Intersemiotic Translation as Adaptation
Special Issue of Adaptation (Volume 12, Issue 3, December 2019)
Edited by Vasso Giannakopoulou and Deborah Cartmell
Introduction: Intersemiotic Translation as Adaptation: In Memoriam of Laurence Raw
Adaptation Studies, Translation Studies, and Interdisciplinarity. Reflections on Siblings and Family Resemblance
Definitional issues are not new in translation and adaptation studies (TS and AS, respectively), and neither is the question of whether AS and TS should be seen as one discipline studying one object of study or rather as two disciplines studying two distinct sets of phenomena. This paper argues that an interdisciplinary view on the subject may offer some analytical tools that help advance this discussion. Since the issue is in part one of definition, Section one looks into theories of definitions and discusses four types of definition that could be of use to our debate. This leads to the paradoxical conclusion that to define translations and adaptations is at once easy and difficult. Words like ‘adaptation’ or ‘translation’ are common nouns, which point to sets of entities that share nonunique features. Hence to name is to categorize. Section two probes into theories of categorization and how they could help categorize translational and adaptational phenomena. It turns out that a study of categories and categorizing must involve categorizers. Consequently, one may study science as an epistemic practice, but also as a social one. This introduces section three, which looks into the emerging discipline of interdisciplinarity studies, that is, the study of the compartmentalization (e.g., disciplinarization) of academic knowledge. The conclusion that follows suggests that perhaps, instead of trying to absorb each other, AS and TS should consider themselves rather as siblings, that is, members of a larger family called intertextuality or influence studies.
Beyond Interlingual Translation: Transforming History, Corporeality, and Spatiality in Femi Osofisan’s Women of Owu
Building mostly on the seminal works of André Lefevere and Bassnett, recent work carried out in translation studies has problematized extant conceptions of translation and the distinction between various forms of creative rewritings. Similarly, individual scholars such as Katja Krebs and Laurence Raw in the field of adaptation studies have illuminated points of convergence and overlap between translation and adaptation. This article espouses and extends existing studies by explicating the redundancy of the borders constructed between translation and adaptation within the broader framework of Nigerian theatre and performance. Informed by a transdisciplinary approach adapted from multimodal social semiotics and literary studies, the author engages in analysis and close-readings of the play text and stage performance of Femi Osofisan’s Women of Owu (2004/2006) to investigate how translation transcends simple interlingual practice to encompass adaptations of the spatial, temporal and embodied aspects of societies and cultures.
This context brings together three disciplines: Adaptation Studies, Translation Studies, and Semiotics. The question to be considered is the extent to which these disciplines are really ‘saying almost the same thing’. The present paper examines this question from three angles. First, I summarize some ideas concerning the nature of categories in general, and the function of categorization, from which I infer that we can regard a discipline as a kind of category. Second, I outline some examples of research which overlaps the boundaries between our three fields and thus questions the usefulness of holding such boundaries as permanent and universal. And third, I report a small investigation into rhythm, and in particular, the rhythm of a painting and its title, an investigation which merges such categorial boundaries. I present it in illustration of the view that conceptual categories and their boundaries are only tools, to be used or not, as the purpose requires.