• From Spaghetti-O’s to Osso Bucco: Francophone Translations of Suburban America

    Lee Skallerup Bessette, Quinn Dombrowski (see profile) , Isabelle Gribomont
    CSDH-SCHN 2021: Making the Network
    Digital humanities, Young adult fiction, French literature, French-speaking countries, Natural language processing (Computer science)
    Item Type:
    Meeting Title:
    CSDH-SCHN 2021: Making the Network
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    Meeting Loc.:
    Meeting Date:
    May 30, 2021
    Baby-Sitters Club, Quebecois translation, Belgian translation, French translation, Translation studies, YA fiction, Francophone literature, Natural language processing
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    The computational affordances of digital tools and methods have enabled new avenues of research in translation studies, allowing scholars to examine translation decisions at scale through the creation and analysis of parallel corpora. This paper will focus on multiple French translation of Ann M. Martin’s series, The Baby-Sitters Club. This series, featuring a club of teenage girl entrepreneurs committed to providing quality childcare at affordable rates in the suburban Connecticut of the late 1980’s through 1990’s, is full of cultural references to US middle-class life at the time. Of the over 200 volumes published between 1986 and 2000, 85 books were translated for young readers in Quebec, between 1991-1996. Between 1990 and 1993, 22 books were translated into French in Belgium, and a publisher in France also translated 53 books between 1997 and 2003. This paper uses named-entity recognition (NER) and translation alignment to map the boundaries of localization translations, with an emphasis foods. We use the Bleualign sequence alignment tool to align the three French translations and the English original. We have trained a SpaCy NER model to identify food in English, and will use the aligned corpus of translations to train a comparable model for French. By compiling lists of correspondences and divergences across the translations, we will be able to more clearly articulate what kinds of places and foods challenged the translators’ imaginations to a point where they had to be imported directly as “foreign” elements. This paper will contribute to the broader field of DH by offering annotated children’s literature as a ground truth source for NLP model training (in a manner compatible with current copyright law in the US, see Bamman et al. 2019), by serving as a case study for the use of DH in translation studies, and as a step towards further research on the effects of localization in the global flow of popular culture.
    Last Updated:
    3 years ago


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