Discussion Questions — “Sacrificing Sense to Sound: Mimetic Translation and Feminist Writing” by Luise von Flotow — M.Paczkowski (11.30)

What does/is Flotow referring to when she suggests that mimetic translation allows the expression of the previously inexpressible?

Mimetic translation focuses on graphic and phonetic aspects within the text, not semantic meaning. So, why would translators then favor such method of translation if semantic meaning is either reduced or lost?

Von Flotow says “it is noteworthy, of course, that as in the Catullus and nursery rhyme examples above, translators were dealing with poetic material, where rhythms, the sounds, the materiality of the text on the page have a strong impact on meaning” (10). What are the implications of this statement? Does this mean that prose experiences increasing difficulties in mimetic translation?

Reading Blog — “Sacrificing Sense to Sound: Mimetic Translation and Feminist Writing” by Luise von Flotow — M.Paczkowski (11.30)


Von Flotow first introduces her topic of sound as a method of translation through Suzanne Jill Levine’s description of wordplay: “Puns…discover coincidence, a potential affinity, a homonymy already latent in language. They place sound above meaning, and yet point to hidden semantic bonds between words” (1)

She explains that in much of the feminist experimental writings wordplay focused on sounds, on coincidental sound connections. It centered on sensory stimulus and provocation. It can undermine assumptions of meaningfulness in more conventional language. She believes that such has been problematized by translators of the texts or those studying the texts. Wordplay often resists translation, so “it seems important to situate a translation, and discuss the importance of the ideological/cultural context which makes wordplay translation more or less possible” (2). She specifically focuses on the untranslatability of American feminist wordplay in German. She believes that some of the partial difficulty might deal with differing political contexts.

Translation was concerned with sound, on the musicality of the words, their form, their juxtapositions, musicality which is designed to express what has so far remained inexpressible. What do you guys think she is inferring to by the “inexpressible”? In my opinion, I believe that Flotow is talking about a cultural remainder of the sorts. When a text maintains a specific phonetic, and then is translated without sound in mind, it loses that important “feel” or essence of the original. Von Flotow says that “this writing demands a specific kind of mimesis in translation, or what Bourse terms ‘imitation phonetique’”. The result of such a translation is the reproduction of the sound of the source version. The sound of language and paronomastic play with this sound are approbate for writing whatever dominant/conventional language use can not express or has not yet expressed. Importantly, it expands upon meaning. Many feminist writers, most notably Nicole Brossard, constructed language experiments to demonstrate the “gratuitous nature of meaningfulness and ease which language conventions could be upset and abused” (3-4). Upon Flow’s first engagement with such content, she decided to utilize footnoting the wordplay in order to help explain the coincidental sound connections.

Translators of paronomasia have resorted to mimetic translation. Levine considers such to be the most racial approach in recuperating puns and other dislocated dislocations. However, she says that it privileges “morphophonemic and syntactic relationships between works in different languages at the expense of, and in direct contract with, lexical relationships” (4). In other words, it focuses on graphic and phonetic aspects within the text, not semantic meaning. So, why would translators then favor such method of translation if semantic meaning is either reduced or lost? It may have to do with the idea that the phonetic aspect of the text portrays a larger and more accurate picture of the foreign original than the semantic meaning, which may only be slightly altered or obscured. Levine believe that it can enrich the original text as it gains foreignness in sound, instead of having the fear of turning the foreign into the familiar. She says “it allows for the reader to experience the foreign in their own language” (5). It does call into question the idea if whether any translation suffices. The strategy maintains focus on phonetics and aesthetics rather than semantic meaning. It challenges the reader to feel lost, foreign, confused in their own familiar language. Thus, the reader is able to acknowledge that there can always be another version.

Paolo Valesio presents that through mimetic translation the form-meaning link is questioned, resulting in a reduced direct lexical reflection, while “morphonemic reproduction is emphasized” (5). It allows for wordplay to be created across languages. If you look at the poem that displays the original, the literal translation, and the mimetic translation, it becomes apparent that mimetic translation does not necessarily come at the cost of a full reduction of semantic meaning. Von Flotow responds similarly, saying, “the mimetic translation does not set our to render semantic meaning first, but it does not produce gibberish either” (6). Mimetic translation seemingly functions extremely well for texts such as nursery rhymes in which the sound of the original outweighs its semantic content, and the translation produces new meanings, as the “explanations” appended to the translations confirm. “Mimetic translation can, in fact, play a reflexive role as a ‘cas limite’ for translation, demonstrating how other translation strategies continue to turn the alien into the familiar. Most of these other strategies, based on the concept of fidelity, where translation produces as faithful a representation of the source text as possible, do not include fidelity to sound (and are defeated by wordplay based on sound)” (8).

The founders and editors of the journal Tessera inspected the concept of mimetic translation in Quebec and believed that such texts were better received orally, as women’s communication has been traditionally oral. In regards to some texts in which sound of the text is an essential part to its meaning, many believed that it was important to privilege sound over sense. Although the material was often difficult and dense when read, it was more easily received and understood when read aloud. Von Flotow does say “it is noteworthy, of course, that as in the Catullus and nursery rhyme examples above, translators were dealing with poetic material, where rhythms, the sounds, the materiality of the text on the page have a strong impact on meaning” (10). What are the implications of this statement? Does that mean that prose experiences increasing difficulties in mimetic translation? 

There are certain instances and texts where the aural reception of such a translated text was more effective. In looking at the specific example of sound over sense, it becomes clear how the feminine sounds and slang creates an aura that furthers the feminist content when engaging in mimetic translation. “In French the ‘elle’ sound at the end of ‘fricatelle’, ‘ruisselle’, ‘essentielle’ both underscores the feminine context/content of the text and creates neologism (new sound or phrase not yet accepted in mainstream or conventional language) ‘essentielle’ and ‘fricatelle’ – a variation of ‘fricarelle’, 1930s slang for the sound made by thighs rubbing together, says the translator’s footnote” (11). Sometimes, even when emphasizing sound over sense, the translation can remain its seemingly literal semantic meaning. In these two instances, the translators prepared the text for a public event, where sound effects were deemed more important, and where a complicit audience would appreciate the audience. When is it important to deem sound more worthy then sense? Only in oral contexts? 

In response to the question posed, mimetic strategies are also implemented in the published versions of these texts, which are driven by the “sonorous plot” of experimental feminist writing. “The concept of the ‘sonorous plot has been ascribed to Nicole Brossard, and described as a weave that is created when ‘one phoneme leads by homophony to the next’ and ‘the sound of the words, not their syntax, make the textual connections’” (14). The focus is to follow the trajectory of the phoneme, “rewrite the echoes”, “connect blocks of thought, words, by their sounds”. It focuses the translator to focus on the literal translation of the sound, but since sounds of English provide different connotations, the translation triggers different associations and interpretations. There enters a choice of what you hear in the translation, what sound triggers an association. Therefore, although searching for sound, translators may reach vastly different translations even if they may hear the same sound of phoneme. 

Translations can also focus on the aesthetic of the word itself, as shown in the example on page 18. Von Flotow says that “in this case, the wordplay does not focus on sound as much as it does on coincidence of graphic similarities; it is the juxtaposition of these terms that creates a special paronomastic meaning, and presents a special challenge for the translation”.

Von Flotow suggests that there is a special challenge in reading mimetic translation. “When there is some familiarity with earlier, meaning-based, translations of the same text, or the subtext, the reading experience is doubtless different from that of confronting quite new material”. Sometimes in mimetic translation, the source text’s communicative value is not rendered. The problem thus becomes that it reduces the audience to a select few who are able to decipher and thus intellectually understand the actual meaning and purpose of the mimetic translation. Mainly, interests the elite and those knowledgeable. “It reproduces text – with deliberate mis-translation, foreignizing syntax and semantics, and a focus on sound rather than sense – for an inner circle, for those who already know and appreciate the source text”.  This must work now to encourage practice and theory to become more innovative in order to encapsulate a larger audience, presenting the same effect. The prefaces and the explanatory texts, thus, echo the source writing almost as much as the translations themselves, and help create a complicit readership.

Discussion Questions — “Dis-Unity and Diversity: Feminist Approaches to Translation Studies” by Luise Von Flotow — M.Paczkowski (11.28)

While dis-unity and diversity are desired in order to refrain from creating homogenizing women’s literature, is there a certain level of dis-unity by which women of varying cultures are unable to achieve empathy or relatedness?

In translation, can an adherence to understanding the author’s “identity politics” cause further damage to the fidelity or rhetoric of the original text by incorporating certain biases, stereotypes, and generalizations about the author if from another culture?

Can the new-wave feminist movement be considered homogenous in objective across varying cultures?

Reading Blog — “Dis-Unity and Diversity: Feminist Approaches to Translation Studies” by Luise Von Flotow — M.Paczkowski (11.28)

Von Flotow begins by saying “Feminist work in translation and translation studies is diversifying: it is not only extending in the bounds once posed by gender difference and confronting assumptions that derived from them, it is beginning to explore what theorist Alice Parker has tentatively termed polysexual and multigendered approaches to translation”. She focuses on the dis-unity of conventional feminist work being done in the translation studies field. The appreciation of diversity in the translation of feminist literature is seen as a survival strategy. Diversity and complexity develop or even mutate towards productive progress in response to criticism, however, it seems as though current feminist approaches in feminist translation has veered away from concerns of survival. “Critical responses in regard to feminist work are rarely neutral; factors of cultural or ideological conditioning, academic ambition, or institutional constraints are inevitably involved”. Von Flotow concerns herself thus with diversity and dis-unity and the factors underlying such within contemporary feminist work. The changes in essentialist feminist work has transitioned from viewing all women as sharing more or less a similar form of social, cultural, economic, and political oppression to a more differentiated approach in which cultural, ethnic, economic and many other differences between women are recognized and brought to bear in critical discourse. She details three factors in feminist work that are acknowledged in order to avoid gross generalizations and dissemination of culturally and politically questionable material: identity politics, positionality, and the historical dimension.

She desires to inspect three aspects of the current discourse on dis-unity and diversity in feminist literature: mainstream English translations of third world women’s texts for anglophone consumption; elitist and inaccessible work which has little to do with the socio-political concerns often ascribed to Anglo-American feminism; theoretical incoherence and hypocrisy in feminist translation and feminist critique of patriarchal theories. In regards to the translation of third world women’s literature, much of the translation constructs a largely misrepresentative view of the texts. It disregards the rhetoricity of the source text by focusing on making the women’s writing as possible available to the West/North. Mainstream anglophone translation obscures the differences between women of very different and differently empowered cultures, ostensibly in order to make the texts “accessible”. It can deprive texts of their individual style. The law of the strongest endorses translation into English as the easiest way of being “democratic with minorities”. These feminist attempts to understand and make available third world women’s experiences and writings turns out to be appropriation, misrepresentation, and the salving of guilty consciences. In regards to Elitist translation, Gillam criticizes the feminist approaches from the approach of  Canadian “feminist iconography”. She suggests that translations produced from a deliberate feminist perspective make the already difficult source material even more obscure by producing English texts that privilege sound associations and extend already complex wordplay. Criticism is based on the view that French and English speaking languages inherently have different respective political relationships. The distortion/deconstruction of the language in itself means something different in a text in Quebec than in English-Speaking Canada. It has different political value. In regards to hypocritical translation, Arrojo is concerned with what she deems the hypocritical, anxious, and theoretically not coherent work by mainly anglophone women and men who apply feminist activism in translation. These translators often assume the right to alter the text on a political level in order to sometimes mitigate an offensive form of machismo or misogyny. It is where they can consider it an applicable place to make an explicit feminist message that might have been previously implicit in the source text. Arrojo comments upon this in three manners. Some feminist translators’ claims that their work is faithful to the tenor of the source text as not congruent with their openly feminist politicals and therefore cannot let go of the fidelity ethic. Feminist criticism of male violence in translation as no less violent and therefore hypocritical. She also generalizes references to various post-structuralist theories with which some textual interventions are justified travesties of these theories. She might have overestimated the limited scope of feminist interventions in translation: “Their political rhetoric sometimes does outstrip the actual interventions carried out on translations”. She is correct that these translators are politically and personally invested in biased, seeking to undermine bias yet are conscious and acknowledge such. Yet, Arrojo may not do the same for herself and her own work. Thus, Von Flotow says, “I am led to ask who ‘we’ are and exactly how ‘we’ should go about simply accepting our infidelities”. Gilliam’s criticism is diametrically opposed to Spivak’s: She wants the feminist text to be made meaningful and accessible for the translating culture and its feminist activists of all kinds, while Spivak calls for translation practice that resists the homogenizing demands for “easy-reading” of the target culture feminist reader.

Gilliam expects feminist interaction to extend past simply just an academic level. Spivak is concerned with languages and cultures whose relationship is marked by glaring economic inequalities and a history of colonization, seeing translation to popularize womens’ literature by producing accessible texts as another form of imperialism. Von Flotow says that “the diversification of feminist discourses on the subject of translation is a noticeable recent development, visible not only in these critical writings but also in numerous papers and publications, which will hopefully lead to further dis-unity. Feminist work is largely produced by anglophones or in response to translations in English.

She enters into a discussion surrounding the factors motivating the responsible and desirable disunity. Jouve Ward demonstrates how a critic’s subjectivity and position of her particular historical context determines her perceptions and approaches. Like her, many others are aware of such relative nature of insight and value, understanding they come as specific individuals with specific historical moments. “Identity politics” acknowledges that the academic’s personal interests and needs are based on the initial premise that all persons have a material and outward identity that will influence and pass judgment upon others as well as receive. Therefore, it incorporates identity as a specific individual with certain identifiable cultural/political characteristics that determines her insights or opinions or prejudices. Lotbiniere-Harwood takes a similar approach in regards to the concept of “positionality” which relativizes the situation to a constantly shifting context, accounting for shifting contexts and elements of economic, cultural and political conditions and so on. Von Flotow says that “this concept not only allows researchers/academics to acknowledge and account for constantly shifting personal and intellectual settings and the effects of such shifts on scholarly knowledge and analyses, but it can also be used as a fluid location from which to construct meaning, a perspective from which values are interpreted and constructed — differently at different times”. Some believe that such conditions in countries of primary anglophones can be newly constructed under feminist “pressure”. It may aid in understanding the death of feminist scholarship in translation studies. “An interesting question in this regard might focus on the institutional and economic factors that are involved when hundreds of works of both mainstream and experimental feminist writing are translated from English into various European languages, yet virtually no theoretical or analytical work has been stimulated by this massive influx of translations”. The third factor is the historical dimension, used by Alcoff to articulate a concept of gendered subjectivity “without pinning it down one way or the other for all time”. It is the influence that causes gendered subjectivity to change with the times and with the political and institutional constellations that determine concrete options…etc. It’s powerful in identity and positionality. Von Flotow concludes elegantly with much hope of further dis-unity in feminist literature: “It would seem that feminist work in translation continues to expand and develop in the 1990s, fuelled on the one hard by institutionally sanctioned interests in gender difference in some parts of the world, and on the other by conflicts between scholars that may stem form cultural, ethnic, ideological and institutional affiliations. The complexities and dis-unities resulting from the interplay of these factors are more productive, however, than consensus on the sometimes sensitive issues they address”.

Discussion Questions — “Hermeneutics and Ideology: On Translating Freud” by Patrick Mahony, “Note on Freud and Translation” by Mahony, & “The Difference that Translation Makes” by Lawerence Venuti — M.Paczkowski (11.14)

Can the translator ever become truly conscious of the unconscious motivations that elucidate some of his or her choices within translation?

Can there be a translation that does not attend or ascribe to the power of the unconscious?

How would Freudian psychoanalytic translation understand post-colonial writing in which the individual is situated between two languages and cultures, potentially even equally?


Blog Post — “Hermeneutics and Ideology: On Translating Freud” by Patrick Mahony, “Note on Freud and Translation” by Mahony, & “The Difference that Translation Makes” by Lawerence Venuti — M.Paczkowski (11.14)

“Hermeneutics and Ideology: On Translating Freud”

According to Benjamin Whorf, “our conception of the world is largely if not entirely determined by the structure of our mother tongue”. Yet, many theorists deny such claim. He says that foreclosure is one thing, facilitation is some measure another. The peculiar structure of language may lead native speakers to conceptualize in certain ways. For example, German has many verb forms to express the passive mode and is flexible in the conversion of adjectives. He says that “As my purpose is to show how the very nature of an enterprise can be changed by translations embedded in and arising out of an entirely different world-view and ideology, my presentation will focus chiefly on various aspects of Freud’s discourse which have been distorted by Strachey’s translation” (317). He says that his coverage is partial. Freud was concerned with psychoanalytic language, which was based out of the distortion of figurative language from an unconscious process. Figurative language emerged increasingly in Freud’s prose because of the nature by which he wrote. He presented the complexities of the mind and language on the move. Message was inseparable from its form. There is a shift now from the traditional understanding and teaching of composition. “College professors in English no longer speak of composition but of writing, and this very writing, rather than being chiefly a technique of communicating, is now seen to be means of inquiry and self-scrutiny, a means of discovering what one thinks and a means of generating meaning rather than of deciding or imposing closure” (318). Freud was often dispositioned towards flexible definitions and expositorily favored the use of everyday, vital German words. Another aspect would be found in Freud’s dialogic appeal, engaging readers in his ongoing venture of research. Mahony says that Freud has the qualities of a “do-it-your-self-kit”. He continuously favored fragmentary, nomadic discourse, avoiding comprehensiveness. Freud’s works are often difficult to translate due to the blinding power of his verbal genius.

“Any adopted style of reading affects our understanding of the nature psychoanalysis and has attendant implications for translating Freud”. Many debate whether or not Freud developed a hermenuetic or scientific method. Some suggest that he utilized such terminology in a non-ironic manner but tentatively and anticipatory. “In the civilized world of translation, the deliberate acts of a textual cosmetic surgeon should be considered non-gratis”. The more complex the source text, the more the translator should be self-aware of his own different positions and their contaminatory potential. Psychoanalytic translation should be different than other forms of translation.

“Note on Freud and Translation”

Mahony says that “the subject of Freud and translation can be treated in three parts: Freud as theorist of translation, Freud as translator, and the translations of Freud’s own works”. He merits to be classified among other theorists, due to his scope and depth unprecedented in history. Freud made translation a unified concept, encompassing intrasystemic, intersystemic and interpsychic phenomena. Freud portrayed the individual as a series of successive registrations representing the psychic achievement of successive epochs of life. There are two boundaries of epochs of translation. Freud continues that such a reaction constitues a “failure of translation”, otherwise known as repression. “In sum, if the patient may be psychically conceived as an accumulation of translations — when the hysterics turns into an obsessional and thus becomes a bilingual document — the analyst assumes the complementary role of a translator”. As a translator, Freud rendered five complete books into German. Freud involves three issues in translation: textual status of the primary sources in German; Freud’s magisterial use of the native language; and the nature of the extent and ideal translations of his works. Linguistically Freud is one of the greatest prose writers in German, showing his mastery in many expository factors. Freud’s works has potentially a twofold value in translation.

“The Difference that Translation Makes”

Many translation choices seem to be based on linguistic and cultural values. Weaver mainly stresses personal preferences and antipathies, in addition to the other linguistic and cultural resources that a translator often internalizes over the course of his or her professional career. One thus wonders whether or not such choices are motivated by unconscious desires or rules. Scholars of psychoanalytics often seem to also have overlooked such consideration. Instead, choosing to follow Freud in understanding translation as a psychic process or as the hermeneutic process that occurs during analysis. Freud often is seen as the interlingual translator that treats linguistic error as the sign of unconscious motivation. Venuti’s aim is to pursue such line of thinking. However, he will diverge in that psychoanalysis will be a thoery of translation, a formulation of the fundamental linguistic and cultural issues that translation raises. He serves to illuminate different aspects of the translator’s unconscious, between the translatorly and the personal, the cultural and the political. No similarity of form and meaning or reception preexists the translating process. Any such similarity is constructed on the basis of irreducible differences. Translation ultimately amplifies the differences that exist between cultures and languages. We should study these differences, even when occuring unconsciously, but not in hope of eradicating such. The goal is ethical. Venuti relies first on poststructuralist theories of language and textuality, specifically Derrida. The mentality of a word cannot be translated into another language. It’s the materiality in the sense of the chain of the acoustic signifiers that constitutes it. Often the displacement results in a twofold loss: loss of intratextual effects and loss of intertextual effects. Translation is often radically decontextualizing, which is the first difference produced. “Translation creates another signifying chain accompanied by intratextual effects and intertextual relations that are designed to reproduce the source text, but also work in the translating language and culture”. Translation often exceeds the communication of any univocal signified which the translator establishes in the source text. Translators may decide to release the remainder. Intentional variation can be considered compensation, the creation of a feature or effect that compensates for the loss of some aspect in the source text resulting from linguistic and cultural differences. Remainder can be released unintentionally. Conversation and writing can produce variations of standard dialect that escapes the langauge’s user’s conscious control. To account for such error, we often must rule out sheer incompetence. Translator’s dream: that a translation will restore the source text in its entirety, in its materiality, without loss or gain, that the translation will establish such a similarity to the source text as to overcome the irreducible differences between languages and cultures. Translation is a dream scene in its own. This desire is often implicit. Walsh seems to be over idealistic in believing that these differences make any transparency an illusionary effect produced by the translator.

False congates represents another kind of verbal slip or misreading that sometimes occurs in translations, often depending upon experience and the source text. They may reveal an unconscious desire. A false cognate is a translating-language word that closely resembles a source-language word in form, often because of a shared etymology, but nonetheless signifies a very different meaning becasue the two languages have undergone different historical developments. Resemblance tends be to superficial. False cognates tend to be chosen by beginning translators. However, when occurs in an experienced translator, it can be considered as an unconscious motivation. Venuti introduces the Oepidal triangle that lies at the heart of Freudian psychoanalysis, but rethinking it according to Lacan’s language-based theories. Name-of-the-father represents various manifestations of the law/social institutions that carry social authority of cultural prestige. It intervenes in the psychological development of the child. For the male, the intervention is the effect of castration. Now, turn to translation, noticing that the translator is situated between two signifying points: the name of the father in the form of a source other and text and the mother tongue and translation produced in it. The source author and text symbolically lay down the law of translation, while the mother tongue leads the translator towards language use that is familiar and competent. The name of the father represented by the source author intervenes to prevent the translator’s investment in the mother tongue from assimilating the text too closely and with too much distortion to the translating language and culture. The translating process may reveal the translator’s unconscious desire to challenge the source author by releasing such an unconscious remainder, which may assume a position of authority in translation. Freud’s commentary suggests that the unconscious desire revealed in the omission was at once collective, possibly nationalist, clearly political. Omissions in a translation may also point to other, more personal motives or relate generally to the status of the translator and the translation in relation to the source author and text. Omissions can often be considered as an unconscious process. However, Weaver was not an experienced translator by any means. Venuti desires to argue that the omission is symptomatic of the translator’s unconscious desire to compete against the foreign author. The notion of similarity can be understood as two different kinds of relationship: first, as resemblance between the source and translated text, and second, as  resemblance between the translation and other values and practices in the receiving situation. These two are usually mutually undermining. However, they often work together to guide every translation practice. Translation is always established and constructed din regards to irreducible differences between cultures, languages, and ideologies. Differences always precede similarities. A cause of these differences is the translator’s unconscious, which remains beyond the translator’s cognitive grasp and available only to another investigator. Some of the effections and connections may be intentional, while others unintentional. Sometimes the trigger may lie outside the immediate context of the error but nonetheless connected to it. Venuti says that “my examination of the translator’s unconcious must nonetheless remain provisional in the absence of more cases.” The translator must bring to the translation process or product a set of theoretical assumptions drawn from the psychoanalytical tradition.

Discussion Questions — “Post-Colonial Writing and Literary Translation” by Maria Tymoczko — M.Paczkowski (11.7)

Criticism of post-colonial and minority culture literature will benefit from a clearer sense of the parameters, yet who decides such parameters and wouldn’t such be continuously in flux?

A minority-culture or post-colonial writer will have to pick aspects of the home culture to convey and to emphasize, but how does one choose which aspects and elements are of the most importance?

Can those not knowledgeable of either the oppressed or colonized culture make claims about a post-colonial text?

Reading Blog — “Post-Colonial Writing and Literary Translation” by Maria Tymoczko — M.Paczkowski (11.7)

She begins by saying that “analysis of literary texts emerging from peoples who have been colonized or oppressed invites metaphor: the criticism of such texts speaks, for example, of voices silenced, margin and centre, and epistolary exchange”. Metaphoric speech is cognitively pervasive. Translation may be used within such a metaphoric realm, but not what she will speak on. She says that “translation as a metaphor for post-colonial writing, for example, invokes the sort of activity associated with the etymological meaning of the word: translation as the activity of carrying across, for instance, the transportation and relocation of the bones and other remains of saints”. Post-colonial writing may be understood as a form of translation. However, she desires not to speak of translation as a form of transportation. Instead, desires to understand such as providing an analogue for post-colonial writing. Two types of intercultural writings are distinct but share enough commonalities for the exploration of both in tandem. She says that significant differences between literary translation and post-colonial literature are obvious. The primary difference is that post-colonial writers are not transposing text, while translators are, often transposing culture as the background to their work. Translators have limited domains, only a single text to transpose. “A literary translator is de facto concerned with differences not just in language but with the same range of cultural factors that a writer must address when writing to a receiving audience composed partially or primarily of people from a different culture”.

Significant differences deal with parameters of constraint. Translator is faced with a fixed text that maintains fixed cultural elements, presenting issues of faithfulness. This facing of literalism proves to be a major obstacle in writing for translation. In contrast, a post-colonial writer can choose the cultural elements attempted to be transposed. Linguistic features related to the source culture can be highlighted as defamiliarized elements in the text, or domesticated in some way, or circumvented altogether. Since translator’s begin with elements intended for an audience in the source culture, it is not uncommon that elements are difficult for the receiving audience in another culture. “A translated text more than an original piece of literature thus risks losing balance at critical moments, making the information load too great for comfortable assimilation by the receiving audience”. Writing converges on the shared limit defined by the cultural interface. With various elements such as footnotes and glossaries..etc, the translator can embed the translated text in a shell that explains necessary cultural and literary backgrounds for the receiving audience, functioning as a running commentary. These differences seem more significant prima facie than upon close consideration. The two types of textual production converge in many respects. It is clear that no text can ever be fully translated in all its aspects. Choices must be made by the translator. Some of the differences speak to incompatibilities. Thus, many of the differences are considered inescapable. Other differences have to do with information load. “A translator’s refractions of a source text have analogues in the choices of a minority-culture writer makes in representing the home culture, for no culture can be represented completely in any literary text, just as no source can be fully represented in a translation”. A minority-culture or post-colonial writer will have to pick aspects of the home culture to convey and to emphasize, but how does one choose which aspects and elements are of the most importance? Judgment is inescapable in the process. There can be no final interpretation, no last word. This process is thus exceedingly controversial. Most post-colonial writers choose to live abroad, writing about their culture of origin from the vantage point of another nation. She presents that translation is generally a less heated affair. Problems of translation can be known as marked features of post-colonial writing. Doesn’t believe that the use of rare or untranslatable words are defects of translated texts. The result is that translations often have different lexical texture from unmarked prose in the receptor culture, which are similarly found in the lexis of post-colonial texts. The metatext of an unfamiliar culture in a post-colonial text is a factor in the wide range of lexical items in some post-colonial text. Unfamiliar cultural information does not simply reside in lexical items, but is a more diffuse presence in a source text. Sometimes items such as myths require a more explicit explanation at some point in the text. “When a literary work is intended for an audience that shares the culture of the text, such customs and myths and information can and generally do remain implicit. Moving from a dominant-culture source text to a minority-culture audience often leaves dominant cultural materials implicit. A text in such way participates in cultural dominance by foregrounding. “Prevailing Western standards of literature exclude instructional or didactic literature; although such a posture is by no means universal in literature”. Demands of post-colonial writing are similar to that of translation. In post-colonial writing, there is an analogue in the prestige of the author. Each will struggle with the question of naturalizing material to the standards of the receiving audience. The discernment of such norms is essential in any analysis of a translation.

“Recent work on translation theory and practice indicates the importance of patronage as a determinant of translation practice, and this is another area that bears on post-colonial writing”. Patrons now take the form of publishing houses and presses. They determine the parameters of what is translated. Very much become an economy of translation in which markets choose what should be translated by what is published. Demands of patronage are intertwined with questions of audience. Issues of intended audience are often deceptive. In recent years, translation studies have turned a lot of concern towards issues of audience. Audience is vastly important in the production of literary texts. Writing strategies will differ considerably depending on the audience, and critics must be alert to such factors. In cases of post-colonial writing, a question of international audience becomes important. “It becomes increasingly hard to define national traditions of the modern novel”. Upon increasing patronage, greater demands of the author upon the reader are seemingly justified. Translation is frequently a source of formal experimentation in receptor cultures, as translators import or adapt the genres and formal strategies of the source text into the receptor system. Formal innovation is also another novel system within the literary domain. One of the most challenging features of writing about post-colonial and minority-culture literature is constructing a standard of judgment. Most literary phenomena are defined by more than their content. Criticism of post-colonial and minority culture literature will benefit from a clearer sense of the parameters, yet who decides such parameters and wouldn’t such be continuously in flux? 

Discussion Questions — “Thick Translation” by Kwame Anthony Appiah — M.Paczkowski (11.3)

Identification of intentions it to know the literal meaning, yet how does one know if he or she fully knows such intentions?

What happens if the author has no intentions? Is this possible?

What produces mutual knowledge and what is the threshold by which one is considered to have attained mutual knowledge?

Can the Bible be considered a text that relatively transcends culture?

Reading Blog — “Thick Translation” by Kwame Anthony Appiah — M.Paczkowski (11.3)

He begins by mentioning a few proverbs of the Twi-language, which his mother has been attempting to understand and catalogue. He has reduced many of these sayings into English, offering a literal translation. Says he has spent too much time working in theory of meaning or philosphical semantics. Getting the meaning right is hardly the first step towards understanding. “What we translate are utterances, things made with words by men and women, with voice or pen or keyboard, those utterances are prodcuts of actions, which all actions are undertaken for reason” The distinctive nature of utterances is that it is conventional. Say what an utterance meant by identifying teh belief that it was conventionally intended to produce. Speaker communicates a belief by way of utterance that her hearers recognize both the belief she intends them to have and to recognize the primary intention. He considers such the gricean mechanism. Conversational maxims: understanding the effect to which we are trying to be helpful, for example, both maximally and relevantly informative. “These thoughts we communicate by encouraging others to draw inferences that go beyond the meaning of words we utter”. Characteriscally, he has focused on lanauge that is assertoric, yet similar lines of thought can be applied to optatives. Learning grammar and lexicon of a language is to learn its set of instructions. Identification of intentions it to know the literal meaning, yet how does one know if he or she fully knows such intentions? 

Translation is an attempt to find ways of saying in one language something that means the same as waht has been said in another. “It has been thought that the literal intention that goes with some or perhaps all sentences is one that you can  have only if you speak the language to which those sentences belong” Therefore, it language determines the thoughts you have, then translation is always impossible. Its not shocking that you cannot exactly say in Twi that the wall is, well, burnt sienna. We cannot translate any talk at all because every sentence in  which it can occur subtly shades the meaning of every word. If right, then there are serious barriers to translation present.

Literal intentions are not the sole way to operate the Gricean mechanism. Distinctions between direct and indirect speech. Can you communicate indirectly? This distinction between indirect and direct is not the same distinction between literal and non-literal. Sometimes indirect communication proceeds the way of literal intentions. This can be captured in translation. Sometimes you need a little richer contextualization. You will need a general concept of mutual knowledge. In proverbs, the sentences used in them literally mean anything, they literally mean exactly what they say. However, it becomes clear that neither proverbs nor metaphors mean only what they say. What produces mutual knowledge and what is the threshold by which one is considered to have attained mutual knowledge? 

He says that, in the broadest sense, the thought that meaning is what is communicated by the Gricean mechanism. He says it seems bizarre to spend so much time worrying and concerned with the author’s intentions. The author may not be present (dead, etc.) and thus his intention is not worth our concern. Must have a certain degree of knowledge of the language to understand fundamental intentions. Many texts require that we grasp the Gricean burden that words would bear in ordinary uses. Must practice producing language whose understanding requires us both to grasp what would have been the literal intentions and accept that these are not the writer’s intentions in the present case. Attention to intention can often produce severe mistakes. The novel and the sonnet are not constructed by a process of meaning generation. Translation is to produce something that shares the literary properties of the object-text. “We may choose, rightly, to translate a term in a way that is unfaithful to the literal intentions, because we are trying to preserve formal features that seem more crucial”. Therefore, we cannot speak of perfect translation since there is not a definite set of desiderata. Can the Bible be considered a text that relatively transcends culture? 

Our culture is settled on a particular set of institutional mechanisms for addressing the question of what matters. Questions of adequacy of translation are truly questions of adequacy of understanding. This may imply which modes of reading are the most productive. The way of understanding reading and translation will question how we should do it is highly context-dependent.