Lucas Klein & Leon Trotsky
MIS/TRANSLATION
 

The Internationale Objective

For George Oppen or César Vallejo

 

I do not have Russian,
                                but:

Человеческое слово—самый портативный из всех материалов
                                —Троцкий : Литература
и революция

 

human / word / — / most / portable / of / all / materials
                                —Trotsky: Literature & Revolution

 

and I do not have Spanish, but
                                El verbo es el más portátil de todos los materiales,
1

 

which in French (which I have) would be
                                Le verbe est le plus portatif de tous les matériaux.

But when I went to find the line in Chinese, I got:
                          人类的语言文字是一切对象中最能让人携带的

“Humankind’s language and writing is of all objects the one
                                most able to make people carry along”

 

where duìxiàng 对象 “object” is grammatical, not tangible,
                                as opposed to wùzhì 物質, “material,”

a particularly non-materialist (唯物主義, not 物質主義2) translation, so I made:
                         人類文字是最便擕的物質

 

“Human writing is the most portable of all materials”
                                Until I found

舟車可通則文義可及
                                —鄭樵

Whither boats and carts can penetrate, thusly words and meaning can arrive
                                —Zhèng Qiáo (1104 – 1162, CE)


1 Spanish, French, and first Chinese translations from www.Marxists.org.

2 Chinese distinguishes between wéiwù zhǔyì 唯物主義, the materialism of “dialectical materialism,” and wùzhì zhǔyì 物質主義, the materialism of Madonna’s “Material Girl.”


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