On Translation

Edith Doove

The act of translation is seen as a form of transformation, leading to thinking about the tension between original and copy and the notion of untranslatability.

Starting from prof. Peter Newmark’s notions on dualities in translation such as simplified vs full meaning, the seminar further investigates the possibility of using certain notions from Hillel Schwartz’ The Culture of the Copy in the context of translation, arguing that every copy, doppelganger, or twin is in fact a translation of the original.

The task of the translator is multiple, according to Albrecht Neubert being both an interpreter/critic and creator. For Walter Benjamin it consisted of finding the intended effect of the original text upon the language into one is translating. Rather than trying to resemble the meaning of the original he suggested “(…) lovingly and in detail incorporate the original’s mode of signification, thus making both the original and the translation recognizable as fragments of a greater language” which he called ‘pure language’.

Other aspects of translation is the effect of dubbing films in other languages, relating to Antonin Artaud’s view on dubbed films as monstrous, and the use of another language to hide a certain meaning.

Finally, in connecting to my main subject of research, the transition from one state into the other, form original into copy, from the source text into the target text, is seen as a form of infra-mince.

A series of videos will be used as demonstration for the above:

Simple Men (1992) Directed by Hal Hartley [Film] – Dance sequence.
Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R3OB_j7IlA&list=PL0FB33ACC180157C4&index=1&feature=plpp_video
One could argue that there is no translation at stake in this scene, that the men are merely copying the woman?s dance, but the argument is that the copy is a form of translation, never exactly the same as the original.

It’s Always Fair Weather (1955) Directed by Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly [Film] – Gene Kelly tap dancing on roller skates.
Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aus1PA5-SyI&list=PL0FB33ACC180157C4&index=2&feature=plpp_video
Apart from the fact that the negotiation of the city on roller skates can be seen as a form of translation in itself, this particular fragment also has French subtitles which leads to a form of distraction, creating a particular form of gap between original of translation.

The Bold and the Beautiful – Episode #1.1884 (1994) [TV series] with French dubbing.
Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-njS8rO-R7o&list=PL0FB33ACC180157C4&index=3&feature=plpp_video

Vampire Diaries – Episode 1×06 ‘Lost Girls’ (2009) with German dubbing.
Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtXtQqgUVr4&list=PL0FB33ACC180157C4&index=4&feature=plpp_video
In more than one sense a demonstration of the monstrosity of dubbing. In the case of the veiled woman the dubbing takes on an extra dimension as there is no immediate relation with the speaking mouth.

Perma soft commercial (1987). French couple.
Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spi6QFtwmig&list=PL0FB33ACC180157C4&index=5&feature=plpp_video
A demonstration of hiding content by using another language.

Carefree Gum commercial (1991), featuring Milli Vanilli.
Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbDUiaBfeKs&list=PL0FB33ACC180157C4&index=6&feature=plpp_video
The former successful ‘musicians’ conduct a comical play on the fact that their initial successful act was unveiled as being dubbed to other voices.