Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Difficulties of Translating Freud


Sigmund Freud was a very complex individual and reading his works is difficult enough but translating them presents a whole new slew of complications. He used a lot of scientific words (some of which were coined by him) but spoke about them in a very artistic fashion.  The words he chose also have specific meanings that might not be reached when only looking in a dictionary.  It is important to look at the context of the text – who was writing, what was that’s individual’s lexicon – what was the period flavor and literary style.  There are many things to take under consideration.  When Freud talked about “die Seele” he more likely meant “the psyche” rather than “the soul” which is typically associated with the word “Seele.”  Similarly, Freud used the word “die Kranke” to refer to the patient, not someone who was ill.

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