Truths, Trust and Translation

A festschrift, love letter and thank you to Michèle Cooke

by Michael En (Volume editor)
©2020 Edited Collection 126 Pages


Translation is a fact of life. It happens in as many ways as there are colours in the rainbow. And once we see it, we can never go back to not seeing it. Meaning (making), understanding (the ‘right’ and the ‘wrong’ things), relating (to the world and to each other) – it all starts with us.
Nobody has lived this more colourfully than Michèle Cooke, whose work the contributors to this book celebrate by showing what translating our truths is – and can be – all about.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editor
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Texts, teas and thank yous: An Einleitung (Michael En)
  • On elephants in linguistics (Alexander Kravchenko)
  • Of bullet points and cows: Illuminating truths and truisms (Michael En)
  • The music in a name: Intersemiotic translation and musical cryptography (Benjamin Schmid)
  • Is this the end of the era of human translation? Thoughts of a human translator at this curious time (Michaela Chiaki Ripplinger)
  • Human connection experts (Aurelia Batlogg-Windhager)
  • Categorisation and recognition: Musings on misfitting and misunderstanding (Boka En)
  • Let’s talk about *, baby: Telling stories, telling realities (Rehana Mubarak-Aberer)
  • Trainslation and other movements: Some words about me and you (Daniela Schlager)
  • Notes on figures

Michael En

Texts, teas and thank yous: An Einleitung

This is a love letter. A lovely letter. A lot of letters. A festschrift. A sanftschrift. A thank you. A Dankeschön. A Sammelband. A collection of truths. A bouquet of flowers and of more that has grown and blossomed. A bundle of lightning flashes. A translation of oh so much, if only we knew how to tell you … dedicated to Michèle Cooke, philosopher, translator, cow aficionada, ‘mother, father, friend and lover, teacher, student, child and sometime sage’1.

This Sammelband contains (versammelt?) contributions (Bänder?) from some of Michèle’s former students and a special guest, all of whom have added to this book in their own unique ways. Michèle has always encouraged her students and friends, also by great example, to walk new paths – be it a bóthar with the width of two cows or some other way along a roter Faden – and explore whatever our creativity can surprise us with, and this book is a reflection of this approach. As expressed in its title, I invite you to read the contributions in this book as attempts, inspired by Michèle, to find the truths in our realities, to gain trust in ourselves, and to discover (the) everything in translation.

Don’t let yourself be intimidated into reading this book a certain way by the table of contents. Indeed, feel free to start, pause, continue and end where- and however you like.

If you do decide to follow the flow of the pages from here on, you will find next a special message from Alexander Kravchenko, who calls on us as languaging beings to make friends with what Michèle once analysed as the elephant in the translatory room and to go out of the room with it together, to find the elephant right outside the door.

In my contribution, I talk about bullet-points, poems and cows to reflect on some of the ideas that have structured my own journey towards truth, trust and translation on which Michèle has guided me from the very beginning.

Benjamin Schmid reflects on and creates ‘the music in a name’, translating ‘Michèle’ into song and offering us, as he calls his chapter here, his extended liner notes, including on music as translation.

Michaela Chiaki Ripplinger looks at, as Michèle has called it, ‘the human factor’ in relation to (new ways of) machine translation, pondering what might ←7 | 8→happen to ‘translation’ if what we come to expect as potential source texts and best-case target texts is more and more defined by technology only.

Aurelia Batlogg-Windhager invites us to join her on her journey into the core of translation and the heart of human existence: connection. Her guides are memories, recipes and milk jugs. In the end, there’s even cake – if we decide to make it.

Boka En muses on categorisation, recognition and the dangers of making things clear, between avocado toast, relationship research and the blurriness of understanding. We can add our own notes, too.

Rehana Mubarak-Aberer presents her own collection within this collection and tells stories. About death. About love. About goslings and bears and halibuts. Stories of what we find hard to talk about, to live with, to understand.

Daniela Schlager takes us along on a journey in a love(ly) letter about twist(ing), daring and trainslation. Take a seat, enjoy the scenery – and let yourself be moved.

One of the many joys of life Michèle appreciates and likes to share with others is a good cuppa. As someone who has often had the pleasure of being treated to this simple act of kindness by Michèle, I present each of the contributions in this book with its own tea recommendation, specifically chosen to fit the character and mood of the text as I experience it. Whether you see it as a reminder to put the kettle on more often or a potential starting point for kindling a new passion for hot leaf water, I hope these suggestions will add to an enjoyable reading experience. Should you end up experiencing the taste of a chapter in a very different way from what the contents of your cup suggest, I hope you will forgive me and savour the deliciousness of contrast.

In addition to the authors named explicitly in this book, there are also those who are present in it in other ways. Those who wanted to write something but couldn’t. Those who didn’t feel ready. Those who didn’t feel right. Those too close; those too far away. And those who I am sure would have wanted to say-do something but didn’t get the chance because I do not know (of) them and had no way of reaching out to them (I’m sorry). I like to think that all of them are still part of this book, that it can serve as a symbol of the courage and love that Michèle has inspired in all of us and in so many more. And maybe, hopefully, this book will serve as inspiration for you, dear reader. ‘Let the way that we think-feel-see be the way that we write’2 – and let the way that we write enrich the way that we think-feel-see.

←8 | 9→

I would like to say thank you to everyone who contributed to making this book possible, in particular all the authors present here in name. Without them, this book would not exist. Special thanks go to two people who helped me shape this project and make it reality: Renate Resch, who has been there with me from the beginning, and Chuck Spitzl, whose presence outlasts any absence. Finally, I thank the Zentrum für Translationswissenschaft, in particular Hanna Risku and Gerhard Budin, as well as the authors for their financial support for this project.

Most importantly, this book – the stories in it and behind it, the love and the letters, the words and the spaces between them – is how we would like to say thank you, Michèle. Thank you, Michèle.

Vienna, spring 2020


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2020 (September)
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2020. 126 pp., 1 fig. col., 18 fig. b/w.

Biographical notes

Michael En (Volume editor)

Michael En has studied Critical Sociolinguistics at Goldsmiths College (University of London) and Transcultural Communication at the Centre for Translation Studies (University of Vienna). He is working-living-writing as a queer-feminist translator/academic/activist not fond of such labels.


Title: Truths, Trust and Translation
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128 pages