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on audiovisual translation, subtitling, and the French & American film industries

The Impossibility of Translation

The strangest thing about translation is how out of nowhere it can illuminate.  Nicholas Froeliger‘s talk at last week’s ATA‘s 53rd annual conference packed exactly that kind of intellectual firepower.

A dialectic jutuxposing the logical tools privy to translators with their ever-expanding cyberscape, his session if nothing else scored an ironic coup arguing “for” the primacy of the human “analog” over anything digital at a conference dominated not only by incessant hawking of any and all avatar translation methods and means, but also by a categorical privledging of the virtual over the real in networking, hiring and socializing.  (Lest anyone think I’ve gone all Luddite, hey, I’m blogging about it.)

In the tradition of great French thinkers, his thesis made easy fodder of the professional shotgun marriage the majority of us either endure or risk persishing into obscurity.   But sans rancor, he wittily made his argument, recasting translators (in my mind anyway) as silent masters collaboratively dueling with their avatars.

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