Sponsored by the “Troubling Translations” research cluster at the University of Washington.
Selecting the language in which an utterance is made is the first and most significant semantic component of that utterance, the primordial basis of its meaning. It may also seem to be the one component of a text’s meaning that a translator must betray. A translation, however, embodies a theory of the text it represents, of the scope of the translator’s work, and of the relationships between the languages the translation moves among. The translator who chooses to produce a multilingual text enacts, reinforces, and comments on those relationships. But polyglossia’s playing fields are not even: what one language means within another may not be what the other language means within the first.