Friday, 11 April 2014

ARTIS symposium programme now available

The first symposium of ARTIS (Advancing Research in Translation and Interpreting Studies) is happening next month on 13 May in Manchester, and the programme is now available online (click here to download).

It's on performative and cognitive approaches to TS research, and the programme is mostly early-career researchers, with a smattering of more experienced speakers. Looks fascinating. Looking forward to it!

There is no charge for registration.

Monday, 31 March 2014

This looks an interesting event, for readers within hollering distance of London: 

‘Affective Translations’
A CCWW Cross-Cultural Seminar
Saturday 10 May 2014, 2-4 pm, room G21a, Senate House, University of London

Organiser/Chair: Michela Baldo (CCWW/IMLR)

Round-table participants:
Aoi Matsushima (Translator/Writer, Japanese-English)
Sian Reynolds (French Scholar/Translator, French-English)
Isabel del Rio (Bilingual Writer/Linguist, Spanish-English)
Cristina Viti (Translator, English-Italian)

The aim of this translation seminar is to investigate the role of affect in translation, looking at how translating affects translators in the same way that translators affect translations. In the last 15 years, Translation Studies as a discipline has witnessed an increased interest in the agency of translators, from Venuti’s (1995; 1998) advocacy of the visibility of translators in the late '90s to the more recent sociological turn in the discipline which sees translators as ethical actors. However, more research needs to be carried out on the role of affect in translation. Translator and scholar Carole Maier (2002; 2006) identifies the visceral effect that translation might exert on translators and how translation can affect the translator’s body as a disease, a contamination that the translator is not immune to.

On the other hand the analysis of affect has recently emerged in a number of other disciplines. According to Latour (2004) to have a body is to learn to be affected, to be put into motion by other entities, human and non-human, to shift one’s affect into action. Affect arises in the in-betweeness, in the relationships between bodies and objects. Given these points, this seminar aims at understanding how translators are emotionally affected by their translations (and their translation tools) and capable of affecting others, of creating networks of affection.

The format of the seminar will be a round-table discussion, comprising female translators/authors living in the UK, who will introduce their work and answer questions on the above issues. For further info, see here.

All welcome. If you plan to attend, please advise gill.rye at

Professor Emerita Gill Rye,
Director, Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women’s Writing,
Institute of Modern Languages Research,
School of Advanced Study,
University of London,
Senate House,
Malet Street,
London WC1E 7HU,

Thursday, 27 March 2014

French translation of 'Subtitles for People Who Really Like the Film' now online!

I got some lovely news today from the fantastic blog Les Piles Intermédiaires. Unto them is published this day a French translation of a MATSnews blog post called 'Subtitles for People Who Really Like The Film'. 

The French translation, titled as it were in the optative, is called 'À quand des "sous-titres pour ceux qui aiment vraiment le film"?' When you have finished reading it you might like to check out some of the other posts by Les Piles, who, when not translating, writes with more irony than should be legal about translation. Among other things, LP hoards screenshots of subtitles about translation, just because. Check out the list of posts.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Poem about translation 19: 'To the Translator, Somewhere in New England, on the Road to Far Cathay'

This latest instalment in the poems about translation series is by the Chinese-English translator Steve Bradbury, from the excellent online literary magazine Cipher

I was drawn to the title, 'To the Translator, Somewhere in New England, on the Road to Far Cathay' partly because I spent some time in China recently for work - an extraordinary experience, whose extraordinariness was experienced partly through language (and the lack of it) and partly through the cultural prism of Arthur Waley's translations of Chinese poetry, which I got to know as a child.

The poem speaks for itself, so I won't comment further here.

For more from Bradbury about translation see his translation of three poems by Shang Qin here and his translation and comment on a quatrain of Li Bai, also known as Li Po, here. This quatrain has been most famously translated - why do I want to say 'covered'? - by Ezra Pound.

Pound's translation, from the collection Cathay, can be read on the Poetry Foundation website. It's free verse, rather than the metrical, rhyming quatrain that Bradbury favours - but then, as he observes in his address to the translator, how do you follow Pound?

For more of Bradbury's comment on translating Li Bai/Li Po, see issue 66 of Translation Review which is still freely downloadable at time of writing here. For more versions of Li Bai's poem, see here, here, here and here.  

Friday, 21 March 2014

Cardiff University Postgraduate Conference, 27 May 2014, CFP deadline 31 March

The Translator: Competence, Credentials, Creativity 
Keynote speaker: Professor Theo Hermans (UCL)
‘The translator’ lies at the heart of much research in translation studies and other disciplines and yet closer inspection reveals ‘the translator’ to be an intriguingly nebulous concept. This conference invites postgraduate researchers from arts and humanities, social sciences and other fields to revisit and advance work on the figure of the translator and the criteria that contribute to our understanding of the protean persona, focusing on such criteria as competence, credentials and creativity. 
While we welcome any perspective on the translator, we also hope to showcase a strand of work on contemporary translators. For example, it might be revealing to explore the impact of technology and Web 2.0 on translators and to expand recent work on non-professional translators (e.g. fan translators, activist translators or natural translators). A conference hosted in Wales may also provide a particularly appropriate setting for the consideration of the translator’s role in (re-)constructing contemporary group identities, be it local or global, national, transnational or ‘post-national’. Another avenue of inquiry might concern the postmodern perceptions of the fluidity of borders between socio-cultural and artistic entities as well as media, and the resulting perceived overlaps between the figures of ‘the translator’, the migrant, the author, the artist and other socio-cultural agents. Finally, the discussion might be informed by the current trend to incorporate, broadly speaking, non-Western conceptualizations of translation and ‘the translator’. 

Papers may address questions which include, but are not limited to, the following:
-        Language and translation/interpreting competence
-        Technological competence and subject specialization
-        Translator/interpreter training and the profession
-        Bilingualism, biculturalism, code-switching
-        Non-professional translators/interpreters
-        The translator’s credentials and authority
-        The translator and group identity (local, national, global etc.)
-        The translator’s identity and visibility
-        The translator’s creativity and craft
-        Adaptation and inter-media translation
-        The translator and the artist (writer, musician, film-maker etc.)
-        The translator and the migrant
-        The translator and communicating between fields of knowledge
-        The translator: past and present
Please send a 300 word proposal for a 20 minute presentation along with a short biographical note at at by 31 March 2014.
We will notify you of the results by 5 April 2014 (please contact us if you require an earlier response to be able to attend). Please use the same contact address for queries.
Please inform us if you would like to deliver a paper in Welsh: every effort will be made to provide simultaneous English interpretation. We would appreciate if you could supply an abstract in English (as well as Welsh if relevant).
Organizing committee: Dia Borresly, Lisi Liang, Esther Liu, Sara Orwig, Dorota Goluch
The event is kindly supported by the University Graduate College and the European School of Languages, Politics and Translation.
Our event coincides in time with another event co-organized by the European School of Languages, Politics and Translation, which might be of interest to our participants: it is the ‘Translation in Music’ symposium, held on 25-26 May 2014. Please see for details.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Munday on the creative voice of the translator

I recently came across a really satisfying article by Jeremy Munday in a 2009 issue of Romance Studies. The article is called 'The Creative Voice of the Translator of Latin American Literature' and it outlines some of the debate there has been around the notion of creativity in Translation Studies. It uses Michael Hoey's notion of lexical priming to look at the ways in which we might read lexical and phrasal choices in translation as elements of creative practice. 

As with all the most satisfying articles, I don't agree with every step in the argument - for instance, I have more time than Munday does for wacky exercises like translating from languages one doesn't understand - but it's an elegant and wide-ranging treatment of creativity in translation. I absolutely agree with Munday that 'there remains a relative absence of detailed descriptions of the creative process by which the translator reshapes the text [...], of the nitty-gritty detail of the whys and wherefores of textual modification [...]'. He quotes the translator Peter Bush (aptly enough, since Bush has contributed a lot of nitty-gritty detail over the years) on where the translator 'sits' in the creative process:
Translatorly readings of literature provoke the otherness within the subject of the translator, work at a level not entirely under the control of the rationalising discourse of the mind, release ingredients from the subconscious magma of language and experience, shoot off in many directions, provoked by the necessity of the creation of new writing. A professional translator is one who is aware of this process, gives it full rein, and is able to hold it in check [...]
He also turns to Junot Díaz to refute the idea of loss in translation:
So many writers take the position that with translation you lose a lot. But really, how much do you lose? Do you lose more than when you speak any language? Isn't language already an act of compromise with reality?
I'm just sorry I didn't find the article in time for a recent encyclopedia entry on creativity that I wrote for the John Benjamins Handbook of Translation Studies - it should be included.

It's a timely reminder of the importance of working with physical books and journals. All my keyword searching for the Benjamins book didn't come up with this article (which in retrospect seems surprising); it was through coming across a physical copy of the journal issue that I became aware of the article (and another great article by Andrew Rothwell in the same issue: 'Translating 'Pure Nonsense': Walter Benjamin Meets Systran on the Dissecting Table of Dada').

This kind of bibliographical encounter is something which, to some extent, we are losing with the shift to ejournals and ebooks. Keyword searching and library-shelf-browsing juxtapose items in very different ways. Even library-shelf-browsing and ejournal-table-of-contents-browsing don't necessarily yield the same results. Let's hope that academic libraries remain places where we can do both.