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The new map, of course, is an English one, which George and his fellow soldiers have come to Baile Beag to create as part of the Ordnance Survey of the s. In this vein, many critics of the play have noted that Friel employs the dialect as a way of linguistically marking his Irish characters, yet many have stopped there, and thus have not sufficiently interrogated the ends to which the play employs dialect.

Michael Toolan, for instance, correctly points out that Hiberno-English is sometimes meant to represent Gaelic and sometimes meant to represent standard English, but his argument does not consider the further implications of these important shifts: instead, he elides the differences between dialect and the standard by offering only that the similarity of the two languages lends the play great comic potential when people who appear to be speaking the same language cannot understand one another , This method suggests that with the change in language comes a change in self-understanding, or conversely that the new language comes to reflect an already altered culture: the community that speaks Hiberno-English is by its very nature unlike the community that speaks Gaelic, and thus the two languages must be employed differently.

Particularly through his multilingual characters, Friel reveals that both their speech and their identities are irrevocably hybrid.

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If Ireland is itself divided, and the North more obviously so, then the play raises the question of how language itself can come to represent both that disjunction and its solution. As such, the play has far more to say about the state of affairs in modern Ireland than it does about the facts of Irish history.

Theatre and Performance Studies

Maire, for instance, has already begun learning English, although not very thoroughly, before the mapping project makes this skill a necessity. Yet, as with Maire, what the audience hears is an inaccurate guide to the literal language he is supposed to be speaking. Similarly, when Owen is obviously speaking English to George, his syntax sounds Gaelic.

After hearing the hedge school students pepper their speech with the construction throughout the play, it is difficult not to notice that a British soldier, who has thus far spoken only the standard, seems to have crossed a boundary by joining them. Yet following through on this ideal has not always been easy. Sure I know it backways. Potentially, then, such transformation of the dramatic text could offer Field Day a particularly apt forum for challenging the assumptions of these canonical works and in the process interrogating the question of Irishness.

Such a designation, then, makes this linguistic work into a political act aimed at legitimizing Hiberno-English as a mode of communication, and legitimizing its speakers as having a manner of expression and a culture which standard English alone cannot express. To translate from English into dialect is to eradicate the Britishisms which had previously made these canonical characters more distant, doubly foreign to an Irish audience, and instead to make them as familiar as Athena is to Jimmy Jack in Translations itself, by giving them recognizable local speech cadences.

Staging and Performing Translation : Text and Theatre Practice

The translator from English to Hiberno-English, after all, offers his belief in the inadequacy of the standard to express his own culture. Ultimately, however, translating from English can also subvert that claim to autonomy. While the use of English source texts was in this case apparently a practical necessity, and in other historical circumstances might not bear such political weight, in a nation striving to forge an independent notion of itself, such dependence on the English can make Irish work appear doubly derivative. He described his decision to translate Three Sisters as one prompted by the ability of language to shape the people who speak it:.

Somehow the rhythms of these [standard English] versions do not match with the rhythms of our own speech patterns, and I think that they ought to, in some way. Even the most recent English translation again carries, of necessity, very strong English cadences and rhythms… [W]e are constantly overshadowed by the sound of the English language, as well as by the printed word.

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Maybe this does not inhibit us, but it forms us and shapes us in a way that is neither healthy nor valuable for us. Speaking to Ireland in its own cadences and rhythms seems to have sufficed for Friel, and his version of the play takes only scattered liberties with the text. Rather, Friel brings his Russia to life in Irish tones in an effort to reclaim what had previously been lost for Irish audiences: a clear sense of connection with the foreign text.

Rather, she becomes a particularly Northern figure, a unifying idealist whose allegiance is not monopolized by the brother she buries but is given equally to both. The rupture, according to Paulin, already exists in the past, and the job of the present is, like his Antigone, to find a way of burying the dead together.

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The staging for the first production periodically had Creon blend into the chorus Richtarik , , thus subsuming him into the mass of the people. Furthermore, while his first speech is precise standard English, albeit riddled with political jargon, emotion and the momentary loss of his self-possession throw him into dialect. At his lowest point, he, too, partakes in the sorrows the choms lamented earlier, and his participation in that grief reveals itself in his means of self-expression. What is dialectally familiar to one audience is dialectally distant from an audience whose English is not Hiberno-English or even Derry Hiberno-English , so that while Friel undertook the Chekhov translation to ensure that his Northern Irish actors would not have to make the double adjustment of becoming English to become Russian, 16 by familiarizing the characters for a local audience, he forces other audiences to make the double adjustment of becoming Northern Irish to become Russian.

Irish identity, embodied in language, then, remains fractured as dialect itself becomes ever more local. Gilbert and Tompkins propose that such doubling of actors creates metamorphic bodies which attest to the divided identity of the postcolonial subject , Revealing as the pairing of these plays is, however, neither of them succeeds quite as well alone. As Gilbert and Tompkins argue, silence is what defines the postcolonial subject—both in the silence of a tongue lost and in the refusal to speak the language of the conqueror , If the identity which the language of these translations seeks to shape is itself still somewhat unfocussed, that circumstance only reflects the difficulty of understanding and communicating identity in the North.

Harry Zohn, Rainer Schulte and John Biguenet. Contemporary Irish Dramatists.


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