The Wonders of Multilingualism #3 To translate or not to translate ?

To translate or not to translate ?

To translate or not to translate ?
To translate or not to translate ?


Would a world where everything is translated be an ideal world? What complexities does a multilingual urban environment like Brussels bring? What can we learn from the practices of literary translators, theatre-makers, spoken-word artists, etc.?

In this third episode of ‘The wonders of multilingualism’, we discuss translation and translation politics. The languages in which something is produced, translated and communicated does not always have only artistic reasons. Often (cultural) political and economic motives also play a role. Increasingly, we see how translation is handled more creatively and more flexibly within the cultural field. How literal, how complete and how … linguistic is the multilingual cultural environment? Do we really get everything if everything is neatly translated? And what do we make of accessibility when we move away from the ideal of translating everything?

The ‘wonders of multilingualism’ evenings are themselves always a negotiation in this respect. We don’t translate everything, but ensure balance and the willingness of audience members to help each other. Each time, we start from a theme to enter into dialogue with each other. Short interventions feed the conversations, both as a group and among ourselves.

During this edition, we will listen to the contribution of Rokus Hofstede, the Dutch translator of Les Années by Annie Ernaux, among others, and his views on what does or does not need to be translated. The editors of the performance magazine Etcetera also draw some conclusions and points of discussion from their latest issue, which is dedicated to multilingualism. And rapper-slammer-theatre-maker-actor Armin Mola will present a relevant act. The evening will be moderated by Fatima-Zohra Ait El Maâti.


about the series

With ‘The wonders of multilingualism’, Kaaitheater and Passa Porta are organizing a series of meetings that shed light on the human, cultural and political complexity of multilingualism. A series that plunges you, as it were, deep into the bath of (Brussels) multilingualism.

In the spring of 2021, writer Sulaiman Addonia and theatre-makers Ahilan Ratnamohan and Rabina Miya held a first public conversation on the subject. Inspired by Addonia’s essay ‘The Wound of Multilingualism. Surrendering the Languages of Home’, they shared special stories about the impact of migration, learning new languages, forgetting or losing other languages, the privilege of mastering a language …

Afterwards, it turned out that many audience members, artists, teachers, students and parents felt like continuing this. Therefore, Passa Porta and Kaaitheater decided to start from the topics suggested by the audience for the continuation of this series. Earlier this year, during an ‘open space’ session, we created an agenda of issues relevant to the audience. For instance, the previous session was on the current meaning of the concept of ‘mother tongue’.



With the series ‘The wonders of multilingualism’, Passa Porta and Kaaitheater are building a diverse community that meets around a shared interest. Specially for you, we created an interactive blog where the exchange can continue, also between evenings. If you register, you will receive a non-binding invitation. You do not have to attend the whole series, everyone is welcome to participate.

organisation Passa Porta & Kaaitheater

There's more

The wonders of multilingualism | summary 'Mother Tongue, what's in a name?'

The wonders of  multilingualism | summary 'Mother Tongue, what's in a name?'
The wonders of  multilingualism | summary 'Mother Tongue, what's in a name?'


Tue 05.07.22

From the many valuable topics raised by the audience during our first live session on multilingualism (8.2.22), we chose the topic of "mother tongue" — a concept that was discussed and questioned remarkably much in February — for this second step. Here you find the summary of the second evening.