12.0392 translation, interpretation, play

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Tue, 2 Feb 1999 21:52:59 +0000 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 12, No. 392.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

[1] From: Jim Marchand <marchand@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu> (35)
Subject: Translation

[2] From: Zauberberg <zauberberg@pixie.co.za> (34)
Subject: 12.0387 - talk

Date: Tue, 02 Feb 1999 21:48:36 +0000
From: Jim Marchand <marchand@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
Subject: Translation

Not wishing to defend myself in re my cui bono `who benefits' gaffe -- we
humanists have to deal with language all the time; in fact, it is our
trademark. One of the problems in translating from one language to another
is the question of the import of the original statement, perhaps even its
place in some system. I recently translated Latin _tu autem_ as `bottom
line'. [In the medieval monastery, you could stop somebody who was being
boring at the supper table by saying `tu autem' =3D `put a cork in it'; it =
not always polite, but it was usually uttered by a superior; in Spanish, yo=
can still say _un tu autem_ (=3D overbearing big cheese; person who feels h=
is somebody). Likewise, I was interpreting recently from English to German
and had to translate "just kidding," for which I gave "Spass muss sein." Is
it proper to translate word-for-word, or is it ok to give the social
equivalent? Note that English "get out of here" can mean all kinds of
things according to situation, accent, etc.

Second point. Note that almost every expression shleps some baggage along
with it. Spass muss sein in German may not always be thought to be proper
for the drawing room because in schoolboy talk it usually has two lines
following it concerning Wallenstein and certain illicit activities. When
you are doing simultaneous, you cannot always think of such things, but are
they legitimate concerns?

Third point. What do you do with a title like "Cry Havoc" when you know
where it comes from and you cannot be sure the audience does? Say: "It is
obviously a war film." "Read your Shakespeare." Or what? The point is, ho=
much intertextuality should one insert?

Same point. The second volume of my autobiography, as yet unwritten and yo=
will never see it, is entitled "The Tender Grace." Does that need a
footnote? Where does one draw the line on footnotes? Where does one draw th=
line on cute titles?

If you note a Shakespearian allusion in anything I write, you may be sure
that I did not get it from Shakespeare. How far can/may we go in the search
for intertextuality? If two statements, motifs, etc. are the same, does
that mean one came from the other? That both must derive from the same
source? Simultaneous spontaneous development?

All of the above may seem somewhat frivolous, but I think they all go the
heart of our enterprise.
Jim Marchand.

Date: Tue, 02 Feb 1999 21:51:48 +0000
From: Zauberberg <zauberberg@pixie.co.za>
Subject: 12.0387 - talk



Two responses to your recent posting on "talk": First and foremost, the
narratologist in me senses the trace of a story - or is it already a plot, =
discourse? - being hidden beneath your editorial-philosophical speculation.
What is this intense, planless yet purposeful e-mail conversation he is
alluding to?, I ask myself. The question, of course, is indecent and ad
personam and so I do not pose it after all.

My thoughts ramble on, going into internal "talking mode" like teenagers go
into "cruising mode" in a battered 1954 Chev along one of those mythical
mid-western one horse town main streets, desire and all: Ad personam - I
recall a radio feature on the formative power of sound on human beings
where the author tried to exploit the (construed?) etymology of "person"
as "per sonem", "by means of sound". A Romanist come to my help and
explain why it means "nobody" (personne) in French, but that's another
question. The point I am trying to make is that talk is, in the first
instance, "sound". And so it touches our souls long before we start=20
contemplating reference and structure and rhetorical function. So does
music. "Per sonem", by way of sound, we reach out "ad personam". This
non-referential, emphatic function of "talk" is of course something we
hardly ever focus on - or even admit - in our scholarly contexts. Thanks
for the reminder.



Jan Christoph Meister
Arbeitsstelle zur Sozialgeschichte der Literatur

Universit=E4t Hamburg
Literaturwissenschaftliches Seminar
von Melle Park 6
20 146 Hamburg

E-Mail 1: jan-c-meister@rrz.uni-hamburg.de

Humanist Discussion Group=20
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