'Gainbehera dator dena': the Basque translation of...
Alberto Mtz. de la Cuadra

Translation: Kristin Addis


The author of the article discusses the difficulties that he had to overcome in the process of translating into Basque the novel Things Fall Apart by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. In addition to the difficulties inherent in the translation into Basque of a work written in English, there were others resulting from the heavy load of African culture in this novel. This cultural load, which includes the incorporation of elements of African indigenous languages, has lead several critics to maintain that African writers who speak an indigenous language and who write in a European language act to a certain extent as translators. The translations of works written by such authors would thus be a product of a double process of transposition. On the first level of translation, the African writer translates African thought into a European language and, through a process of indigenization that enables the European language to express his own African experience, uses a series of strategies such as semantic or syntactic relexification and the direct incorporation of native elements through absorption or contextualization. On the second level of translation, the text "translated" into English or French by the African author is then translated into another European language by the translator. The difficulties in this second level of translation of Achebe's novel have to do primarily with the translation of African cultural references, words, turns of phrase, sayings and Ibo images, as well as of words in the Nigerian pidgin.