The translation of the oral traditions found on African soil is not an act which should be taken lightly. As manifestations and re-presentations of rich textscapes, the translator cannot be at ease when working with-in such traditions. Against the backdrop of the colonial practice of translation and its telos of archiving, artefacting and creating the African-as-Other, I investigate strategies to limit the inevitable violence that translation always enacts. Challenging the dominant approach to translation on the continent, namely that of “thick translation” theorised by Kwame Appiah, I present a form of translation which tries to em-body, rather than simply tongue the spoken. This approach, omdigting, I illustrate by applying it to various oral texts from across Africa—texts which exemplify the diverse, but also similar, nature of the word-body which is found on this continent.
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Staphorst, L. (2021). To Tongue the Body | To Body the Tongue: Problematizing the Translation of Oral Traditions. In: Akinyemi, A., Falola, T. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of African Oral Traditions and Folklore. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-55517-7_28
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