Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Happy St. Jerome's Day: untranslatable words

You get those little 'untranslatable words' meme going round at intervals. I'm always a bit suspicious - though I did like the word 'poronkusema' which is apparently, according to the interwebs, a distance of about 7.5km in Finland, equal to how far a reindeer can travel without stopping to urinate. 

But what about words which are untranslatable not because they mean something so specific, but because they mean so many things? My favourite (if, OK, fictional) example is Flann O'Brien's panegyric on the meanings of the Irish verb 'cur' [to put]:
There is scarcely a single word in the Irish (barring, possibly, Sasanach) that is simple and explicit. Apart from words with endless shades of cognate meaning, there are many with so complete a spectrum of graduated ambiguity that each of them can be made to express two directly contrary meanings, as well as a plethora of intermediate concepts that have no bearing on either. And all this strictly within the linguistic field. Superimpose on all that the miasma of ironic usage, poetic licence, oxymoron, plamás, Celtic evasion, Irish bullery and Paddy Whackery, and it a safe bet that you will find yourself very far from home. Here is an example copied from Dinneen and from more authentic sources known only to my little self:

Cur, g. curtha and cuirthe, m.—act of putting, sending, sowing, raining, discussing, burying, vomiting, hammering into the ground, throwing through the air, rejecting, shooting, the setting or clamp in a rick of turf, selling, addressing, the crown of cast-iron buttons which have been made bright by contact with cliff-faces, the stench of congealing badger's suet, the luminance of glue-lice, a noise made in an empty house by an unauthorised person, a heron's boil, a leprachaun's denture, a sheep-biscuit, the act of inflating hare's offal with a bicycle pump, a leak in a spirit level, the whine of a sewage farm windmill, a corncrake's clapper, the scum on the eye of a senile ram, a dustman's dumpling, a beetle's faggot, the act of loading every rift with ore, a dumb man's curse, a blasket, a 'kur', a fiddler's occupational disease, a fairy godmother's father, a hawk's vertigo, the art of predicting past events, a wooden coat, a custard-mincer, a blue-bottle's 'farm', a gravy flask, a timber-mine, a toy craw, a porridge-mill, a fair-day donnybrook with nothing barred, a stoat's stomach-pump, a broken—
But what is the use? One could go on and on without reaching anywhere in particular.
                                                 (from Flann O'Brien, The Best of Myles, pp.278-279)

Myles na Gopaleen is joking (I think) but in a very nice 2012 article called "Honor Thine Author" (paywalled) the translator Fiona Elliot puts in a plea to her authors not to use the German word aufheben because 
What English verb could match “aufheben,” meaning to pick something up from the floor, to save something up for later, to close a meeting, to terminate a siege, to remove restrictions, to cancel or annul, to repeal or revoke, to compensate, neutralize, offset, or elevate? (Actually, at the latest count there are forty-seven separate translations for it online at dict.cc.).
         (Fiona Elliott, "Honor Thine Author". Art in Translation 4:1 (2012), pp.89-98)

Happy St. Jerome's Day!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Save the date: Translate in the City 2015, London, 6-10 July 2015

Doesn't everyone love a good summer school? I hear very good things about this one, so you might want to make a note in your diary.

Part-bursaries available.

Poetry in Metamorphosis: A celebration of Italian poetry and translation

For italianisti, poetry lovers and anyone who enjoyed this post on Dante in Essex:

Poetry in Metamorphosis
A celebration of Italian poetry and translation
as part of the British Academy Guardian Language Festival and the Settimana della Lingua Italiana nel Mondo 2014

Tuesday 21 October 2014

at The British Academy, 10–11 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AH
9.30 a.m.–5.45 p.m.

Speakers include: Jacob Blakesley (Leeds), Nadia Cannata and colleagues (Sapienza Università di Roma), Daniela Caselli (Manchester), F.M. Federici (UCL), Paul Howard (Cambridge), Daniela La Penna (Reading), Matthew Reynolds (Oxford), Claudia Rossignoli (St Andrews) and Nigel Vincent (Manchester)

at the Italian Cultural Institute, 39 Belgrave Square, London, SW1X 8NX
6.30 p.m.
Matthew Reynolds will introduce readings by Philip Terry (Essex) from Dante’s Inferno
Marina Warner will introduce Jamie McKendrick’s new translation of the poetry of Antonella Anedda

For further information and the programme, see:

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Job opening: in-house translator from French and German to English

In-house Translator from French and German to English

Additional languages would be an advantage and a background in science and/or technology would be an asset
We are a small translation agency based in Colchester, Essex, specialising in intellectual property. We pride ourselves on our customer service and in particular on the high quality of translations we produce, and we are now seeking a new colleague who will enjoy working to these values.

Responsibilities will include:
• translation and checking of texts (patents, trademark documentation, oppositions, appeals, judgments, scientific articles) from French and German into English.
• coordination of incoming work and assignment of texts to translators.
• dealing with clients in French and German.
• administration related to translation tasks.

The ideal candidate will:
• be qualified to postgraduate level in translation (essential)
• speak English to native-speaker level (essential)
• be able to translate from French and German into English (applicants with only one of these two language combinations may still be considered)
• have experience in a scientific and/or technological field (desirable)
• have excellent attention to detail
• work well both independently and as part of a team
• be able to work to deadlines without compromising quality of work.

Permanent position on successful completion of three-month probationary period.
Training provided in a friendly, team-orientated company, with opportunity to develop areas of interest and expertise.
Salary commensurate with experience.
Part-time options may be available – please state your availability when applying.

Closing Date: 17th October 2014.

To apply, please send a CV and covering letter to Priory Translations
By e-mail: careers[at]priorytranslations.co.uk (please include the reference "In-house Translator" in the subject line)
By post: Careers
Priory Translations Limited
Graphic House
11 Magdalen Street

Original post is on the company website here

Sunday, 21 September 2014

STEM visuals in translation: project seeks co-researchers

Maybe of interest to some readers of this blog:

I saw on the European Society for Translation Studies Facebook page that a Lisbon- and New Mexico Tech-based research project, VISTAC (Visualising Science and Technology Across Cultures), is seeking co-researchers to look at STEM visuals in translation. They want to disseminate a survey in the main internet languages and are particularly interested in hearing from researchers who speak Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian or Spanish.

The last thing I read on this topic was a fascinating article by Liangyu Fu entitled 'Indigenizing visualized knowledge: translating Western science illustrations in China, 1870-1910' which is currently free to read on the Translation Studies website. But it would be great to read something more up to date too!

CFP: Recent European (Re)translations of Shakespeare

This just came round on the Translatio mailing list and looks like an interesting seminar:

Call for Papers: Recent European (Re)translations of Shakespeare

Conveners: Lily Kahn (UCL),  l.kahn@ucl.ac.uk
                     Márta Minier (University of South Wales), marta.minier@southwales.ac.uk
                     Martin Regal (University of Iceland), martinregal@gmail.com

The longevity of Shakespearean translations is generally somewhat limited. Although some canonical translations have a relatively long life as literary works and/or in the theatre, it is common for Shakespeare to be retranslated periodically. Within Europe there is a widespread phenomenon of systematic series of (re)translations of Shakespeare’s complete works; in recent years this trend has given rise to the WSOY Finnish Complete Works, completed in 2013, the new Polish Complete Works, the New Romanian Shakespeare series, and others. In addition, specially commissioned individual retranslations designed for specific productions are a common feature of the European theatrical scene. Examination of the rich variety of issues surrounding this phenomenon of retranslation in the European context can provide valuable insights into the theory and practice of Shakespearean interpretation.
This proposed seminar will bring together scholars, editors and practising translators engaged in the production and analysis of Shakespearean translations. It will also be open to dramaturges or directors who would like to comment on working with new or revised (that is, dramaturgically adjusted) translations. Proposals will be welcomed on topics including but not limited to the following:
·         factors galvanising the decision to produce new translations, including philological and interpretive shifts, changing conventions of theatre, and the emergence of new performance and directorial styles;
·         the collaborative framework behind commissioned translations and the relationship between the translator and other stakeholders;
·         societal perceptions of the modern Shakespeare translator; trends in the selection of different translation strategies (e.g. foreignising vs. domesticating);
·         comparisons between alternative translations of the ‘same’ play (both synchronically and diachronically);
·         different translations of a single play by the same translator; the use of updated and otherwise modified versions of existing translations in new productions instead of commissioning completely original work;
·         the critical reception of new translations both in textual format and in theatrical contexts.

We will consider papers focusing on academic translation series not necessarily intended for performance in addition to those specifically commissioned or designed for theatrical use that may not be as suitable for employment in educational contexts.

Please submit an abstract (200-300 words) and a brief biography (150 words) by 1 December  2014 to all seminar conveners. 
All participants will be notified about the acceptance of their proposals by 1 March 2015
The deadline for submitting the completed seminar papers (3,000 words) is 1 May 2015.