A Modest Proposal- Jonathan Swift

Spanish translation by Louis Lopez Nieves: Me ha asegurado un americano muy entendido que conozco en Londres, que un tierno niño sano y bien criado constituye al año de edad el alimento más delicioso, nutritivo y saludable, ya sea estofado, asado, al horno o hervido; y no dudo que servirá igualmente en un fricasé o un ragout.

English: I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy Child well Nursed is at a year Old, a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome Food, whether Stewed, Roasted, Baked, or Boyled, and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a Fricasie, or Ragoust

Pym Questions (from your predecessors)

  • How might someone find the tertium comparationis between a known and a completely unknown language? Would you still be able to “deverbalize” the source text to emphasize the sense of the meaning that is supposed to be able to be expressed in all languages. Can you really find a sense of what someone is saying? For as we have been saying, every word has a different meaning even if they are considered synonyms. How can you translate into a language that might not have a grammatical structure? You would need to focus on the sense of the meaning, but is that even possible?


  • Pym talks about how belief in the equal values of language was rare in European theorizing before the Renaissance and rise of the printing press. Medieval thinking assumed that some languages were intrinsically better than others. Excuse my loaded question, but do vestiges of that same assumption still exist today?
    And in terms of translation as an enrichment of the target language – again, Pym calls it medieval thinking, I would call it average White American thinking. What do I mean by this?
  • While there are likely cases where there is no way around the structuralist view of translation, in that the world is a cut up of perspectives respective to the culture of any given source language, might there be a way, today, to work toward a sort of collage of language within the original construction of a text or source text? Pym mentions the language hierarchies, at a time prior to the printing press, but I wonder… In a world as technologically advanced as it is now where the printing press is somewhat marginalized by the digital press and at a period in history where global communication and information exchange is constantly occurring should there be a greater cognizant responsibility on the writer’s end, with the source text on behalf of the author’s potential target text? Or even a foreign audience whose second or third language learned is in the source text?
  • Toward the end of the reading, Pym mentions that in the Middle Ages, there was a hierarchy of languages that left the idea of equivalence little room for acceptance among translation theories of the time.  It seemed to me that the idea of superior and inferior languages was simply a rehashing of the idea that older things (in this case, languages) are more “pure” (essentially, confusing something’s age with its value), and that part of the reason for disallowing equivalent words and phrases to “come up” from other languages was to preserve this “purity”. This left me wondering if there were any examples of this phenomenom in our modern society (aside from the example of the french, which we have mentioned already).
  • Pym explains that “Japanese and Chinese…are very open to borrowing when dealing with new “international” subject matter, so that loans and calques become far more frequent and acceptable…”(17). Does a culture that lets “international” words into their language at an incredible rate stand the risk of losing a great deal of their cultural identity? Or perhaps in fact this openness to foreign words represent a deeper set of cultural values and goals? This emphasis on adding “international” language to Chinese appears to be in line with the Chinese priorities of economic progress and entering into the international field as an equal. Are rules of translation in themselves cultural?