The city in translation: Urban cultures of central Europe

Sherry Simon

Abstract

In the spirit of the ‘enlargement’ of the field proposed by Tymoczko (2007), this article argues for the city as an object of translation studies. All cities are multilingual, but for some language relations have particularly intense historical and cultural significance. Translation studies can illuminate the nature and effects of these interactions. The cities of Central Europe and in particular Czernowitz offer rich case studies. A thorough investigation of translational culture between 1880 and 1939 can help to provide a nuanced understanding of the nature of literary relations which prevailed before the violence of World War II.

Keywords
Table of contents

No city is monolingual. While this generalization could possibly be contradicted by a reference to some ancient Greek city state where foreign languages were prohibited by law, the exception would confirm the rule: the spirit of the urban has to do with contact and mixing—and languages are part of this mix. Diversity, transfer and circulation among languages are part of all ‘natural’ urban life. And as global migration increases, the realities of urban multilingualism have become all the more evident in cities around the world, whether it be through shouted conversations on cellphones, multiple scripts on storefronts and on the screens of bank machines, or the texts of public art.

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