What is it about?

In some fields, the divide between theory and practice becomes blurred, and they may be all the better for it. Thinking of something like "theoretical practice" as a descriptor for what a translator does, the paper looks at language as enunciation (Meschonnic) and something that exists in use (Wittgenstein) to suggest that translation is a performance in languages.

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Why is it important?

This paper is a brief contribution to efforts in Translation Theory to recognize translation's status as more than "transportation" of a so-called "content" from one language system to another. We aim at helping uncover the multiplicity that exists on languages and cultures, their inherent historicity, as well as the subjectivity of the translator (their particular enunciation of language varying from text to text, perhaps leaving an author-like signature), recognizing their vital role in the inception of a translated text.


My intention with this publication was to kickstart my own research into how to expand translation (following Maria Tymoczko's proposal) so that the discipline benefits from the recognition of its enormous scope. Languages are living history, they are mappings of all the cultures that came together in their making. Translations make connections between more than "meaning", or rather, meaning is more than "content" or representation: it involves trajectories and transformations across time, places, languages, customs, and much multilingual exchange. By looking at how language is used, how translation can be performed, and by recognizing all those different "vectors" or "arrows" in addition to thinking of a one-directional pointer from language 1 to language 2, we hope to also highlight the potential of translation as an art form and as a locus of critique.

Maira Mendes Galvao
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Meschonnic, Wittgenstein and translation as form of life, Pragmatics and Society, July 2023, John Benjamins, DOI: 10.1075/ps.19072.men.
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