Anglogibberish* and other fiction of the foreign

April 2, 2018

A great deal of words, have been dedicated to the #conundrum of foreignness in #translation. Many linguists and professors have pondered this problem and quarreled over it, debated about it and written very lengthy papers to analyze it, but all to no avail; the opinions are so varied, and the offered solutions so numerous, that it would almost make one yearn for the olden days when you were either for or against.

 

To discuss all of this in one blog post is impossible. Rather, I would like to talk about the words used to talk about this topic. It seems rather disappointing to me that for a field dedicated to #language, where one wrong translation can cause confusion or even provoke political incidents, the choice of vocabulary used to address its problems is often a bland one, resorting to a handful of #clichéd words.

 

Why is it that in texts about foreignness in translation so many researchers talk about adding ‘flavour’ or ‘colour’ to a translation? Sure, the link is obvious; after all, language is related to #culture and culture is related to food and art, but it’s not very original and it also reinforces the idea of foreign elements in translations being exotic, which doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Coming across too many similar #phrases, while studying or doing research for papers causes a kind of overkill, not to mention that it’s a bit boring!

 

I therefore make a plea for a more original, fresh and differentiated manner of talking about foreignness in translation.  How about… tapestry? I suppose that’s a bit of a #cliché as well though, the imagery of weaving together different strands being too obvious.  In any case, a bit more #fun and #humor would surely be a good thing.

 

Any suggestions…?

 

* David Bellos, Is that a Fish in Your Ear?

 

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