Journal of
Languages and Culture

  • Abbreviation: J. Lang. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6540
  • DOI: 10.5897/JLC
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 132

Full Length Research Paper

Cases of domestication and foreignization in the translation of Indonesian poetry into English: A preliminary inquiry

Rochayah Machali
English Department, Islamic University of Malang (UNISMA), Indonesia.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 18 April 2012
  •  Published: 30 October 2012



When translators are faced with a text that contains culturally sensitive elements, there are different strategies that they can use in translating the text. The strategy being chosen depends on a host of factors that include, among others, the purpose of the translation, the publisher’s power to dictate the translation, the translator’s own ‘power’ and mandate endowed to him/her, as well as his/her own interpretation of the cultural elements that are represented in the text for translation. This article examines how cultural translation is interrelated with the notions of domestication, foreignization and power. At the end of the article, translation cases involving Indonesian-English languages are examined in the light of this interrelation. The findings show that the translation strategies employed by the translator reflects his/her interpretation that dictates the translation process. When the cultural elements are considered as foreign the translator tends to use the domestication strategy. On the other hand, when the ‘foreign’ element is related to a known genre such as the Ramayana, the translator has chosen to use the foreignization strategy. Both strategies reflect the translator’s power or mandate to interpret the original text and realize it in the translation; this is a power that may have been granted to him/her by the publisher. By way of comparison, another case of foregnization is also presented, one that indicates the publisher’s power instead of the translator’s. These major findings are important for translator training in that the texts selected for exercises need to include those containing culture-sensitive items.


Key words: Source language (SL) text, target language (TL) text, culture, cultural translation, translation strategy, domestication, foreignization, power, mandate.