The Problem of the Classicist

For typical classicists, our function as language learners is to translate for others, not to speak. This is obvious, and I have no qualms with it.

Still, there are some problematic implications of this.

We are structured to learn, only in a way that is designed to reproduce. Thus we reproduce in our translations the classical world of the past that we are taught. Doubtlessly this history evolves and develops through the works of excellent classicists and archaeologists year after year, but somewhere in the mind of the student is the habitual habit of translation that they learned in class. This word = x. This idea = x.

What is the correct translation? What is the right (orthodox) history?

Is there more than one way to tell a story?

Don’t words have multiple valences?


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