Culture-Specific Items in the Chichewa Translation of Achebe's Things Fall Apart

  • Boniface Dokotala University of Malawi - Chancellor College
Keywords: culture-specific items, domestication, foreignisation, source text, target text, translation strategies, translation techniques


The article analyses 'Chipasupasu' a Chichewa translation of Achebe's 'Things Fall Apart' to determine the strategies adopted in translating culture-specific items (CSIs) into Chichewa. Specifically, it seeks to address the following questions: what treatment – foreignisation or domestication – is given to individual CSIs in the translation?; which translation strategy is dominant in the translated text? and what is the nature of the meanings that resulted from the translation process, following the use of the dominating strategy? Data comprised extracts from the two novels and these were tabulated and analysed to identify translation strategies used in the translation of each CSI. The analysis was carried out considering Venuti's (1995) domestication and foreignisation model, which states that the former is target-culture oriented and seeks to achieve a natural translation in the target language while the latter is source-culture oriented and ensures that a translated text is literal and faithful to the original text. As the findings show, the translator used foreignisation as his main tool for handling CSIs, in some cases he had no other option, while in other cases he did it deliberately; this tendency made foreignisation a dominant strategy in the translation, as its occurrence is 75 per cent as compared with that of domestication; as a result of this dominance, some of the results are plausible, while others are confusing and fail to communicate. Indeed, the preference of one strategy over the other depends on the translator and the ultimate function of the translation. This article however concludes that this translation would remain source-culture oriented for the translator and easy to understand for the target reader if the choice of foreignisation was accompanied by another tool, such as, the use of explanations in form of footnotes.
How to Cite
Dokotala, B. (2022) “Culture-Specific Items in the Chichewa Translation of Achebe’s Things Fall Apart”, Journal of Law and Social Sciences, 4(4), pp. 19-34. doi: