8 abr. 2011

How One Idea Leads to Another

Teaching my translation course more than five years ago, I became very interested in idioms. One problem in translation is whether you should translate an idiom with an equivalent or translate the idiom as a calque. I also began to think about proverbs, which are related to idioms. There was an essay by Anthony Appiah with the title "Thick Translation," that began with an African proverb and the problem of how to translate it.

My course on oral literature, proverbs, ballads, etc... arose out of my interest in proverbs. I couldn't teach a course just on proverbs, so I decided to do a combination course.

After teaching this course several times, I co-taught a graduate seminar on poetry and performance, taking ideas from the part of the course on orality.

My interest in proverbs continued. I got the idea to teach another 522 (Advanced Topics in Spanish Language) about idioms and proverbs. That will be given in Fall '11.

I never thought that this course would be related to my research, but then I wrote an idea for my class to use in the exercise in which they exchange seed-ideas for their papers. It was one of 14 ideas I wrote in about half an hour. One day I realized that this idea (which no student chose to use) would be a chapter of my book. It would be on aphorisms by modern Spanish poets. Because of my teaching the translation course, the refranero, cancionero, romancero course, and the course on poetry and performance, I all of a sudden knew enough to have a very highly developed idea for this chapter, with very little effort on my part. (Very little, meaning years of studying and thinking about this genre.)