• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Why is the play called Translations?

Extracts from this document...


Olivia Ollin Candidate no.- 7035 Pate's Grammar School - Centre no. - 57329 Coursework Section A 6. Why is the play called Translations? The notion of the word translation is most commonly associated with the idea of converting an expression into a different language; an idea certainly prevalent in Friel's play, through the Anglicisation of Irish place names and the numerous occasions where Owen interprets for the British soldiers. On another level, the word is also representative of the idea of converting something from one 'form, function or state to another'1, and is synonymous with the idea of change. Through the context of the British colonisation, we see not only the way in which the national identity of Ireland is altered, but also how personal identities are discerned and affected. The play is set in the summer of 1833, in rural North Western Ireland, a time of great political, social and economical unrest, amidst the arrival of two British soldiers sent to map the land. Ireland had been an area of British interest since the rule of Henry II in the 12th Century, however it was not until the early 17th Century and the reign ...read more.


The British colonisation presents a perfect context for the theme of identity as the country is forced to assume a blankness upon which its new identity can be rewritten. The post-colonial critic, Simon Ryan said of the implications of colonial map making, "They create and manipulate reality as much as they record it."2 As the old place names become pushed into irrelevancy, the history of the town is simultaneously erased. It can be said that the place names contain within them links to the past and memories that therefore build up the identity of a community, as was the case with "Tobair Bhrian". However, it can similarly be argued that names make little difference, as Owen says after hours of being mistakenly named Roland, "Owen - Roland - what the hell. It's only a name. It's the same me, isn't it?" Hugh also states, "it is not the literal past, the 'facts' of history, that shape us, but the images of the past embodied in language... we must never cease renewing these images because once we do, we fossilise." ...read more.


Literal translations are often insufficient, "I suppose we could anglicise it to Bunowen; but somehow that's neither fish nor flesh." Therefore; the idea of translation not only concerns itself with literal translations, but also the concept of translating an identity through history. Translation is mainly a term associated with communication. Through highlighting the flaws in translating, Friel is also highlighting the failures of lingual communication. When agreeing to teach Maire English, Hugh says, "I will provide you with the available words and the available grammar. But will that help you to interpret between privacies?" Friel points out that there are many cultural and personal significances embodied within language that fall through the gaps of translation, "English, I suggested, couldn't really express us"; therefore the most effective form of communication is implied to occur beyond language. While trying to translate Bun na hAbhan into English, literally meaning the mouth of the river, Yolland argues that it should be "left alone" as "there's no English equivalent for a sound like that". He recognises therefore that the 'music' of the Irish name has an untranslatable quality which should be preserved. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Brian Friel section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Brian Friel essays

  1. Commentary on Act 1 of the book Translations by Brian Friel.

    This gives the impression that he is intelligent but very pompous. He then asks the pupils for translations of Irish words into Latin. Hugh is being derogatory about English; he says that it's only good for doing business. Maire believes that they should all be learning to speak English instead of Latin or Greek; this creates confusion between the characters.

  2. In what ways does Brian Friel establish the theme of language and communication in ...

    learn the Gaelic language and communicate in a respectful and appreciative way to the Irish. He has also fallen in love with the country and feels as though he belongs in Ireland. Yolland also has the strange desire to learn the Gaelic language.

  1. How are the characters and their relations established in Act one of Brian Friel's ...

    Hugh tells his students the horrifying fact that Lancey does not speak a word of Latin or Greek, he only, ' speaks -

  2. How does Friel explore the concept of identity in Making History, looking at alternative ...

    O'Neill, although the leader in him is still yet to show, throughout Act 1 he is shown as distracted and uninterested in his role as Earl and the jobs that he must fulfil, this indicates to the audience that he will most likely fail as a leader as he is more interested in his personal affairs.

  1. Compare the presentation of the colonial situation in 'A Passage to India' and 'Translations', ...

    'Mosque', 'Caves' and 'Temple' loosely focus on Mohammedanism, Christianity and Hinduism respectively, but it is only Hinduism that is presented fully, with the section 'Temple' almost dedicated to this purpose. What's more, "neither Aziz nor Mrs Moore seek comfort in the formalities of their religion4", Aziz believes that Islam is

  2. 'Translations' is essentially a play about change, consider the ways in which Friel introduces ...

    "This enormous task has been embarked on so that the military authorities will be equipped with up-to-date and accurate information on every corner of this part of the Empire." Personal and political conflicts are intertwined at the deepest levels as the action begins to unfold, the characters are faced with

  1. How does Frayn present social class and it's importance to Stephen?

    Stephen refers to the cottages with a sense of disgust and for the first time in Frayn?s novel, the social divide between Stephen and Keith is forgotten, as they unite while degrading the poor condition in which others live. While conveying a sense of hypocrisy to the readers, it also

  2. How does the opening sequence to Translations prepare the audience for what is to ...

    Doalty?s theft of a mapping pole reinforces this as it is likely that he did this as a protest to the labelling. It therefore proves to the audience that that there is unrest amongst the people for this British arrival for not only attempting to restructure the schooling system, but also altering the land.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work