Friday, July 10, 2009

Un/Translatables

by

Obododimma Oha

Translation is a journey from language to language. Or rather, a journey that language makes to language. Does language find language when it gets to language? Does language freely find language, or is it afraid to find it? Is it warned not to get too close to it, to finding language?

When language cannot find language when it gets to language, we say it is untranslatable. We often imagine that languages have limits where they stop and stare at other languages, stopping points supposedly manned by culture.

Translation rewords the world, reworlds the word.
Translation threatens worlds that wish to remain originary.
Translation could be radical, conspiratorial, mischievous, wanton.
Translation may be outrageous and too eager to expose.
Translation may leave behind, suppress, to impress.
Translation may strip bare and demystify.
Translation may distort.

Translation creates access and makes available. This seems too bad for the worship of Logos, at least in the province of the Revealed Message. Indeed, translation enacts the politics of otherness...

Translation can also prevent access, a step away from the untranslatable.
The "untranslatable" thus is not always that expression which cannot be "translated" but a preferred closure. The untranslatable reassures us that the boundaries are safely maintained, the power strong.

The untranslated is the poetry of limits, at limits.You cannot read it too confidently!

Translate it at your own risk.
Translate it and upset an order.
Translate it and let it translate you into a difference.
Translate it to let it.

2 comments:

UCHENNA OYALI said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
UCHENNA OYALI said...

This summarises the efforts, experiences, dilemma, attitude ... of people, scholars and lay people alike, to translation!