a rope fastened between
critical reflections translations language games

Translation thesis submitted at ESIT:
La Littérature Orale en Bretagne (Oral literature in Brittany)

November 15, 2021


This is the master’s thesis (mémoire) that I submitted at ESIT (École supérieure d’interprètes et de traducteurs) in June, 2021, towards a master’s in editorial, technical and financial translation. The thesis was written under the direction of Marie-Paule Chamayou, with Mary-Ann Constantine as my translation reader and Hanna Martikainen as jury member.

The thesis was selected for publication on the open archive HAL-DUMAS, having been awarded a “mention excellente” (highest honors) with a grade of 19/20.

The thesis is written in French. The translation on which it centers is in English.

In addition to the people I thank in the mémoire, I would also like to thank Patrick Williamson—for his timely intervention on a crucial point!

Abstract in English

The subject of the thesis is oral literature in Brittany. Part I sketches a portrait of research on these traditions in France, focusing in particular on the study of the gwerz, an oral genre of songs in the Breton language. Part II offers an English translation of sections of a seminal article in the field of Breton oral literature, written in French by the ethnologist Donatien Laurent. Laurent’s studies revolutionized the sub-discipline, beginning in the 1970s, and his influence continues to shape the field to this day. Part III discusses translation strategies that I used in the translation of Laurent’s article. It offers a dialectical analysis, examining a set of translational choices and possibilites in light of several translation theories, and simultaneously critiquing these theories, viewed through the lens of those translational choices and possibilities. Part IV offers a terminological analysis of key terms in the article and in the sub-discipline of oral literature studies. Part V offers a selective bibliography of key works in French and English.

Key words

oral literature; Brittany; gwerz; oral archives; event-based dating; cultural dating

Résumé en français

Ce mémoire de traduction s’intéresse à la littérature orale en Bretagne : l’exposé brosse un portrait des recherches sur ces traditions en France et, en particulier, de celles portant sur la gwerz, chanson de tradition orale bretonne. Ensuite, la traduction porte sur un extrait d’un article de Donatien Laurent, ethnologue qui a révolutionné ce champ de recherche depuis les années 1970. Puis, la stratégie de traduction propose une analyse dialectique, examinant des choix traductifs à la lumière de plusieurs théories de traduction et critiquant ces théories, vues dans l’optique de ces choix. Enfin, l’analyse terminologique et la bibliographie critique sélective fournissent des précisions sur les plans terminologique et discursif de ce domaine d’étude.

Mots clés

littérature orale ; Bretagne ; gwerz ; archives orales ; datation événementielle ; datation culturelle

Click HERE to view it on HAL-DUMAS.