Tradition or Translation: Anthropomorphism in Nuer Literature


  • Nalia Diew-Loth Student


Anthropomorphism, Nuer, Oral Literature, Translation


More than ever, translation in children’s literature has grown immensely, particularly in the space of other cultures. However, there has been little to no discourse on translation studies in exploring the use of anthropomorphism in  writing. Nuer myths, such as What’s So Funny, Ketu?, explore what it might mean to accept the  relationship of human and other species. The tale conjures up a number of questions about the limits and allowances of  anthropomorphism in literature, and their relation to language, representation, and reality. The article aims to show how anthropomorphism explains the role of translation in the wide field of discourses pertaining to oral literature. It outlines the tradition of anthropomorphism in oral cultures and then explores how the difference of animal relations is recorded when written. As we tend to place animals in an entirely different category from humans, What’s So Funny, Ketu? seeks to illustrate animals outside the hierarchy and structure of human society and employ them to objectively challenge and question human hegemonies. In What’s So Funny, Ketu?,  I will argue, that anthropomorphism serves as a means of translation employed to link realms that are conventionally separate, challenge traditional human structures and operate outside national boundaries.