The cultural turn in translation theory brought attention to the idea that translation is not a purely linguistic phenomenon but one that is also constrained by culture. The cultural turn considers translation as a rewriting of an original text. In this paper, I attempt to find reflections of the cultural turn in a translation into an African language. As such, the paper reads William Shakespeare’s Macbeth in the Ewe language of West Africa, Shakespeare ʄe Makbet, as rewriting. Walter Blege is the translator and the Bureau of Ghana Languages is the publisher of the target text meant for Ewe language audience in Ghana. The target text is for learning and acquiring the Ewe language especially in the area of developing reading comprehension skills. Following Andre Lefevere and Jeremy Munday, this paper suggests that Shakespeare ʄe Makbet is a rewritten text as it follows some cultural constraints in its translation. The study provides insight into the motivations for some of the translator/rewriter’s choices. Given the less attention paid to the Ewe language and many other African languages, the paper proposes translation as a socio-psychological tool for revitalizing interest in the learning and acquisition of African and other lesser-known languages.


Blege, Ewe, Macbeth, Shakespeare, translation, West Africa


Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor Books, 1996.

Adiku, E.T. Bumekpɔ. Accra: Bureau of Ghana Languages, 1959.

Agawu, Kofi. Representing African Music: Postcolonial Notes, Queries, Positions. New York: Routledge, 2003.

Agbozo, Gabriel Edzordzi. Language Choice in Ghanaian Classrooms: Linguistics Realities and Perceptions. MPhil. Thesis in English Linguistics and Language Acquisition, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway, 2015.

Akafia, Seth. Ku Le Xɔme. Accra: Bureau of Ghana Languages, 1993.

Akomolafe, Femi. Focus on Africans interview with Professor Kofi Anyidoho, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNVHwyynXiU. Accessed: November 25, 2015.

Ameko, Kwadwo. Translation Services in Ghana, https://www.modernghana.com/news/528873/translation-services-in-ghana.html. Accessed: November 25, 2015.

Blege, Walter. Shakespeare ʄe Makbet. Accra: Bureau of Ghana Languages, 1968.

Boedeker, Debora. “Hecate: A Transfunctional Goddess in the Theogony?” Transactions of the American Philosophical Association, 113: 79-83, 1983.

Bureau of Ghana Languages, http://www.ghanaculture.gov.gh/index1.php?linkid=331&page=2§ionid=602. Accessed: November 25, 2015.

Catford, J.C. A linguistic theory of translation: An essay in applied linguistics. London: Oxford University Press, 1965.

Darian-Smith, Eve and McCarty, Philip C. The Global Turn: Theories, Research, and Methods for Global Studies. Oakland, California: University of California Press, 2017.

Eagly, Alice H. and Chaiken, Shelly. The Psychology of Attitudes. London: Harcourt-Brace College Publishers, 1993.

Gentzler, Edward. Contemporary Translation Theories. Cleveland: Multilingual Matters, 2001.

Ghana Education Service. Teaching Syllabus for Ghanaian Languages and Culture. Accra: Ministry of Education and Sports, 2007.

Hermans, Theo. Translation in Systems: Descriptive and System-oriented Approaches Explained. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press, 2004.

Hermans, Theo. (ed.) The Manipulation of Literature: Studies in Literary Translation. London: Croom Helm.

Igboanusi, Herbert. “Mother Tongue-Based Education in Nigeria: Attitudes and Practice.” International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 11(6), 2008.

Lefevere, Andre. Translation, Rewriting and the Manipulation of Literary Fame. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press, 2004a.

Lefevere, Andre. (ed.) Translation/History/Culture: A Sourcebook. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press, 2004b.

Lefevere, Andre. Essays in Comparative Literature. Calcutta: Papyrus, 1989.

Mieder, W. Proverbs Are Never Out of Season: Popular Wisdom in the Modern Age. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Munday, Jeremy. Introducing Translation Studies Theories and Applications. London and New York: Routledge, 2012.

Ndamba, Gamuchirai Tsitsi. “Mother tongue usage in learning: An examination of language preferences in Zimbabwe.” Journal of Pan-African Studies, 2(4), 2008.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. “The politics of translation: notes towards an African language policy”, Journal of African Cultural Studies, DOI: 10.1080/13696815.2016.1183476, 2017.

Nida, Eugene A. and Taber, Charles R. The Theory and Practice of Translation, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1982.

Oettinger, Anthony G. Automatic language translation: Lexical and technical aspects, with particular reference to Russian. Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1960.

Pym, Anthony. Exploring Translation Theories. New York: Routledge, 2010.

Seshie, L.K.M. Akpalu ʄe Hawo. Accra: Sedco Publishing, 1991.

Setsoafia, Bidi H.K. Tɔgbui Kpeglo. Accra: Bureau of Ghana Languages, 1968.

Simons, Gary F. and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Twenty-first edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com. Accessed: June 1, 2018.

Wiegraebe, P. Eʋegbalexelxle. Hamburg: Norddeutsche Missionsgesellschaft, 1931.

First Page


Last Page