüüs, translation theory, self-translation, lexical and semantic analysis


Artikkel annab ülevaate, kuidas on tõlketeoorias käsitletud autoritõlget − kirjandusteose tõlget teise keelde, mille on teinud selle autor ise. Lähemalt vaadeldakse ühte leksikaal-semantilist aspekti Jaan Kaplinski luuletuse „Valgus ei saagi vanaks” (1984) autoritõlkes vene keelde. Autoritõlkes esinevad kõrvalekalded originaaltekstist võimaldavad lülitada tõlgitud teksti Jaan Kaplinski luuleloomingu laiemasse konteksti. Järeldusena rõhutatakse autoritõlke ja selle analüüsi väärtuse kahte tahku: see aitab kaasa nii tõlgitud teksti kui ka sama autori teoste laiema konteksti paremale mõistmisele, samuti selle autori tekstide tulevaste tõlgete suuremale adekvaatsusele.


The notion of self-translation (or translation by the author) is yet to be elaborated in translation studies. There are several reasons for this: in addition to the fact that, in spite of the apparent simplicity and obviousness of this concept, no established definition of self-translation exists that most researchers could rely upon, there is not much material for study as authors themselves do not often translate their own texts into other languages. Hence the immediate interest of cases of self-translation for researchers – indeed, there are many more studies devoted to analyses of specific cases of self-translation than there are general theoretical considerations concerning self-translation as such. There may also be a terminological confusion of several orders at once: should we consider a text translated by the author into another language as a translation (a kind of “ideal way” to recreate the original text in another language, because no one can know the original better than its author) or as a completely new text? In the latter case, the concept of literary bilingualism may be superimposed on the concept of self-translation. However, it is not the same thing: in the case of self-translation, there is an original text which is subsequently reproduced in another language; in the case of literary bilingualism there no such source text exists.

One of the very few “classic” scholars of translation studies who wrote about self-translation was Aleksandr Finkel (1899−1968). Finkel noted that the translator and the translator-author face the same tasks and difficulties, but emphasised that in the case of self-translation, the resolution of these difficulties takes on a slightly different character. As the article shows, one can speak not only about the different manners of resolving the tasks and difficulties of translation when it is carried out by the author, but also about the particular value of self-translation and its importance for text analysis.

In the light of some scholarly reflections on the notion of self-translation, the article discusses the lexical-semantic aspect of Jaan Kaplinski’s translation of his own poem “Valgus ei saagi vanaks” (“Light Does Not Get Old”, from the 1984 poetry collection Tule tagasi helmemänd [Come Back, Amber Pine]) into Russian. Kaplinski’s translation deviates significantly from the original text. Describing this translation in terms of its “deforming tendencies”, as they are formulated within the framework of Antoine Berman’s theory, the main changes in the Russian-language translation of this text in comparison with its Estonian-language original can be described as follows: (1) “ennoblement”, (2) “the destruction of underlying networks of signification” and (3) “clarification”. Deviations from the original text in Kaplinski’s self-translation that fall under the category of the third, “clarifying”, tendency, when the translator “clarifies” to the reader what may seem less than clear in the original, allow for an analysis of the poem that connects the lexical-semantic concept of “light” to the concept “(little) baby”. The lexical-semantic connecting of these two concepts, while absent from the original text, makes it possible to locate the translated text in the wider context of Kaplinski’s poetry. This connection is present in at least one more poem from Come Back, Amber Pine: “Mu laps äkki unustab nälja” (“My Child Suddenly Forgets About Hunger”). It makes sense, therefore, to preserve, and even strengthen, this connection when translating the text of “My Child Suddenly Forgets About Hunger”, into Russian, by translating the Estonian word laps not with the Russian rebenok (‘child’), but with the word malysh (‘baby, small child’). On the other hand, the importance of the lexical-semantic connection between “light” and “life” (newborn, baby, child – new life) in Kaplinski’s poems attracted almost immediate attention after the publication of Come Back, Amber Pine; for example, this is reflected in one of the first reviews of the book by Sirje Kiin.

The article emphasises the importance of self-translation and its study in two ways. Firstly, self-translation can make explicit what was not obvious in the original text, thereby making it possible to fit the translated text into a wider context of the works by the same author, illuminating the implicit semantic connections present in the text, and thereby contributing to a better understanding of the original. Thus, the question of whether or not to apply certain concepts elaborated within the framework of translation studies (in particular, Berman’s concept of “deforming tendencies”) to the analysis of self-translations remains open. Secondly, analysing cases of self-translation makes it possible to produce more adequate future translations of other texts written by the same author.


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Author Biography

Ekaterina Velmezova, Lausanne’i ülikool / University of Lausanne

Ekaterina Velmezova – Dr hab., Lausanne’i ülikooli slaavi keeleteaduse ning Kesk- ja Ida-Euroopa keeleteaduse ajaloo ja epistemoloogia professor. Tema teadushuvide hulka kuuluvad: vene ja tšehhi etnolingvistika, vene ja nõukogude keeleteaduse ajalugu 20. sajandil.

Ekaterina Velmezova – Dr hab., Professor of Slavistics and of History and Epistemology of Language Sciences in Eastern and Central Europe at the University of Lausanne. Her research interests include Russian and Czech ethnolinguistics, and history and epistemology of Russian and Soviet linguistics in the 20th century.