It has come to my somewhat erudite attention that there is now a movement to reclass translation as something done inside oneself and between places and not between texts. Quite frankly, I am amazed at this change! If a well-
If etymology is the study of the has-
Thus, since translation comes from the Latin “to carry over”, it is simplicity itself to assert that it now means the universal migrant experience, filtered through the tribulations of not knowing which cricket team to support as you sip your champers at Lords.
This logic is remarkably flexible. Literally any term can be deconstructed in like fashion, reversing the tendency to hegemonic meaning-
It’s pretty cool.
Take the word “linguistics”, which is related to an old term meaning either “a wooden implement for untangling pasta” or “the study of the tongue”. Therefore, by the process of cultural translation, we arrive at a position where the meaning of linguistics is the study of the tongue as it untangles pasta. Yet this definition is not, in itself, empowering.
If we are to take seriously the paradigm of research as empowerment, so prevalent in cultural translation, allowing researchers to claim the ground of the German citizenship test, the entry point of new ideas into the world, and entire literary and political systems, then it becomes clear that the best response to hegemonic power is to give it unquestioningly to the people who talk the most about hegemonic power. Writing academic books is, of course, the primary route by which the oppressed are liberated. To do critical theory in any discipline is to save it.
A definition of linguistics via cultural translation is therefore the prime route towards saving the discipline itself and establishing the subaltern as the master. While traditionally slippery definitions have been preferred to solid ones, since clarity has a rather grubby relationship with empirical practice, there is room even here for manœuvre.
If, instead of offering an exact definition, we argue that linguistics is the study of the langue of the oppressed and powerless authors of academic monographs and novels about the oppression they suffer as university professors and successful novelists, then we have already made great strides. Linguistics is slippery and definitions are difficult, but anything that concentrates power in the hands of those who like cricket and do not like reliance on evidence is a very good thing.