Discussion Question

Kwame Anthony Appiah spends the last section of his essay discussing some of the pedagogical considerations that should inform his idea of ‘thick’ translation. I wonder to what extent certain institutional norms and forces are already ‘baked into’ our educational systems and so already shape our consideration of the kinds of pedagogical goals that are appropriate.

How powerful can a ‘thick’ translation truly be in this regard? Appiah seems to equate the intention of his own produced translation with the effect that it will have on readers (in this case students) in way that seems at odds with his early discussion of literature and intentions. Furthermore, the more important limiting factor seems to be not literal meaning vs literary meaning, but between pedagogical orientation and the actual use. How many heavily footnoted books, many of them in translation, are ordered by professors every year just because the edition is the standard? How many students consider such paratextual materials to be required reading and so actually absorb the thickness of the text? It seems to me that we would need to take into account not only textual and linguistic questions, but also questions of the ways that the actual TTs are deployed and made use of in classrooms.

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