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M. Blanchot considers the foreign text, not as the unchanging cultural monument in relation to which the translation must forever be an inadequate, ephemeral copy, but as a text in transit, "never stationary," ... consituting a powerful self-difference which translation can release or capture in a unique way.

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What does the underlined "which" refers to?

"the foreign text" or "cultural monument"?

In this sentence, there are two nouns, "the foreign text" and "cultural monument" before "which", so in this case, is there any rule deciding which one "which" refers to?
Comments  
pructusWhat does the underlined "which" refers to?

"the foreign text" or "cultural monument"?
cultural monument. The reference is usually to the closest noun.

In this case the functional word "as" makes it clear:

... considers X

not as ......................
but as ......................

"the foreign text" is outside of this structure, so can hardly be the referent for "which".

CJ
I don't know if there's a rule, or if my terminology is correct, but I've noticed that when the "which" clause is a defining or limiting clause (not preceded by a comma), the tendency to refer to the closer noun is strengthened. (In this case, the comma to make it non-defining would come after "monument.") Perhaps its the pause, which tells us to go back and check for other possibilities, that is, the more distant noun, or perhaps both.
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Thanks a lot, CalifJim and Avangi....

I will give some time on this......
CalifJim"the foreign text" is outside of this structure, so can hardly be the referent for "which".
I must have completely misunderstood the original passage.

M. Blanchot considers the foreign text, not as the unchanging cultural monument in relation to which the translation must forever be an inadequate, ephemeral copy, but as a text in transit, "never stationary," ... consituting a powerful self-difference which translation can release or capture in a unique way.

I take it to mean that we have, on one hand the "foreign text" which is not to be considered "the unchanging..." and on the other we have the "translation" which is not to be considered "an inadequate...copy".

So "which" refers to the "foreign text" as modified (for lack of a better word) by the phrase "unchanging..."

Where did I go wrong here?
It does give one pause!

To me, M. B.'s position is that the original (the foreign text) is a wealth of material open to interpretation (to be released or captured in a unique way).

That is, it's not a "monument" whose true meaning various translators attempt vainly to uncover.

At first, it seems absurd to suggest that the original is in transit. But I think it's just a point of view, emphasizing how, in his opinion, the original ought to be used.

M. B. looks at the foreign text not as X, but as Y.

not as a monument which measures the inadaquacy of translations

but as a source which can be unleashed variously by translation

So "which" refers to the "foreign text" as modified (for lack of a better word) by the phrase "unchanging..."

I think this is semantically correct.

But what do you get when you modify "foreign text" by "unchanging"? A monument!

I view my Rolls Royce not as a tireless machine which works for me, but as a thing of beauty which gives me pleasure.

What does "which" refer to? "Rolls Royce" or "machine"? EDIT (To borrow from CJ, "Rolls Royce" is outside the "not as / but as" structure.)

Perhaps part of the confusion lies in the double usage of "the translation."

Toward the end of the sentence, it's used to explain what M.B. feels the translation should really be.

Toward the beginning of the sentence, it's used to explain what he feels the foreign text should not be. (It should not be used to measure the accuracy of the translation.)

The "inadaquate copy" stuff goes with "the one hand," not with "the other hand."

On the other hand, we have a text in transition, which translation can release.

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Thanks RayH and again, Avangi.....

I was thinking in the same way with RayH.

Avangi's explanation seems to be quite logical, but I think I have to do some work on this issue.