Lost in translation?


I’ve started transcribing some of the stories I’ve collected and I’m really excited that the process has me laughing out loud at some of the stories’ content. However, the process has me thinking whether all that humour will come through as I try to move from oral storytelling to the written word. I can’t be the first person to have this concern with storytelling so there must be some solution or way to mitigate the loss of “juice”. I’ve mentioned humour but the other aspect that will certainly be lost or tamed is the use of the Jamaican vernacular. I think that I will have to write the story proper in English and leave patois for quotations. But this concession saddens me a little. I feel that some of the stories’ souls will be lost. This brings me to consider who my audience is/will be? Am I collecting stories for myself? my family? the world? I want to say “all of the above” but that may be unrealistic at best and stupid at worst. If I really think about it then I’m collecting for my family: past, present and future. Perhaps that should help to clarify things and narrow down my options but it doesn’t – not immediately anyhow. Writing in patois is a difficult task and perhaps it will be more trouble than it’s worth but I feel I shall have to explore to find a sweet spot. Hopefully, the sweet spot will provide some clarity – let the stories speak to whomever will hear and desire to listen.   


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