04 August 2009

International Culture Lab

That the choice of language changes the meaning of a line is clear from empirical or experiential evidence. In the production of Outside Inn by the International Culture Lab, for example, one language (German), then another (English) was used separately in a performance, then the two languages together mixed. This is one finding of the theatrical experiment: "Audience members who had seen the same actors play in two languages had commented on how different the characters seem in one language or the other. The actors, in turn, noticed differences in the ways their characters responded to the same narrative circumstances depending upon the language they were using."

This is why teachers that teach the Iliad in English, for example, without referring to the Greek original and critics that talk about the English translation of the Iliad without considering the Greek text as a counterpoint fail to do justice to the literary text. Languages matter, and when used two or more at a time, they matter simultaneously.

1 comment:

  1. This blog reminds me of an exercise at UCLA in which the students identified 21 meanings of the expletive "Oh dear," as uttered by the actress Vanessa Redgrave, from Orton's play "Prick Up Your Ears." Languages matter, so does the articulation of a language in reading or performance.