Essay Blog Post: The (New) Translator’s Task?

In her book My Mother was a Computer: Digital Subject and Literary Texts N. Katherine Hayles writes the following: ‘I use the term “media translation” to suggest that recreating a text in another medium is so significant a change that it is analogous to translating from one language to another’ (p.109).

Hayles is suggesting that the act of translating texts from one language to another is synonymous with the act of remediating a text from the physical codex into a digital one, in other words, by creating a digital edition of a physical text. The heart of my essay responds to this claim by exploring the challenges faced by a digital scholarly editor when remediating a text to see if they run parallel to challenges faced by the translator of languages.

The theoretical discussion around the challenge of a translator being dependent on its target (if the aim is to replicate the text as closely as possible or reimagine it for an intended audience) supports Hayles’ claim, but discussing this theoretically only would be limiting as the remediation of texts and translating languages is practical, too. My essay applies these challenges to my first-hand experience of the digital remediation process of Reynard the Fox.

As a result of this, the decisions I had to make for my own translation of text are not dissimilar to those faced by translators of language, and so the theoretical arguments and the practical process behind digital remediation construct an argument in support of Hayles’ claim in my essay.


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