La traducció de literatura ídix moderna

Student thesis: Doctoral thesis


This dissertation investigates the translation of modern Yiddish literature through the study of the rendering of proper names and reflects on the relationship between the translation strategies employed and the construction of the distinctly Yiddish Jewishness as a cultural identity and system or Yiddishkeit.
The vast majority of modern Yiddish authors use proper names to place their works in the geographical and historical context of Central and Eastern Europe. Moreover, even in the case of fictional characters or places, Yiddish proper names are indicative of the referents’ belonging to a particular cultural framework. When translating such expressions, translators can therefore contribute to making their specificity visible or to assimilating them into other cultural frameworks. Such decisions are of great relevance, especially now that the translation of Yiddish literary works has become increasingly important as a means of access to Yiddish culture after the dramatical loss of Yiddish speakers during the 20th century.
The core of this thesis is a study of the rendering of toponyms and anthroponyms using a corpus of sixty-four translations from Yiddish into English, French, Spanish and Catalan, focusing primarily on Yiddish endonyms, i.e., proper names designating referents perceived as internal from a Yiddish cultural perspective in general or from the writer’s point of view in particular. This research reveals a very remarkable tendency towards the indirect transfer from third languages of Yiddish endonyms with no equivalent in the target language. On this basis, it is argued that resorting to languages other than the source and target languages (a translation technique referred to in this work as ‘interference’) has an impact on the representation of Yiddish Jewishness and is informed by certain ideological positions regarding Yiddishness and the linguistic minoritisation to which Yiddish has always been subjected.
In the opinion of the author, the translator’s decisions in the rendering of Yiddish endonyms should align with the writer’s point of view and, therefore, these kinds of names should be transferred directly from Yiddish when they have no equivalent in the target language, as is usually done when translating from other languages. Since Yiddish is written with its own alphabet, derived from the Hebrew alphabet, this strategy requires a romanisation system. After substantiating the non-existence of a rigorous system for transcribing Yiddish, a method of this kind is proposed, as well as a method of phonographic adaptation into Catalan, designed for any non-academic publication, such as literary translations.
Date of Award4 Feb 2022
Original languageCatalan
Awarding Institution
  • Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)
SupervisorMontserrat Franquesa Gòdia (Director) & Montserrat Bacardi Tomas (Tutor)


  • translation
  • literature
  • Yiddish
  • proper names
  • linguistic minoritisation

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