Essay on Is Translations about Language or Politics?

1231 Words5 Pages
Is Translations about Language or politics?

Friel famously said of Translations, “it is about language and only language.” However, the political statement which Friel denies need not be active, but passive, as seeking an understanding of the situation must consider politics, however Friel actively avoids political comment perhaps due to the volatile situation in the 1980s when the play was first put on.

D.H. Lawrence famously said, “ Never trust the teller, trust the tale” and with that in mind, I wish to explore the reasons why audiences and readers may perceive translations as a political play.

The action of the play over three acts shows the profoundly disturbing influence of the English domination over the Baile Beag
…show more content…
However, the change of language, imposed via the new national schools upon the Irish also has heavy political connotations. One may argue that language is a vehicle of national identity, which defines a culture and people. Any form of imposition upon a community, any act which moves to curtail the rights of the individual is a clearly political act. I believe that one basic human right, is the right to speak your mother tongue, or for that matter any language the individual may wish to speak, and therefore any attempt to dissuade a person from speaking their chosen or mother tongue is a political act.

The dispute of the naming of the Irish language (as well as the Irish place names) throughout the play demonstrates the importance of language with regard to national identity. One may notice the English characters in the play (Lancey and Yolland) refer to the Irish language as Gaelic, whereas the Irish refer to it as Irish. This is important, as Gaelic is also spoken in Scotland and Wales, this is perhaps showing us that the English do not see the Irish as a definite separate group of people, but rather as members of the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, the Irish refer to their language as Irish as they see themselves as a nation separate and wholly different from the rest of the United Kingdom, they see their language as specific to them and as a characteristic which defines them as different from the English as
well
Get Access