Ethics and Politics of Translating

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John Benjamins Publishing, 2011 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 178 pages
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What if meaning were the last thing that mattered in language? In this essay, Henri Meschonnic explains what it means to translate the sense of language and how to do it. In a radical stand against a hermeneutical approach based on the dualistic view of the linguistic sign and against its separation into a meaningful signified and a meaningless signifier, Henri Meschonnic argues for a poetics of translating. Because texts generate meaning through their power of expression, to translate ethically involves listening to the various rhythms that characterize them: prosodic, consonantal or vocalic patterns, syntactical structures, sentence length and punctuation, among other discursive means. However, as the book illustrates, such an endeavour goes against the grain and, more precisely, against a 2500-year-old tradition in the case of biblical translation. The inability of translators to give ear to rhythm in language results from a culturally transmitted deafness. Henri Meschonnic decries the generalized unwillingness to remedy this cultural condition and discusses the political implications for the subject of discourse.
 

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The Author Susan Glaspell
A Jury of Her Peers
by Susan Glaspell
When Martha Hale opened the storm-door and got a cut of the north wind, she ran back for her big woolen scarf. As she hurriedly wound that round her head her eye made a scandalized sweep of her kitchen. It was no ordinary thing that called her away--it was probably further from ordinary than anything that had ever happened in Dickson County. But what her eye took in was that her kitchen was in no shape for leaving: her bread all ready for mixing, half the flour sifted and half unsifted.
She hated to see things half done; but she had been at that when the team from town stopped to get Mr. Hale, and then the sheriff came running in to say his wife wished Mrs. Hale would come too--adding, with a grin, that he guessed she was getting scary and wanted another woman along. So she had dropped everything right where it was.
"Martha!" now came her husband's impatient voice. "Don't keep folks waiting out here in the cold."
She again opened the storm-door, and this time joined the three men and the one woman waiting for her in the big two-seated buggy.
After she had the robes tucked around her she took another look at the woman who sat beside her on the back seat. She had met Mrs. Peters the year before at the county fair, and the thing she remembered about her was that she didn't seem like a sheriff's wife. She was small and thin and didn't have a strong voice. Mrs. Gorman, sheriff's wife before Gorman went out and Peters came in, had a voice that somehow seemed to be backing up the law with every word. But if Mrs. Peters didn't look like a sheriff's wife, Peters made it up in looking like a sheriff. He was to a dot the kind of man who could get himself elected sheriff--a heavy man with a big voice, who was particularly genial with the law-abiding, as if to make it plain that he knew the difference between criminals and non-criminals. And right there it came into Mrs. Hale's mind, with a stab, that this man who was so pleasant and lively with all of them was going to the Wrights' now as a sheriff.
"The country's not very pleasant this time of year," Mrs. Peters at last ventured, as if she felt they ought to be talking as well as the men.
Mrs. Hale scarcely finished her reply, for they had gone up a little hill and could see the Wright place now, and seeing it did not make her feel like talking. It looked very lonesome this cold March morning. It had always been a lonesome-looking place. It was down in a hollow, and the poplar trees around it were lonesome-looking trees. The men were looking at it and talking about what had happened. The county attorney was bending to one side of the buggy, and kept looking steadily at the place as they drew up to it.
"I'm glad you came with me," Mrs. Peters said nervously, as the two women were about to follow the men in through the kitchen door.
Even after she had her foot on the door-step, her hand on the knob, Martha Hale had a moment of feeling she could not cross that threshold. And the reason it seemed she couldn't cross it now was simply because she hadn't crossed it before. Time and time again it had been in her mind, "I ought to go over and see Minnie Foster"--she still thought of her as Minnie Foster, though for twenty years she had been Mrs. Wright. And then there was always something to do and Minnie Foster would go from her mind. But now she could come.
The men went over to the stove. The women stood close together by the door. Young Henderson, the county attorney, turned around and said, "Come up to the fire, ladies."
Mrs. Peters took a step forward, then stopped. "I'm not--cold," she said.
And so the two women stood by the door, at first not even so much as looking around the kitchen.
The men talked for a minute about what a good thing it was the sheriff had
 

Contents

Preface A life in translation
1
Introduction
11
I An ethics of translating
35
II A code of conduct will not suffice
39
An ethics of language an ethics of translating
43
IV What is at stake in translating is the need to transform the whole theory of language
57
V The sense of language not the meaning of words
65
Writing or unwriting
79
XI Rhythmtranslating voicing staging
131
XII Embiblicizing the voice
135
XIII Restoring the poems inherent within the psalms
139
XIV Why a Bible blow to philosophy
149
XV Grammar East of Eden
153
XVI The Europe of translating
159
References
167
Glossary
171

VII Faithful unfaithful just more of the same I thank thee O sign
89
VIII Sourcerer targeteer the same thing
103
IX Religious texts in translation God or Allah
115
X Why I am retranslating the Bible
125

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