Can you translate that for me?

| 3 Comments

"Linguistic conventions and the literary conventions most closely bound to them, such as meter, rhythm, and rhyme, are notoriously difficult to reproduce in another language. But devices of strucutre and plot, techniques that most of the Western literatures, at least, have in common, and these easily cross linguistic boundaries" (Keesey 270).

Before reading this quote, I had never thought of this before, but it really makes sense. I think if you know another language, such as Spanish or French, then you will be able to write better. I thought that writing poetry with rhyme and other literary technquies in another language was the same as writing in English.

Keesey also mentioned "like conventions of language, they have meaning only to those who have learned them" (270) and I would have to agree. Put yourself into the shoes of a foreign person who was writing poetry. I, for one, would not even know where to begin because I do not know their language or meaning of words. On the other hand, if I knew the language, just as I know English, then I would be able to understand why they maybe used that comma, semi-colon, or repetition.

Do you think that intertextual criticism is only appreciated by the people that know their language?

So, what if we did an intertextual criticism of "Life is a Dream" since it was translated from Spanish into English. Would we understand the Spanish meaning that was translated into English since we are not familiar with that language? I read the play in English, as we all did, but what if we compared it to another Spanish play? Would the result or criticism be the same as if we compared it to an English play?

I think that intertextual criticism is very interesting because it makes the reader think that "poems do not imitate life; they imitate other poems" (265).

Click here for the course web page devoted to Keesey.

3 Comments

Derek, I think you make some good points about translation issues. You might want to check out Erica’s blog where there was some discussion about this going on:
http://blogs.setonhill.edu/EricaGearhart/2009/03/its_too_complex_for_me.html

However, just because translation is a big issue, I don’t think that mean we can’t critically analyze it. Sure, some aspects of criticism are going to be affected (for example, doing a formalist reading on rhythm, rhyme, and meter as Keesey observed is not really possible), but there are certainly still many parts of the text that we can analyze. I think intertextualism is one of the schools which would be unaffected for the most part by the translation issue. I mean, I think the biggest part of intertextualism is simply our perception of texts changing because of something else we read. For example, when Rupp related Basilio to Prospero, that was intertextualism and it worked out fine. The general idea of a translated work is still transmitted to the reader, so the translation can still affect one’s understanding of other texts.

Hey Derek,
I have to tell you I like how you look at things differently I know I probably slipped right past this when I read Keesey Chapter Five. Even though you make some really great points I agree with Greta. The only way we can analyze something, a play in this case, has to be in the language we know. I think it would be different if we knew different languages and then wanted to some how compare the translations. Maybe it sounds silly but sometimes I think when it comes to analyzing something you have to work with what you got.

Derek, I think that intertextual criticism is not affected by the language of a work because it looks more closely at the plot structure, than the actual words. I think that formalism is a criticism that would require a person to know the language to give justice to the work.

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This page contains a single entry by Derek Tickle published on March 11, 2009 7:01 PM.

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