Hybridity in Immigration Literature and Translated Literature
The main purpose of the present study was to detect and compare the signs of hybridity in immigration literature and translated literature. The research was designed to answer these questions ‘Are there any similarities between the literature produced in Persian and in English by immigrant writers and the literature translated into Persian, in terms of hybridity?’ If yes, ‘what are the similarities?’. To answer these questions, the researcher adopted an analytical comparative corpus-based approach. First a large corpus was established. It had two sub-corpora consisting of Persian and English literary works produced by immigrant writers and best-selling literary works translated into Persian. The collected data was classified into two large classes: ‘Level of hybriditry’ and ‘Type of hybridity’. Each of these classes had its own categories. ‘Level of hybridity’ had 6 categories and ‘Type of hybridity’ had 12 categories. The frequency and percentage of hybrid signs were calculated and shown in the form of table, pie chart and bar graph. The results showed that: There were many similarities between immigration literature and translated literature in terms of hybridity. More or less, all levels and types existed in both of them, but some levels or types were more prominent in one than in the other.
The frequency and percentage of each level and type in each sub-corpus
were very different. Thus the hypothesis of this research was confirmed.
Keywords: Hybridity, hybrid text, immigration literature, in-between space
Nowadays, we live in a changing world in which nothing is stable and borders have been mixed. As a result of these changes and mixtures new concepts like 'hybridity' have come into being. This concept has a wide scope and it is discussed in different fields of study like Cultural Studies, Biology and Translation Studies.
Hybridity means mixture and originates from the Latin word hybrid, a term used to classify the offspring of a tame sow and a wild boar (Wikipedia, 2009). Basically, this term belongs to the field of biology. It was used in linguistics and racial theory in 19th century. Hybridity has had a wide range of usages, for example it was a useful tool in forming a discourse of racial mixing that came into being at the end of 18th century. Hybrids are considered as inferior races, weak and second rate persons.
In 1994, Homi K. Bhabha wrote "The Location of Culture" that had a great effect on the development of hybridity theory and is considered as "Bible of Hybridity". Homi Bhabha's argument has a key role in the discussion of hybridity and he is the first scholar who has developed this concept in the field of Cultural Studies. Hybridity has its own rhetoricity that is called hybrid talk and has association with the emergence of post-colonial discourse and its critiques of cultural imperialism (Wikipedia, 2009). The rhetoric of hybridity is applied to sociological theories of identity, multiculturalism and racism.
Different theorists have different views to this concept and each has proceeded to a new aspect. Some theorists like John Hutnyk have criticized hybridity as politically void. Others like Kraidy and Nederveen Pieterse consider hybridity as a cultural effect of globalization.
One of the most disputed terms in postcolonial studies, 'hybridity' commonly refers to "the creation of new transcultural forms within the contact zone produced by colonization."(Laragy, 2008, p.1).
This study intended to detect signs of hybridity in immigration literature and translated literature. The findings of this study will hopefully contribute to the body of the knowledge in Translation studies.
To the best of researcher’s knowledge very few studies have been done about hybridity and hybrid signs in immigration literature and translated literature specially immigration literature in English. Thus, the present research would provide unique and interesting information in this case and paves the way for subsequent research and studies.
Hybridity is a new concept in the field of Translation Studies. For this reason, we will start our discussion by dealing with the definition and introduction of this concept from different scholars’ point of view. It should be noted that different scholars have different views to this concept and the definition proposed by each of them is not flawless. In this part, we tried to give the most comprehensive definitions of this concept.
2. Review of the Related Literature
“From Bakhtin's point of view 'hybridization' is a mixture of two social languages within the limits of a single utterance, an encounter, within the arena of an utterance, between two different linguistic consiousnesses, separated from one another by an epoch, by social differentiation, or by some other factor”(BenBeya, 1995,p.1).
Compared to other scholars, Homi Bhabha has made a greater contribution to the development of discussions on hybridity. As Bhabha is the post-colonial scholar, he looks at this concept from post-colonial point of view and argues that ‘hybridity subverts the narratives of colonial power and dominant cultures. The series of inclusions and exclusions on which a dominant culture is premised are deconstructed by the very entry of the formerly-excluded subjects into the mainstream discourse. The dominant culture is contaminated by the linguistic and racial differences of the native self” ( Bhabha, 1994 Cited in Ben Beya,1995,p.3).
Also noteworthy is the fact that hybridity is an inevitable result of globalization and internationalization. In fact, because of globalization, cultural borders are mixed and they are subject to great changes. All of these facts had great importance in the creation of new concepts like hybridity. Schaffner and Adab’s words confirm this claim. What comes below is their point of view in this case.
‘Hybridity has been shown to be a constituting characteristic of social interaction resulting mainly from the contemporary globalization of communication and from the effects of communication in spaces of fuzzy or merging borders, which in turn affect cultural and linguistic identities’ (Schaffner & Adab, 2001,p.301).
In the discussions about hybridity most scholars believe that hybridity is the product of cultural process, but Lull believes that this view to the concept of hybridity is a simplistic one and he has a contrary view in this case in comparison with the first group.
‘Hybrids are not simply the cultural products of everyday interactions; they are the sources and media through which such phenomenological interactions take place’ (Lull, 2001, p.157).
It should be noted here that the concept of 'Third Space' is of vital significance in discussion about hybridity. 'In-between space' is a term that all scholars, who have theories about hybridity, believe in the existence of it, although each of them use his/her own terms to refer to this notion; for example, Michaele Wolf (2007) proposed the notion of “mediation space” in order to refer to this space.
Some scholars consider 3rd space as contact zone within which different cultures encounter and hybridity is an inevitable result of this cultural encounter. ‘The Third Space results from the overlapping of cultures understood as "hybrid" and can be understood as contact zone between cultures and as the encounter of spaces, which now, as the product of "translation between cultures" can generate borderline affects and identifications’(Pratt, 1993; Cited in Wolf, 2007, p.113).
Some scholars believe that translation is hybrid text that comes into being in a 3rd space. In fact, translators live between two languages and two cultures and they reflect this belongingness in their translations. In short, we can say that translators themselves have hybrid identity. Allan Duff (1981) pointed to the hybrid nature of translated texts.
‘Language of translation is the "third language" which lies, as it were, in-between the source and target languages: all words are known but put together in an unfamiliar way. A text can be perceived as a coherent entity only if the translation does not represent a mixture of styles and languages, or a 'patchwork' made up of SL and TL elements.’ (Allan Duff, 1981 Cited in Zauberga, 2001, p.266).
Investigating the relationship between hybridity and other concepts will hopefully help move the discussion forward.
2.2. Hybridity and Translation
More or less, all types of translations are hybrid texts. The degree of their hybridity depends on translator’s decision i.e. to what extent a translator wants to preserve foreign elements in a translated text. Neubert in his article ‘Some Implications of Regarding Translations as Hybrid Texts’ asserted this fact. He stated that ‘Sometimes translator intentionally wants to keep the target text aloof from textual integration in to the prevalent discourse of the target culture. Underlying this "alienating" tendency on the side of the translator can be a desire not to "violate" the original. The result is 'resistant' translation, which is the credo of recent attempts of poststructuralist theoreticians as well as practitioners’ (Neubert, 2001, p.183).
Different scholars have different views about the relationship between translation and hybridity. Pym believed that translation works against hybridization and generally translations are agents of dehybridization. Horace had a contrary view and stated that translation is an agent of hybridization. Adab & Schaffner said that translations are hybrids.
In Descriptive Translation Studies, the notion of translation itself is described as hybrid. For example, Hermans argued that ‘translation is irreducible: it always leaves loose ends, is always hybrid, plural and different’ (Hermans, 1994; Cited in Schaffner & Adab, 2001, p.170).
As it was mentioned before, to some extent all types of translation are hybrid, but in some kinds of translation like ‘interlinear translation’ hybrid signs are more obvious. The outcome of interlinear translation process is a hybrid text, because it disregards target language norms and conventions. The definition of interlinear translation proposed by Shuttleworth and Cowie confirms this claim. ‘Interlinear translation is a type of extremely literal translation in which TL words are arranged line by line below or above the ST items to which they correspond. As a result of using this type of translation, what frequently happens is that the linguistic norms of TL are violated’( Shuttleworth and Cowie, 1997, p.81).
2.3. Immigration Literature
Some scholars have their own terms to refer to a kind of literature that is called immigration literature in general. For example, Susan Bassnett used the term 'Travel Literature' instead of 'Immigration Literature'.
As Bassnett (Cited in Kuhiwczak & Littau, 2007, p.22) puts it, ‘Travel literature, like translation, offers readers access to a version of another culture, a construct of that other culture. The travel writer creates a version of another culture, producing what might be described as a form of translation, rendering the unknown and unfamiliar in terms that can be assimilated and understood by readers back home. The travel writer operates in a hybrid space, a space in-between cultures, just as the translator operates in a space between languages, a dangerous transgressive space that is often referred to as 'no-man's land'’.
Hutnyk examined the effect of migration and movement on the production of cultural products and he classified the writings of diaspora under the heading of immigration literature.
According to Hutnyk (2005, p.98) ‘migration and movement produce much cultural product- writing, film and art. Writings of diasporic character, so often marketed under the signature of hybridity, have been among the most often acclaimed, and most debated items in theorizing the socio-political predicament of our times’.
‘The immigrant & exiled authors and/or actors of each realm have created an especial literature with its own peculiarities in their artistic & literary activities at the host countries. This literature which differs from the domestic literature both in content & register is typically known as immigration/exile literature’ (Yazdani, 2006, p.15).
Based on Farahzad (2004, p.79), immigration literature is a part of Persian literature produced by Iranian immigrant writers who live out of Iran.
The present research is an analytical comparative corpus-based research aiming at detecting the signs of hybridity in immigration literature and translated literature.
The large corpus of this study which included immigration literature originally written in English, immigration literature originally written in Persian and translated literature added to the novelty of the study. This survey was laid upon the best-selling books of translated literature and immigration literature.
A noteworthy point to be underlined here is that because the main purpose of this research was to detect signs of hybridity in immigration literature and translated literature, a large corpus consisted of eight books was chosen to fulfill the criteria of practicality. Generally, the corpus of this study consists of two sub-corpora. Each of these two sub-corpora consists of four books.
As it was stated before, the aim of this study was to detect signs of hybridity in immigration literature and translated literature. In the following part, first the particularities of sub-corpus one which is immigration literature are described and in the next part, the particularities of sub-corpus two which is translated literature are discussed.
The first sub-corpus is immigration literature which has two parts and each part contains two books. The first part is immigration literature originally written in English and the second part is immigration literature originally written in Persian.
The second sub-corpus is translated literature from English to Persian which has two parts and each part contains two books. The first part is translated books originally written by immigrant writers who wrote their books in ‘Other’ tongue (English)which was different from their mother tongue (Indian or Persian). The second part is translated books originally written by native speakers of English who wrote their books in English which was their mother tongue.
The researcher had several criteria in mind, as the research sampling frame, when selecting the research materials through the following processes. She chose these eight books after full viewing of many others. These eight were chosen because they were more appropriate for the purposes of this study. In order to ensure that no instance of hybridity is left out, the researcher read each book more than once and examined each sub-corpus very carefully.
An endeavor was taken to select books from among the best sellers. Most of them won at least one literary prize inside and out side Iran. What is more, only those books which were published during the recent decade; i.e. from 2001 onwards more than once were included.
It is noteworthy to mention that the sub-corpus of immigration literature contained the works of those writers who were born in Iran and then they immigrated from Iran to Europe and USA.
Generally, the hybrid signs of this study were English and Persian. To achieve this purpose, the works of those writers who immigrated from India or Iran to U.S.A or Europe and their second language (not their mother language) was English were chosen as the corpus of the study. The works of those writers who had other types of hybrid signs in their works for example German and Arabic ones were excluded.
Another point not to be skipped is that the books of English immigration literature were published in U.S.A, but the books of Persian immigration literature and translated literature were published in Iran.
Since the research has been merely concerned with signs of hybridity in immigration literature and translated literature, only the works of immigrant writers were considered as the corpus of this study and the works of those writers who were in exile were ignored. What is more, only those books that their genres were novel and short stories were considered as the corpus of this study.
It should be noted here that one omnipresent pitfall in doing this corpus-based research was to find the right and necessary sources. Access to immigration literature whether in English or Persian, especially English inside Iran was indeed a difficult, if not impossible, task. Access to other parts of corpus had its own difficulties.
As a final point, it should be added that Farahzad’s model was chosen as the theoretical framework for this study, because it was more practical and comprehensive.
On the basis of Farahzad’s model ‘Level of hybridity’ and ‘Type of hybridity’ are two classifications of hybrid signs in this article shown in the following tables.
Table 1: Classification of Levels of Hybridity
Table 2: Classification of Types of Hybridity
Bibliographical information of the selected books is presented below. Attempts have been made to provide full and precise bibliographical specifications.
Immigration literature in English:
1. Modarressi, T.(1986).The Book of Absent People. New York: Doubleday &Company Inc.
2. Seraji, M.(2009).Roof Tops of Tehran. New York: Penguin.
Immigration literature in Persian:
1. Sharifian, Roohangiz.2008. Postcard. Tehran. Morvarid Publication.
2. Ghasemi, Reza.2005. Ham Navai-e Shabane-ie Orkestr-e Choobha. Tehran. Niloofar Publication.
Translated literature originally written by immigrant writers:
1. Lahiri, Joompa. 2008. Unaccustomed Earth (Translated by Haghighat, Amir Mahdi). Tehran: Mahi Publication.
2. Dumas, Firoozeh.2005. Funny in Farsi: A memoir of Growing Up Iranian American (Translated by Solleimani Nia, Mohammad) Tehran: Ghesseh Publication. Translated literature originally written by native speakers of English:
1. Lessing, Doris. 2007. The Fifth Child (Translated by Ghabraie, Mahdi). Tehran: Sales Publication.
2. Chevalier, Tracy. 2002. Girl with a Pearl Earring (Translated by Seddighian, Tahereh). Tehran: Tandis Publication.
5. Findings and Results
By doing this research in addition to finding answers for research questions, researcher could draw other conclusions from the study. All of them are stated below.
1. Are there any similarities between the literature produced in Persian and English by immigrant writers and literature translated in to Persian, in terms of hybridity?
Based on the findings obtained from the study, answer to this question is positive. There are many similarities between immigration literature and translated literature in terms of hybridity.
2. If yes, what are the similarities?
This question is fully answered and discussed. At first, their similarities in terms of level of hybridity are stated. Then, their similarities in terms of type of hybridity are explained.
The total number of ‘Level of Hybridity’ in translated literature is 426 which is greater than that of ‘Level of Hybridity’ in immigration literature which is 407. In both of them ‘Word’ has the most frequent instances and ‘Clause’ has the least frequent ones.
The total number of ‘Type of Hybridity’ in translated literature is 442 which is greater than that of ‘Type of Hybridity’ in immigration literature which is 407. In both of them, name has the most frequent instances, but the least frequent ones in each of them are different. In translated literature, the least frequent instances are ‘Political concept’ and ‘Code-switched language’ with a frequency of zero and in immigration literature the least frequent instances are ‘Food’, ‘Clothes’ and ‘Unconventional syntax’ with a frequency of zero.
From the total number of 407 instances of type of hybridity in immigration literature, 16 instances of it which is equal to 3.93% were dehybridized. Also, from the total number of 442 instances of type of hybridity in translated literature, 23 instances of it which is equal to 5.20% were dehybridized. The total number of dehybridization in translated literature was greater than that of immigration literature.
The theoretical discussions and the findings of the study approved the hypothesis underlying the study that both immigration literature and translated literature are hybrid.
6. Discussion and Conclusion
Nowadays immigration literature is one of the branches of contemporary literature. Generally, Iranian immigrant writers proceed to these two themes in their works: They write about their previous life in Iran and they write about their present life in the host country. Most works of immigrant writers that are published inside Iran are from the second type.
The results of this study showed that some of the immigrant writers reflect the political themes of IRI’s revolution in their works. Also most of the immigrant writers lived in the traditional families so their works are full of religious and traditional elements. They widely talk about the social life of Iranians in their works.
As immigrant writers live in an in-between space (See Farahzad 2004), this type of life creates some problems for them which are reflected in their works. They have to live in a society that is very different from the society they lived in for many years. Most of these problems are specific to the first generation of immigrants; the second generation of immigrants (children of the first generation) doesn’t share these problems. The problems of the first generation of immigrants in a new society are one of the themes of immigration literature.
Also this study showed that most of the immigrants suffer from homesickness and other psychological problems. The other issue that immigrant writers proceed to it in their works is psychological problems of immigrants.
Another point highlighted in this pioneering work is ‘Nostalgia for by-gone times’ (See Zauberga 2001) which is very prominent in the works of immigrant writers, specially those writers who write about their present life in the host country. Continually through their writings, they flash back to previous memories of their life in their homeland.
The findings of the study revealed that those writers who write their works in English, by means of which they introduce Iranian traditions, cultures and customs to foreigners. Some of the Iranian cultural elements are not tangible and comprehensible for foreigners; therefore, these writers proceed to dehybridization in their works.
The corpus investigation has revealed that the works of some immigrant writers have multi-cultural atmosphere. The writer shows this type of atmosphere by code-switching between two different languages.
The works of some immigrant writers are like autobiography. In this type of immigration literature they write about their previous life in Iran and continually they compare it with their present life in the host country.
Another point worth mentioning is that Sympathy with the immigrants of other countries is another theme which is seen in the works of immigrant writers. More or less, immigrants from different nationalities and countries have the same problems, because all of them are considered as foreigners and second rate citizens in the host country.
The concepts of ‘Self’ and ‘Other’ came from post-colonial literature to discussion about immigration literature. In post-colonial literature ‘Self’ is superior to ‘Other’. Whatever belongs to ‘Self’ is positive, superior and good and whatever belongs to ‘Other’ is negative, inferior and bad. All of these are true about the immigration literature. Immigrants depart their own country and reside in the host country. In fact they live in an in-between space (See Farahzad 2004). In this space and in the society of the host country, they are considered as ‘Other’ and residents of the host country are ‘Self’. Immigrant writers reflect their situation as ‘Other’ in their works. Most of them are deprived from legal and human rights and they are considered as second rate citizens. All of these cases have representation in immigration literature.
Also, the results of this study showed that ‘Sense of ambivalence’ (See Bhabha 1994) is another element which is seen in the works of immigrant writers. As these writers live in an in-between space, they don’t exactly know which culture and society they belong to and how they should act in this new situation.
The first thing that attracts immigrants’ attention is the prominent contradiction between their own culture and the culture of the country they immigrated to. So they reflect this contradiction in their works. Continually they compare the culture of the ‘Self’ with the culture of the ‘Other’. Representation of ‘Self’ and representation of ‘Other’ (See Baker 2006) are the elements that are seen in the works of immigrant writers.
‘Nostalgia for by-gone times’, ‘Sense of ambivalence’, ‘Representation of the Self’ vs. ‘Representation of the Other’ are seen in immigration literature. When this type of literature is translated to other languages, it carries all of these features with itself. Sometimes translators intentionally preserve these features, because they want to render a special work and indicate the difference between source culture and target culture.
It is important to mention that as immigrant writers think in their own language and write in the language of the ‘Other’ (See Adejunmobi 1998, Cited in Schaffner 1999), they reflect some of their ideological, cultural, political and religious backgrounds in their works. What is classified under the heading of cultural concepts, political concepts and religious concepts are results of their cultural, political and religious backgrounds.
The variety of types of hybridity in translated books originally written by immigrant writers is greater than the variety of types of hybridity in translated books originally written by native speakers of English.
More or less, all types of hybridity except one or two types exist in translated literature originally written by immigrant writers, but in translated literature originally written by native speakers of English only these five types of hybridity are seen: ‘Name’, ‘Loan word’, ’Religious concepts’, ‘Social life’ and ‘Date/time’.
According to the findings of the research, it can be inferred that the symbols of culture including food and clothes that preserve the local color of a text are limited to translated literature originally written by immigrant writers. Name is the only element of culture which is seen in both types of translated literature.
Also, the results of this study showed that depending on the approach of the translator, translation can have hybridizing and dehybridizing effect. By using foreignization strategy, the translators intend to preserve foreign elements in a translated text. In fact they proceed to hybridizing act but by adopting domestication strategy, translators have the purpose of finding equivalence for every feature of source text; they proceed to dehybridizing act.
Dehybridization and its frequency were the other specific findings in this pioneering work. The frequency of dehybridization in translated literature originally written by immigrant writers is greater than that of translated literature originally written by native speakers of English.
The corpus analysis showed that ‘Phrase’ is the most frequent ‘Level of hybridity’ and ‘Name’ is the most frequent ‘Type of hybridity’ in immigration literature. ‘Word’ is the most frequent ‘Level of hybridity’ and ‘Name’ is the most frequent ‘Type of hybridity’ in translated literature.
Last point, but obviously not the least is that foreignization is the most frequent strategy of translation in translated literature originally written by immigrant writers. In fact, a translator wants to show the differences between the source language and culture by means of resisting against the norms of the target language and culture.
Finally, although the hypothesis of this research was confirmed, similar studies appear to be worth spending more time and effort. Future studies are suggested to be carried out by the use of larger corpora covering more text types and time spans.
The writer of this article welcomes any criticism and suggestion and voices her readiness to cooperate with enthusiasts to the subject.
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The following tables show the frequency and percentage of ‘Level of Hybridity’ and ‘Type of Hybridity’ in two sub-corpora.
Appendix A. Frequency and percentage of ‘Level of Hybridity in Sub-corpus One: ‘Immigration Literature’
Appendix B. Frequency and percentage of ‘Type of Hybridity’ in Sub-corpus One: ‘Immigration Literature’
Appendix C. Frequency and percentage of ‘Level of Hybridity in Sub-corpus Two: ‘Translated Literature’
Appendix D. Frequency and percentage of ‘Type of Hybridity’ in Sub-corpus Two: ‘Translated Literature’
Published - December 2010
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