Mahony – Hermeneutics & Ideology on translating Freud

*my comments

Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis – conception of world is determined by our mother tongue

  • Linguistically, this would estrange people
  • human expression is not disclosed by a language
  • a language may lead someone to think, but not fully conceptualize


  • hypothesized that German language furthered Freud’s psychoanalytical thinking, and made it easier to adapt linguistically
    • German language:
      • many passive mode verb forms
      • ease of changing from passive to active sentences
      • flexibility to convert one part of speech to another
      • nouns that represent activity and result of activity
        • Wunscherfüllung – wish-fulfiling and wish fulfilment

Strachey’s translation

  • distorting Freud’s ideology

Freud’s understanding and use of psychoanalytic language

  • it was a figurative language (Bildersprache)
  • distorting figurative language let us uncover “unconscious processes”
  • Clinical experience
    • transference : false connection, past participle of the German word for transference “Übertragung” – “übertragen”
    • The past participle and figurative language creates almost a non-serious aspect to the idea of transference or something “passive”, easy to cure?
  • “The how of saying was also the what; message was inseparable from its form”
  • Writing – seen as a process of self-scrutiny and means of inquiry
    • a translation of “what one thinks and means”
  • Freud wont to use flexible definitions

Freud’s tentativeness

  • his work is like a “do-it-yourself-kit”
  • you’re doing the research with him (reminds me of The Second Sex)
  • dialogic passages

Freud – psychoanalysis, more of a hermeneutic than scientific act 

  • psychoanalysis as a “therapeutic art”
    • what makes of translating it then?
  • “extract science and speculation”
  • did not quote many natural scientists
  • the terminology was used non-ironically but in an anticipatory way – hoping that his views would be constituted in the future of science

Depending on the way one may interpret Freud, if a person reads his works for scientific evidence, they will translate it in that manner

tact vs takt

  • German takt – musical time or measure

Polysemy in The Interpretation of Dreams – symbolizing a woman as he discusses dream interpretation (reminds me of Holes by Jean-Paul Sartre)

“The more complex the source text is, the more the translator should be self-aware of his own different positions and their contaminator potential.”

Psychoanalytic translation – should include footnotes to help the unconscious of the reader

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About Tyler Candelora

Tyler Candelora is a first-year student at Bucknell University. He is from Coal Township, PA. He speaks English but is currently learning Spanish, French, and Arabic. Tyler is a comparative humanities and language major.

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