Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Considering an essay on translation

I have written all sorts of things about my experience learning and translating from Hebrew to English. (See e.g. the posts under the label translation) I was prepared in the most tortuous way for this work and I have approached it in the only way I could have - by barging right in and just doing it. I began August 2006, exactly 5 years ago. I had tried to read Lambdin and Brown, Driver, Briggs - perhaps I had them on my shelf for 6 months or so, I can't remember, but now I think I could read Lambdin fluently - for the most part.  My copy is quite dog-eared.  At first BDB was a magical mystery tour every time I picked it up. I could scarcely distinguish one letter from another. Now it's not a bad read - but the Arabic, Akkadian, and other languages in the lexicon text, I still cannot read - though I have a book that I may start some day.

Decisions - here are some of the ones I wasn't aware of at first

  1. Colour - like the highlights in a picture of dried grasses, music, rhythm
  2. Games - assonance, chaism, parallels, metaphor
  3. Concordance - glossing, Rules to follow and break, avoidance, discovering your prejudice
  4. Structure - recurrence, parallels, circles, micro and macro, word pairings, whole phrases and thoughts
  5. Hearing - unplugging ears and opening eyes to humour, idiom, irony, sarcasm, anger, fear, shame
  6. Grammar - juxtaposition, conjunctions, prepositions, gender, verbs, pronoun and point of view shifts (especially in poetry), detail of word order, teasing out the details to highlight or let be.
  7. Audience - If I am reading with an 8 year old, I have a different strategy from reading with teens or more senior citizens.  But for all groups, the potential rigidities of soul are the same and one needs to allow, trick, beguile the reader / listener to fill in the gaps. Then the lessons are not lost.
  8. Policy - theology, government, piety, religious practice, history. What influence is expected from a translation? Do you want to obscure resurrection or enforce the domination of one or other party?
  9. Elapsed time - did words evolve and morph over the period of composition?  This is a question particularly for a long book.
  10. Meaning and explanation and other heretical thoughts.
What other topics and questions should I consider in an essay on translation.  Does the above taxonomy collapse into a smaller number of prismatic surfaces?