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Twilight zone

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  • Alastair Millar
    I agree with Vit about the importance of the Twilight zone , or abyss as Kostas puts it. Like many people, I used to write poetry, but something that struck
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 15, 1999
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      I agree with Vit about the importance of the "Twilight zone", or "abyss" as
      Kostas puts it.

      Like many people, I used to write poetry, but something that struck me was
      that so much of English is based on associations with the words used, rather
      than just on their meanings. Much poetry relies, I think, on the
      manipulation of feelings through these associations.

      An example is the difference between the U.S. usage of the words "murder"
      and "homicide", highlighted by author Isaac Asimov - the former is *much*
      more emotive, and for most people would immediately suggest violent death.
      The latter is much more formal, and perhaps implies a cold, planned
      killing... In Britain, newspapers write of "violent murders", but of
      "planned killings".

      This is how I would understand the "enrichment" that Kostas mentions - the
      associations that words gain over time, for whatever reason. I don't think
      it is the only factor at play, but yes, culture has an important role here:
      "railroad", for instance, immediately suggests an American context - but was
      in fact commonly used in 19th century England alongside the (now British
      standard) "railway".

      So, as translators, we must play with these connotations, these implied
      meanings, to recreate the "sense" of the original text in the imperfect
      medium of the new language - 'imperfect' because those associations (or that
      sense) will be more difficult, if not impossible, to recreate in their
      entirety. If it is this sense that gives shape to poetry, we must remember
      that T.S. Eliot once defined poetry as "That which language loses in the
      translation....".

      Thoughts, anyone?

      Cheers!

      Alastair
      alastair@...
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