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Examine the ways in which lang

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Examine the ways in which lang

Examine the ways in which language and identity are treated in ?Translations?

?Translations? is set in 1833, in County Donegal, which was soon after the time when Britain had claimed Ireland as part of its empire. The British and the Irish therefore had differing languages, so the British decided to go through the process of naming or renaming Ireland's geographical features. In ?Translations? language and identity are used more as a plot device and plot feature rather than as part of stylistic technique, which is their most common role.

When the play was first performed by Friel's own theatre company it was performed in the Irish language, and at the start of the play, all the characters speak Irish as their first language, the English language comes into the script a lot later, which reflects the course of events in Ireland over the past two centuries. All these characters have been brought up speaking the language and it is a fundamental part of their life, culture and identity.

English is the second main language in the play. It represents the future to Maire and Owen, and ?a mistake? to Hugh and Manus. The two English speakers come as part of the same assignment, to make a map of the country and to 'see that the place names are ... correct.?, but they have greatly differing attitudes towards Ireland and its identity. Captain Lancey sees the Irish as inferior to the English, which is evident when he is willing to evict a whole village of them, over the disappearance and probable death of one Englishman. Yolland however falls in love with Ireland, its language and culture and he feels that 'something is being eroded? by his task of renaming the geographical features of Ireland. Yolland is not the stereotypical English male of the time, because he ?missed the boat? to India and that stereotypical way of life, which would be following his father's wishes.

The other two languages used in the play are Greek and Latin, which are spoken only by Hugh and Jimmy. These two classical languages create an identity of intellectualism in their users and it is significant that it is the Irish rather than the English characters who can speak them contradicting Lancey's view of them being inferior.

Friel shows us the use of language in several different forms. The first scene where Manus is teaching Sarah to speak shows us that language is used to create communication. This can also apply with the lack of communication between the English and Irish characters, for instance how Maire and Yolland fall in love with the

sound of each other, despite not being able to understand a word that the other actually says. Different languages create boundaries of communication and the play shows that a lack of communication through language leads to violence, like when the Donnelly twins are supposed to have hunted after Yolland and when Lancey threatens to

terrorize the villagers. One of the problems of using communication through language is that it is a weapon that can be used against you as well as for you. This is evident when Sarah, (who has just learnt to talk) tells Manus (who taught Sarah to talk), that she saw Maire with Yolland together.

The play is set at a time when colonization is occurring through education and thus language in Ireland, rather than through brute force. It is a time of division in Ireland between those who claim to be looking forward to progress in Ireland with the

incorporation of the English language and those who want to preserve the use of Gaelic as it is a part of their culture and it is an important method of fighting colonization. Friel creates characters who represent both of these groups.

Maire sees the conversion to the English language as part of a process of progression in Ireland, ?We should all be speaking English?. This follows the arguments of Daniel O?Connell (the only real person who is mentioned in the play), who believed that the transition to the English language would help in achieving better

civil rights and social conditions for people in Ireland. ?Translations? is set soon after the Catholic Emancipation Act, where O?Connell fought against the Penal laws, which oppressed the Catholics in Ireland. The significance of this is that relations

between England and Ireland were changing and it could be argued that it was partly thanks to the idea of modernization, through the conversion to English that the act was passed.

The character who is most opposed to colonization and the English language is Hugh. He believes that English is for ?commerce? , but more importantly that it ?couldn't really express us (the Irish)? I think that English could express the Irish beliefs, but it is more important to say if it should express them. Hugh can be seen to represent the past on the basis that he is an older character who like Jimmy Jack fought in the Irish Rebellion of 1798, ?The road to Sligo. A spring morning. 1798. Going ...

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Keywords: discuss the ways in which new languages are created

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