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James Underhill: Translating the Heart. Meta-categories Keynote 2

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SRWB Theatrette ( Room 2.02)

Sir Roland Wilson Bld. #120

Australian National University

Canberra, ACT 2602

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Translating the heart: worldview, world-perceiving and the human heart as a universal

by Professor James Underhill, Rouen University, France.

Linguistic anthropology, and ethnolinguistic and ethnopoetic approaches, from Wilhelm von Humboldt to Dell Hymes, share a working hypothesis that each culture has its own irreducibly specific worldview. This has been questioned recently. David Naugle criticised the relativistic nature of ‘worldview’ approaches, which he considered hostile to Christianity as a world religion. He felt they missed much of what was fundamental for human experience by reducing heart to ‘mind’ (Geist), and argued for the universal capacity of the human heart to understand, think, and love. I have been concerned to point out the limits of Naugle’s approach, but in my own work on Humboldt and ethnolinguistics, the human heart as an organ of understanding continues to haunt me. If values are central to many of our keywords, then heart is very much at the ‘heart’ of the matter when it comes to discussing, hate, love, fear, angst, anguish, and desire.

I propose to raise questions, outline approaches, and critically examine the strategies that we use when we question how we express our thoughts and feelings.Understanding the heart should help us clarify what we mean when we strive to compare emotions, perception, thinking and feeling across languages. And the difficulties experienced in translation should indicate some key fields for investigating linguistic and cultural difference.

James W. Underhill was born in Glasgow in 1967. He is Full Professor and lectures on Literature, Poetics, and Translation at Rouen University in Northern France. He has worked as a full-time translator of French and Czech, and published poems in translation from French and German. Underhill's work on worldview and language focuses on both linguistic constraints at a deeper level, and the essential creative impulse by which individuals stimulate the shared language of the community. He is the author of Humboldt, Worldview, and Language (Edinburgh University Press, 2009), Creating Worldviews: Ideology, Metaphor and Language (Edinburgh University Press, 2011), Ethnolinguistics and Cultural Concepts: Truth, Love, Hate and War (Cambridge University Press, 2012), and Voice and Versification in Translating Poems (Ottawa University Press, 2017).

The Rouen Ethnolinguistics Project (REP) was founded by James W. Underhill at the University of Rouen, in Northern France. REP aims to further investigations into the philosophy of language and explorations of worldviews by organizing conferences and putting videoconferences online. You can find out more about the project at rep.univ-rouen.fr

In conjunction with the ANU workshop Metacategories: cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural and cross-temporal perspectives. Centre for Digital Humanities Research, ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Languages, School of Literature, Language & Linguistics, and the Research School of Humanities and the Arts


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SRWB Theatrette ( Room 2.02)

Sir Roland Wilson Bld. #120

Australian National University

Canberra, ACT 2602

Australia

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