Thursday, 13 August 2015
Strategies for Non-translation
Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything,
David Bellos, Penguin, 2011, page 7
The second chapter of David Bellos's book about translators and translating is titled, "Is Translation Avoidable?" He points out that translation is everywhere, all around us, then says:
But we could do without it, all the same. Instead of using translation, we could learn the languages of all the different communities we wish to engage with; or we could decide to speak the same language; or else adopt a single common language for communicating with other communities. But if we baulk at adopting a common tongue and decline to learn the other languages we need, we could simply ignore people who don't speak the way we do.
He goes on to demonstrate how each of those three strategies are historically attested, pointing particularly to the Indian subcontinent, Christopher Columbus and the Roman empire as examples.
But can we see this at work culturally as well as verbally? How widely is the last option - simply ignoring someone who doesn't speak our language - employed within the church? Is it part of the reason why Jews struggle in church?