Domestication as Cognition, Foreignisation as Estrangement? The Limitations of Regarding Venuti’s Approaches as Binary Opposites in the Translation of Science Fictional Texts

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Martyn Gray


Darko Suvin argues for an understanding of science fiction as the literature of ‘cognitive estrangement’. This paper will take Suvin’s notion as its starting point, examining extracts from two works by author Alain Damasio to demonstrate how his language can be considered ‘typical’ of the genre. It will then explore how two key elements of Damasio’s language – neologisms and wordplays – have been translated, linking the strategies taken by the translators to Venuti’s paradigm. It will ask the following key questions: to what extent have the translators foreignised or domesticated key elements of Damasio’s language? And is it possible to either completely foreignise or domesticate features of science fiction if we want to maintain it as Suvin’s literature of ‘cognitive estrangement’?

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