Child and adult readers' processing of foreignised elements in translated South African picturebooks: An eye-tracking study

Haidee Kruger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


The tension between domesticating and foreignising translation strategies is particularly strongly felt in the translation of children's literature, and has been a key issue in many studies of such literature. However, despite the pervasiveness of the concepts, there is little existing empirical research investigating how child (and adult) readers of translated children's books process and respond to foreignised elements in translation. This means that scholars' arguments in favour of either domestication or foreignisation in the translation of children's literature are often based on intuition and personal experience, with no substantial empirical basis. This article presents the findings of an experiment undertaken to investigate Afrikaans child and adult readers' processing of and responses to potentially linguistically and culturally foreign textual elements in translated children's picturebooks, against the background of postcolonial/neocolonial cultural and linguistic hybridity in South Africa. The paper reports the results relating to two of the research questions informing the study: 1. Does the use of foreignised elements in translated children's picturebooks have any significant effect on the cognitive effort involved in reading for child and adult readers? 2. Is the comprehension of child and adult readers affected by the use of foreignised elements in translated children's picturebooks? A reading study utilising eye-tracking was conducted, involving both child and adult participants reading manipulated domesticated and foreignised versions of pages from two picturebooks translated from English to Afrikaans. To answer research question (1), data obtained by means of eye-tracking were analysed for dwell time, fixation count, first fixation duration and glances count for areas of interest (AOIs) reflecting domesticating or foreignising translation strategies. In order to answer question (2), short structured questionnaires or interviews with participants were used, focusing on the degree of comprehension of the two texts. Overall, the findings of the experiment demonstrate that while there are perceptible effects on processing and comprehension associated with the use of foreignising strategies, these effects are not straightforward or uniform, with notable differences not only for different AOIs, but also for child and adult readers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-227
Number of pages48
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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