Von Flotow & Beauvoir

The implementation of hypocritical translation is discussed as one of the origins of dis-unity found in feminist approaches to translation. Arrojo develops the notion of what she deems to be the “hypocritical, anxious, and theoretically [not] coherent” work of authors who implement feminist activism into translations. This process reflects on the translators’ belief that they have the authority to interject their knowledge on a political level and elaborate on the topic throughout the creation of the target text. However, by altering the text in this manner, is it not true that the target text cannot be deemed as a translation? As a translator one must attempt to create an equal meaning between the two versions. However, the dis-unity formed offers new interpretations that are not the work of the author. Parshley’s incorrect edition of Beauvoir’s text has had tremendous success in the United States but his work is greatly criticized for the injustice it does to the source text.


While listening to Angèle Kingué’s reading of Venus of Khala-Kanti, I was able to reflect on the message from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk. Adichie had discussed that as a little girl, she wrote stories that involved characters with only blue eyes and blonde hair. Through her studies, she had formed a belief that these were the only characters that could be involved in literature. It was not until later in life that she came to the understanding that she too was able to create based on what was familiar and meaningful to her. Kingué opened her reading with the statement, “Let me let you hear me as I am.” She then began to read from the French text she had created the piece in. She explained that speaking in French was a part of her identity and it was important to her that she was able to write her novel in the language she claimed as her own. She furthered her comment by claiming that we are only truly ourselves in our mother tongue.

Spivak also analyzes the use of language as a development for growing to understand oneself. Kingué discussed her inspiration for her creation and the story that had inspired her to come to know the perspective and humanity of all characters involved. She had incorporated crucial cultural context and the emotions that she experienced while creating the events. The author must aim to create a reality for the reader.

Appiah discusses the constraints that language has on our thoughts and expression. This can be a challenge when attempting to translate a piece from one language into another. To further this argument, Spivak notes that a translator must exceed in his or her ability beyond further comprehension of the language. The translator must be informed of the culture to fully relay the essence of the piece. Was Christine Swartz Hartley aware of the environment and culture that Kingué included in her novel? If not, how did Kingué ensure that Hartley was fully aware and able to translate meaning for meaning?


Tymoczko notes that there is a concern in the translator’s task of divulging the culture of one text across a cultural gap. She claims that there can never be a perfect homology created between the translation and its source text. The translator is required to make choices regarding additions and deletions in order to best present the information so that the target text can fully relate to the material. Tymoczko writes that some of the apparent differences result from the obligatory elements included in one of the languages that do not clearly translate into the other. Other issues arise with the revelation of cultural features that arise in the piece. The translator is then required to decide how best to elaborate on these practices. Typically this requires that the piece be lengthened in its transposition. Although one cannot clearly create equivalence in all aspects of translation, does the post-colonial writer share in this limitation? Or, does this restraint not affect the work of the author because he or she is creating an original piece?

Spivak and Appiah

Spivak writes, “In my view, language may be one of many elements that allow us to make sense of things, of ourselves.” This ability to further express one’s thoughts allows for the individual’s creation of an identity. The act of stringing meaningless terms together to form something more complex can be additionally shaped based on the speaker’s gestures and the pauses he or she chooses to incorporate. The author’s argument discusses the obligation to account for culture as a translator. He notes that a translator must exceed in his or her abilities beyond simply being able to converse in the language of the original. If one does not carefully relay the cultural message of the work, then does the piece lose its identity and relevance along with the subject?

World Literature

During the reign of Ramses V, a scribe documented a variety of literary texts on a papyrus roll. These preserved lyrics are some of the oldest in the world. Damrosch selects the piece for its simplicity to further analyze the complex problems that derive from the task of translation. He mentions the obstacles of which a translator must tackle, such as “decipherment of grammar, of vocabulary and of cultural framing.” (Pg. 412). One then must solve questions of context and decipher whether the speaker is a male or female. Although a poem is typically thought to be concise in its explanation and language, the translator must battle the intricate nature and elements that the composition possesses. Does one then wreck the purity of the source text by trying to illuminate these themes in the target text? Is there truly a way to establish equal delicacy in the language of the translation?

In addition, through evaluation Chan’s argument, can one claim that improper translation of Asian texts can be attributed to Western ethnocentric views? What effect does this action have on the hierarchy of languages?

Venuti’s Retranslations

Venuti discusses the evident appearance of the passage of time that is developed throughout the creation of retranslations. As the language progresses and society enters new eras of thinking, new interpretations are developed that often appear vastly foreign when compared to the source text. In addition, the translator constructs his or her rendition with the implementation of cultural norms and values that are present in the society for which the new piece has been formed. Robert Alter is a firm advocate for the belief that classical works should have the essence of their old-nature preserved in the creation of the new text. Are retranslations and the incorporation of modern concepts truly beneficial to the reader, or should one side with Alter that culture and time should not play a role in the new version? Furthermore, should we as learners attempt to understand texts in the context from which they originated, or is this too impossible of a task to impose on society?


Walter Benjamin opens his argument by expressing his notion that it is useless to take the audience into consideration when analyzing a form of art. He declares, “No poem is meant for the reader, no picture for the beholder, no symphony for the audience.” The discussion then follows by questioning whom the translation is intended for. The suitable response provided states that the translation is created for those who do not understand the original. This would have to be the most likely purpose for expressing “the same thing” twice. One can conclude then that the translation is produced for the reader, but can we not then assume that the original must be formed for the reader as well? If we assume that the art is not created for the reader and is just an expressive element, is there a significant purpose for its translation? It can be argued that society would lack a great appreciation and knowledge of culture without insight into such concepts. For example, translations of the Bible are deemed necessary for the spread of the Word of God. How then does one establish the drive from which art is generated?


Dryden’s essay discusses the notion of Imitation as proposed by Mr. Cowley. The author explains in his interpretation of the concept that imitation is the translator’s decision to write similar to that of a previous writer. The emphasis is not placed on translating the meaning of the words; rather, they consider the previous work as a “Patern” and then aim to devise the piece, as he would have. Can we then consider imitation to be a form of translation? What about paraphrase? If a piece does not elicit the same meaning as the original version, are they still considered equals?


Derrida focuses strongly on the aspect of a “relevant” translation. Merriam-Webster dictionary claims that relevant means “relating to a subject matter in an appropriate way” (interlingual translation). Derrida uses the term to refer to a translation that achieves transparency and naturalness. While trying to translate and achieve the most appropriate meaning possible, Derrida acknowledges that this can simply not be achieved according to an economic principle. The law of relevance is therefore based on the concept of untranslatability. With polysemy, the idea of a transparent translation cannot possibly exist. Derrida analyzes the origin of “relevante” that is used both in the French and English language. The word has been borrowed by the English but is not used in French an as adjective form; however, receives its meaning from the French verb “relever.” If one word can have several different meanings all adapted from previous languages, do we ever then truly speak only one language? Or are we all just speaking several different languages that have been derived and condensed into one?


Jakobson discusses his three different natures of translation: intralingual translation, interlingual translation, and intersemiotic translation. He further explains his notion of intralingual translation by explaining the concepts of a bachelor and celibate. Both are considered to be unmarried men; however, while all celibates can be considered bachelors, not all bachelors are celibate. We phrase these code-units to help others understand the meaning of another code-unit. Jakobson then claims that there can never be a full equivalence for code-units when using interlingual translation, or “interpretation of verbal signs by means of some other language.” Therefore, it is noted that we are required to translate the entire meaning because a simple code-unit cannot possibly suffice. If this is true, then does a bilingual dictionary every accurately serve its function if only single-code unit translations are provided? Or is it always necessary to provide more background into the interpretation of the word? For example, wordreference.com provides explanations of each translated term that would be appropriate in different situations or parts of a sentence.