On the untranslatability of 'translation': Considerations from Java, Indonesia

Ronit Ricci*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


As is now widely accepted, no single, universal meaning of the idea and practice we usually term 'translation' exists: ideas about, and practices of, rewriting texts have varied greatly across time and place. Aiming to bring this multiplicity of 'translation' practices and theories to light and to contextualize them culturally and historically, this chapter explores what 'translation' meant in the literary culture of Java, Indonesia, during the eighteenth through the early twentieth centuries. Although Javanese literature contains many works originating from elsewhere, these texts typically do not elaborate on the translation act and often leave out information such as the translator's identity and motives, the source language, and the date and place of translation. The chapter asks why this may have been the case and highlights how, despite this dearth of information, it is possible to begin reconstructing the meanings of translation in Javanese society through a close reading of local translation terminology.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationTranslation in Asia
Subtitle of host publicationTheories, Practices, Histories
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781317641209
ISBN (Print)9781315760117
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Ronit Ricci and Jan van der Putten 2011. All Rights reserved.


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