The Characters’ Background in the African-American English Dialect of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Should the Translation Retain It?

Ida Kusuma Dewi, M.R. Nababan M.R. Nababan, Riyadi Santosa, Djatmika Djatmika


This study looks at how African-American (AA) dialects in Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn novel should be translated into the Indonesian language. For the data, sayings by AA characters featuring the African-American English (AAE) phonological dialect were selected. An emphasis was placed on how Twain makes use of dialects as a tool for characterization, but what translation technique should be applied for Indonesian? The results reveal that nearly all the sentences spoken by the AA characters contain AAE phonological features. The extensive number of phonological dialect features makes it very clear to readers how the AA characters speak distinctively. These phonological features also serve to highlight the character’s ethnic, social, and geographical backgrounds. This dialect is absent in the Indonesian translation, however, because translators replace AAE utterances with the standard Indonesian language, its colloquial form, or simply delete them, so the experiences of the target readers differs from what was intended by the author. Readers of a translated version therefore cannot appreciate the nuances that Twain used in the original novel through the use of dialects as a characterization tool.


dialect, African-American English, characters, translation technique

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