Lainnir a' Bhauirn: The Gleaming Water : Essays on Modern Gaelic Literature

By Emma Dymock; Wilson McLeod | Go to book overview

8
Self-translation: in dialogue with the outside world

Corinna Krause

Tha i ro ùrail dhomhs’, a’ chànain seo.
Tha na faclan ag amharc orm le seallaidhean
neo-chiontach, neo-amharasach, is gann
gun dùraig mi eadhon a bheantainn dhaibh
is iad cho fìreanta neo-thruaillte.1
(from ‘Cnuasachd’ by Christopher Whyte
(MacIlleBhàin, 2009, p. 4))

This article is concerned with the notion of meaning in the light of the bilingual Gaelic/English edition of poetry by single authors, poetry that relies heavily on self-translation to communicate with an audience. One of the most prominent thinkers of the twentieth century, who devoted his work to contemplating the coming into being of meaning, is the Russian literary critic Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin. His writings, which include works initially credited to Valentin Nikolaevich Voloshinov and Pavel Nikolaevich Medvedev and later identified as originating with Bakhtin (Hirschkop, 2001, p. 5), will form the basis for the argument this article aims to develop.


Dialogism: communication as a two-sided act

As Bakhtin scholar Pam Morris points out, at the heart of Bakhtinian thinking lies ‘an innovative and dynamic perception of language’ (Morris, 1994, p. 1), which acknowledges language as a living medium in actual communication situations. Stressing language as the medium for verbal communication in general invites reflections in the particular literary

1 ‘She is so very fresh to me, this language/the words look at me with/innocent, unsuspicious eyes, and I hardly/even dare to touch them/and them so true and uncorrupted’ (my translation). The title translates as ‘musing, reflection, contemplation’ etc.

-115-

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