The Problems of Translating African Oral Literary Texts into Their Western Equivalents

Abstract

It is commonly believed that one of the problems of African literature, and particularly oral literature scholarship, has been how the African writer can render cultural effects, ideas, thoughts, feelings, and sensibilities from the vernacular culture into English, as authentically and imaginatively as possible, in a language that is quite alien to the cultural environment being portrayed (Obiechina 56). The challenge posed by the evocation of equivalent feelings and association as well as fidelity to social and cultural facts has crucially installed and inscribed translation studies in the discursive dialectics of African oral literature and cultural studies. Drawing insight from the perspective on the theory of anthropological relativism and the need to anchor oral literary research on African cultural milieu with a view to account for or understand certain beliefs and behaviours in their local contexts (Eagleton 62), this study investigates this problem within the discourse of African oral literature which is fraught, as it were, with a number of prejudices and misconceptions. It therefore makes the case that the scope of translation studies in African oral literature be widened to achieve what has been referred to as conceptual recuperation whereby certain aspects of African concepts that have suffered distortion, demonization and marginalization are recovered and reinstalled (Opata 74).

Keywords: Culture, Oral literature, Tradition communication., translation

Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 78-83 (Download PDF)

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