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Yoko Tawada's Portrait of a Tongue

Yoko Tawada's Portrait of a Tongue: An Experimental Translation by Chantal Wright

Yoko Tawada
Translated from the German with an introduction and commentary by CHANTAL WRIGHT
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 157
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vkck9
  • Book Info
    Yoko Tawada's Portrait of a Tongue
    Book Description:

    Yoko Tawada's Portrait of a Tongue: An Experimental Translation by Chantal Wrightis a hybrid text, innovatively combining literary criticism, experimental translation, and scholarly commentary. This work centres on a German-language prose text by Yoko Tawada entitled 'Portrait of a Tongue' ['Porträt einer Zunge', 2002]. Yoko Tawada is a native speaker of Japanese who learned German as an adult.

    Portrait of a Tongueis a portrait of a German woman-referred to only as P-who has lived in the United States for many years and whose German has become inflected by English. The text is the first-person narrator's declaration of love for P and for her language, a 'thinking-out-loud' about language(s), and a self-reflexive commentary.

    Chantal Wright offers a critical response and a new approach to the translation process by interweaving Tawada's text and the translator's dialogue, creating a side-by-side reading experience that encourages the reader to move seamlessly between the two parts. Chantal Wright's technique models what happens when translators read and responds to calls within Translation Studies for translators to claim visibility, to practice "thick translation", and to develop their own creative voices. This experimental translation addresses a readership within the academic disciplines of Translation Studies, Germanic Studies, and related fields.

    eISBN: 978-0-7766-2090-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. iii-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Introduction

    • Yoko Tawada’s Exophonic Texts
      (pp. 1-21)

      In 2003, when I began my doctoral research on Yoko Tawada, there was little published scholarly discussion of her work. Master’s and doctoral theses were the most comprehensive secondary sources at that time,¹ an indication of the then emerging status of this Japanese-German writer as a subject of academic enquiry. An English-language anthology of Tawada’s texts,Where Europe Begins(2002a), translated from the German and the Japanese by Susan Bernofsky and Yumi Selden, had just been brought out by American publisher New Directions; the only other Tawada title available in English wasThe Bridegroom Was a Dog, a collection of...

    • Translating “Portrait of a Tongue”
      (pp. 23-33)

      Vladimir Nabokov’s skyscraping footnotes were born of his desire to do justice to Pushkin’sOneginin English translation. Previous attempts at recreating the rhymes of the Russian novel-in-verse in English had produced only “grotesque travesties […] teeming with mistranslations,” Nabokov argued (1955: 506), and so, in place of mimicry, and reasoning that it is “impossible to translate Onegin in rhyme” (ibid: 512), the translator took it upon himself toexplain: “The original text will not be able to soar and to sing; but it can be very nicely dissected and mounted, and scientifically studied in all its organic details” (ibid:...

  5. “Portrait of a Tongue”
    (pp. 35-144)
    Yoko Tawada

    I remember an essay I wrote as a seven-year-old schoolgirl. The title of the essay was “My Sister.” It consisted of a list of incorrect words that came out of my sister’s mouth. She was only four years old at the time and would say things like “toothbreast” instead of toothbrush, “mother-in-war” instead of mother-in-law, and “washingmean” instead of washing machine. My sister was a fascinating language machine. “I’m happy I have a little sister”—that was the sentence with which I finished my essay.

    Who is the painter of this portrait of a tongue? She tells the reader very...

  6. Bibliography
    (pp. 145-152)
  7. Back Matter
    (pp. 153-153)