Book Section
What are called ‘natural languages’ are artificial, often politically instituted and regulated, phenomena; a more accurate picture of speech practices around the globe is of a multidimensional continuum. This essay asks what the implications of this understanding of language are for translation, and focuses on the variety of Afrikaans known as Kaaps, which has traditionally been treated as a dialect rather than a language in its own right. An analysis of a poem in Kaaps by Nathan Trantraal reveals the challenges such a use of language constitutes for translation. A revised understanding of translation is proposed, relying less on the notion of transfer of meaning from one language to another and more on an active engagement with the experience of the reader.
Keywords: Language; dialect; translation; untranslatability; Afrikaans; Kaaps; world literature
Title
Untranslatability and the Challenge of World Literature
Subtitle
A South African Example
Author(s)
Derek Attridge
Identifier
DOI Target
HTML Page
Description
What are called ‘natural languages’ are artificial, often politically instituted and regulated, phenomena; a more accurate picture of speech practices around the globe is of a multidimensional continuum. This essay asks what the implications of this understanding of language are for translation, and focuses on the variety of Afrikaans known as Kaaps, which has traditionally been treated as a dialect rather than a language in its own right. An analysis of a poem in Kaaps by Nathan Trantraal reveals the challenges such a use of language constitutes for translation. A revised understanding of translation is proposed, relying less on the notion of transfer of meaning from one language to another and more on an active engagement with the experience of the reader.
Is Part Of
Place
Berlin
Publisher
ICI Berlin Press
Date
2021
Subject
Language
dialect
translation
untranslatability
Afrikaans
Kaaps
world literature
Rights
© by the author(s)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Language
en-GB
short title
Untranslatability
page start
25
page end
56
Source
The Work of World Literature, ed. by Francesco Giusti and Benjamin Lewis Robinson, Cultural Inquiry, 19 (Berlin: ICI Berlin Press, 2021), pp. 25–56
Bibliographic Citation
Derek Attridge, ‘Untranslatability and the Challenge of World Literature: A South African Example’, in The Work of World Literature, ed. by Francesco Giusti and Benjamin Lewis Robinson, Cultural Inquiry, 19 (Berlin: ICI Berlin Press, 2021), pp. 25–56 <https://doi.org/10.37050/ci-19_02>

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Cite as: Derek Attridge, ‘Untranslatability and the Challenge of World Literature: A South African Example’, in The Work of World Literature, ed. by Francesco Giusti and Benjamin Lewis Robinson, Cultural Inquiry, 19 (Berlin: ICI Berlin Press, 2021), pp. 25–56 <https://doi.org/10.37050/ci-19_02>
Derek Attridge, ‘Untranslatability and the Challenge of World Literature: A South African Example’, in The Work of World Literature, ed. by Francesco Giusti and Benjamin Lewis Robinson, Cultural Inquiry, 19 (Berlin: ICI Berlin Press, 2021), pp. 25-56 <https://doi.org/10.37050/ci-19_02>

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