Oberflächenübersetzung: The Poetics and Cultural Politics of Homophonic Translation


  • Till Dembeck Université du Luxembourg


homophonic translation, cultural politics, littérature potentielle, Oskar Pastior, Ernst Jandl


This article reassesses the poetics of homophonic translation in order to come to terms with its (culture-)political effects. In a close reading of poems by Ernst Jandl and Oskar Pastior, Dembeck shows that these authors’ homophonic translations are by no means homogenous in the methods they apply, but rather make use of various, complex strategies of linguistic transformation simultaneously. This constant shifting between strategies enables these poets to make their texts the medium for (culture-)political movements that are, in very different ways, opposed to the presuppositions of monolingualism. Homophonic translation thus proves to be more than just a mere language game without semantic and political impact.

Author Biography

Till Dembeck, Université du Luxembourg

Dembeck is Adjoint de recherche at the Université du Luxembourg. He received his PhD from the Universität Siegen and held positions in Hagen, Mainz and Riga before he came to Luxembourg. His research interests are German literary history from the 18th to the 20th century, cultural, literary and media theory, history and ethics of philology, literary multilingualism, history of linguistics and the history of German lyric poetry.