Guest Editor’s Note: The Neoclassical Bias in Translation
This is the first of two consecutive issues of JLS devoted to language and translation, specifically to the relationship between Arabic and Hebrew. In the current issue, we address the limits of the neoclassical model of translation, referring to the redefinition of translation in fifteenth-century Europe and infusing it with the spirit of the Renaissance. In a nutshell, the neoclassical model tends to individualize the translator’s identity, to privatize the spatial dimensions of translation, and to eliminate verbal dialogue.Furthermore, it dictates a forward-moving unidirectional formula of translation that usurps the original text and occupies its place; it silences any form of dialogue and replaces conversation and reciprocal dialogue with philology, linguistics, and hermeneutics. Under colonial conditions, the neoclassical model aggravates these limitations, since it reproduces in the translation room the very same asymmetry that typifies the exterior conditions and the power relations between languages. I begin this discussion by examining the emergence of the effects of the neoclassical model on translation in general, and in particular its predicament in relation to translation between Arabic and Hebrew – past, present, and future.
Cloak and Dagger Exposé: Ars Poetica in the Halls of Justice
Yehouda Shenhav-Shahrabani’s text describes two bizarre scenes from the courtoom during the trial of Dareen Tatour, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, who lives in the village of Reineh ( الرينة ), near Nazareth. The Israeli police arrested Tatour in October 2015, and in November 2015 an indictment was filed against her for incitement to violence and support for a terrorist organization. At the center of the indictment appears a poem that was published on YouTube and Facebook under the title “Qawem Ya Shaabi Qawemahum” (Resist, my people, resist them). A full—and distorted—translation of the poem as made by a police officer is cited in the indictment document. Tatour remained in detention for three months, then spent eighteen months under house arrest at her parents’ home in Reineh. She was convicted on May 3, 2018, and on July 31, 2018, she was sentenced to five months’ imprisonment. She was released in September 2018.
Amputated Tongue: On the Potential for Change in a Political Act of Translation
Be-lashon kruta (Amputated tongue) is a collection of Palestinian prose published by the Maktoobseries in 2019. It is the most comprehensive collection of Palestinian literature ever published in Hebrew, in terms of both quantity and the period covered. It is also the richest collection of its kind in terms of the variety of authors and the most complex in terms of translation methodology. In this article we focus on Be-lashon kruta, its place and importance within the local field of Arabic-to-Hebrew translations, and the new model that lies at its heart: a novel binational and bilingual dialogical approach to Arabic-to-Hebrew translation that addresses a number of lacunas that have accompanied this field. We first focus on the significance of Be-lashon kruta, looking at the collection’s title as both a metaphor and an indication of a broader process and attitude in which the Palestinian voice was not heard and remained unspoken in Hebrew. We then deal with the challenges of asymmetry in translation generally and in the Arabic-to-Hebrew field more particularly. We conclude with a survey of the Maktoob model of translation as an answer to these ongoing lacunas.
The Political Syntax of the Absentees: A Translator’s Reflection on Stella Maris
Stella Maris, by Elias Khoury, is the follow-up novel to My Name Is Adam: Children of the Ghetto, Volume I, but the two novels can be read out of sequence, since they do not follow a linear narrative. Each is made up of multiple layers of space and time, entwined with the history and biography of Adam Danoun, as they move in a time machine-like fashion between past and future, and parallel worlds.
Guest Editors’ Note: From the Neoclassical to the Binational Model of Translation
Literary translation—whether a branch within comparative literature, linguistics, hermeneutics, or elsewhere in the academic disciplinary maze—has grown and developed mainly in accordance with the European neoclassical tradition. The previous issue of JLS was dedicated to the critique of the neoclassical model’s supposed transparency and impartial representation of the original source, allegedly trying to reach a “fluent” translation of the original.
To cope with translation from Arabic to Hebrew under the conditions of the present time, the Translators’ Circle in Maktoob proposes a pragmatic model of translation that transcends the comfort zone and is open to negotiation and a dialogical process of movement and wrestling in a dynamic relationship of dialogue. Although the model is fraught with practical, economic, and empirical difficulties, and is not necessarily pragmatic, it relies on the philosophy of pragmatism, according to which translation is not only a textual achievement but also action in the real world, which seeks to overcome the elements of alienation and degeneration of the individual, nationalistic portrait of translation. The translation turns from a metatext, which is placed behind the text and whose function is to explain and illuminate, into a social text, as a basis for communication and for expression of collective consciousness. In other words, and paraphrasing Ferdinand de Saussure’s notion that language should be studied in and for itself, we argue that translation is not only a thing in and for and of itself but also a communication tool, a byproduct of a comprehensive political process. To this end it expands the concept of intertextuality from hermeneutics to sociology. That is, intertextuality is not just an encounter between textual units, as is commonly the case in the fields of hermeneutics, linguistics, and literature, but also an interactive sociological mechanism based on encounter and reciprocity between people.
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