The Linguist

The Linguist 59,4 - Aug/Sept 2020

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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the symbols of Mars and Venus, which a professional typographer then created for me: This allows me to easily show when a word is feminine or masculine in the original: Translation, no matter how old the source, is a rewriting of the past: the source text is not a historical artefact but a living body of words. It is important to treat transgender writers or characters (or those who might have identified as trans if they could) with sensitivity; to use translation – the best method of disseminating texts and allowing readers to live the life of someone from another time and place – to celebrate their voices, not to write them out. What it means to be human has been a struggle for many people for centuries. While there has recently been an explosion of interest in trans issues, people have long questioned the gender they were assigned at birth and the rules of binary gender. Through translation, source texts written 400 years ago can still teach us a lot about what it means and has meant to be transgender. Notes 1 I have avoided using gendered pronouns to honour d'Eon's uncertain gender identification. 2 The terms 'transvestism' and 'transgender' did not exist while d'Eon was alive. I am reimagining d'Eon's text in a different context and bringing it into the 21st century for my own investigation into gender and translation. o a e c s q p g n m o a e c u s d v b 10 The Linguist Vol/59 No/4 2020 FEATURES some sort but it also involves gains elsewhere. It is always something creative and it can never portray the 'true' meaning of the source text because the source itself has no 'true' meaning. However, in this case, I do not believe that Erauso's switches have to or should be lost. Showing grammatical switches in translation is important because Erauso, d'Eon and Choisy used their writing as an outlet to express their constantly shifting gender at a time when they had to outwardly present themselves as one sex or another and appear to make a definitive choice. Experimental solutions The next question is how to represent grammatical gender in English on a practical level. The translators of d'Eon's text have managed to do this. Published in 1995, the translation indicates d'Eon's switches by using an 'm' or an 'f' in superscript after the gendered word. This works very well and echoes an idea I had when coming up with solutions for translating Choisy's text: Je n'étais donc contraint de personne, et je m'abandonnai à mon penchant. Il arriva même que madame de La Fayette, que je voyais fort souvent, me voyant toujours fort ajusté avec des pendants d'oreilles et des mouches, me dit en bonne amie que ce n'était point la mode pour les hommes, et que je ferais bien mieux de m'habiller en femme. Sur une si grande autorité, je me fis couper les cheveux pour être mieux coiffée. I was therefore constrained(m) by no one and I abandoned myself to my inclination. It just so happened that Madame de La Fayette, who I saw fairly regularly, seeing me often accessorised(m) with earrings and beauty spots, told me as a friend that this was not the fashion for men and that I would do better to dress as a woman. On such authority I had my hair cut to be better coiffed(f). My solutions became more and more experimental as I tried to replicate the carnivalesque atmosphere of Choisy's text. (Choisy, dressed as Madame de Sancy, marries the neighbour's daughter Charlotte, who is dressed as Monsieur de Maulny.) I inserted words which do carry gender into words which do not carry gender in English: They recognised me first, because they had often seen my robe de chambre; so I was obligHEd to take off my mask and to sit amongst the ladies of the ball. I think something of our little friendship has been discovered; you, on your loneSONe are the cause: why do you whisper in my ear? […] In truth, Monsieur, I'm luckLASS to have loved you. And I tried to replicate the French language with a double 'e' for feminine and a single 'e' for masculine: Am I not luckee, I said to them, to have such an attractive and gentle husband? As he never contradicts me and I love him with all my heart. Eventually, in order to combine the creative and the practical, and to use my translation as a way of propelling these early-modern texts into the 21st century, I designed a font using v + + + + + + + + + v v v v v v v v v CHANGING EXPECTATIONS (L-r) Catalina de Erauso painted by Juan van der Hamen; 'Portrait of d'Eon' by Thomas Stewart (1792); and an engraving of d'Eon dressed half in women's clothes and half in men's clothes I go into town dressed as I am as little as possible; the world is so cruel, and it is such a rare thing to see a man wishing to be a woman, that one is often exposed to malicious jokes. + v

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