Real Life and Blogging

March 18, 2007

It’s a shame that real life often impedes blogging, and there are times when I can not post regularly. It’s also a shame that I can not speak any language other than English well, despite the fact that I have taken classes in so many, and especially since so much of my present time is taken up with their study. Instead of actually learning languages, I seem to have combined the bits and pieces of what I can speak into a bizarre amalgamation: I add dative objects to French sentences, and try to make Hebrew compound nouns ala German. To rectify this problem, and to wet your appetite for a more considerable post that shall hopefully arrive soon, I will use this forum to practice my translation skills. Below is my translation of Gayatri Spivak’s essay “Can the Subaltern Speak?” into Yiddish. Given our love for the subaltern here at YS, Spivak’s essay seemed like the perfect place for me to start. Besides, since Spivak famously translates from her third language (French) into her second (English), I should practice translating from my third language (Post-colonial) into my 5th (Yiddish). I will then retranslate my translation back into English for the benefit of our readers.

“Kenen di unters redn?” fun Gayatri Spivakn


“Can the Subordinates speak?” by Gayatri Spivak


Notes on the translation: 1) kenen, in addition to being a modal verb meaning “can/be able to” (pouvoir; yakhol) also means to know a language, giving my translation a nuance that the English does not have. Dash 1, Gayatri 0; 2) Without a copy of Harkavy’s Yiddish-English-Hebrew dictionary, the only dictionary old-fashioned enough to have “subaltern” (no Y-E dictionary is current enough to have “subaltern”), I decided to use the plural of the word der unter which means subordinate. This comes from the word unter meaning below, and captures the original idea of “subaltern” as a military phrase. Dash 1.5, Gayatri .5; 3) I have used redn (to speak) rather than redn verter (to speak out) because the idea of the subaltern is that they are so cut off from the lines of advancement that they can not communicate at all. Dash 1.5, Gayatri 1.5; 4) The essay is really long, so I have decided to summarize it’s conclusions. Dash 11.5, Gayatri 1.5

There you have it; Yesterday’s Salad is once again the world’s finest communicator of ideas.