Wednesday, July 19, 2006
A kind soul has forwarded Theodore Kisiel's paper Recent heidegger translations and their German originals: A grassroots archival perspective (from a Continental Philosophy Review earlier this year) leading to much be-ing-en-the-mirth here in the bunker beneath enowning world headquarters. It begins:
What is the present situation for the translation of Heidegger’s works into English, after the major disappointment of the translation of Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis), the text of 1936–38 purported to be Heidegger’s second magnum opus, after Being and Time? Reviewers of Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning) from both continental and analytic camps were quick to object to the proliferation of neologisms which literally deluge many an English sentence, thereby rendering it almost laughably opaque. The reviews fault the translators, Parvis Emad and Kenneth Maly, for their apparent contempt of readable English prose, especially in their en-coinages of esoteric en-words like “enquivering, encleaving, enstrifing, enswaying, ensuffering, enthinging, enbeckoning, enhinting,” none of which are to be found in the rather lengthy list in the Oxford English Dictionary of obsolete and rare words bearing the prefix “en.” Even er-sehen is willfully translated as “to ensee” rather than by the readily available “to envision” conforming to current usage. The Translators’ Foreword, which provides long-winded and so obtuse justifications of their various translation decisions, is too mired in clumsy English to be illuminating to the educated reader, overtaxing even the bilingual reader. For example, the Foreword does little to clarify the Beiträge‘s “unusual syntax” dictated by its “be-ing-historical thinking,” which is introduced as “a thinking that is enowned by being in its historical unfolding”. One might accept the awkward English adjective in the phrase, “be-inghistorical [seynsgeschichtliches] thinking,” as an economical albeit teutonic way of referring to “thinking in accord with the history of be-ing” if this awkwardness were not compounded by translating the noun Seynsgeschichte (as well as Seinsgeschichte) as “be-ing-history” instead of the more accurate and telling “be-ing’s history” or, even more idiomatically, the “history OF be-ing.”
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