By Jacques Derrida
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Extra info for The Work of Mourning
So against an inferential understanding of what motivated translators, chapter 3 studies the motives of those translators who chose to say why they worked. Their motives can be grouped and analyzed, but reveal as much about what the more learned English translators wanted us to think they were doing as about why they actually translated. Nevertheless, these are the least opaque pieces of evidence about motive and suggest the kinds of pressures and needs that drove many textual translations. Once the translator had something to translate and a reason to do it, all that was left was the hard work of translating.
Some of this I have done; but a book aiming at such a comprehensive goal is too far beyond my linguistic expertise. But I also would not have written this one if I thought that conclusions I could draw from studying this very intensively translating culture were not valid or worthwhile—and, importantly, useful not just for the study of the history of translation, but also for the more terrestrial understanding of the Anglo-Saxon, AngloScandinavian, Anglo-Norman, and Angevin worlds. The focus does not often shift far from the England inhabited principally by English-speaking people, so that these greater changes can be watched in a common linguistic space, well defined and known, over which political, intellectual, and cultural waves pass.
A Worcester family whose grandparents had heard Bishop Wulfstan II (c. 40 The needs of scholars to delimit their fields of study between Old and Middle English should not make us forget how imperceptible such boundaries were to contemporary speakers. Did a woman in twelfth-century Winchester know or care that she no longer had in her culture a standard written language? 41 It is difficult to know what sense the English had of the existence of different dialects of their language. 42 There is no Anglo-Saxon label for West Saxon, early or late, or for Kentish.