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This article is taken from PN Review 171, Volume 33 Number 1, September - October 2006.

The Case of the Melodramatic Hymen: Lallans and Translation David Kinloch

 One object of this piece is to look at some of the issues involved in translating into Lowland Scots or Lallans but in the course of my discussion I should also like to consider the question of translation’s ‘secondary’ status and, by implication, what we understand by the term ‘minority discourse’ where ‘minority’ is taken in the sense of any subject position that is considered non-standard or subordinate. At the risk of being accused of unbridled hubris, I shall begin by considering my own practice as a translator in my first book of poems, Dustie-fute,1 using it eventually as a prism throughwhich to revisit Hugh MacDiarmid’s use of translation in A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle.2

 I’d like to begin with a quotation from the work of Antonin Artaud: ‘Who am I? Where do I come from? I am Antonin Artaud and I say this […] you will see my present body burst into fragments and remake itself […], a new body where you will never forget me.’ 3 In French, the phrase ‘uncorps neuf’, a new body, inevitably recalls the miraculously composed, refashioned and deconstructed bodies of Rimbaud’s Illuminations. These bodies are often children’s bodies caught in an ecstatic rush into a brave new world. But then the dream ends and the bodies become bodies of words trying to piece together a vision of wholeness out of shattered fragments. Rimbaud’s great gift was to offer the taste, the very smell of that wholeness while ...

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