Thursday, March 12, 2009

History of Translation (or vice versa)

This is awkward. On his blog Pample the Moose, University of Guelph historian Matthew Hayday reports on his reading of André Pratte's provocative essay collection Reconquering Canada: Quebec Federalists Speak up for Change, translated by Patrick Watson -- a book and argument we've noted here before. Being a properly bilingual Canadian historian, Hayday's also been comparing the English text to the French original.

So when he reads a spectacular historical clunker in the English-language text about "the Manitoba Schools Question of 1890, which created publicly funded separate schools for French and English students," he finds his faith in the book and its authors being shaken. He knows well -- don't we all, my lovelies? -- that the thing in question in the Schools Question was Manitoba's abolition of publicly-funded schools for francophone students. Perplexed, Hayday goes back to the original...

...and finds the mistake is not there at all. The little parenthetical explanation that misstates the whole point of the Manitoba Schools Question just doesn't exist in the original essay. It was added into the translation.

You should read Matthew's whole post.
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