“Translingual Shakespeare: An Afterword”
Shakespeare in Succession: Translation and Time, ed. Michael Saenger and Sergio Costola (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2023), 298-307
Literary translations work with, rather than out of, the space between languages. Translations evolve not only across linguistic and cultural borders but also across time.
It is notable that Shakespeare’s own play texts feature translational properties that can be amplified in translation.
This translingual property makes Shakespeare’s text inherently translational in the dramaturgical and gestural senses.
A frequently stated myth is that Shakespearean drama is all about its poetic language, and adaptations in another language would violate the “original.”
The history of performance and reception in and beyond the Anglophone world suggests otherwise. Literary translations rely on, and amplify, the translingual property of languages. Translingual echoes occur when semantically linked phrases mean similar but not identical things in more than one language.
Even English-language performances engage in translational behaviors, because audiences would find many scenes confusing without seeing the actors performing them.
In our times, most audiences encounter Shakespeare in truncated, often translational, forms, such as short video clips, memes, or quotes. This cross-fertilization and mobility are the norms, not the exceptions.
Translation studies contribute site-specific epistemologies to our understanding of what Shakespeare means in different locations and in different times.