Sunday, May 12, 2013

drifting toward translation

In this article at NYR -- "Your English is Showing" -- Tim Parks discusses the interesting subject of translation.

First, he notes the difficulties of rendering certain texts into another language:

Above all there is a problem with a kind of writing that is, as it were, inward turning, about the language itself, about what it means to live under the spell of this or that vernacular.

Then, he intuits a kind of cultural osmosis of English-language dynamics into other language structures, therein making translation somewhat less challenging than it was decades ago:

So that is the intuition. The idea is not so much the old polemic that English is simply dominant and dangerous; but rather that there is a spirit abroad, especially in the world of fiction, that is seeking maximum communicability and that has fastened onto the world’s present lingua franca as something that can be absorbed and built into other vernaculars so that they can continue to exist while becoming more easily translated into each other.

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