Through a consideration of Turkish Marxist intellectual Hikmet Kıvılcımlı's (1902–71) translation of Wage Labor and Capital, this essay examines the relation between conceptual translation and language in the historical conjuncture of the Kemalist revolution that brought about a radical transformation in language. Moving from Kıvılcımlı's language, suffused with idioms, slang, West Thracian dialectal phonations, colloquialisms, gallicisms, Turkish neologisms, and Arabic and Persian loanwords in the preface to the equivalential chains of Western, Ottoman, and new Turkish words in the translation, the essay uncovers Kıvılcımlı's ambivalence toward the excess of language over concepts. Kıvılcımlı seeks to dispel the effects of linguistic anarchy and perform an impossible leap over conceptual language by creating a short circuit between Marxian thought and Turkish idioms. If the Marxian text is to have a performative force, Kıvılcımlı insists, it must first necessarily become common in both senses of the word, that is, both open to the use of all and typical, ordinary, and perhaps even banal, akin to a conventional formula, a proverb, or an idiom that could be told, recited, and used by anyone and everyone, time and again but always singularly.
Özge Serin; The Use-Value of Idioms: The Language of Marxism and Language as Such. boundary 2 1 August 2016; 43 (3): 287–312. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-3572842
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