Romeo und Julia: Eine moderne Übersetzung (Translated) (German Edition)
In France, Antoine Berman developed arguments in favour of foreignisation by drawing out the ideas of selected German Romantics, unabashedly elevating Humboldt and Schleiermacher to the status of philosophers, and passing in silence marginal German thinkers such as Hegel cf. Pym, Other cross-cultural references are not quite so open. The authority of philosophy thus creates privileged readers and, through them, strangely coherent opposing traditions in the theorising of translation.
Further translation theorists then tend to follow one tradition and simply not see the other. For example, a fine theoretical article on the non-binary options involved in translating dialogue Lane-Mercer, refers to a whole French—American literary tradition simply by naming Berman and Venuti.
However, the text makes no mention of how the same problems were dealt with in the Quinean tradition. The basic idea for Vermeer, on the other hand, is that translating is an action carried out in order to achieve a purpose Skopos. This purpose is highly variable it may or may not involve equivalence to a source and is negotiated with any number of social actors. Within German-language research, this has been enough to form a close-knit group of self-citing theorists, weaving the image of a theoretical revolution, an epistemological break with a millennial past of fidelities and equivalencies.
The ideas of action theory, however, were by no means the exclusive preserve of this general translation theory. The notion of purpose-based action has had a philosophical language since Kant and is common enough in any sociological approach.
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It could lead to a focus on purposes, competencies and expertise theory, as it has done in German, but it also has several feet in linguistic pragmatics, deontics, system theory and new methodologies of empirical observation. These latter aspects have been better developed beyond Skopostheorie, yet in ways that remain in fundamental agreement with its founding principles.
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One should not be surprised, then, when a more cognitive kind of action theory, coming from the pragmatics of Watzlawick et al. For example, Monacelli and Punzo start from the paradoxes like the fact that a translation is at once equivalent and non-equivalent to its source, depending on the momentary perspective of the observer.
Such relations can be mapped by fuzzy logic cf. What might be surprising, though, is that the origins of action theory, whatever its social, mathematical or psychological extensions, lie in analytical philosophy, in the tradition of Wittgenstein and Quine. That, at least, is where one must place the pioneering work of von Wright and Watzlawick et al. So would the interest in action theory represent a late awakening to analytical philosophy? It seems more the case that the translation theorists concerned were turning to fragments of philosophical discourses, not in order to legitimise any systematic analytical approach, but as part of an attempt to solve isolated and often long-standing problems.
In the field of ethics, for example, Popper observed that people agree more on what is bad than on what is good. When Martin Buber, for instance, regards I—you discourse as ethically more authentic than third-person discourse, Laygues proposes that the ethical translator should regard both text and reader as second persons, not as objects. When Emmanuel Levinas regards the other the person who is non-I as a face to which we have certain ethical obligations, Laygues proposes that the translator seek an adequate ethical relation with the other text, author, reader and only then be concerned with the deontology of professional action.
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In all these cases, philosophical discourse is used as a source of stimulating analogies or necessary terminological precision, but not as a ready-made solution to all the problems of translation studies. Thanks to such borrowings, the translation theories of the s were increasingly concerned with ethical issues. This was partly a reaction against traditional concepts like fidelity and equivalence, which 20th century uncertainty had left without any conceptual grounding.
Yet it was also a response to the empiricism that had motivated many parts of transla- tion studies in the s. Equivalence, for example, had become a fact of all translations for descriptive translation studies cf. For what were becoming deconstructionist or postmodern approaches, however, notions like equivalence and fidelity were traditional essentialist illusions, unable to provide any guidelines at all. That loss of faith left a gap, allowing for a return to fundamental ethical issues, this time based on the texture of human relationships rather than on any empiricism of perfor- mance.
Not gratuitously, this return to ethics has accompanied greater attention to dialogue interpreting, where more importance is intuitively given to people rather than to texts see Pym, If there is a particular way of using philosophical discourse at this level, it is frequently not for isolated problem solving.
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Some theorists take a whole system on board, seeking its ethical consequences in a more global sense. Here one might return to Walter Benjamin reflecting on his translations of Baudelaire through the worldview of Kabbalistic tradition see Steiner, This later Derrida seems very aware that his work is not only being trans- lated into American English, but is also being interpreted within American departments of Literary and Cultural Studies.
He plays with this transla- tional relationship, revamping Benjamin, writing for and to his American translators, and reading translations of literary texts, notably Shakespeare.
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In a text we find Derrida asking how it is possible that a work such as Romeo and Juliet could make sense — any kind of sense — well beyond its orig- inal historical and cultural location. Davis, 30— In this, Derrida necessarily recognises that literature is a system operating with ideals other than the constant process of deconstruction — this had been recognised much earlier Derrida, — as indeed might be operative ethical concepts like justice Derrida, The source text may thus be seen, not as a set of obligatory orders, nor as an entirely annulled monarch, but as a phantom, an image that organises without determining the range of translational variants.
It returns, like the ghost of King Hamlet Derrida, 42—3. Derrida takes care to distinguish this from a claim to translatability, the sameness of which would make strict alterity impossible and must thus necessarily be broken. He nevertheless implicitly pays homage to the great literary text, moreover situating himself in a reading position to grasp all translational variants, to judge French translations of Shakespeare, and to legitimate their pertinence to the source.
That is, Derrida not only recognises the essentialist roles played by literary concepts, he plays the same humanist game himself. Other deconstructionists, we have noted, have tended to be far more radical and sweeping in their theorising of translation.
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Similar negativity can be found in Kaisa Koskinen a , who ostensibly works from Derrida and Bauman in order to assess the ethics of the translation theorists Venuti and Pym. At those more applied levels of discourse, as in much of feminism or Marxism, the philosophical authority of postmodern ethics is not immediately recog- nised.
There are often more pressing problems to solve. At the opposite end of such conceptual conflicts, some translation theo- ries have managed to flourish without reference to any philosophical authority at all. Their position was undermined by Quinean skepticism several generations ago; the division between sense and form was rubbed out by deconstruction; the terms of reference no longer find any philo- sophical frame. Any advance in translation theory perhaps depends on greater aware- ness that most of the traditional arguments are now non-arguments. The strategies of minor power nevertheless lead the other way.
Most schools or would-be schools of translation theory have needed to build a Feindbild, an image of the enemy. For Seleskovich and her followers, the enemy was anyone who said one should translate words, not sense did any serious contemporary really believe that? For descriptive translation studies, the enemy was anyone who tried to tell translators how to translate, since that was prescriptivism but can descriptions be entirely neutral?
Most of those enemies are actually quite difficult to find in translation theory, at least in the simplistic terms in which they have been attacked. And none of those binary oppositions is tenable in terms of contemporary philosophical discourse. It is for this reason, we suggest, that few philoso- phers would entirely identify with everything that translation theorists have done in their name. The transla- tion problem was thus one of respecting the particular terminology of philosophical discourse, or at least of the philosophy that shares its terms with other discourse genres.
In noting the inadequacy of the existing trans- lations in French, Derrida might be said to have achieved a more effective translation himself, albeit exceeding certain performance limitations. He did so because, obviously, a philosopher who uses a vernacular has a special interest in the translation of philosophy. After centuries of neglect under a hierarchy of languages, translation might even become too important to be left to mere translation theorists. The translation of philosophy Plato will serve as our example has been a concern of Western philosophy ever since the relation with the classical past became problematic.
In 15th century Renaissance humanism, Leonardo Bruni insisted on elegance as a necessary feature of Plato translations, engaging in a watershed debate with the Spanish bishop Alonso de Cartagena, who defended a medieval translationese that was difficult to read, full of calques, and rarely mistakable as anything from the target culture.
Romeo und Julia: Eine moderne Übersetzung (Translated)
In that debate, Cartagena might be seen as defending foreignness, technical terms and linguistic plurality, in a way that many postmodernists would approve of. Unfortunately, that debate was historically won by Bruni.
That humanist tradition of translating philosophy is really what Derrida is playing with and against. It remained largely unchallenged until philo- sophy became at once secular and theological. The Protestant theologian Schleiermacher, for example, could pretend to be ideologically untroubled about translating Plato as a pagan; he was more concerned with philological otherness of the text. The thought of German Romanticism was on the level of form, language, identity, not of content as such. An anti-personalist strand of German Romanticism can be followed through much of the hermeneutic tradition.
More than any one else, Martin Heidegger used translation to illustrate the tortuous paths of interpreta- tion, using translation as a mode of philosophical exposition, and perhaps of thought. Translation becomes a way of actually doing philosophy, as carrying on a lost tradition.
We might also divine the reason why these philosophers seem to prefer their own translations to anything produced by mere translators: Western philosophy, at a certain level, has become a series of conceptual translations of itself. One might equally say that many contemporary philosophical dis- courses share an intimate concern about their own language being translational on some level. The result is commonly a heterogeneous text, which tends to become less so in translation on English translations of Wittgenstein and Plato, cf.
Venuti, b: — One of the possible laws of all translation is that it tends to homogenise discourse. Indeed, translators and translation theorists tend to respect the philosophers far more than any philosopher ever had kind words to say about a translator.