Translation

While reading The Ravickians, I found the passage about the translation of the word “yellow” to be particularly jarring. The narrator says that if we are reading a translation (which I suppose we are) then we would read the word “yellow” which is not the correct word to describe what she is seeing. “But, why talk about the air here if this is a translation you are reading? I will tell you about it and you will read me saying the word “yellow” and think to yourself science fiction. Well, perhaps I do have a complaint for my translators, especially those moving from Ravic to English, Why when I say dahar to you say ‘yellow’? I know that word. The air here is not yellow. It is dahar (yellow)” (43). This brings into question everything that we have read in this series thus far. Are we reading the words that the narrator wishes us to read, or are they an inaccurate description? We have explored the idea of untrustworthy narrators in a few books we have read this semester. In this case, it isn’t the narrator, but the “translation” that we are reading. The only option we have is to picture Ravicka the way it has been described to us, although we must keep in mind that its “true” form may be entirely different. This defamiliarizes us even more than the original description of this odd city, because we must call into question every thing we know. 

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