The Affront of Untranslatability
DOI link for The Affront of Untranslatability
The Affront of Untranslatability book
Untranslatability is not just a speculative concept or prospective characteristic, transhistorical and planetary in its reach and relevance. (Un)translatability has always been a historical and social discourse, shaped by other epistemes and legacies that intersect in complex ways with notions of language, subjectivity, ability and translation—in their various spheres of liberal, illiberal and neoliberal operation. Under the aegis of “effrontery,” this chapter considers the discursive residue that, in the early twenty-first century, has made the idea of untranslatability seem repellant to some, and opportune to others. For instance, how has the concept of untranslatability squared off with, or openly impugned, ancient and contemporary international traditions of (successful) literary translating, professional interpreting, or (effective) diplomatic negotiation? Now under conditions of globalisation, how has untranslatability been able to furnish for itself a precious and enchanting air, which reinforces a hierarchy among, say, philosophical, commercial and advocacy-based work? Despite the particular distemper that the word untranslatability has unleashed in recent years. I am ultimately convinced that a “right to untranslatability” will need to become a premise for conceptions of justice on multiple levels—cultural, social, ecological, political-economic, historical and interspecies.