The Edge of Words

7 December 2012

Emily Lyle, Celtic & Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh

“Images, Concepts and Words: Cosmology and Worldview”


I would like to communicate with those who have been concerned with translation from one language to another and also with scholars who are working in the contemporary period rather than in the remote past which is where I have found most illumination in my own studies.

I shall be happy to learn from those who have been concerned with the translation process, but I shall provisionally express it in terms of going from articulation in one langue through a black box of concepts into articulation in another language.

The point I would like to make here is that that box of concepts may be expressed through images and relationships which can then be articulated in the language of the observer (although something may be "lost in translation" even so).

In relation to the different periods in which this process may be explored, I would argue that, by contrast with the worldview of the modern period which allows scope for individual interpretations, there was a socially received cosmology in the oral culture that underlies European literacy and that we can recover a total network in the black box of concepts.

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Dr Emily Lyle's profile