Posted by: autismland | February 21, 2007

Translations (#610)

The curtain rose to reveal a man and a woman sitting opposite each other and very close as he moved his lips in exaggerated fashion and said "Say ‘my—-name—-is—–Sarah.’" At first only sounds came from her mouth, and as he repeated his words the lights slowly revealed the dirt floor, the broken-banistered stair case, the low wooden stools and benches, the old man in raggedy clothing sitting beside the fireplace and holding a book. After several minutes of long slurs of vowels and random consonants, the woman said,
Airportwait
"My—-name—-is—–Sarah." And the man’s face lit up and he clasped her hands in joy.

This was the opening scene of the play Jim and I saw tonight, Translations by the Irish playwright Brian Friel. The man is Manus, a school teacher (and Irish nationalist); the woman is Sarah, whose lack of speech is not fully explained but has many metaphorical resonances in a play that is set in rural Ireland in 1833 and that "explores the troubled lives of a handful of characters struggling to adjust to the shifting dynamics of the world around them, which is undergoing quiet but radical change as the hard fist of British regulation seeks to impose itself on local tradition."

Charlie, off from school for a week, spent the day with my parents at the mall, on walks, at the grocery store where he put a container of olive bruschetta—he said "hummus"—into the cart. "What does he mean by that?" my parents asked me. "Hummus means sauce, in a jar," I said.

And if I had not spent the past 9 and 3/4 years with Charlie, I do not think that opening scene of Translations would have had the same familiarity for me, or the same power. 

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Nothing like having a night off to relax and let your brain drift, only to experience those little pin pricks.
    cheers

  2. Speaking of translations. Edith Rose has been saying the following for the last couple of weeks: “It’s in ak-ohwa-na, ak-ohwa-na” “k-ohwa-na”. I know that ballexistence (Amanda) objects to such spellings of words, but I have no choice.

    I don’t know if she is trying to say “corner”, or if this is a nonsensical word she has made up. I do know that it has something to do with what she wants at the time. i.e. food, or to go jumping on the trampoline.

    Last night she said: “ak-ohwa-nah in the door”. Then she softly kept repeating it to me for about 15 to 20 minutes straight.

  3. Jim had mentioned the Latin and Greek in the play to me but I did not realize how crucial these are to the play’s meaning.

    I’ve often spelled out what Charlie says phonetically, too, precisely because I am not sure what the word is. Sometimes just writing it out and hearing what others think the sounds are has been more than helpful.

  4. I have no idea of the play or the rest of it but mischevious notions lit up in my mind on reading the phrase, shades of whose on first there

    D “Say my name is Larry”
    L “Your name is Larry”
    D “No say MY name is Larry”
    L “YOUR name is Larry”
    D “No my name is Dave say your name is Larry”
    L “It is”
    D “I mean say your name is Larry”
    L “It is”
    D “No my mistake, I mean you to say my name is Larry”
    L “Say my name was Dave”
    D “Oh bugger I give up”
    L “Do you?”
    D “I do”
    L “You do”
    D “Yes I do”
    L “Yes you do do’nt you do”
    D “AAAAAAAAARGH”
    L “AAAAAAAAARGH”

    Well there is a fair amount of dramatic licence in that but I can be almost as frustrating sometimes reflecting peoples questions back at them while I think of something better to say being inconsistantly consistant and consistantly inconsistant as in that example

    Anway the essence of that little sketch is the bizarre way pronouns are used in english and one can never tell whether one is supposed to reverse it in the answer or take it literally figure out if you can the process that goes on with a complex command like “say my name is Larry” does it mean that one takes the command word say as the command to repeat what comes after or does one parse and reverse the pronoun? never mind the conditional sense that say might also imply

  5. Clay, could she be saying “I’m going to” (or, as many of us lazily say “I’m goin’ a” or “I’m gonna”)?

  6. mom-nos,

    I don’t know. She doesn’t acutally go in any direction when she chants this. I used to think she was saying “corner” and was trying to tell me what she wanted was “just around the corner”, but that’s not it either. The only other thing it could be is a nonsense word she uses to urgently request whatever she wants. She sometimes closes her eyes when she says this.

  7. Larry, am still laughing over your sketch…….


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: