Thursday, December 3, 2009

Transitional Post: On Translation

The previous post was written very quickly, and I didn't take time to revise or edit what I'd written. Sorry about that to anyone who tried to read the post. I've now deleted one misplaced and repeated quotation. And here's what I've added:
Can we see how transliteration is a very direct gloss?  It gives help with the sounds of the source text, and in this post I'm talking about the Latin source word, translatio, and our English appropriation of that word, as a translation -- indeed, as the very word translation in English.
What I hope we can start looking at together in the next post(s) on translation are the following:  different and profound ways of epistemology.  By epistemology, we usually mean "ways of knowing what we know and what we think we know."  (Our English epistemology is a direct transliteration of a Greek word that meant "science" or "knowledge.")  I'm going to start saying in various ways the following:  the way any one of us conceives of "translation" is deeply influenced by the way we, as individuals, tend to "know" or to understand anything.

Here's a hint, a preview of sorts.  We tend to have one of these four focuses in knowing and in learning and in talking.  The four are:

1) "the right way";
or 2) "any which way";
or 3) "Why that way?";
or 4) the "significant way."

I'll try to get back to Willis Barnstone's thinking about registers in "translation."  For now, let me just say that the "extreme" view of "glossing" (i.e., as with an interlinear Bible with the English word glossing the Hebrew and/ or Greek) comes from the first focus mentioned above.  That is, to gloss is "the right way" to know or to understand the original language text.  A gloss will not get it "wrong."  And I'll let the cat out of the bag to say this:  that Aristotle was King of the "right way" -- he absolutely feared the logical opposite of the "right way" -- he was terrified of getting it wrong.  At some point, then, we ought to look at some of Aristotle's ways of getting language right (as when he rails against barbarisms and solecisms in Greek).  When we have more time, then, we'll say more.


Bob MacDonald said...

the desire to be right (on one's own terms) is the chief of the sins of the flesh.

Your selection of 'way' could have merit. Words are like a can opener - you need sharp ones and ones that hold their place to reveal the loveliness or (and) the rot that is in each of us.

blessings to you - brave and real soul.

J. K. Gayle said...

You encourage me, Bob! Thank you for your work in translation and for you observations here. And blessings to you too.