On 366 Derrida asks “Is it not the first duty of the guest that I am to speak a language that is intelligible and transparent, hence without equivocation?” He’s speaking as the author, the guest, to his reader, the host, and espousing his duty as a writer to communicate in a way in which the reader can understand him. Yet he routinely uses twenty words to say what three would have made clear and couches each of his points in apologizes and addendums. Was he being funny when he suggested it was his duty to be comprehensible?
He goes on to say he chaffs at being relegated to one language – a single idiom – and explains that he’s always ready to leap from French to English. I wondered, right at the beginning with the Shakespeare quote and the translator’s note, how the multi-lingual aspect of this work is being handled. Quoting an English work in English then saying you have left it untranslated doesn’t make sense when addressing an English audience, but if we realize that the note was originally in French talking to French audience about this originally English quote which was being translated into French then its meaning becomes clear. Yet for our purposes, here in this paper, the English has been left as English and the French has also been translated into English except for a few exceptions. Multi-lingual works are so rare I hadn’t really spent any time considering what it would be like to deal with a translation that took a two-tongued essay and turned it into a one tongued essay. When Derrida uses French to talk about English, producing a French work riddled with English terms, and then we read his work as an English work riddled with French terms, the work isn’t just impoverished – it’s backwards, isn’t it?