Lost and Found in Translation: Contemporary Ethnic American Writing and the Politics of Language Diversity

By Martha J. Cutter | Go to book overview

Conclusion
Lost and Found in Translation

How many today live in a language that is not their own?
Or no longer, or not yet, even know their own and know
poorly the major language that they are forced to serve? This is
the problem of immigrants, and especially of their children, the
problem of minorities, the problem of a minor literature, but
also a problem for all of us: how to tear a minor literature away
from its own language, allowing it to challenge the language
and making it follow a sober revolutionary path? How to
become a nomad and an immigrant and a gypsy in relation to
one's own language? — Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Kafka

IN SOFIA COPPOLA'S 2003 film Lost in Translation, Bill Murray plays a washed-up and jet-lagged Anglo-American actor named Bob Harris who travels to Japan to make television commercials promoting a Japanese whiskey called Suntory. In one of the film's most memorable scenes, the director instructs Bob Harris in Japanese for several minutes before his first “take” for the commercial. When the Japanese interpreter translates this speech, however, all she says is, “He want you to turn and look in camera. Okay?” to which Harris responds, “Is that all he said?” “He wants you to say it with intensity” is all that the translator responds, after a long colloquy

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