From the Page to the Battlefield and Back: Translating War

  • Myriam Salama-CarrEmail author


This chapter provides an overview of the way translation and interpreting studies have engaged with issues of language mediation in conflict situations and have articulated conceptualisations of conflict. Arguing that the sub-discipline of translation and interpreting in war is now recognised as a defined site of inquiry, the chapter discusses some of the challenges presented by more diffuse forms of ‘perpetual war’, including fake news and a climate of so-called post-truth.


Translation and conflict is an area which has become, over a relatively short period of time, both interdisciplinary and mapped out as a specific field of research. The latter feature is evidenced by the growing number of publications which, in addition to specific case studies on translators and interpreters in contexts of war, track the development and genealogy of this field of inquiry, and thus contribute to its representation in the nomenclature of translation and interpreting perspectives, theoretical and practice-based, that inform translation and interpreting studies.

The variety of perspectives that are adopted to study translation and interpreting, and indeed language mediation in more general terms (given that boundaries here can become rather fuzzy in a number of challenging contexts), is reflected in the place which is allocated to questions of translation and conflict in academic handbooks of different foci. The 2013 edition of John Benjamins’ Handbook of Translation Studies includes an overview article on conflict and translation (Salama-Carr 2013), which directs the reader to related concepts and issues addressed in the Handbook. Two recent publications, the Routledge Handbook of Translation and Culture and the Routledge Handbook of Translation and Politics, both include chapters on translation in conflict situations, and acknowledge respectively the centrality of translation to the representation of culture (Bandia 2017) and its links with politics (Inghilleri 2018; Kelly and Footitt 2018) with reference to clashes, violence, and war.

Translation and conflict is covered in the Routledge Handbook of Culture under the overarching theme of cultural approaches to translation, and situated in frameworks of ‘activism, resistance and narrative theory, with colonisation, decolonisation, globalisation, peace negotiations, conflict resolution and international war crime tribunals as the main axe of the chapter’ (Carbonell Cortés and Harding 2017: 7). Bandia’s essay ‘Translation, clashes and conflict’ sets the scene by revisiting the historical presence of translation in conflicts, empire- and nation-building projects, and conquests, stressing that translation ‘has played a pivotal role either as a conduit for sustaining and exacerbating tensions or as a catalyst for conflict resolution and peacemaking’ (Bandia 2017: 243). The author then moves on to chart the development of translation and conflict as a site of inquiry, linking this to the ‘cultural turn’ of translation studies, with particular reference to the significant role of postcolonial studies in discussions of language, power, and resistance. The theme of conflict and translation is also discussed in relation to power in Strowe (2015).

In the Routledge Handbook of Translation and Politics (2018) translation and war is mapped as an area where translation and politics intersect. The issue of translators and interpreters in war zones is presented as an established topic, in relation to which ‘the war on terror and the wars in Afghanistan have provided much food for thought for scholars working on translation and interpreting’ (Evans and Fernández 2018: 7). Three of the volume chapters, framed with reference to structures of power, explicitly engage with war. They are Inghilleri’s discussion of translation and violence, Footitt and Kelly’s Translation and War, and, as a case study, Emily Lygo’s Translation and the Cold War. Inghilleri draws on a rich tapestry of historical periods and contexts to foreground the exposure of translators and interpreters to violence, both real and ‘symbolic’ in its Bourdieusian sense, including the contemporary role of ‘fixers’ as language mediators and intermediaries and the conflicting allegiances they are having to negotiate. In their contribution, Footitt and Kelly stress the need for multilingual information in warfare and offer detailed insights into the historical ‘continuity’ of the participation of linguists in war who have not traditionally been given a voice, an omission that is increasingly challenged in translation and interpreting studies.

Another relatively recent publication, The Routledge Handbook of Interpreting, highlights the specificities and challenges of interpreting in conflict situations. These are discussed in Moser-Mercer’s essay on ‘Interpreting in Conflict Zones’ (Moser-Mercer 2015) and in Justine Ndongo-Keller’s study of ‘Vicarious Trauma and Stress Management’ (Ndongo-Keller 2015).

The Genealogy of Translation and Conflict

Translators, interpreters, and translation researchers are no strangers to the overall notion of conflict. Translation as conflict is a recurrent trope in discussions on translation generally at the risk of essentialising the link between the two constituting parts of the trope. This metaphor underpins much of the approaches followed to conceptualise and theorise translation, and to a lesser extent interpreting. This is evident in earlier equivalence-focused discussions which are framed by conceptual and operational dichotomies such as source and target text, adequacy versus acceptability, literal versus free, to name but a few. Translation and cultural studies’ scholars have also constructed representations of translation as an aggressive act of ‘appropriation’ (Steiner 1975), potential distortion (Berman 1984/1992), or violence (Venuti 1995). Cheyfitz (1997) explores the violence of translation in the context of colonial endeavours, and Rafael (2007) develops a convincing analogy between war and translation by stressing the disruption both entail, against the backdrop and discourse of the so-called War on Terror when languages were being considered as essential tools for national security and where complex relationships bound civilian interpreters and US military personnel in the Iraq war, locally hired interpreters having to face mistrust and suspicion as potential insurgents or traitors to their communities.

Linguistic approaches to translation such as discourse analysis were instrumental in developing discussions of ideology and stance. Hatim and Mason (1990, 1997) proved particularly influential in this respect. Critical discourse analysis has been applied to the study of language bias or dominance to explore the language of protest, and the discussion of translation has been increasingly framed with reference to power relations and ideological encounters and clashes (Calzada Pérez 2002). Contrastive analyses of textual representations of conflict can be found, for example, in Guidère (2009), who explores linguistic mediation in Le Courrier International, focusing on French translations of Arabic original articles related to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. The assumed ‘neutrality’ of language mediation can also be challenged with reference to discourses of ‘security’ and ‘intelligence gathering’.

The ‘cultural turn’ in translation studies has involved a shift of emphasis from the isolated text to the historical, social, and cultural contexts in which the text was produced, translated, and received. Furthermore, developments such as descriptive and systemic translation studies which, according to Hermans, ‘can be the critical conscience of translation studies’ (Hermans 1999: 161) have stimulated, to a great extent, the discussion of translation and interpreting from historical and sociological perspectives. Increased engagement on the part of translation and interpreting scholars with the theoretical and methodological approaches of social sciences, what is referred to as the ‘social turn’ in translation, has been particularly conducive to the study of translation and interpreting as situated events, and of the translators and interpreters as positioned actors with rights and responsibilities. The highly mediatised and globalised conflicts of the last decades, the Gulf War and the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, brought to the fore the role of translators, and more particularly interpreters, in the management of war and the risks they faced. Those events seem to have served as a backdrop for some of the most influential studies of translation in war (Apter 2006; Baker 2006; Rafael 2007). Emily Apter states that The Translation Zone, her collection of essays which focuses on ‘the role played by mistranslation in war’ (Apter 2006: 3), ‘was shaped by the traumatic experience of September 11, 2001’ (ibid.: vii) and she calls for a stronger awareness amongst translators and translation scholars of the importance of language politics. These contexts of war have provided ample evidence of the centrality of language in conflict representation and framing (Baker 2006) and have shown how language provision and interpreter and translator training were lagging behind the need for mediation (Dragovic-Drouet 2007; Salama-Carr 2011; Footitt and Kelly 2017). Further, the role of interpreters and translators is conceptualised in war-related situations such as the asylum system, and humanitarian relief for refugees fleeing persecution and war (Barsky 1996).

A number of works on translation and interpreting as integral parts of war are articulated around key conflicts and their aftermath. This is the case of Lynne Franjié’s (2016) collection of essays, Guerre et Traduction—représenter et traduire la guerre. The volume does not suggest new ways of conceptualising translation and the role of translators and interpreters in fragile environments but it provides varied and detailed accounts of historical translation ‘encounters’ ranging from the preparation of conflict in the nineteenth-century imperialist strategies of the Western powers to the brutal negotiation of survival in World War II (WWII) concentration camps, and more recent instances of translator involvement in the context of the 2014 Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the dissemination of Da’esh (so-called Islamic State) propaganda.

The Increased Focus on the Intermediaries, Translation as a Situated Practice

In recent years, scholars have begun to interrogate the realities of language mediation in war contexts. What is relatively recent, however, is the sharpened focus on translation and interpreting in actual situations of violent conflict, past or present, and on the complex agency of translators and interpreters ‘embedded’ in such conflicts, whether they are directly operating in war zones, as military personnel or locally recruited linguists, and engaged on the ground (Salama-Carr 2007; Stahuljak 2010) or involved in the rewriting of texts of all genres which resonate with echoes of conflicts or narrate ongoing struggles and clashes. Jones (2010), for instance, discusses the translation into English of Bosnian and Serbian poetry in the context of the breakup of Yugoslavia where issues of nationality and identity were paramount.

One noticeable trend, with regard to the zones in which translators and interpreters operate, is the sharper focus placed on ‘other’ war-related contexts, namely the fragile environments created by wars and, in some cases, leading to wars. Boundaries can be fuzzy and unstable. It can be argued that conflicts are likely to erupt in the wake of natural disasters or punishing climatic conditions but that intensive warfare often leaves a trail of destruction which can have a profound and lasting effect on the environment and people’s lives as evidenced by the displacement of populations and migration. The Darfur conflict in South Sudan illustrates the first connection. The war was triggered to some extent by the severe drought conditions of the 1980s in that part of the world, which had led to intense competition for resources between rival groups. Another environmental process, the melting of ice in the Arctic region, will open up possibilities of shipping routes and access to resources, which can be a potential source of conflict. The need for communication is addressed in Federici (2016), a collection of essays which discuss mediation initiatives in different types of emergencies, ranging from war zones to natural disaster areas, and foreground the issues of preparedness and training, or lack thereof, with which humanitarian aid organisations are confronted when operating in fragile environments.

Historical and archival research on language policies and practices in war contexts has helped to bring to the fore spaces and actors involved, sometimes behind the scenes, in the conduct and management of war. This work provides valuable perspectives on modes of mediation but it also helps contest and challenge some of the more traditional representations of the translator and the interpreter (Footitt and Kelly 2012, Footitt and Tobia 2013). The linguists involved in the monitoring work of the BBC during WWII may have translated according to fairly prescriptive protocols of translation but they had agency in selecting what to bring to the attention of the broadcasters and in framing their choices. The monitors enjoyed a degree of autonomy in terms of deciding whether a news bulletin was particularly significant or whether a news item could be disregarded. In contrast, their ‘translation’ approach remained generally literal. The framing of some of the texts monitored and translated was also very interesting; for instance, some of the French government news bulletins/reports (WWII) were presented as ‘propaganda’, which supports the argument that translation is always performed according to a certain agenda and that language mediation plays a crucial role in conflict.1

Revisiting the Ethics of War

Attempts to contain war within ‘moral limits’ are underpinned by considerations of ethics and law, as embodied in international instruments such as The Hague and the Geneva Conventions and the UN Charter. As situated participants, translators and interpreters are themselves faced with ethical challenges to the concept of neutrality foregrounded by professional codes of practices and widely associated with translation and interpreting practice. Interest in language mediation in contexts of war has promoted renewed reflection on ethics of translation and interpreting, from issues of allegiances and loyalties (Inghilleri 2008) to calls for a greater integration of ethics in translator and interpreter training programmes (Salama-Carr 2007; Baker and Maier 2011). Inghilleri (2011) provides a critique of the notion of neutrality by drawing on interpreting and translating practices in the context of war and asylum adjudication. The opening up of new avenues to explore translation in war and in the aftermath of conflicts took place alongside the more robust articulation of human rights and the protection of human rights, including language rights, at the level of the European Union (EU) institutions.

Translation and Conflict in the Media

As a general rule, media researchers and journalists have paid scant attention to the impact of translation on reported stories and events in times of conflict and war contexts, and on the way words in translation can contribute to conflict resolution in the same way as they have the potential to ignite or exacerbate conflicts. Reporting is inevitably circumscribed by certain narratives, and the media representation of international events is underpinned by translated information. This is in contrast with the way a number of translation studies scholars have engaged with the interface between translation, interpreting, and the media in political discourse (Bielsa and Bassnett 2009), generally, and with reference to situations of conflict in particular (see Baker 2010a and 2010b for the role of translators as narrators themselves). Over the last decade a number of publications have addressed the invisibility of translation in media organisations (Davier 2014; Schäffner and Bassnett 2010; Valdeón 2015). Zanettin (2016) observes how translation remains largely invisible in journalistic accounts. ‘Translator’ and ‘interpreter’ are terms that seem to be considered interchangeable in much journalistic parlance and translation is rarely flagged up unless it fits into a particularly visible and potentially conflictual situation. A recent example is provided by the reporting of a translation initiative of the UK government in the context of the ongoing negotiations related to the planned withdrawal of the UK from the EU. It has been reported that in hoping to engage directly with EU governments, in parallel with formal negotiations with the EU institutions, the UK government has arranged for the translation of a number of documents into EU languages as a means of dissemination amongst the EU member countries in a move which contradicts the position adopted by the EU.2

Social media plays a key part in disseminating narratives of conflict and allowing hate speech to permeate political discourses. International terrorism with the myriad of links which, in all evidence, bind its organisations to state actors is an active user of the Internet. The self-proclaimed Islamic State, Da’esh, has made intensive use of it. The role of social media in spreading hate speech is also illustrated by the role that Facebook is said to have played in the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar. United Nations investigators have indeed concluded that Facebook contributed largely to these crimes. The challenge presented by the moderation of social media communications and the exploration of claims and counterclaims is closely linked to the need for translators to step in as the translation of suspected hate speech and incitation to violence requires not only linguistic and intercultural competences but also the observance of professional ethics when professional codes of practice are by no means universal. By the same token, social media is a powerful tool in the initialising and development of grass-roots protest and solidarity movements. Social media occupies much space in popular revolutions and uprisings to the extent that it has been claimed that social media, through bypassing state control and constraints to become an outlet for political dissent and resistance and the contestation of hegemonic discourses, is actually shaping and changing conflict (Zeitzoff 2017). Language, via social media but with other modes of communication, has played a central role in the revolutions of the Arab Spring and translation, more specifically, contributes to the development of political forms of action in contexts of crisis. Focusing on recent political developments and clashes in Egypt, Baker (2016) showcases the centrality of translation to protest movements and dissent, across a range of modalities and ranges deployed by activists.

Translation and Activism

Situations of conflict, particularly when the balance of power between the warring parties is blatantly unequal or when the humanitarian cost is particularly high and reported, are the catalyst for the setting up of activist groups. Freedman comments on the duality of war ‘which […] on the one hand describes the grim consequences of conflict—war can tear the heart out of communities. On the other it can be a source of extraordinary solidarity’ (Freedman 2017: x).

The Sabir Maydan manifesto is an example of the centrality of translation to global or regional activism. The initiative aims at the constitution of a ‘Mediterranean citizenship’ and a Mediterranean without frontiers in a context of interconnected conflicts and displacement. The proposed manifesto is available in Italian and English and is currently translated into Arabic, Serbo-Croat, and French.3 Furthermore, there is increasing pressure on solidarity movements and humanitarian initiatives, the neutrality of which is often contested. The White helmets, rescue workers of the Syrian Civil War, are hailed by many as selfless heroes and accused by others of being a pro-war group backed up by a powerful Public Relation machine. Although the concept of neutrality remains a powerful paradigm in public narratives of linguistic mediation in situations of conflict, the notion that the translator and the interpreter are necessarily bound by their political, religious, ethnic, or other allegiances also holds wide currency.

Activist translator groups often work in collaboration with relief agencies (e.g. the American Red Cross and the International Rescue Committee). The increasing visibility of social and political activism and solidarity movements which provides an illuminating example of the agency of translators and interpreters involved in activist groups and organisations is to a large extent due to the fast-growing digitisation of culture and the dynamics of ‘civic engagement’ which allows for interventionist translation (Peréz-González 2013). War, and the dislocation and havoc it entails, can act as a catalyst for civic engagement and grass-root activism. Activist translator networks began to attract the attention of translation and interpreting scholars a number of years ago (see Baker 2010c; Boéri and Maier 2010). The 2007 Declaration of Granada, adopted at the 1st International Forum on Translation/Interpreting and Social Activism, is a call for global social and political engagement of professionals, educationalists, researchers, and students, to boycott interpreting activities in wars of occupation, to promote linguistic diversity in the field and language rights to build a more inclusive and mutually supportive community of translators and interpreters (Boéri and Maier 2010: 156–157). In a recent article Fernández (2018) unpacks the role played by translation in the Podemos political movement in Spain.

Another network of translators and interpreters, involved with the Social Forum and the alterglobalisation movement, Babels, clearly positions its political and social engagement in its charter as a ‘player in the anti-capitalist debate’ and stresses ‘the right of everybody to express themselves in the language of their choice’.4

Focus on engagement and intervention is also of relevance to researchers, and translation and its study are increasingly seen in terms of political engagement. The ‘politics of translation’ explored in the context of postcolonial studies and gender studies shape much of current discourse on translation and conflict. Brownlie (2007) suggests that a distinction should be made between approaches underpinned by a given political or ideological engagement, which she refers to as committed approaches to translation research, and those which acknowledge the inevitability of engagement in translation.

Noteworthy of attention is the ‘mainstreaming’ that activist translation and interpreting appear to witness within the profession and in training institutions. In the UK, publications from professional associations such as the Chartered Institute of Linguists have been increasingly giving a voice to volunteer translators and interpreters and calling for support of interpreters in war zones as a moral obligation for military organisations (Hertog 2018). We can witness a closer collaboration between historians and interpreting and translation scholars to investigate the role of translation and interpreting in humanitarian contexts. The September 2018 issue of the ITI Bulletin focuses, for instance, on the work of Translators without Borders (TWB) in crisis areas.5 The visibility of translators and interpreters as actors in humanitarian relief initiatives is flagged up by the choice of name for the organisation, mapped onto the names of key organisations such as Médecins sans Frontières . Translators and interpreters are also involved in contested humanitarian relief operations. The organisation vets the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) requesting their translation services in order to ensure that they ‘do not advocate extreme religious or political views’. A new pattern of ‘professional’ voluntary translation and interpreting is also emerging. For instance, members of the TWB are qualified translators. This is an encouraging development.

One example of professional interpreters, media organisations, and training institutions joining forces is provided in the form of an open letter sent to President Macron of France in August 2017, urging him not to let France turn her back on Afghan interpreters who had worked with the French forces when they were operating in Afghanistan. These interpreters, who now feel threatened in Afghanistan, were fighting for the right to obtain asylum in France.6 Similar initiatives in support of interpreters working for the Coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken place over the last 15 years, but recent cases seem to indicate a greater joining of forces.

The Challenge of Post-truth and Fake News

Concern has been expressed widely over the spread of online misinformation. Moreover, in the present context of fake news, alternative facts, and post-truth, the fuzziness of boundaries, for instance when defining ideology, acquires new significance: fuzziness in terms of language forms and conventions, the use of spoken language in important high-level statements, but also in terms of the truth factor and the core meaning that the translator or interpreter will have to mediate. Post-truth, defined as an adjective ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’, is itself a contested concept.

Independent to the ‘truth’ aspect, or at least the degree of veracity of a given statement, there is also the vexed question of high-level speech conventions such as formal language and, generally, careful wording. When such conventions are flouted, for instance in many of the speeches made by Donald Trump, the president of the USA, translators have to manage the potentially negative, perhaps insulting, effect, such linguistic disruption can entail. The comments made by these translators and interpreters who had to mediate potentially conflictual highly charged situations are interesting in more than one way. They convey the agency of the linguistic mediators, how they perceive their role, but also their own assumptions about language use:

For an Arabic translator “Translating Donald Trump is like translating a 5-year-old. It’s easy and challenging at the same time. It is easy in the sense that the lexical and grammatical simplicity of his language means less work for me as a translator. However, the challenge lies in the ability to follow the thread of his random and disorderly style.”7

Japanese translators have listed challenges such as over-repetition, sentences left uncompleted, and unexpected registers, one interpreter expressing her doubts on the veracity of the speaker’s statements.8 One interpreter into Hindi has said: ‘In English, Trump may not sound very intelligent, but when you translate him with context in Hindi, it makes him sound better than he is.’9 The approach would be to elevate the tenor or to summarise. One particularly telling example is the one provided by a French translator in the context of an interview with the Independent newspaper. It is clear that for this particular translator the speaker has ignored language conventions in terms of register and coherence but her comments reflect her own assumptions with regard to language features.

Can it also be argued that the spread of fake news is hampered by cultural and ideological constraints? It appears that the targeting of the French electorate by US alt-right organisations and social groups in the context of the 2017 French presidential elections, a move that the New York Times called a digital call for arms, was unsuccessful because they did not translate well.10

As the saying goes, ‘truth is the first casualty of war’. Post-truth politics has been referred to as war in itself, that is, as a war on truth. Whilst d’Ancona 2017 takes the year 2016 as a starting point for the post-truth era, the philosopher John Gray posits that post-truth did actually start with the Iraq war as an ‘exercise in disinformation and denial’.11 Dealing with truth in translation is at the heart of some of the most important post-conflict initiatives of the late twentieth century, such as the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission when the interpreting of personal testimonies played a central role (Verdoolaege 2008).

The concept of fake news and the impact it can have on democracy is increasingly taken seriously by governments. The current debate in the UK is one such example, together with recent moves taken by a number of governments to tackle online accounts accused of spreading ‘fake news’ or the EU commission and Parliament debating how ‘fake news’ and disinformation should be contested and resisted. Legitimate concerns, however, often intersect with blatant censorship and more or less covert attempts at restricting freedom of information and free speech through close monitoring of media outlets.

Notwithstanding deconstructionist and hermeneutic approaches, translation studies has traditionally viewed its object of study, text, and meaning as relatively stable, and professional codes of practice for translators and interpreters tend to foreground truth and accuracy as basic tenets of professional language mediation. The question arises whether ‘the buzz of digital doubt’ as d’Ancona puts it, will unsettle matters further and maintain a state of ‘perpetual war’, notably in contexts of armed conflicts and migration and asylum agendas but also in looming trade wars.

Translation, Resistance, and the Memory of War

All wars come to an end. And that’s where history restarts.12

—Robert Fisk

The role of translation, fictional or documentary, in shaping narratives of war and conflict has been explored in a number of studies. Translation, as an important means of transnational circulation, can also be a mode of resistance through challenging and circumventing censorship and control. Steinbeck’s (1942) short novel, The Moon is Down, was aimed at boosting wartime morale and support Allied interests during WWII. It was translated, often underground, in a number of countries in Europe during WWII, and these translations were used not only to galvanise the Resistance movements: in Denmark a student resistance group ‘hoped that distribution of the novel in Denmark would embolden the resistance movement there’ (Coers in Steinbeck 2014: 122), and ‘in France, as in Denmark and Holland, sales of illegal editions of the Moon is Down helped fund the resistance’ (ibid.: 125). The translations of the novel also illustrate the impact of censorship on the circulation and production of ‘subversive’ material. Translations were banned in a number of countries or doctored as in the case of the first French translation produced in Switzerland: ‘The Swiss had deleted Steinbeck references to England, to the war in Russia, and to the occupation of Belgium by the invading army of the same country that had occupied it twenty years previously, all of which served directly to identify the unnamed country to which that army belonged’ (ibid.: 129).

The shift of focus from the text to the agent, from the page to the battlefield in translation and interpreting studies is of particular importance when conflict becomes the prism through which linguistic mediation is investigated. It allows researchers to foreground, for instance, the role of interpreters in zones of conflict and in emergency situations and the very real dangers they face, together with the ethical challenges raised by their interventions. Both operating on the frontline but somehow bypassed in earlier scholarship, they are now given due recognition in translation and interpreting studies, in great part thanks to the input of social sciences and historical research. The latter, I would suggest, takes us back to the page again as historical archives help us understand the past and are contributing to the creation of a collective memory as can do fictional and testimonial literature which bear witness to past events and trauma. As Footitt and Kelly (2012) have shown, language-focused approaches can contribute to the history of war and conflict, and Brownlie (2016) calls for further research on the way translation and memory can be conceptualised. The work of Paul Ricoeur (2003) can be brought to bear on the discussion given its relevance to studies of memory and history and its ethical approach to translation. Renewed interest in writing histories and memories of past conflicts, such as the Spanish Civil War or the Occupation of France in WWII, through literature and testimonies and their translations, can only make more visible the centrality of language to waging war and negotiating peace.


The weaponisation of language in war and conflicts of all shapes does indeed reframe translation and interpreting as integral parts of the war machine, and interpreters and translators as key actors in the construction of war and its representation, on the ground.

But it is also possible to agree with the message of hope of the late Sarah Maguire, poet and translator, that translation can be ‘the opposite to war’ as an antidote to borders:

I ask for a liquid dissolution:
let borders dissolve, let words dissolve,
let English absorb the fluency of Arabic, with ease,
let us speak in wet tongues.
Look, the Liffey is full of itself. So I post it
to Ramallah, to meet up with the Jordan [...]
(Sarah Maguire 2007: 57, “From Dublin to Ramallah”)



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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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