What do we lose if we only read a foreign work of literature in translation? [Modern Languages]
"They might be able to tell us about the challenges of translation, about what sorts of things resist literal or straightforward translation from one language to another, and this would give us an indication of how aware they are of how languages work," Jane Hiddleston, Professor of Literatures in French at Exeter College, explained.
"They might also tell us about literary language, and why literary texts in particular use language in ways that make translation problematic. This might lead to a discussion of what is distinct about literary works, and this helps us to see what kind of reader they are more broadly. We don't do this with the expectation that they have already read any particular works, however, but in order to get a sense of why they think it is worth studying literatures in foreign languages. This is an important issue, given that Modern Languages students at Oxford read a lot of literature in the language as part of their course. Occasionally candidates are able to give examples of famous lines or quotations that risk being misread when translated into English. This issue might also be something we discuss when we read an extract or poem in the language together during the interview."