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Transcending Your Mother Tongue
prose [ ]
on these pages

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by [wipperud ]

2009-12-27  |     | 



Since the summer of 2006 I have been a contributor and later on an editor on these pages.

My first contribution was one of my earliest attempts on writing poetry in English. In the eighties I was a translator for seven years and I also studied literature at the University of Oslo for a while. Nevertheless it was not at all without anxiety I started publishing in English on the net. Would the result be satisfactory for English readers? Would I be able to grasp the means of adequate expression?
For each and every writer leaving the safe haven of the mother tongue to explore the coasts of an alien language there is one most obvious obstacle:
Apart from the fact that all languages differ as far as grammar and syntax is concerned, you must take the psychology of the language into account. Ways of perceiving sights,symbols, history and everyday phenomena differ in all nations. That presented indeed quite an obstacle, but also a source of inspiration for yours truly.
Another obstacle I was quite aware of, partly due to my work as a translator, was the impossibility of direct transition. If you don't rearrange the text in some sense when you cross the language border, you'll have a hard time trying to get rid of the smell of your mother's tongue. Once you start to rearrange, though, you'll soon find that this other language offers possibilities you've never even dreamed of.
At this point you truly start to transcend the words and concepts given to you by birth. Thus you evolve into more of a cosmopolitan writer. In a broad sense the use of other languages in writing admits the author an opportunity to gaze up from the cultural and national boundaries.
Personally, as I started writing regularly in English, I didn't dare to elaborate very much regarding the amount of words in my contributions. That is how I came to appreciate short poems. I found that a few lines in many cases can express more and give the reader a larger degree of freedom in the sense of interpretation than buckets of words can.
So, dear readers, on my part this is an account of how developing and giving the process of converting from one language to another may be. It still is! And I can see from other people's contribution on Agonia that they take part of this experience as well. Let's hope that all contributors on these pages will have a happy and fruitful New Year !


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