Brian Friel's "Translations" Essay

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Brian Friel's "Translations"

'Translations', by Brian Friel, presents us with an idyllic rural community turned on its head as the result of the recording and translation of place names into English; an action which is at first sight purely administrative. In Act 1 of the play, Friel brings together the inhabitants of this quaint Irish village in what can only be described as a gathering of minds - minds which study the classics, yet minds which study dead languages. In the same way, while this community is rich in culture and togetherness, it is also trapped in what is later described as a "contour which no longer matches the landscape of…fact". Thus, in expressing his ambivalence, Friel presents the reader with a
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The first time Hugh speaks in the play, he greets his class with the line "Vesperal salutations to you all", illustrating perfectly the grasp which he has of the Irish language.
Furthermore, he is fluent in other languages as well, and has the tendency to say phrases in Latin and Greek before asking members of his class to translate them into Irish. He even has some knowledge of the connotations and etymology of words - at the start of the play, he says (in reference to the derivation of the word 'baptise'), "Indeed - our friend Pliny Minor speaks of the 'baptisterium' - the cold bath".

Even Manus, Hugh's son, is intelligent. Near the start of the play, we hear him describe how "Biddy Hanna sent for me to write a letter to her sister in Nova Scotia". The fact that Manus is capable of speaking
English, despite living in Ireland, displays his knowledge of language. Furthermore, he works in the hedge-school, therefore clearly has the knowledge and ability to teach, while the stage directions at the start of the play describe his attitude towards his work as zealous - he is not only intelligent, but enthusiastic.

Inevitably, not everyone in Baile Beag is up to the standards of Hugh,
Jimmy Jack and Manus, yet we get the impression that those less-capable members of the hedge-school are still willing to learn.
Both Bridget and Doalty, two characters who provide the play with many of its comedic moments, are portrayed as less intelligent, yet we see
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