by Santiago Barcaza S., MFA Student
When the Nobel Prize was given to Beckett, the Swedish Academy considered the set of his texts in English and French as a single work and at the award ceremony, its dedication to “one man, two languages and a third nation” [ Ireland].”
Beckett is the self-translator who has received more attention and more studies have been done since he was the first to arouse interest in self-translation as a subject of study (Cohn, 1961). The anecdote is the following: the impossibility of finding an English publisher for his texts, considered at the time as untranslatable, caused the author to translate into French his work Murphy, written in English and published in 1938. From 1946, Beckett writes only in French, something that is quite difficult for him, and he translates himself into English. The recognition comes in 1953, the year of the appearance of En attendant Godot and Trilogie. The self-translation into English of the first, Waiting for Godot, appears a year later, in 1954, when it is reconciled with the English language. From that moment on, he continues writing in both languages and exchanging the directions of the self-translation.
By the way. To the question; why self-translate? It is not difficult to understand the eagerness of authors like Tagore or Beckett to reach more readers, to ambition as soon as possible a place in the history of universal literature. But there is also another literature. There is a literature that comes from the bosom of cultures that resist extinction, languages that do not give ground to the languages of the colonizers.
- The poet Odi Gonzales
Posted by Madeline Gilbert – PhD student in Linguistics at NYU
Tile street art in Rivera (yes, this is right-side up!)
I have now been in Uruguay for a bit over a month. On one hand, it feels like I’ve accomplished quite a bit; on the other hand, there is a lifetime of research to be done here. In the last blog post I talked a bit about the project itself, which involves looking at the language contact situation on the border between Uruguay and Brazil, site of the famous portuñol, which, in the popular conception, is neither Spanish nor Portuguese but a broken mixture of the two. In this post, I want to talk a bit about the process of data collection, which is both full of challenges and very rewarding.
First: what kind of data am I collecting? Because I’m interested in peoples’ use of language in daily life, I’m conducting (and recording) sociolinguistic interviews, asking people to read a word list, and fill out some demographic and language use questionnaires. The process typically takes about 90 minutes. Sociolinguistic interviews consist of talking with people about topics like childhood, family, school, hobbies, work, travels, and the like. The goal is to elicit the most natural speech possible within the context of a recorded conversation. The word list reflects a more careful speech style and was designed around some linguistic variables. I have reason to think might be interesting to compare between speakers from Rivera and Montevideo. The demographic forms ask more explicitly about peoples’ linguistic history, places of residence, use of Spanish/Portuguese/other languages, and a little about their attitudes towards these languages.