Born in the Blood: On Native American Translation

Born in the Blood: On Native American Translation

Born in the Blood: On Native American Translation

Born in the Blood: On Native American Translation

Synopsis

Praise for Brain Swann's Algonquian Spirit Contemporary Transltions of the Algonquian Literatures of North America

Excerpt

Brian Swann

Translating Native American languages is a very different process from translating European languages. For one thing, the translation of European languages does not usually present real physical and spiritual dangers. For another, there are the complexities of collaboration between non-Native academics and Native American culture-bearers, formerly “informants.” Moreover, translators have to decide how to transform oral expression into a written form, and in addition they may have to produce their own grammars and dictionaries, as part of what Julie Brittain and Marguerite MacKenzie in this volume term “a unique constellation of factors” This constellation can also include “the interaction of language and social life,” working with Native American speakers and communities in an atmosphere of “comprehensive description” whose goal is language strengthening and retention, or even “to capture as much of the language before it dies” It can also involve what Carrie Dyck in her contribution calls the creation of “ethical space,” where different worlds come into contact. This contact or collision necessitates dealing with translation as part of the historical process of appropriation, and with the fact that the process of collecting and translating Native American materials is replete with ironies and dilemmas. It entails facing up to the implications of Eric Cheyfitz’s claim that translation, broadly conceived, was and is “the central act of European colonization and imperialism in America” All of which means that in “the post-colonial era” involving “ethics, ideology, action” the translation of Native American literatures will always be more than a . . .

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