Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0015577, Fri, 12 Oct 2007 12:16:57 -0400

THOUGHTS: Translation, consolation,
and knotting the translation thread
[EDNOTE. After the two brief posts below, I suggest that we move on from the general topic of translation and multilingualism, despite Charles's tantalizing question -- except, of course, for comments related to VN. Thanks! :) SES]

1. Charles responds to Mary Krimmel's acknowledgment of monolingualism:

Somewhere, in some dim past, I remember reading that 70% of the world's population have a sufficient command of at least two languages. Usually, I suppose, the second language will be English; though not by any means always. Would anyone care to hazard whether 70%, or more or less, of the world's native English speakers are monolingual?

2. Mary, responding to Victor Fet, explains why she found it a consolation that her only language was English:

Sorry. I didn't make my meaning clear. My knowing only English is lack of education. Knowing English is certainly a circumstance of birth in my case. I am consoled in my state of knowing only one language by believing that my one language is the most universally useful language available and also that it is rich in words and expressions derived from other languages. Others may not consider this belief either reasonable or a consolation.

Reading English has been a joy for me, as has been reading some dual language editions of works in Spanish, German, early English and French.

I hope that this answers your question. One other reader of this list responded to me to confess that he, too, was illiterate in all three languages he had studied in school. He didn't actually say, though, that he indeed knows no language but English.

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