Yoko Tawada's Portrait of a Tongue
An Experimental Translation by Chantal Wright
Publication Year: 2013
Yoko Tawada's Portrait of a Tongue: An Experimental Translation by Chantal Wright is 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 Tongue is 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.
Published by: University of Ottawa Press
Series: Literary Translation
Title Page, Copyright
Table of Contents
Introduction (I) Yoko Tawada’s Exophonic Texts
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...
Introduction (II) Translating“ Portrait of a Tongue”
Vladimir Nabokov’s skyscraping footnotes were born of his desire to do justice to Pushkin’s Onegin in 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),...
“Portrait of a Tongue”
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...