[OPE-L:2054] Re: Translator's lot is not a happy one

riccardo bellofiore (bellofio@cisi.unito.it)
Wed, 1 May 1996 03:18:26 -0700

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At 13:46 29-04-1996 -0700, Alan Freeman wrote:
>Re translating p300 of the Penguin edition, p188 (p193 in L/W)
>and so on. I'm afraid this is going to be a rant, but having been
>on the sharp end of the translating business I'm unhappy.
>1) Look, guys, there was a typo. The Penguin edition contains
>an extra 'and'. Remove the 'and', and the problem goes. Who knows
>if Ben Fowkes (yes, he is a real person) got it wrong? It could be
>anyone between the translator, the publisher, the typist, the
>copy-editor and just a bad night out for everyone. None of them
>get paid and none of them get recognised. In four days of exchanges
>you guys managed to write labor-labor instead of labour-power
>and get the (for me, it may be different for Amerikans in which
>case abasement and apologies) wrong page number for the
>L/w edition WRONG and you were only talking about one paragraph.
>How the hell do you think one ordinary human being translator
>is going to get everything right?

Granted. But: (i) there *are* serious errors, which I can document (and
better than me, others), in this edition; (ii) being not an English-born
speaker (see next point) I wanted to be sure that it was not an error from
mine in understanding English; (iii) having seen many on this list to
engage battle on the *interpretation* in Marx always quoting in English,
and turning around a single word, well I wanted to be sure if others read
different than from myself that passage for substantive reasons.

>2) The real problem is this: why should Riccardo have to cite
>in English at all? Marx wrote in German, he should be cited in
>German. And we should *learn* German. It is perhaps difficult
>for non-German speakers, but no more difficult than neoclassical
>economics for non-economists.
>The only reason Riccardo has to ask us about the 'correct'
>translation is because of Anglophone cultural imperialism. Full stop.
>My advice to Riccardo is, if in doubt, cite the German. This
>i say not out of arrogance but simply because I don't accept that
>an Italian should be forced to quote a German in English.
>It's not right. Also, the German is what Marx actually wrote, in his
>crabbed hand on his yellow paper. So it is the closest we will every
>get to the poor man's brain.

Yes, it IS Anglophone cultural imperialism. Yes, we MUST learn German to
read Marx. But I doubt that the debate would go on if anyone of us directly
quote in German. No EEA meetings (or Bergamo conferences), no OPE-L lists,
etc. And I think to check the translation in crucial points may be useful.

And that quote is in fact so crucial for me because I hold that the
labour theory of value in Marx almost reduce to the section of the chapter
from where the quote is taken. [In my view, Marx's theory is a theory of
the origin of profit as preliminary to the macroeconomic theory of
distribution; if this view, as I articulate it, is correct, most of the
problems discussed by simultaneist vs. TSS *dissolves*. That section of
Capital is where what I want to say is most clearly spelled out, so, you
see, I want to be sure of the details, and ask the help of others]

>Don't shoot the Pianist. Learn to sing.

Time is not so abundant. I find already impossible to learn, at the same
time, Marx, political economy (which are not the same thing!), and English
(well, *my* English), to speak with you, guys...


P.S.: BTW, Alan, I am sending you a more practical political papers in
Italian, which I think you do understand! And so: why we always speak in
English? I met Mario Seccareccia (Italian name) a few days ago, and I saw
that it is very fluent in Italian. Hence, why on email he preferred to
speak with me in English (well, with *my* English: Jerry, do not become
nervous)? The same with Wal Suchting: he reads Italian books, he even read
a paper of mine in Italian, but we always write in English! This is to say
that I in fact truly like this utopian post of yours!

Riccardo Bellofiore e-mail: bellofio@cisi.unito.it
Department of Economics Tel: (39) -35- 277505 (direct)
University of Bergamo (39) -35- 277501 (dept.)
Piazza Rosate, 2 (39) -11- 5819619 (home)
I-24129 Bergamo Fax: (39) -35- 249975