Alienese Translation : Anthony Burgess's Nadsat in A Clockwork Orange

Totoni, Oltjona and Lane, Veronique and Thakkar, Amit (2022) Alienese Translation : Anthony Burgess's Nadsat in A Clockwork Orange. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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A Clockwork Orange (1962) by Anthony Burgess is a dystopian novel that ‘aspires to an imaginative visual futurism’ (Morrison, 2000). Alex and his ‘droogs’ speak Nadsat, an innovative constructed language and its ‘creation […] is a novelistic triumph’ (Coale, 1981). It is a teenage creole of the future that contains English, Russian and traces of Eastern and Western languages. This thesis reassesses how Nadsat functions in English and how Spanish translators have rendered Nadsat categories into NadSpanish. It investigates Nadsat linguistic and cultural features in the original text and compares them with La naranja mecánica, translated by Aníbal Leal in 1976 and Ana Quijada Vargas who translated Chapter Twenty-One in 1999. This translation is characterized by minor and major omissions that have affected the overall meaning and effect of Burgess’s text. There are numerous factors that have led Leal to practice self-censorship while translating the text. They are significant because they have political, ethical, and aesthetical implications. As Antoine Berman and Lawrence Venuti suggest, there is a ‘necessity for reflection on the properly ethical aim of the translating act, receiving the Foreign as Foreign’ (Berman and Venuti, The Translation Studies Reader, 2004). Chapter One analyses Nadsat categories including derivations, eponyms, portmanteau words, amputations, slang, infantilisms, and examines how Leal has rendered them into Spanish as well as what happens to the heterolingual elements that the author incorporates in his novel to give it an alienese dimension. Chapter Two explores different types of omissions in the target text, how they have contributed to the distortion of the source text and Burgess’s dystopia by leaving many gaps behind, both linguistic and literary, cultural, and stylistic. Chapter Three compares Nadsat and Newspeak, the invented languages of Anthony Burgess and George Orwell, and how they have been translated into Spanish respectively by Aníbal Leal and Rafael Vázquez Zamora. It offers further insight into differences and similarities these conlangs have in their respective texts as well as their own specificities in translation. The conclusion makes recommendations for other translations of A Clockwork Orange, guiding Spanish translators on how to translate Nadsat categories for a new set of readers while respecting the literariness, the foreignness and the alienese aspects of the text. This thesis argues that Nadsat is alienese because it belongs to the category of invented languages where the language is not rendered directly, and it needs deciphering and decoding first. The Spanish translator therefore needs to ‘bend the language of the translation toward the original language’ and ‘retain the feeling of foreignness’ (Schleiermacher, 1992). This thesis conceptualizes an innovative form of translation, alienese translation, which is an umbrella term for translating conlangs that have similar features to Nadsat which is spoken by human aliens. The case made in this thesis for alienese translation is prepared by close textual analysis in Chapter One and Two, but it is mainly developed in Chapter Three through the comparison of Nadsat and Newspeak in the original and Spanish translation. While this comparative study of NadSpanish with Spanish Newspeak aims to contribute to our understanding of Nadsat in particular, and invented languages in general, it also aims to inform future translations of Burgess’s and Orwell’s novels, both into Spanish and in different languages.

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Thesis (PhD)
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13 Jul 2022 08:40
Last Modified:
12 Jul 2024 02:02