Keith April 16th, 2008
Awake! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultan’s Turret in a Noose of Light.
There has been some discussion on actKM about language translation. It has been suggested that it is possible to decide that a particular translation can be said to be “correct”, or that one translation can be actually measured and rated as “better” than another.
The argument has variously referred to single words or whole texts; poetry has also been referred to.
Is it possible to say that even a precise, simple, factual statement is accurately translated? Maybe, but I am not convinced. However, when it comes to translating “knowledge” – any piece of text that is in any way context-dependent, then I must side with David Snowden’s view that “knowledge is closer to poetry than a factual statement.”
Poetry tends to be strongly context-dependent. There is no way that a translation of a poem can be judged to be “correct” in any completely objective or absolute way (or thus, by the above argument, knowledge).