words, words, words

Grist for the mill. More here.

"...translation of dead languages is often seen in much more simplistic, instrumentalist ways than translation of living languages; students who are in second year Ancient Greek may be encouraged to think of what they’re doing as learning “to translate,” as opposed to learning to understand. The original text is seen as a problem to which a clunky “literal” translation is a solution; as if there were a “right answer” to what it means, and it’s something ugly in English, even if the original is beautiful. This false thinking isn’t encouraged in the same way for living languages. This set of misunderstandings also encourages a blindness about the social issues; if translators just write “what it means,” and that’s easy, then it doesn’t matter who does it."

- Emily Wilson