Eadar Dà Chànan: self-translation, the bilingual edition and modern Scottish gaelic poetry
Self-translation has become a firmly established translation practice in connection with contemporary Scottish Gaelic poetry, so much so that the corpus of contemporary Gaelic poetry might be more realistically understood as referring to a bilingual corpus of Gaelic originals and their English translations provided by the author. This was of course not always the case. Rather, today’s situation has to be seen as the result of a steady development over the past sixty years or so which began with initial attempts by Gaelic authors such as Sorley MacLean (Somhairle MacGill-Eain) and Derick Thomson (Ruaraidh MacThòmais) to enter into a professional dialogue with others involved with literary writing and appreciation in Scotland and beyond. During the 1930s and 1940s, working most intensely towards the publication of his renowned poetry collection Dàin do Eimhir, MacLean had close friends in Hugh MacDiarmid, Douglas Young, Robert Garioch and other influential Scottish poets, all of them highly aware of the importance and potential of the linguistic diversity within Scottish society. As a result, we find some of MacLean’s poetry translated into Scots by his literary friends and colleagues. Dàin do Eimhir, which was finally published in 1943, could well have been published with a selection of Young’s translations into Scots. Eventually, however, a selection of MacLean’s own prose translations into English were printed at the end of the volume. This choice indicates an approach to Gaelic poetry publishing which was to become established over the following half century, namely to be inclusive towards the Anglophone world whilst maintaining authorial authority throughout the publication.