International conference “Translation into and from Yiddish: the enrichment and transmission strategies of a minority language”, Paris, 17 Oct 2019

Valentina Fedchenko's picture
Call for Papers
October 17, 2019
Subject Fields: 
Digital Humanities, Languages, Linguistics, Literature

The INALCO, the Maison de la Culture Yiddish (MCY), and the CERMOM are jointly organizing a one-day international conference dedicated to the following topic: “Translation into and from Yiddish: the enrichment and transmission strategies of a minority language”. This conference is part of the LJTRAD project financed by the French National Research Agency (ANR). It will take place on Thursday 17 October 2019 and is organized by Sharon Bar Kochva (MCY), Arnaud Bikard (CERMOM-INALCO), Tal Hever Chybowski (MCY) and Valentina Fedchenko (CERMOM-INALCO).

Translating from Yiddish and into Yiddish are two symmetrical endeavors which have been endowed, historically and culturally, with very different meanings. Yiddish has long remained a marginalized and despised language, to such an extent that works considered for translation were rare, and belonged to very specific categories: on the one hand, Yiddish readers were provided with pragmatic and religious texts (mostly translated from Hebrew) as well as a few popular works of entertainment (mostly translated from German); on the other hand, a few isolated translations from Yiddish were, in the best case, presented as curiosities, or explicitly used to denounce the language and its speakers. When awareness of the language developed in the late 19th century and a culture and literature in Yiddish started receiving support, an ambitious plan of cultural enrichment through translation was devised. Since then, little by little, translations from Yiddish into major European languages have multiplied, thus enabling the transmission of works written in this minority language and of their universal value.

This one-day conference aims at studying the relationship between Yiddish and translation, in its entirety. Contributions from a variety of fields (cultural history, literary studies, linguistics, translation studies, etc.) are welcome. Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of the topics that may be treated:

  • Problematics of translation into and from Yiddish in the early 19th century and beyond (Hassidism, Haskalah).
  • Translations between Yiddish and Hebrew in different periods: what are their specificities, which challenges did they have to confront? The case of self-translation (Perl, Mendele, etc.).
  • The ideologies that, historically, influenced the practice of translation into and from Yiddish.
  • The main languages Yiddish has been translated into (English, Russian, Polish, German, French, etc.), and the history of the publishing endeavors that contributed to defining their relationship.
  • The strategies 20th century writers and other cultural actors adopted in order to introduce Yiddish works into the World Republic of Letters.
  • Major translators and their contribution to the field.
  • Stylistic choices made by translators to reflect some of Yiddish literature’s peculiarities (orality, use of popular speech, numerous interjections and psycho-ostensive expressions, repetitive patterns, etc.).
  • New perspectives in the field of Yiddish translation stemming from the development of digital humanities.

The conference languages will be English, Yiddish and French.

400-500 word proposals, and a short abstract, should be sent by 15 May 2019 to:

Acceptance will be notified by 15 June 2019.

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