Translating and Hate: Should the Translator Be Held Responsible for ‘Politically Problematic’ Texts?

Arabic Literature (in English)

Yesterday, responses to this question by Yardenne Greenspan — a Hebrew translator and the Asymptote editor-at-large for Israel — and I were placed together, as though we were debating the question. Really, though, we speak about quite different things:

Screen-Shot-2015-03-24-at-9.37.18-PM Interesting that the question shifts (in the image) from “Should the translator be held responsible for politically problematic texts?” to “Should we censor or translations?”

Greenspan writes about how to deal with the Hebrew slur kushi, and indeed, moving racial slurs and other insults from language to language is a mess. She looks at several different possibilities: What if the writer is being inadvertently racist? (Ugh.) What if the writer is putting the slur in the mouth of a racist character? (Well, that should be fine.) And what if the writer is just a flaming, drop-the-ball-and-kick-it racist? (Well….)

These are good questions, and could also be applied to Arabic, or English. But…

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