Let me just explain initially that I'm first just trying to show wordplay. I'm giving words with much "play." In other words, there's much "wiggle room" in the meaningS of the words AND there's also much "playfulness" in them. More than that, the words have play for you that is different perhaps than their play for me. If Aristotle could or would share our English, then this would give him fits. He'd probably scoff that we're barbarians with a mother tongue sounding like the tricky slick language of sophists such as Gorgias and only-half-serious philosophers such as Heraclitus or, worse, like the polluting, ambiguous lips of females like Sappho or Aspasia or (the gods help her) Helen.
Another thing I'm trying to do is to use a parable, an analogy of sorts.
I'm hoping to begin an answer to Dannii's "very super practical" question. Dannii has read through some of my posts and has patiently and kindly re-read The Silence of (Rahab and) the Joshuas. He asks a number of related questions, so let's just consider his first to see how far we can go:
My question is really a very super practical one here: assuming we had all the time and energy, the translation/linguistic skill and experience, a deep knowledge of the Bible and other writings of the time, an insightful understanding of all the past cultures involved and today's culture, and your crazy feministic theories, how exactly would we translate Hewbrews 4 for a normal English-speaking adult, for my friends at uni, my bus driver or even my sister.Dannii's question is a fair one, a legitimate one if you will. He's setting assumptions, and he's making other assumptions (such as the assumption that translation is an "exact" process and that the feminist theories are mine and are crazy).
So I'm asking Dannii, and any of us really, how we might translate our English into another language. The analogous English is the playful and unconstricted English in my title. I'm suggesting that the Greek of Hebrews 4 is as full of wordplay; and before we get to someone else's Greek it may be helpful to try to get at our English.
But, to be sure, "our" English is originally part of a story Mike Sangrey tells at another blog. Mike's trying to use his story and his English at least as a parable to say, "Gethsamane means oil-press. Should one translate it? Or transliterate it?" David Ker jokes with him, "The real reason you wrote this post is so you could share that racy story!" Maybe this is the exact and real reason I am writing this post: to share Mike's racy story. Here's a bit of it:
Mike is on the phone with someone who is helping him update his personal records, his address. She asks first:
“City?”Now how, if exactly, will we translate Mike's story into any other language?
“It’s a small town.” I paused. “…Intercourse.”
She giggled. “Really?” she said.
I replied, “Yep, that’s the name.”
“Ok. What’s your new address? I need the street first.”
I gave her the street name.
“And having left Intercourse where did you move to?”
I could tell there was a smile behind the question. It was at this point in time I realized this was going to be a bit funny.
“Well, ummmmmm…” I paused. “…Paradise.”
If Portuguese, for example, should we just use paraíso? Or might we opt otherwise for Céu or for lugar agradável?
If Spanish, for example, should we just use intercambio and explain in a footnote also that it might just be trato, relaciones, contacto sexual? Are we going to explain somewhere somehow all of the English play?
If Chinese, for example, should we be content with 天堂, 伊甸园, or 乐园? And do we make our Chinese reader giggle with 交往 or 交流?
Should we, can we, mustn't we try to bring across or to create wordplay? Shouldn't we understand the problems with our own language (with Mike's own, with the phone operator's own): "intercourse" and "paradise"? And how if very super practical?
Won't the "crazy" feminist theories insist on the personal before the logical? The (feminine) body written and not silenced or abstracted? The voices once lost in the original now found in translation? The marginalized humans recentered?
I'm now just asking questions. Questions for translation.
I'm wondering what French writer (teacher and historian) Laurent Dubois means by translating English from Spanish in his "'Man's Darkest Hours': Maleness, Travel and Anthropology" (and what Ruth Behar and Deborah Gordon mean by including that in their Women Writing Culture:
Search no more for paradise. Yesterday, I burned it.
Busques de no más el paraíso. Ayer, lo quemé.
It's the conclusion to his little story about someone else that concludes Dubois' essay. The story is called "Paradise." What do you mean by that?