Professor Spends 10 Years Translating the Iliad

It’s not unusual to hear of books being translated into different languages, but what about books being translated to fit a different country’s way of life? This type of professional translation isn’t found quite as often, but it has been done. One retired classics professor has spent over 10 years translating the Iliad into a South African context.

Eurocentric Translations & South African Students

Professor Richard Whitaker says that while there are many concepts in the Iliad that are familiar to South Africans, there are also many concepts that don’t resonate with students and other South Africans as well. By translating the epic into a better context, the true meaning of the book is able to be more easily imparted. The translator services that Whitaker provides will make the book less archaic than other older translations. However, since some of the words that Whitaker uses aren’t familiar to every South African reader, he helpfully provides a glossary of terms for easy reference.

 The South African Language

The South African language has words mixed in from other parts of Africa as well as words from other languages that have gradually become a part of the everyday words used in conversation. For example, some words in the glossary are words in Portuguese since the language is common in Africa. However, not everyone is familiar with the Portuguese words and so a Portuguese translation must be provided for a fuller understanding of the new text.

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