Metaphors, women and translation

from les belles infidèles to la frontera


  • Pilar Godayol Universitat de Vic



history of translation, gender and translation, women and metaphors in translation


One of the main concerns of translation theory from the 17th century till today has been the problem of how to be faithful to the original text. Further, this concern regarding both the origin and the originality of the source text has given rise to numerous metaphors in connection with gender and sexuality. In this article I undertake an overview of the history of gender metaphors in translation as found in the writings of translators and theorists from all periods. Through the metaphors appearing in their texts, I examine how authors such as Gilles Menáge, Friedrich Schleiermacher and George Steiner perpetuate the patriarchal stereotypes, and how Gloria Anzaldúa, Jacques Derrida, Carol Maier, Maria-Mercè Marçal, Carolyn Shread and other authors seek to go beyond these stereotypes by forging new metaphors. I have made use of Derridian terminology to rename the three parts of the article: 1) The First Age or les belles infidels – the age of sexist and androcentric sexual metaphors; 2) The Second Age or the Derridian ‘double bind’ – the age in which Derrida presents a model of metaphor which, despite using sexual language, defends the woman and translation; and 3) The Third Age or the new metaphors – the age of non-sexual metaphors.

Author Biography

Pilar Godayol, Universitat de Vic

Pilar Godayol has a PhD in Translation Theory (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona). She is a certified legal translator and currently teaches in the Translation Studies programme at the Universitat de Vic (Barcelona, Spain). She coordinates the ‘Biblioteca de Traducció i Interpretació’ series published by Eumo Editorial. Her main areas of research are theory and history of translation, gender studies and biography. Within these areas she has published many articles and the books Espais de frontera. Gènere i traducció (2000), Veus xicanes. Contes (ed.) (2001), Germanes de Shakespeare. 20 del XX (2003), Virginia Woolf. Cinc-centes lliures i una cambra pròpia (2005), Dones de Bloomsbury (2006), Catalanes del XX (ed.) (2006), Moments femenins de la humanitat. Quinze dones que han fet història (2007), Traducción / Género / Poscolonialismo (edited with Patricia Calefato) (2008) and Una impossibilitat posible. Trenta anys de traducció als Països Catalans (1975–2005) (edited with Montserrat Bacardí) (2009). With Bacardí, she has also edited the Diccionari de la traducció catalana (2011).


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How to Cite

Godayol, P. (2013). Metaphors, women and translation: from les belles infidèles to la frontera. Gender and Language, 7(1), 97–116.

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