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The Poetry of TranslationFrom Chaucer & Petrarch to Homer & Logue$
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Matthew Reynolds

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199605712

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605712.001.0001

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Translating within and between Languages

Translating within and between Languages

(p.12) 2 Translating within and between Languages
The Poetry of Translation

Matthew Reynolds

Oxford University Press

The imaginative work of translating a distant language such as Burmese differs from that of translating a close language such as French. Equally, translation can happen within what we think of as a single language because each language is internally divided into dialects and registers. So translation cannot be defined as a single operation that happens ‘between languages’: Umberto Eco is wrong to draw a strong distinction between ‘translation’ and ‘rewording’. Translation also affects how you define the linguistic material you are faced with: people can realize they need to translate what had at first not felt like a different language; I give examples from Oliver Twist. When this happens, a fissure opens up: this mattered to Dryden when he ‘translated’ Chaucer into the English of his own time; and to William Barnes when he ‘tranlsated’ his Dorset poems into ‘the dialect which is chosen as national speech’.

Keywords:   language, dialect, register, translate, Eco, Dickens, Dryden, Chaucer, Barnes

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