translation slippage

“I am first of all against translation as it is mad,

its impossible,

it cannot ever be true to origins,

its a kind of violence,

it is always political,

it transforms,

it is creative,

it is heroic to try,

it is the essence of communicability,

it is exchange,

it disrupts parochialism,

it is the foundation of internationalism,

it is what we all should be trying to do,

it is the most revolutionary activity,

it is social,

it is life itself,

I am for it”.

So, translation slippage… my old post above from November 2005 is brought forward again as its both on Victor Alneng’s door in Sweden, and because here at Goldsmiths Ana Ama has activated a research project requesting examples of translational slippage – good term… As I replied to her just now:

“My favourite one is a typo (or was it?) in a bar in the northern Thai town of Chiang Rai – a real cowboy town. At this bar, part restaurant and not obviously a go-go joint, the menu offered a ‘Mixed Girl with Salad’. I do hope it was mixed grill, but …

Lonely Planet’s guide to India used to offer a lot of these sort of things. I remember them mentioning the great Scottish stable breakfast food “Podge” – And in my “Rumour of Calcutta” book (1996) I also mention the miswritten ‘Fried Children’ – instead of chicken.

There are some philosophical issues to be raised about this kind of translation-mockery humour however. So, I hope with the help of Blogospheric collaborationm she can achieve a fine global distribution of cultural put-downs…”

And from the comments page of the original post, Boris Buden translated it:


Carrie said…
And to think they call you “The Enemy of Anthropology.” 

24/11/05 10:30
Victor said…
beautiful, John, simply beautiful 

25/11/05 14:12
Boris Buden said…
“Prije svega ja sam protiv prevodjenja jer je to ludost, jer je ono nemoguce, jer nikada ne moze biti vjerno originalu, jer je oblik nasilja, jer je uvijek politicno, jer transformira, jer je kreativno, jer je herojski pokusati ga, jer je prevodjenje bit komunikabilnosti, jer je ono razmjena, jer podriva parohializam, jer je temelj internacionalizma, jer je to ono sto bismo svi trebali ciniti, jer je prevodjenje najrevolucionarnija aktivnost, jer je socijalno, jer je zivot sam, ja sam za prevodjenje.” John Hutnyk in CBS (Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian) 

9/12/06 15:13″

[Thanks – again – Kaori for trinket [image] from Japan].

4 thoughts on “translation slippage

  1. Given that there is a moment of translation in the process of transforming one’s thoughts into texts, this is from Kierkegaard. “Tested Advice for Authors: Set down your reflections carelessly, and let them be printed; in correcting the proof sheets a number of good ideas will gradually suggest themselves. Therefore, take courage, all you who have not yet dared to publish anything; even misprints are not to be despised, and an author who becomes witty by the aid of misprints, must be regarded as having become witty in a perfectly lawful manner.”


  2. By the way, you of course ARE the enemy of anthropology. There is simply no denying it – a fact that says so much about the sad state of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of the World and Man which as already decided what the World and Man can and should be. How can one NOT be an enemy of this impasse?


  3. Agnes Poirier in the Guardian today ((20 May 2010) on Godard and subtitles, is very good. Will post here as soon as it comes online, but for one, a reason to buy that newspaper!


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