Session Title

Wisdom Carried Over: Translating Early Proverbs, Sayings, and Sentential Material

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Early Proverb Society (EPS)

Organizer Name

Karl Arthur Erik Persson

Organizer Affiliation

Signum Univ.

Presider Name

Sarah M. Anderson

Presider Affiliation

Princeton Univ.

Paper Title 1

Sapiential Literature and the Language of Human Reason

Presenter 1 Name

Alice Hutton Sharp

Presenter 1 Affiliation

McGill Univ.

Paper Title 2

Translating Proverbiality in the Old English "Dicts of Cato"

Presenter 2 Name

Evan Wilson

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Univ. of California-Berkeley

Paper Title 3

Thomas Becket's Civil War: "Pila Minantia Pilis"

Presenter 3 Name

Tristan Taylor

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Univ. of Saskatchewan

Paper Title 4

Bede's Translation of Proverbs into His Other Exegetical Works

Presenter 4 Name

Gernot Wieland

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Univ. of British Columbia

Paper Title 5

Response

Presenter 5 Name

Karl Arthur Erik Persson

Start Date

13-5-2016 1:30 PM

Session Location

Valley II Garneau Lounge

Description

In theorizing their role, Walter Benjamin suggests that translators are the high priests of a kind of linguistic mysticism: “It is the task of the translator to release in his own language that pure language which is exiled among alien tongues, to liberate the language imprisoned in a work in his re-creation of that work.” However, the earthiness of some pre-Romantic translations of sentences and wisdom sayings raises questions about the universal applicability of such intimations. For instance, the Old English translator of Cato’s Distichs probably had a different model in mind when s/he took a sophisticated proverb – comparing hair loss and the loss of riches - and reworked it into a bald assertion that drops the metaphor: Monig mon hæf∂ micel feax on foranheafde and wyrd þeah færlice calu (Many a man has a great deal of hair on the front part of his head and yet suddenly becomes bald; OE Dicts, 40.10). Laughable though this “translation” may seem, the methodology it implies does touch on the serious differences between modern and premodern assumptions about translations and transpositions of language/meaning, and thereby suggests early sentential material as a particularly fruitful locus for the exploration and expansion of translation theory – even as it suggests the study of translation as a useful way of tracking and exploring the “fingerprints” left behind as wisdom sayings were passed from one language and culture to another. Recognizing this, the Early Proverb Society invites papers exploring translations of early wisdom sayings and the cultures and lives that produced them. Paper topics may include but are not limited to:

- Changes in content, organization, or nuance in sentence transmission/translation.

- Treatment of proverbial metaphors that do not translate well into a particular target culture.

- The translation of sentential material compared to the translation of text in other modes.

- Translation or non-translation as a means of situating the authority value of sentences.

- The removal or collocation of proverbs from larger contexts such that meaning is altered.

Karl A. E. Persson

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May 13th, 1:30 PM

Wisdom Carried Over: Translating Early Proverbs, Sayings, and Sentential Material

Valley II Garneau Lounge

In theorizing their role, Walter Benjamin suggests that translators are the high priests of a kind of linguistic mysticism: “It is the task of the translator to release in his own language that pure language which is exiled among alien tongues, to liberate the language imprisoned in a work in his re-creation of that work.” However, the earthiness of some pre-Romantic translations of sentences and wisdom sayings raises questions about the universal applicability of such intimations. For instance, the Old English translator of Cato’s Distichs probably had a different model in mind when s/he took a sophisticated proverb – comparing hair loss and the loss of riches - and reworked it into a bald assertion that drops the metaphor: Monig mon hæf∂ micel feax on foranheafde and wyrd þeah færlice calu (Many a man has a great deal of hair on the front part of his head and yet suddenly becomes bald; OE Dicts, 40.10). Laughable though this “translation” may seem, the methodology it implies does touch on the serious differences between modern and premodern assumptions about translations and transpositions of language/meaning, and thereby suggests early sentential material as a particularly fruitful locus for the exploration and expansion of translation theory – even as it suggests the study of translation as a useful way of tracking and exploring the “fingerprints” left behind as wisdom sayings were passed from one language and culture to another. Recognizing this, the Early Proverb Society invites papers exploring translations of early wisdom sayings and the cultures and lives that produced them. Paper topics may include but are not limited to:

- Changes in content, organization, or nuance in sentence transmission/translation.

- Treatment of proverbial metaphors that do not translate well into a particular target culture.

- The translation of sentential material compared to the translation of text in other modes.

- Translation or non-translation as a means of situating the authority value of sentences.

- The removal or collocation of proverbs from larger contexts such that meaning is altered.

Karl A. E. Persson