The title of Derrida’s essay “What is a ‘relevant’ translation?” first brings me back to Jakobson’s concept of the difference between what a language must express and what it may express. If you are translating from old Russian to English and come across the single noun meaning two brothers, is it “relevant” to write “two brothers” in English? Derrida mentions that we should “respect the verbal quantity as a quantity of words, each of which is an irreducible body, the indivisible unity of an acoustic form incorporating or signifying the indivisible unity of a meaning or concept (p. 370).” This relates to his comparison of translation to economics and law. Translation requires strict guidelines of value and the payment of “debt” to reach equivalence. Derrida also mentions homophones- how is this applied to them? When you hear the word “bark” it could mean the sound of a dog or the outer layer of a tree trunk and both of these signifieds are embedded in the word. How can there be equivalence when the same signifier does not represent these two signifieds?

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My name is Rachael Wachter and I am a sophomore neuroscience major. I am interested in translation studies because I want to learn how the brain and our behavior is affected by differences in language and culture.

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