Original Research

Indlela or uhambo? Translator style in Mandela’s autobiography

Amanda Nokele, Koliswa Moropa
Literator | Vol 37, No 2 | a1286 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v37i2.1286 | © 2016 Amanda Nokele, Koliswa Moropa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 February 2016 | Published: 31 October 2016

About the author(s)

Amanda Nokele, Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages, University of South Africa, South Africa
Koliswa Moropa, Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages, University of South Africa, South Africa


One of the aspects that concerns translation scholars most is the question of the translator’s style. It was realised that little research had been undertaken investigating the individual style of literary translators in terms of what might be distinct about their language usage. Consequently, a methodological framework for such an investigation was suggested. Subsequently considerable research has been conducted on style in the European languages. However, the same cannot be said about African languages. This article proposes a corpus-driven study of translators’ style, comparing isiXhosa and isiZulu translations of Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom by Mtuze and Ntuli, both published in 2001. The target texts are compared with each other focusing on the use of italics, loan words and expansions and contractions as features that distinguish the two translators. The source text was used not to evaluate the target texts but to understand the translators’ choices. ParaConc Multilingual Concordancer was used to align the source text and its target texts for easy examination. The results revealed that the fact that the two translators were dealing with an autobiography did not deter them from displaying their personal imprints as creative writers.


translator style; stylistic features; decision-making; loan words; italics; expansion; contraction


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Crossref Citations

1. An encounter with some translators: Challenges they faced when translating Long Walk to Freedom
Francinah Mokgobo Kanyane
Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies  first page: 1  year: 2023  
doi: 10.2989/16073614.2023.2243301