Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: Mentalese

Expand Messages
  • melvyn.geo
    ... There is a chapter in After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation by George Steiner ( http://www.bohemica.com/index.php?m=catalog&s=258&a=140 ), which
    Message 1 of 4 , Oct 2, 2005
    • 0 Attachment
      --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, "Vitezslav Ruzicka"
      <translations@v...> wrote:
      > "If there is one, try to find it. If there is none, never mind it." :-)

      There is a chapter in After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation
      by George Steiner (
      http://www.bohemica.com/index.php?m=catalog&s=258&a=140 ), which
      suggests that the literary translator sometimes has to tune in to some
      ineffable common language of the soul like this.

      I wouldn't necessarily be critical. It might be a useful mental trick
      to get into the right frame of mind for translating literary texts. I
      don't know. As you say, no harm in trying to grok it out if it is
      there. But the idea always leaves me feeling a little tantalized and
      disappointed, because I rarely get to hear any solid examples (which
      are not commonplaces) of this ethereal universal language of thought
      in practice, whereas I hear plenty of specific examples of
      untranslatable elements e.g. involving humour (see Dilbert discussion
      in archive:-)).

      So how DOES this idea help the translator exactly?

      Anyway, as I've said often enough in the past, when I read literature
      in translation, I WANT to smell and touch the otherness. I want to
      remain conscious of the remoteness. The often sad awareness that we
      can never come close to a protagonist's experience is often an
      important part of the literary adventure IMHO :-)8, particularly with
      foreign literature. The last thing I want is for some smartipants
      translator to homogenize this experience for me:-). That's why I get
      annoyed sometimes when idioms and sayings are consistently and
      smoothly recast in some more 'digestible' form (and maybe this awkward
      desire of mine to reproduce the 'local colour' [dreadful expression]
      spills over into other genres and is one reason why I tend to retain
      all the academic titles after names in legal and administrative texts
      - a lot depends on the type of text, mind. You know my attitude - we
      translators are like actors - they pay you for stiff and formal, you
      give them stiff and formal...).

      Talking of idioms and sayings (and to go off on another tangent):

      "Ze te huba neboli!"

      Here's an example of a turn of phrase that to my mind is so neat in
      the original, it would often be a disservice to lose it in a 'smooth'
      translation. "It's a wonder you don't have mouth/gob-ache!" - that
      would often be my approach, even if it does sound a bit odd. :-)

      Translating the "ze" is an awkward one too.

      BR

      M.
      The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the
      human mind to correlate all its contents.
      - H. P. Lovecraft
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.