The Untranslatable: a talk with Allison deFreese

  • 02/20/2020
  • 17:30 - 19:30
  • Folio, 93 Pike St. #307, Seattle, WA 98101


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The Northwest Literary Translators welcome translator Allison deFreese to our monthly meeting this February for a discussion of "The Untranslatable." Translators of all kinds are welcome to attend and participate.

Framed in a literary translation context, this presentation will use Roman Jakobson’s “On Linguistic Aspects of Translations,” in which he quotes Bertrand Russell as saying “no one can understand the word ‘cheese‘ unless he [sic] has a nonlinguistic acquaintance with cheese,” as a launching point for discussion. We will explore words, phrases, emotional concepts, and especially cultural components that may lack equivalents in other languages, thus proving a challenge for the translator. In the U.S. today, even communications in the same language often seem to fall short of achieving true mutual understanding, so how do we translate culturally specific ideas when additional linguistic or social elements complicate the message?

The Northwest Literary Translators, part of the Northwest Translators and Interpreters Society, meet the third Thursdays of most months at Folio, the Seattle Athenaeum. For more information, join our Facebook group.

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