In a pleasant piece in the New Yorker, which I just received today, Adam Gopnik discusses the power of translation and untranslatability. Having just covered this topic two days ago in a post on fidelity, I was intrigued. For instance, Gopnik quotes Bellos (author of Is That a Fish in Your Ear?) as saying,
“despite the endless insistence that the real thing is lost in translation, we readily translate everything, and all the time.”
Well, I’m not sure Bellos is right. After all, the US book market is made up of a merely 3% translations, while the number in any other country reaches well into double digits. Nonetheless, I agree with the point: we all believe translation to be lacking something, even though we often use translations all the time.
The article also has a nice critique of Whorf’s hypothesis, that language determines what we are able and unable to say.
In all, great article. And it reminds me that if you look, you can always find near stuff on language and interpreting all over the place.