Translating the War in Syria

By

At Lit Hub, Lina Mounzer discusses the Syrian women bearing witness to the war through writing, her own complicated relationship with the English language, and translation as a symbolic act:

[War] reshapes your vocabulary. It becomes part of your language. A barrel will no longer ever be a barrel again; shrapnel will always explode from it. The word mustard will forevermore carry a whiff of gas, rashing your skin, smarting your eyes. When you say Sabra, or Shatila, you are not referring to a place, but to a heap of dead bodies shot indiscriminately and tossed aside like worn rags. When you say the word catastrophe, no one need ever ask which one it is you mean. It is towns, cities in their entirety become past tense.


Katie O'Brien is an English major at Cornell University, where she writes for kitsch magazine, DJs for a rock station, and complains about the cold. Find her on Twitter @abluekite. More from this author →