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Posts Tagged ‘translation’


Chun Hua Catherine Dong explores mistranslations and metaphrase in language by reenacting English idiom Cry Over Split MilkChun Hua Catherine Dong explores mistranslations and metaphrase in language by reenacting English idiomChips on ShoulderChun Hua Catherine Dong explores mistranslations and metaphrase in language by reenacting English idiom A Drop in the BucketChun Hua Catherine Dong explores mistranslations and metaphrase in language by reenacting English idiom Beat a Dead HorseSeven-Idiomatic-Pieces-Chun-Hua-Catherine-Dong-03Seven-Idiomatic-Pieces-Chun-Hua-Catherine-Dong-07Seven-Idiomatic-Pieces-Chun-Hua-Catherine-Dong-01


12 hours at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada, November 2012

“Seven Idiomatic Pieces” is a performance series that . Although idioms might not make sense for many non-English speakers, I found out that they are like ready-made scripts that can be performed. For instance, the idiom, “the apple of my eye,” consists of two elements: apple and eye. However, what interests me most is how to use the two elements that seemingly have no connections to each other to make a performance in order to convey meanings or emotions. “Seven Idiomatic Pieces” focuses on the surface of the language and translates idioms into performative actions and gestures.

performed by Tran Chovic, photo and video by Shannon Harris.

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Chun Hua Catherine Dong chews up rice, splits it on a spoon and feed a male mannequin head at Western Front VancouverChun Hua Catherine Dong says translating a text is like chewing up rice and then feeding it to somebody else Chun Hua Catherine Dong eats her rice while a mannequin head is watching her, she feeds the mannequin head some pre-masticated rice for hours in Vancouver The-Other-Word-Chun-Hua-Catherine-Dong-05Chun Hua Catherine Dong is feeding pre-masticated rice to a mannequin head, she eats rice, spits it to a spoon and feeds the manequin for fours hours

photo by James Zhang

four hours at Western Front Gallery

I set a desk and two chairs in a gallery space. I sit on a chair, and a male mannequin in front of me. There is a big bowl of cooked rice on the desk, I use a spoon to scoop rice, put it into my month, and slowly chew it until it becomes soft and warm. And then I carefully transfer the rice from my month to the spoon, and feed it to mannequin. This process is repeated until the rice on the plate is thoroughly transferred.

This performance refers that the sense of authenticity, integrity and beauty of resource language get lost in translation. The rice in this performance is a metaphor of text. I am sitting on a desk, translating a big plate of text to my reader who is devouring this plate in its translated form. My reader may understand the subject, but the quality of what he has consumed is definitely not the same as the original once. In fact, translating a text is like chewing up rice and then feeding it to somebody else. In performance, what I feed to the mannequin is still rice. However, this transformed rice has already lost its flavor and nutrition. It is the same in translation, clarity and fluency of source text might still be kept in a target text. However, the source text and the target text can never be the same because fidelity in translation is the root that translators strive to approach but it can never truly be reached.

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