Exploring the Boundaries of Translation
Consider untranslatable words: What are they? Be it a philosophical concept, a culture-specific practice, or a bizarre shade of color, such a word refuses to settle into an English equivalent just as one culture cannot be thoroughly understood by analogy with another. This contest, organized by the Berkeley Language Center (BLC) and sponsored by the Found in Translation (FIT) working group, encourages UC Berkeley undergraduate students to critically explore the boundaries of translation and the relativity of cultures. Participants will name an “untranslatable word” of their own choosing and write a thoughtful passage that engages with this boundary by: 1) discussing its untranslatability and 2) describing, to the extent possible, the meaning of the word in English. Please write a text of 400 words or fewer that responds to the following questions: (1) If known, what is the history of the word? In what contexts is this word used? (2) Recognizing that you have identified the word as untranslatable, how would you best describe the meaning of the word in English? (3) Why do you consider this word to be “untranslatable”? (4) Why would you pick this word—does it resonate with you in a particular way?
Winners will receive Amazon gift cards.
Deadline for submission: Friday, April 22.
Winners will be announced on Monday, May 9
Submit your entry here