12 March 1997

Date: Tue, 11 Mar 1997 21:58:57 +0200
From: ap@astor.urv.es (Anthony Pym)
Subject: Le deuil de Derrida



On Jacques Derrida, *Spectres de Marx* Paris: Galilée, 1993.

Because Doug has mentioned it two or three times, and no one has taken him up on it.

‘Ça commence à faire long, Monsieur Derrida,´ or so said Le Monde at the time: as long and heavy and boring as the OJ trial, and as directionless, as devoid of final judgement, and yet just as passionnant, as intensely rich in playing the cords of contradiction, justice, injustice, the recherche of what happened but may not have happened. I read it as an intensely personal book, full of the first person that is yet rarely there: a self-reflection, by Derrida, on the death of any certainty from the past, but I suspect on a physical death as well. Long, heavy, because the text is in mourning; it is the mourning of a loss; it can only look backwards.

The dedication to Chris Hani announces an impossible attempt at involvement, annihilated by immediate and forceful contradiction (to mourn the death of a communist murdered by communists, in the dawn of liberation from Apartheid, of which we hear little more). Yet mark the real desire for substance: ‘La vie d´un homme.. sera toujours plus qu’un paradigme et autre chose qu’un symbole.’ And this later becomes the sole substance of a deconstructionist ethics: ‘Une pensée déconstructrice, celle qui m’importe ici (to the first person of this text) a toujours (not to my knowledge!) rappelé à l’irréductibilité de l’affirmation et donc de la promesse, comme à l’indéconstructibilité d’une certaine idée de la justice…’ (147). And in the corresponding footnote, an angry distinction between law and justice, the latter more a matter of ‘la propriété de la vie´, where the law is no longer sure.

La vie d’un homme, undeconstructable, substance, and this at key points in a text on ghosts, the spectres of the past that haunt the present, that tell us where to go, and of which we have more than one reason to doubt.

Derrida mentions translation little more than twice in the text (plus passages on use and exchange value at the end, which I don’t suppose anyone else wants to relate to translation):

pp. 42-47. On the many possible translations of ‘The time is out of joint’: organizing disorganizing translations, but analyzed, surprisingly, linguistically, in a way that many of us would venture to attempt. Conclusion, though: the translations are ‘out of joint’, since the time(s) of translation itself is ‘out of joint’. Hence: ‘la signature de la Chose Shakespeare: autoriser chacune des traductions, les rendre possibles et intelligibles sans jamais s’y réduire.’ (47) Question then of whether, according to what is just, there can be responsibility to this Chose Shakespeare in such a dijointed time. (The question seems to go unanswered: there are no dead bodies lying around.)

p. 65. Similar disjunctions within Marx, reported to have said ‘One thing’s for sure, I’m not a marxist’: ‘Marx *vivait mal* cette disjonction des injonction en lui, et qu’elles fussent *intraduisibles* les unes dans les autres’. But then, adds Derrida, absolute translatability between systems would render ‘l’injonction, l’héritage et l’avenir, en un mot l’autre, impossibles’. So the disjunction is productive, and it is reached, twice, through reference to translation.

Features of this view of translation (leaving aside all it owes to Benjamin):
– The Chose Shakespeare, this great text in the past, still looms over all the translators, is still accorded authority, if not as an original then as the text of all possible translations. This inferiorisation of translations is, I’m afraid, a constant in Derrida. Translators don’t bring gain; they just pick up the pieces; or get them wrong and have to be corrected by the philosophe (cf. pharmacy). – The disjointedness is constantly mal vecu, se lo pasa mal, an unhappy state; by extension, since the analogies are being exploited, the position of the translator allows few pleasures, certainly no jouissance: translators must, it seems, vivre mal their disjointedness. This is not quite a constant in Derrida, but it certainly is in this text. – The word ‘avenir’, future, smuggled into the second passage above is one of the few occasions dijointedness might actually lead somewhere. Yet this future is never, here, any more than a working through of the past, the other. The subject, particularly here the translating subject, would seem to have no investment in that future, which remains external.

That is, no becoming is placed in this subjectivity. The only substance is that of the person that lives and dies; it is beyond deconstruction and thus the basis for a deconstructive ethics. Thus, without becoming, we effectively reduce the subject either to that substance or to the process of mourning that can only reflect on the passing of substance. Ethics cannot be of the future but of (cyclical?) life and death.

Mourning, hopefully, is long but not ever. Its function is surely to deliver the subject from the past. Like psychoanalysis, it lasts its time, but in order to cure. This book, which certainly lasts its time, might function well only if, once the mourning is over, we can live well and happily in disjointed times, and create a mode of becoming what, from within subjectivity, connects with a future that is not entirely other.

By extension, the translation analogies might yet mark out an inhabitable space, hopefully liberated from those great texts of the penumbrous past.

Read the book if you will. But sooner or later we have to snap out of it.


Date: Tue, 11 Mar 1997 19:09:49 -0500
From: Robert Bononno <rb28@is4.nyu.edu>
Subject: Re: encoding as translation, continued

>for more than you possibly want to know about my project.) Production of my Analytical Onomasticon is a matter of textual engineering from one perspective, not very interesting to this group, I’d suppose. The

Oooh, onomastics. That’s something I’m interested in, but probably from a different perspective, that of terminology and classification.

Robert Bononno rb28@is4.nyu.edu CIS: 73670,1570

Date: Tue, 11 Mar 1997 19:20:17 -0500
From: Robert Bononno <rb28@is4.nyu.edu>
Subject: Re: Practicing translators

Sean wrote:

>Stay with us, and answer back from the point of view of experience.

Well, although I teach (part time), I consider myself to be outside the academy, and things look a bit different from where I sit.

Robert Bononno rb28@is4.nyu.edu CIS: 73670,1570

Date: Tue, 11 Mar 1997 14:12:25 -1000
From: Marcella Alohalani Boido <mboido@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Re: moving hands and complex economies

I believe that this quotation has an earthly author:

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.”

Verse 71, “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam,” from the Fitzgerald translation.

Personally, if we must refer to invisible hands, etc., I would like to offer my favorite, simply for the sake of levity: El Brazo Onofre, the invisible arm of Mr. Onofre, which flys through the air at night, perpetuating various mischieveous deeds. See “The Milagro Beanfield War,” by John Nichols. Not so tangentially, it is on this invisible arm (with its equally invisible hand) that the blame is placed for those things for which no one wishes to take responsibility.

And indeed, an important part of Adam Smith’s model is the idea that somehow the social good will be accomplished without anyone taking any responsibility for it–sort of a reverse Brazo Onofre, doing good deeds. In any case, I find it more likely that mischief is created by invisible hands, than that social good can be created by those who are selfishly pursuing their own ends.



Marcella Alohalani Boido
Spanish/English Interpreter & Translator M.A., 1977; B.A., 1971; Political Science 807 Hausten St. #1
Honolulu, HI 96826-3035

On Tue, 11 Mar 1997, Sean Golden wrote:

>>Look how the hand moves: I started off talking about invisible and hidden hands; Pym shifted that to guiding hands; now John gives us the moving hand. I’m not quite sure what John means; presumably he’s alluding to the phrase “The moving hand writes,” though for the life of me I can’t remember whose phrase it was or what it was supposed to mean …

>The moving hand writes upon the wall, and having writ, moves on…

>>From the Bible (guess who’s hand iy is that writes publically, on the wall,
tthe private sins of guess whom…)

>Sean Golden, Dean, Facultat de Traduccio Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
>08193 Bellaterra, BARCELONA, Spain
>Tel: 34 3 5811374 FAX: 34 3 5811037
>e-mail: sgolden@cc.uab.es


Date: Tue, 11 Mar 1997 19:31:19 -0500
From: Robert Bononno <rb28@is4.nyu.edu>
Subject: Re: invisible hands and gas chambers

>The point is not only that the “checking” of our work by various “invisible hands” is less than perfect, and that there is therefore plenty of room for subversion, if the translator or interpreter is so inclined. It is also that the belief structure that Estela here evinces–we’re completely powerless, we’re totally under the control of external forces–is a myth. We are controlled, yes–but never perfectly or completely. And the channeling of ideology means in large part that a significant factor in our control by “xternal forces

I can’t keep up with the flow of messages any longer, but a couple of brief comments to Doug’s comments. I think part of the problem is that many translators act on the assumption that there work will be checked or have simply internalized this, thus acting “as if” it will be checked. And yes we are controlled. I know of several instances–and can certainly speak from my own experience–of translators being overridden by authors, of editors siding with authors against translators, of editors and authors somewhat arbitrarily (there’s *always* a good reason isn’t there) rejecting aspects of a translation. Under such circumstances translators find it very difficult to maintain their equilibrium much less any sense of autonomy. Translators are pinned to the horns of this dilemma, the conflicting demands of author, editor, publisher, imagined readers, and their own standards and vision of what translation should be. I have yet to find a situation (please enlighten me) where an author was overruled in favor of a translator, at least in the field of “literary” translation.

If you do this long enough, you really do begin to internalize these dichotomies. Hell someone should start psychoanalyzing translators to determine what the effects of such anxieties have produced.

Robert Bononno rb28@is4.nyu.edu CIS: 73670,1570

Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 12:48:32 +1000 (GMT+1000)
From: E.Valverde@mailbox.uq.oz.au (Estela Valverde)
Subject: Invisible hands and gas chambers

Doug writes:

.. it is fascinating to me to watch the conditioned fear response kick in when anyone even MENTIONS the possibility of radically subversive translation. We have been so powerfully conditioned NOT TO THINK about transgression and translation that hypothetical cases like the one I mentioned generate massive anxieties and anger, leading to a desire to silence the source of the bad feelings.

Nobody wants to silence you Doug, we are just thinking critically about the real possibility of dissention here, which if we follow Schmidt’s example would amount to a single act of heroism that will lead to destruction of the translator. Do you call that POWER?

Of course your proposal generates anxiety (and anger, which is the direct product of anxiety) because it deals with an utopical world where the “invisible hands” that you so much believe in are not present. I experienced an act of seudo heroism of an interpreter in a public meeting with a prominent member of an ethnic community where he did not interpret what he was saying against homosexuals because he realized it was culturally inappropriate and damaging for the community to which he also belonged. The client realized and in his broken English questioned him publicly: “Why don’t you tell them about the “poofters”?” The interpreter suffered not only loss of reputation but was marginalised for many years. Now, it’s all very well for us to say: Bravo! The translator has excerted his power! But for somebody that makes a living out of interpreting heroism is a great step to take and it has sometimes serious consequences.

Now, on the question of Schmidt’s possibility of mistraslating Hitler it is very naive for us to believe like Doug does that : “by sacrificing his reputation and perhaps his life Schmidt could have ben able to save millions of lives.” Who would have believe a poor interpreter? Do you believe that Schmidt could have been more powerful than Hitler’s huge propaganda machine?

What we are scare is not of having power Doug, but of believing naively that we do, without looking ahead at the consequences. While it is true that we have plenty of opportunity to exert dissidence I would say that oppositional behaviour is possible only in unimportant situations just like the engineering company you described. What does it matter to anyone if your Finnish was not perfect as long as the transaction cost of the job was not too expensive and the objective was fulfilled? Now, if you are interpreting in a situation where your own client can check your accuracy or other colleagues might look at your input while you do have the power of being dissident your translation might condemn you. Your attitude is very quixotal and in many ways charming for the naivety that conveys but does not hold together with your primary argument on the “invisible hands”.

Dr. Estela Valverde
Assoc. Prof. in Spanish
Dept of Romance Languages
The University of Queensland
St. Lucia

Phone: 61 7 3365 2277
Fax: 61 7 3365 2798
E-mail: E.Valverde@mailbox.uq.oz.au (Estela Valverde)


Date: Tue, 11 Mar 1997 18:01:34 -1000
From: Marcella Alohalani Boido <mboido@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Re: Invisible hands and gas chambers

In order to make a point about the possibilities of translators (or interpreters) using their powers and abilities to subvert oppressive regimes, Doug has presented us with a hypothesis about the results of such behavior, had a translator named Schmidt undertaken to tell the truth about Hitler, rather than simply relaying Hitler’s communication.

First, I would like to deal with Doug’s example. The example seems to assume that a) the information that Hitler was a murderous madman was not already available to Schmidt’s auditors, and that b) Schmidt’s auditors would have believed Schmidt, and that c) the auditors would have taken action to prevent Hitler from killing millions of people.

It has been a number of years now since I did any research on the Holocaust, and so I am responding based on memory, not consultation with sources. However, my memory tells me that all three of these assumptions are mistaken.

The information about Hitler’s character and intentions was repeatedly made available to political leaders in both the UK and the USA, and was repeatedly ignored. Even when he was already killing millions of people, and the Allies knew this, they did not do even the simplest things, such as bombing the railroad lines that led to the concentration camps, or bombing the crematoria, or the gas chambers.

Information about what was really going on was repeatedly smuggled out to leaders in the Allied world. Some believed, some did not. Note above–no action was taken.

Should we automatically assume, as Estela does, that Schmidt would have been killed? A reading of the autobiographical literature of Holocaust survivors teaches, among many other things, that even in extreme situations, it is sometimes possible to avoid death. Schmidt might possibly have asked for political asylum. It is not necessary to assume his death.

And if he gave his warning, and then died? Does that mean he was powerless? Assuming that the person known as Jesus was a historical personage, does his death render him powerless? It seems to me that often those who are willing to pay for their honesty with death are among those who are historically most powerful, and whose images linger the longest in our collective imaginations. For an example, see the movie, “Braveheart,” about a man who was killed many hundreds of years ago for his opposition to an oppressive regime: William Wallace.

Estela says, “…for somebody that makes a living out of interpreting heroism is a great step to take and it has sometimes serious consequences.”

Estela, isn’t that why we recognize it as heroism?

Here in Hawaii, a interpreter was working on a case where the key witness changed her testimony. As the story was told to me by the interpreter, the govenment then moved to incarcerate the witness, hoping that this would inspire her to once again give the testimony that favored the government’s case. The witness had two outs: a) recant and stay out of prison, or b) not recant, but find a sponsor in the community with whom to stay. The government was counting on the witness not having anyone in the community.

The interpreter volunteered to sponsor the witness. He was automatically removed from the case, losing all further income from a fairly large federal case. As expected, the government agency on the case never called him to work again. He still doesn’t regret it. The witness was a young woman, and in the interpreter’s opinion, was not capable of surviving the prison experience.

Here the interpreter did not subvert anything through mis-interpretation. But he did most certainly not comply with that part of the canon of ethics having to do with impartiality.

I do not see a problem with the idea of radically subversive translation. Again, let me refer to the Holocaust literature. In extreme situations, it is sometimes necessary for a professional to transgress important aspects of their code of ethics. For an example, read about the woman who was a doctor in one of the women’s concentration camps. A prisoner was brought in and delivered of a child. Had the SS found the child, both mother and child would have been executed immediately. The attending physician decided to save the mother’s life. She did so by drowning the newborn in a bucket of cold water.

This is a chilling anecdote, by any measure.

My point is this: subversive behavior of any kind may sometimes be necessary in extreme situations. Consequences may be severe both for the professional and for others. Such actions and decisions need to be carefully considered, and only in extremely high-consequence situations. And the person who undertakes them must be prepared both to live, and perhaps to die, with the consequences.

Marcella Alohalani Boido
Spanish/English Interpreter & Translator M.A., 1977; B.A., 1971; Political Science 807 Hausten St. #1
Honolulu, HI 96826-3035

Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 05:03:39 -0300
From: Haroldo Netto <haroldo@mail.rio.com.br>
Subject: Re: Practicing translators

Sean said:
>>Stay with us, and answer back from the point of view of experience.

I stay, and the best contribution I think I can offer is talk about teaching. I don’t like the idea of losing all the experience I have accumulated since Dec 59, when I started to follow this path. What could I say?

Basically, like someone told here in this Colloquium, translation is an inter-cultural activity . After knowing at least one other than yours idiom, and after having an excellent command of your own language, you have to know both cultures and this, by the way, is an endless task.

Secondly, the translator will have to know and accept that translation is a craft, not an art. Like, for instance, painting china, or making jewells, and so forth. It will be difficult to find a Picasso painting a cup of coffee.Or a Jorge Amado translating.

In third and last place, the translator will have to accept that his/her work doesn’t alter whatever *the finger writes before moving on…* If is a readable, palatable text, it will pass and nobody ever will compare it with the original, complain against a blunder or, alas, will praise it. I made an experience yesterday, when I saw SHINE, the Australian movie. Nobody even wanted to talk about the way they translated the word SHINE :BRILHANTE (shining). When I started to say that in my opinion the idea of using the noun (?) SHINE had in itself a meaning and it shoud have been translated as BRILHO (as in LUSTER, BRILLIANCY), the answer was always the same: <<This doesn’t have any importance.>>
AND IT REALLY DOESN’T. To begin with, I might be wrong. And also doesn’t alter the movie.I could add up and endless string of examples.

OK, ir the translator has to be intercultural, and that it’s an endless task, if he has to conform himself with not being an artist, only a craftsman, and if whatever he writes in the target language it will be adequate, the only thing that is left to him is his passion for his work. But be careful : Love won’t suffice,it will have to be PASSION.

>Haroldo Netto

Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 09:14:07 +0000
From: sgolden@cc.uab.es (Sean Golden)
Subject: Re: moving hands and complex economies

>I believe that this quotation has an earthly author:

>”The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
>Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.”

>Verse 71, “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam,” from the Fitzgerald translation.

My mistake–an example of intercultural cross-circuiting.


Sean Golden, Dean, Facultat de Traduccio Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
08193 Bellaterra, BARCELONA, Spain
Tel: 34 3 5811374 FAX: 34 3 5811037
e-mail: sgolden@cc.uab.es


Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 09:19:10 +0000
From: iuts2@cc.uab.es (Doug Robinson)
Subject: Re: Le deuil de Derrida

Pym writes:



>On Jacques Derrida, *Spectres de Marx* Paris: Galilée, 1993.

>Because Doug has mentioned it two or three times, and no one has taken him up on it.

This review sounds like Pym–is it? It’s unnamed; maybe ghost-written?

I want to read this several more times and think about its take on Derrida and this particular book, Specters of Marx, which is becoming so central to my current book project, before responding to it; and maybe I won’t have time during the colloquium to respond to it at all. My first reaction, though, is that it’s probably right about Derrida on translation in all kinds of ways that I hadn’t thought of before … and that I may have missed a lot of that because in some utterly secular way it feels to me as if I am channeling Derrida, as if his voice sounds from within my head. His aporetic style in particular, his willingness to wander heuristically in quest of something to say, constantly saying things in the process, and constantly also tearing down what he has just said as it comes out of his mouth or fingers because once it’s articulated he realizes instantly that it doesn’t quite work, it’s not yet what he’s trying to say, or that it’s exactly right but then this other thing, often this totally opposite thing, is right too …

Interesting, too, if this review was written by Pym, that he takes Derrida to task for negative remarks about translation … since Pym is himself the translation scholar (if he’ll allow me that reductive label) who, of all the translation scholars I know, has the most negative take on translation. Not that Pym’s take is all negative … or for that matter that mine is all sweetness and light (Translation and Taboo was very dark about translation). It just seems an intriguing avenue of critique for someone like Pym (if it was by Pym) to follow about Derrida.


Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 09:27:47 +0000
Date-warning: Date header was inserted by cc.uab.es
From: iuts2@cc.uab.es (Doug Robinson)

Sean writes:

>The moving hand writes upon the wall, and having writ, moves on…

>>From the Bible (guess who’s hand iy is that writes publically, on the wall,
tthe private sins of guess whom…)

Ah yes … and what book? Ecclesiastes?

And the implication wasn’t the publication of sins, was it? It was the fleetingness of all things, the fact that time passes and can’t be regained (except perhaps by such as Marcel Proust or Jay Gatsby …).

And Alohalani writes:

>I believe that this quotation has an earthly author:

>”The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
>Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.”

>Verse 71, “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam,” from the Fitzgerald translation.

And FitzGerald here, by quoting the Bible (Solomon?) somewhat out of context (and no doubt smuggling one Middle Eastern culture as assimilated by England into another, by way of assimilating it too into England), underscores the reference to the unidirectionality of time.

I’m going to have to have a look at those two spots and think about the connections between the moving hand/finger of time or history and the invisible hands of economic agency.

>Personally, if we must refer to invisible hands, etc., I would like to offer my favorite, simply for the sake of levity: El Brazo Onofre, the invisible arm of Mr. Onofre, which flys through the air at night, perpetuating various mischieveous deeds. See “The Milagro Beanfield War,” by John Nichols. Not so tangentially, it is on this invisible arm (with its equally invisible hand) that the blame is placed for those things for which no one wishes to take responsibility.

>And indeed, an important part of Adam Smith’s model is the idea that somehow the social good will be accomplished without anyone taking any responsibility for it–sort of a reverse Brazo Onofre, doing good deeds. In any case, I find it more likely that mischief is created by invisible hands, than that social good can be created by those who are selfishly pursuing their own ends.

This is wonderful. El Brazo Onofre was in fact my favorite image from that wonderful novel, one I keep wanting to bring up in conversation, but then refrain because I figure most people will not know the reference and it would take too much explanation to make it work … and then I go and forget it when writing about invisible hands! Gonna hafta go back and reread John Nichols, I guess!


Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 10:12:18 +0200
From: ap@astor.urv.es (Anthony Pym)
Subject: Re: Le deuil de Derrida

Yes, le deuil de Derrida was a piece of Pym (pièce de Shakespeare, for those who remember Ulysses).

Doesn’t my name come up as sender of the message?


Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 10:20:54 +0000
From: sgolden@cc.uab.es (Sean Golden)
Subject: Translation Theory, Praxis & Policy

Some more thoughts on practitioners versus theoreticians, but in a context of translation as a transaction cost, and leading to some thoughts on translation policy, if not power.

Anthony Pym has pointed out my use of the phrase “School of Translators” rather tha school of translation. There are several things to say here. First, I personally prefer the phrase School of Translators, it responds better to my own esthetic taste. Is it different from School of Translation? Here we can get bogged down in Derridean (or Stanley Fishian, if you prefer) deconstruction of the term “School” as it is used in ordianry discourse or academic discourse. It refers to a school where people are taught or trained (or learn, if you prefer–which would certainly be more preferable, I think), by teachers. “School” also refers to a group of kindred spirits in the arts or in theory—the Frankfort School, for instance. A School of Translators could be a school where translators teach people to translate (or where people learn to translate from translators, or benefit, in their attempts to perfect their own translating skills, from the experience of veteran translators. It could also be a group of translators who have something in common, without being a place of learning or training. It could also be a school for training/learning, organised and run by a group of important translators. There are also “schools” of translation theory. Our Centre began its life as a “School of Translators & Interpreters” (Escuela Universitaria de Traductores e Interpretes), and eveolved into a Faculty of Translation & Interpreting (Facultad de Traduccion e Interpretacion). There is a difference between the two names, and I did have something to do with the change of names. The Centre began life with a teaching staff formed by working translators. It was not an offshoot of literaray studies or comparative literary studies. It was a place designed to train people to do “professional” translation (commercial, technical, legal) and di not include literary translation in its curriculum. The practitioners who were founding members of the teaching staff have ebveolved as well. Without losing their experience of practitioners, they have had to acquire theories of pedagogy/didactics of translation, and theories of translation (universities do research as well as teach). Only a minority of our graduates are working translators (and most of them would be freelance). The rest find work as intercultural mediators, usually in business or government, beacuse their training in applioed languages and intercultural studies suit them very well for this role of mediation. The change to a Faculty status also meant that students could study translation, not just translating. Adding a doctorate made this more clear (one must have a Ph.D. to be a Faculty professor in Spain–the combination “professional practitioners” plus “Ph.D. in Translation” is not all that common, and there is a real threat that the foundation for translation studies established in Spain by practitioners could veer off into more academic and traditionally literary or linguistically orientated fields of theoretical research). Now our students can take translation as an object of study while also (I hope) learning something about translating as a practice. The doctorate combines in its student body, professional practitioners, former students of ours, and students coming from literary degree courses. It has a much heavier theoretical and literary component than do the undergraduate studies. (I should point out that Barcelona is an atypical translation market–it offers a higher percentage of professional literary translation than would be found in other markets–on the order of 4%, where in the EU in general, professional literary translation would account for less than 1%, for instance.)

Now what does this have to do with translation as a transaction cost, or translation policy? In the first place, we have had the opportunity to design our own study programme, and have been able to observe very closely how translaing and translation were being taught in Europe, which does have a long tradition of tudy programmes specifically dedicated to the training of translaors, as well as a long tradition of comparative studies that involve translation. We also had to design our study programme in ways that were directly linked to the local market–both from the point of view of the translators we were training (they had to find work) and from the point of view of the strategic service we were providing for the busines sector (providing the translators who would evolve into the network of linguistic mediators who could provide the information small and medium sized businesses would need in order to benefit from membership in what is now the EU or to compete in the EU). We made very clearly strategic decisions oàbout the languages we would offer on this basis, for instance. In this sense our translation policy does fit into an analysis of translation as a transaction cost. What interests me here are the repercussions of this kind of translation policy in wider socieoeconomic ambits. It may well be that, in time, there will be less need of sècifically trained linguistic mediators because the business community itself will have acquired the necessary applied language skills. But our translation policy was necessary as a stop-gap measure, and also as a demosntartion of the added (surplus) value of having access to applied language skills (the moajority of our graduates are NOT working specifically AS translators). At the same time we have been involved in a number of two-way international cooperation projects, funded by the EU or the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or our own budget, in which we help other countries establish or consolidate their own Schools/Faculties of Translators/Translation: Morocco (in the past), Mozambique, Angola, Bosnia (in-progress in all three cases). The two-way cooperation means that these partners also help us to consolidate the training we do in their languages and cultures (in the case of Mozambique and Angola this also means introducing African Studies here, where they did not exist before).

In all of these case I am talking about long-term development strategy, in which training translators and interpreters is a short- to mid-term tactical element. Translation activity and translation-related activities (translating and training translators) are the leading edge. They introduce necessary information from the outside world into the local ambit; they allow local information to be communicated to the outside world. They lead to exchange and cannot help but tend toward a globalisation, at least in eceonomic terms, that will obviously have a long-term impact on local culture. I hope it will also have a long-term impact on global culture. My own vision of this strategy is that it should aim for the preservation of a highly varied and diversified linguistico-cultural global mosaic, rather than the tendency to conform toward a few “linguas francas” and/or socioeconomic models (my radical and subversive past still serves me; the goals of the strategy I am outlining are still consistent ideologically with the goals that motivated other kinds of political activity in the past).

How is it possible to do this? Because we have control of our own administration. I am an administrator, a university officer, a representative of the institution–all of those things that can be the “worst” element of the academy and its institutionalisation of learning. I am one of those “administrational” elements that some people see as the enemy. Of course, I am not alone. I have had the privilege of being able to work with a Centre founded and still run by people who began as translators, and developed their pedagogies and their theories on the basis of their own empirical practice, and not viceversa. I have also had the privilege of working in the Peoples Republic of China, helping to redesign the training programme for translators, interpreters and langauge teachers that was standardised in countries that followed the Soviet model; and I have been able to work with developing countries in the Arab world and in Africa. I have also been able to study the existing European models. Experience has shown that translation policy is crucial to socio-economic development. It is a matter that is very much involved with ethics and making the world a better place–precisely because it is an integral part of “transaction” (and therefore, the cost of transaction as well, I entirely agree), and of intercultural transfer. Without disagreeing with Anthony Pym’s theoretical framework I would debate some of his hypotheses and conclusions. I would ask, for instance whether the EU translation policy is, as he suggests, a captive of nationalisms that are unwilling to renounce the status of their own language in favour of of administrative/bureaucratic efficiency or reduced costs, or whether the translation policy the EU has maintained is designed to facilitate small and medium-szed businesses in their integration into a trans-European economy. This is no trivial distinction. The professed desire to achieve European “union” could well be a mask for what the EEC started out as, a wider economic market. Ther political rhetoric of European “union” (in social and political terms) has yet to consolidate itself in real soical orpolitical terms (if we compare the current status of the EU to the evolution of the USA, the EU is still at the status of the post-revolutionary Confederation that preceded the creation of the US republic–“States Rights” still have morre priority in the EU than athe concept of a “Federal” government). If we judge the rachitects of the EU by what they do rather than what they say, we might have to give a different “slant” to our interpretation oftheir language policy. Are they really looking for “union”? Or are they, as in Pym’s models of game theory, a disaggregated group of individual players looking for the best balance between improving their own income while pretending to benefit everyone else’s?

Is there really any difference between what I am saying here and what Pym has said? Perhaps inthe application, but not in the theory or the methodology, I don’t think. Perhaps I have taken his contribution a step further–looking at translation as a socio-economic-political phenomenon that is independent of specific translators, independent of questions such as “What is translation”? or “What is a translation”? or “What does it MEAN ‘to translate'”?, etc. Perhaps the sociology of translation is a part of the field that still needs more development before it will be recognised as forming part of the field?

Sean Golden, Dean, Facultat de Traduccio Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
08193 Bellaterra, BARCELONA, Spain
Tel: 34 3 5811374 FAX: 34 3 5811037
e-mail: sgolden@cc.uab.es


Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 11:09:41 +0000
From: sgolden@cc.uab.es (Sean Golden)
Subject: Statistics

Current statistical and geographical distribution of participants in TRANSFER-L:

(.edu) [presumably USA] 26
(.com) [could be anywhere] 19
Canada (.ca), Spain (.es) 18
Brazil (.br) 11
(.net) [¿?] 8
Australia (.au) 7
Sweden (.se), UK (.uk) 5
Italy (.it), South Africa (-za) 4
Netherlands (.nl), Portugal (.pt) 3

Belgium (.be), France (.fr), Greece (.gr), Ireland (.ie), Yugoslavia (.yu) 2

Armenia (.am), Argentina (.ar), Chile (.cl), China (.cn), Germany (.de), Denmark (.dk), Finland (.fi), Hungary (.hr), Iceland (.id), (.int), Korea (.kr), Luxembourg (.lu), Malaysia (.my), (.org), Poland (.pl), Turkey (.tr), Taiwan (.tw) 1

Sean Golden, Dean, Facultat de Traduccio Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
08193 Bellaterra, BARCELONA, Spain
Tel: 34 3 5811374 FAX: 34 3 5811037
e-mail: sgolden@cc.uab.es

Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 19:48:28 +0800
From: chliao@farmer.cc-sun.fcu.edu.tw (Chao-Chih Liao)
Subject: It’s quite successful

Sean, Doug, and Tony, and others,

I have enjoyed this colloquium very much. Thank you.

Yes, if a person is only interested in translation, they should not enter the discussion. The practice of translation is absolutely different from the translation theory. I have felt so though I particiated in business translation or technical translation for only 8 years. The experience is not so rich with one who has translated 65 books.

In Taiwan translation has been a FIELD since 5 or 6 years ago. Before this, translation is a passive slave, subordinate to the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature.

I have not studied why it was not valued since 1949 until 1990s.

It seems to me that several years ago, Ministry of Education approved the establishment of the graduate school of translation and interpretation at Fu-Jen Catholic University. The event was known by the mass media and hence it has been valued. Now, anotehr school, National Taiwan Normal University also set up the Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation.

On March 22-23, National Taiwan Nromal University will host the first International Conference on Translationand Interpretation in Taiwan.

Doug, TABOO or not, I don’t know. It’s the first time I TALKED so much on an international colloquium. I have been learning to be TALKATIVE because
I was very quiet before. I will read your comments more carefully and try to respond by the end of the colloquium, 48 more hours to go.

Laura Chao-chih Liao

Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 15:39:13 +0001
From: “Joao C. Pijnappel” <jon.avatar@pi.net>
Subject: Interference or “What does a translator want?”

First of all, as I see it, the passivity/activity question arises only when considered from the viewpoint of subjectivity: we could also, following the same arguments, ask “what are the invisible hands that move the author”, “is he writing according to his own decision and will, or is he an instrument engaged and manipulated by external, let’s say ideological forces?” Deleuze used to say that literature, for example, is an agencing of minoritarian languages that exist within the language, and the writer is someone who hears it and his text is the place where it suddenly expresses itself (this in opposition to the freudian idea that the writer is only a neurotic who tries to cure himself in a exhibitionistic way, the way all artists do – for Deleuze, literature is not the desease of an individual, it is the cure of the whole society). And the translator should obviously be an accomplice of that in a transcultural scene, an” international connection” or ally engaged in the same subversive struggle, retransmiiting the agencement to another cultural context where it also has a reason to exist…And maybe with other international, post-nationalistic goals also: imagine a world full of nomadic translators equipped with lap-tops with PCMCIA modems connected with GSMs, travelling around from country to country, never rooting or belonging to any specific culture, and translating everything to everybody…Cultural identity? What is it good for? Let us all become worldcitizens and save the Earth…

Passivity can also be discredited by other examples: in Holland some translators I know believe that, with the perfectioning of MT – which should not be minimized – more and more our job will develop itself in the direction of editing and ghost-writing, and all the other things involving ‘style’ that computers can’t perform, due to their lack of existential and cultural problematics…

Strange that nobody quoted the classical anecdote (I read it on the book of the great Brazilian-Hungarian translator Paulo Ronai, “Escola de Tradutores”) that suggests that the Hiroshima and the Nagasaki bombs where consequence of a mistaken translation. After the capitulation of Germany and Italy, the Allies sent an ultimatum to Japan. The Prime minister of Japan would have said then in a press conference that his country would “mokusatsu” the allied ultimatum. This unhappy verb is ambiguous and can be translated either by “to take in consideration”, which is what probably was meant, or as “not wanting to know about”, and the translators of the Domei, the imperial news office, chose the last one. Now, what if it did actually happen and was deliberately, what if this particular translator was a fanatic who despised the prime minister’s weakness and wanted his country to go all the way into glorious suicide? Maybe just omitting one stroke in the kanji ideogram and then boom!

Joao C. Pijnappel
Sworn translator Dutch-Portuguese
Portuguese/Spanish/English/French/Dutch translator Certified member of the Dutch Association of Translators – NGV <joao@pi.net>
Tel&fax: +31 (0) 30- 2510229
Utrecht, The Netherlands

Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 11:41:18 -0500 (EST)
From: vonfloto@aix1.uottawa.ca
Subject: 3 points – feminist translators – positionality – interculture

After reading through the reams of material that have been posted over the last few days, I am glad that information and commentary on specific translators/translation situations is surfacing (the translator in the Hawaiian courtroom). Long ‘theoretical’ texts that discuss ‘the translator’ or ‘translation’ as though they were entities that can be taken out of their specific contexts and generalized about get a little tiresome…

1. On subversions of texts or text situations that are actually verifiable and not just thinkable (as in the anecdote on the translation of the Japanese term), people might consider feminist translators’ activities. This is a case where the context of feminist political action, a broad grassroots women’s movement, and massive interest in and therefore translation of women’s writing caused a ‘feminist translator’ to emerge, and to fashion herself as a (pro)active, self-confident, powerfully subversive manipulator of texts who draws attention to her work and the influence she has and exerts as a rewriter. The translations and essays of women such as Susanne de Lotbiniere-Harwood and Barbara Godard in Canada or Diane Rayor, Carol Maier, Sharon Bell in the USA are good examples of translators taking a clearly political stance and either ‘subverting’ a text they find problematic, or simply demonstrating the empowerment that translators can derive from a particular political/cultural movement.

2. These and other women working in feminist scholarship and translation have also addressed the ‘translating subject’ (one of Pym’s topics, I think). They do not generalize about all translation, or all translators, however, but start from the particular context of feminist activism, feminist responsibility and the self-assurance that comes with participating in and being supported by a relatively powerful group in contemporary Anglo-American culture. One of the terms that is important is the ‘positionality’ of the translator (or writer, or theorist) — Michael Cronin referred to it briefly — in other words that person’s position in a particular culture (what is the status of a translator at that particular time? and is the translator perhaps also an academic? a writer? etc), the position they themselves assume (are they confident and activist? do they work within a certain political framework? for or against or just in sympathy with a particular cause? are they relatively independent?), and do they declare their position?

I think analyses of translators’ situations and contexts along these more limited lines may be more productive and more interesting than theorizing about ‘the translator’ as some kind of monolithic entity.

3. About intercultures:
The ‘divided’ cities of the world may be a place to observe and research interculture — I wonder whether residents of Jerusalem or Montreal or Berlin or Nikosia could describe living in intercultural environments where at least two languages are useful/necessary. (In Berlin it would not be an exagerration to talk about two languages).

Big multicultural centres such as New York or Los Angeles or Vancouver may also be centers of interculture, especially when the once dominant Anglo/European residents are quietly yet continuously being displaced by ‘visible minorities’.

Luise von Flotow
Ottawa, Canada


Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 19:57:16 +0000 (GMT)
From: croninm@ccmail.dcu.ie
Subject: The Respondent responds

I had considered delaying my response until the end of the colloquium but such is the volume of information that it seemed wise to make an early provsional response before data overload led to amnesia.

In the two position papers and my response the focus has largely been to date on the translator. The debate opened up by the colloquium has focussed on a) the translator as (disaggregated) agent and b) the notion of interculture. If we conceive of the translator as a person inhabiting an intercultural space it is important that due account be taken of the risks and difficulties that such a position implies.

Andre- Makine in Le testament fran*ais describes the return of the Russian protagonist to the town in the steppes where his French-born grandmother lives. The young man is full of resentment at the French elements in his identity which he feels isolate him from his Russian peers, ‘Je voulais qu’elle s’explique, qu’elle se justifie. Car c’est elle qui m’avait transmis cette sensibilit­ fran*aise – la sienne -, me condamnant · vivre dans un p­nible entre-deux-mondes.’ The notion of difficulty, risk emerges in a different though related context in an article by Daniel Simeoni that I mentioned in my initial repsonse, ‘Translating and Studying Translation: the View from the Agent’ where he argues that ‘the translating agent straddles the borderline between cultures. Although various pressures associated with practice force him/her to “stay home” – on the target side – s/he cannot afford to ignore the source field a long time without being at risk.’

Translation is a profoundly paradoxical operation. In order to respect the integrity of the source text the translator is duty-bound to have as full an understanding as possible of the source text, an understanding that is at least comparable to that of a competent (in the domain) native speaker of the language. I say at least because in many instances due to poor formulation the translator has to be even more sensitive or ingenious than the native speaker to arrive at a suitable basis for transferable meaning and this applies as much to promotional material for trade fairs as it does to poetry. Thus, effective understanding requires extensive travelling into the other culture, regular contact, often long periods of residence. Travel must not however become exile. Translation only makes sense if Ithaca is in sight, if there is homecoming in the target language. Translators must be alive to the full emotional, cognitive and referential range of their mother tongue. The danger for the translator as Descartes warns in the Discours de la m­thode is that ‘lorsqu’ on emploie trop de temps · voyager on devient enfin ­tranger en son pays.’ The translator must become the Other while remaining the One (one here is used oppositionally rather than essentially). There must be proximity without fusion, distance without remoteness. The translator must embrace the analog mode of both/and rather than the digital mode of either/or. The terms are taken from Anthony Wilden’s 1980 work _System and Structure_ which still has a great deal to teach us in case people mistakenly think that I have somehow consigned structural or systemic thinking to the ash-can of history through some misguided chronological snobbery. This intrinsic paradox of translation, being simultaneously a and not-a, can be intolerable. In Gregory Bateson’s terms, translation can be a double bind where the contradictory demands generated by the two languages lead to considerable stress as the translators find that they are unable to satisfy either demand. They are trapped in no man’s land with no homes to go to. This is why in my current work-in-progress I am particularly interested in the Translator as Nomad. There is further the critique of essentialist notions of identity that underlies translation. In Henri Meschonnic’s words, ‘La traduction est cette activit­ qui permet mieux qu’aucune autre, pusique son lieu n’est pas un terme mais la relation elle-mÃme, de reconna’tre une alt­rit­ dans une identit­.’ The critique usually takes the form of celebration as translation is seen as the enemy of the sectarian hatred that finds solace in reified notions of identity. It must not be forgotten, however, that the psychic investment in identity is enormous and that fragmenting, destabilising, undermining fixed identities can often generate resentment and resistance. The experience of ­tranget­ or unheimlichkeit in translation may correpond to a post-modern delight in the relative but the experience is nonethless unsettling. This means, in effect, that translation schools must resist a pressure related to specificity. The specificity of translator training is often defended post hoc, ergo propter hoc i.e. students must already possess a very good command of their source and target languages before we teach them translation. Therefore, translator training is a separate enterprise from language teaching. It assumes language rather than teaches it. I would defend the specificity differently arguing that the paradoxical and analog nature of the entre-deux of translation means that it is radically dissimilar from the either/or world of the language learner. This is not to say that the dichotomies are so distinct in language learning that there are not elements of interculture and interlanguage in the language learning experience but my contact with students over the years has taught me that there are excellent linguists that turn out to be woeful translators. They can function very well in the foreign language or in their own language but the major problem is that in-between space, the analog continuum of translation.

The debates around Anthony Pym’s transaction costs theory still fail to address the argument advanced in my response ie who defines `satisfactory cooperation’ in asymmetrical situations. The long-term benefits of cooperation for the linguistically dominant are a function of their power. They may tolerate translation for the sake of linguistic/political peace but the stronger the language, the more attractive assimilation is over a cooperation that makes any concession to difference. The problem is related at a fundamental level to the debate about `l’Europe des patries.’ A Europe without Frontiers can be a multicultural love-in or a monoglossic camp. As Pascal Bruckner pointed out in _Le vertige de Babel_ (1994) `La grande saveur des frontieres, une fois reconnues et garanties, c’est qu’on peut les franchir, jouer · leurs marges, exercice autrement plus exaltant que leur abolition pure et simple. Seuls les conqu­rants rÃvent d’effacer les frontiÉres, surtout celle des autres.’ I am not always convinced that the liberatory discourse of post-nationalism will deliver on processes of harmonious and mutually beneficial integration. It could instead feed one (French/English/German) form of linguistic ethnocentrism that posits itself as supra-ethnic and that the ensuing `cooperation’ will be more the submission of the vanquished rather than a joyful embrace of the superior logic of language convenience. Again to quote Bruckner, `Aller vers les autres implique donc une patrie, une m­moire qu’il faut cultiver (mÃme si on les relativise): je n’accorde l’hosptialit­ · l’­tranger qu’· partir d’un sol o÷ je peux l’acceuillir.’

The practice/theory debate seems to be the TS equivalent of banquo’s ghost that haunts every single discussion that takes place in translation theory. It is one of the most dispiriting debates I know because the terms of the debate are almost invariably the same: theoreticians have nothing to offer to practitioners or theoreticians have lots to offer practitioners. There seems to be a recurrent confusion about the aims of purposes of theory. Some theoreticians do have practical/prescriptive/didactic purposes and they say so (Newmark/Hervey/Higgins etc.). The purpose of other theoreticians is to study what translation tells us about how we know the world, language, culture. Its purposes are not to tell translators what to do but to use translation as a form of epistemological or ontological enquiry. No amount of literary criticism will tell you how to write a good novel but good literary criticism can in Kermode’s words allow us to make sense of how others make sense of the world. A further function of theory is to consider gender, class, race dimensions to translation and though they will draw inductively on translation experience again the purpose is not to teach anyone how to translate. The endless theory/practice debates seem to go nowhere in particular and are generally based on a misapprehension of purpose.

The debate as to whether TS is a a distinct academic field is interesting and I suspect it will run and run. However, I must admit to being less concerned about the survival of TS as a discipline than I am about its seeming peripherality to many debates in other disciplines. We talk among ourselves which is a good thing but do we do much talking to others? It is striking that in the course of the present colloquium, ideas have been imported from sociology (Daniel Simeoni), economics ( Anthony Pym), cognitive psychology (Doug Robinson) but how many ideas from translation studies have been imported into these disciplines? I am still astonished to see the extent to which areas of study like anthropology, ethnography, travel literature, literary historical studies, political science, history of science remain largely unaware of the insights of translation theory. The discipline would appear to be absolutely central to an understanding of (post)modernity but yet apart from our own busy corner I wonder whether anybody out there is listening?

I have some further points to make on complexity, the view from the subject and play but I will hold these for a day or two as we may all already be suffering from information overload.