This text was written in French as a preface to Charles Bernstein's Pour ainsi dire (So to Speak), a selection of his work translated by Habib Tengour (Algiers, Algeria: Apic Éditions, 2019). Translating it (back?) into English is problematic, as the author does as he claims the addressee does: he puns & plays with words—which is a well-known no-no when it comes to translating. This translation tries to keep this playfulness alive, at the risk of befuddling the audience (but what are audiences for, anyway? Illumination goes through befuddling). Thus the title in French was “Les langues bien pendues and bien tendues de New York.” Now a “langue bien pendue” refers to a rich & ready tongue, a great gabber never at a loss for words, though the title means langue not as “tongue” but as the linguistic thing: “language.” Literally, the expression gives “well-hung”—& that seems to be the easiest way of punning shockingly back into New Yorkese.

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