Friday, 28 May 2010

'Live' translation event, Saturday 19 June, British Museum

Time was that the most fun to be had with translation was taking pot-shots at isolated errors and disputed choices by translators who aren't there to answer back (reviewers, I'm talking about you). There's now a plethora of workshops, translation slams and the like to enjoy. I really like the look of the 'live' translation event being run by the London Review Bookshop as part of its World Literature Weekend. "Sarah Ardizzone, translator of Faïza Guène and Daniel Pennac, and Frank Wynne, translator of Ahmadou Kourouma and Michel Houellebecq, will each present a translation of the same short French text, and then debate and resolve the differences in the English versions with the author. The challenge will be provided by the L.A.-based francophone novelist Alain Mabanckou, whose novels push out the boundaries of the French language. The event will be chaired by writer and translator Daniel Hahn."
Those of you in the London area might like to take this opportunity to see two very experienced translators talking about the detail of their craft with the author of the source text.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Spring School for Translation Studies, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 29 Nov-4 Dec 2010

Just came round on the Translatio list, and may be of interest to some readers:

Are you involved in translation studies in Africa?
Do you want to decolonise your mind as a translator?
Then you should not miss the second Spring School for Translation Studies in Africa!

The Department of Afroasiatic Studies, Sign Language and Language Practice (DASL) at the University of the Free State and the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa are presenting the Second School for Translation Studies (SSTSA) in Africa from 29 November to 4 December 2010. This year's school is hosted by the University of Stellenbosch.

The Summer School is presented for doctoral students and/or lecturers in translation studies and intercultural communication from all over Africa with the aim of working towards an African agenda for translation studies. The Summer School features lectures, tutorials, and conference presentations under the guidance of prominent scholars in Translation Studies, Intercultural communication and Lexicography.

The aim is for the Summer School to become an annual event on the continent.

For detailed information and registration forms, visit the website of the Summer School at

Jericho sessions on international literature, Oxford, 9 June 2010

The translation publishing co-operative & Other Stories is holding the first of the 'Jericho sessions' combining international literature and music in Oxford on 9 June, featuring Argentinian novelist Carlos Gamerro, who will read from his work, soon to appear in English translation. Also featuring Ray Keenoy on Yiddish culture and humour. See here for more information.

transcreation jobs

Hi all,
Hogarth Worldwide, which specialises in transcreation (cross-cultural advertising and marketing), is currently hiring for a range of languages. See their website for more details. MATS students should also receive more details about these posts soon by email.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

poems about translation 5: Zbigniew Herbert translated by Alissa Valles

I made one attempt many years ago to learn Polish, enchanted by the sound of it and yet thwarted by the many many cases. So I gave up and am thus reduced to reading about witchers, etc. in (albeit very good) translation. Now I have another reason for regretting not reading Polish: Zbigniew Herbert's poem 'O tlumaczeniu wierszy' [On translating poetry']. The English translation by Alissa Valles can be found at the Words Without Borders site. I was charmed by the image of the translator as a feckless bumblebee who gets part of the way into the flower but no further, and emerges on the other side with an air of self-importance and pollen on his nose.

jobs, internships, links

It's nearly June (how did that happen??). Anyhoo, a grab-bag of links for jobs, internships etc.

MO Group International is offering internships for native speakers of German, Spanish, Italian and possibly other languages. The Chicago- and Krakow-based translation company Argos Translations has a translation internship scheme. Two-month internships are available at the Krakow office to graduates from any of the Krakow universities. The L.A.-based company WordExpress offers internships in translation. Interesting to see what language combinations they are also recruiting freelancers for. For translation students and graduates in Canada, the 'wordsintransit' initiative may be of interest.

As usual, mention on the blog *does not* constitute an endorsement of any of these or other organisations. There are unscrupulous potential employers out there and placement-seekers should exercise due caution. I especially liked the unpaid internship ad which included among the tasks the intern would undertake 'Translations from Spanish into your mother tongue and vice versa and other languages'. Presumably to suit flexible, perfectly bilingual polyglot candidate of independent means... :)

Remember also the European Parliament translation traineeship scheme and the similar scheme run by the DGT of the European Commission (if you can find your way to the information you need - the website is not particularly easy to navigate).

A couple of other job links maybe worth keeping an eye on: and,

A volunteer translation opportunity:

I also see the UN are expecting to run a competition for English-language interpreters in winter 2010.

posts for Portuguese and other languages with SDL

The multinational translation company SDL are advertising full-time translation posts here, and a colleague tells me this includes one for trainee translators from English or German into European Portuguese which may be of interest to some readers. It's at SDL's Granada office. Posts for Italian, French and Dutch native speakers, and project managers, also advertised. Many of these are for graduate translators with a few years' experience, but SDL also run internships in Sheffield which may be of interest to some of you (more details here.

They also advertise for freelance translators in many language pairs and for different specialised subjects on their website. It might be useful for current students to have a look at the specialisms currently most in demand (and the language combinations). (Who knew when that knowledge of agricultural machinery would come in handy?)

British Centre for Literary Translation summer school

A quick reminder from the BCLT about this year's literary translation summer school: the Japanese-English, and English-Italian workshops are full, but there are a few places remaining on Chinese-English, French-English, German-English and Spanish-English workshops.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Top 100 Language Blogs 2010: voting open!

Vote the Top 100 Language Professionals Blogs 2010

Hi all,
I'm thrilled to report that MA Translation Studies News has reached the voting stage in this year's Top 100 Language Blogs contest run by Lexiophiles and If you've been enjoying the blog please feel free to express your enthusiasm by voting for us here or by clicking on the button above. You may also like to tell your friends/knit us a warm scarf/link to us from your website.

There are lots of other excellent translation blogs listed at the Lexiophiles site - do take a look around.

Rosemary Arrojo seminars in Germany

For our Germany-based students, Professor ROSEMARY ARROJO is the ZIS Guest Professor for Translation Studies at FTSK in Germersheim from 16 May - 17 June 2010.

Professor Arrojo will be at FTSK, the Germersheim Campus of the University of Mainz, for a month as Guest Professor in Translation Studies where she will be lecturing students on "Translation and Gender", giving a seminar on "The Ethics of Translation in Postmodernity" and holding two public lectures in Mainz and Germersheim.

Dates for the public lectures:

Borges Meets Nietzsche: 'Funes, his Memory' and the Illusive Pursuit
of Sameness"
Wednesday 2 June 2010, 6 p.m., University of Mainz, Atrium Maximum/Alte

"Representations of Translation in Latin American Fiction: Rodolfo
Walsh, Moacyr Scliar, and the Subverted Space of the Translator's
Tuesday 8 June 2010, 6 p.m., Germersheim Campus, Neubau, Rm 328

Rosemary Arrojo is well-known for her interdisciplinary work in the
fields of translation theory, Latin American literature, postcolonial
studies, deconstruction, psychoanalysis and gender studies.

The Guest Professorship is sponsored for the second time by ZIS, the
Centre for Intercultural Studies at the University of Mainz. Last year,
the Guest Professor was Lawrence Venuti.

Organiser and Contact:

Professor Dilek Dizdar
School of Translation and Interpreting Studies, Linguistics and Cultural Studies
Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Germersheim

dizdar at

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Corpora, thesauri (or thesauruses?)

Many thanks to Juliette for pointing out a new French textual corpus, the University of Leipzig Corpus français. Searchable corpora are a huge step forward for translators, allowing us to search beyond the simplistic word-meaning dictionary model to see how words really behave around other words. English corpora include the British National Corpus and the Corpus of Contemporary American English. There's a useful Russian corpus here, and of course the multilingual Leeds internet corpora (including all MATS languages). The Translational English Corpus created at Manchester is probably research-focused rather than translator-focused but might be of interest too.

Of course the other indispensable resource for translators are thesauri, otherwise known as thesauruses - see e.g. Interestingly, the BNC and the Leeds English corpus felt very strongly that 'thesauri' was preferable to 'thesauruses', but the Corpus of Contemporary American English suggests that 'thesauruses' is gaining ground... Any opinions from readers?

interview etc. on literary translation publishing

Permit me to recommend this great interview with Michael Reynolds, editor-in-chief of Europa Editions, who has very sensible things to say about translated literature and the publishing of same. Europa Editions, the US arm of the Italian publisher e/o, has published some of the most exciting translated fiction of the last few years, including my much-loved old favourite Stefano Benni.

I also hear on the interwebs that Amazon are moving into the translation publishing business (!). According to this press release, Amazon's 'international customers have made [them] aware of exciting established and emerging voices from other cultures and countries that have not been translated for English-language readers', a gap in the market which Amazon are eager to address.

So I guess that's two places to send that unpublished translation ms... Good luck to both their houses.

Inglourious Basterds (yet again)

It appears that the subtitles were not the only thing amiss with the Italian release of Inglourious Basterds (see my post of a few days ago). The indefatigable Sam has just sent me this stinging criticism of the film's Italian dub from the Italian dubbing periodical aSinc. I would say there are not that many films that would defeat a really ingenious dubbing scriptwriter but it would appear that Inglourious Basterds, with its highly self-conscious use of multiple languages and translation tropes, is one of them. See here for a (frustratingly non-native) English translation of the article. The site has an impressive editorial board and looks extremely useful to anyone interested in dubbing.

Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Awards, 2011

I was pleased and interested to come across a website about the 'Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Awards' whose mission is to 'bring quality translated fiction to the English-speaking world' (thus bringing together two of my favourite things!). They were announced in October 2009 at the World Fantasy Convention and are still at the preparation stage, planning a first round for 2011 if they raise enough funding. They have a nice blog about translated fiction, mostly of the sff persuasion, and a suggestions page for possible titles for the first year's awards (titles published in 2010).

It seems to me a shame not to fish a bit further back for the first year's awards, but that's because I'd like to have suggested Andrzej Sapkowski's The Last Wish, published in English in 2007, and Tatyana Tolstaya's The Slynx, published in English in 2003, both of which I read with no knowledge of Polish and Russian respectively, and liked very much. (I suppose it might be pushing it to call the Tolstaya book sff, but it's post-apocalyptic fiction, if not, strictly speaking, speculative.)

I'd be curious to hear from anyone who might have suggestions of sff they enjoyed in English translation, or recommendations for sff not yet translated into English...?

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

subtitle textuality

It's so easy to think that the subtitles on the film you're looking at are *the* subtitles, the only subtitles, 'the' translation. The reality of course is that any text can be translated lots of times, and films are no exception. A film might be subtitled for a festival, resubtitled for DVD release, resubtitled again for television broadcast and, if it gets canonical, released again on DVD in a luxury edition with new improved subtitles for the conoisseur.

This was forcibly brought home to me when I watched an Italian DVD copy of Inglourious Basterds again recently, only to find that the subtitles were still the theatrical subtitles, and therefore invisibly small on our old-fashioned TV. If you know the film, you'll know that it's terminally talky and much of it is subtitled. My dad watched the film with me to the bitter end and was absolutely gripped but very frustrated because for most of the film he had only the haziest idea what the characters were saying. Please, where is the kind soul who will compile some Guidelines for Decent DVD Subtitles for idiot distributors?

Quite the opposite is the case with the Swedish film Let the Right One In (2008), released on DVD in the US to a flurry of criticism from fans of the film who had seen it on its theatrical release and who resented the differences between the DVD and the theatrical subtitles (DVD subtitles tend to compress the dialogue more than theatrical subtitles). This post sets out the case, and links to useful pages including this one which gives you screenshots showing how the dialogue translation varies between the two versions (see what I mean about the size of the font?). Interestingly, in this case the distributors rethought, and apparently released a later version of the DVD with an option to view the theatrical subtitles. Fab, if you have a really really wide screen.

It would be nice to think that increased awareness of subtitle quality among fans would lead to positive pester power and better quality control by distributors, but then I'm an incurable optimist.

Postdoctoral bursaries, University of Edinburgh

Applications are invited by the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh for postdoctoral bursaries from candidates in any area of the humanities and social sciences, whose work falls within the scope of one of the Institute for Advanced Studies' current research themes or across disciplinary boundaries in the humanities. One of the current themes is 'translations, adaptations and modalities'. Awards will be worth up to £10,000. Closing date: 09 July 2010

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

linguistics lecture by Malcolm Coulthard, Portsmouth, 20 May 2010

Hello all,
We have a very distinguished speaker giving the last of this year's Language Across Borders lectures.

Professor Malcolm Coulthard, Professor of Forensic Linguistics and Director of Research, Aston University, will speak on ‘The Linguist as Detective and Expert Witness’.

Professor Coulthard is the author of several seminal books including An introduction to discourse analysis. He is perhaps best known for pioneering the science of forensic linguistics, which is the science of distinguishing, on the basis of sometimes very small text samples, who the originator of the text was. He has acted as an expert witness in trials for two decades and has been commissioned to prepare reports for both the prosecution and the defence in over 200 civil and criminal cases. He has given evidence on author identification in courts in many countries. Among his high profile cases are the Birmingham Six Appeal, the Bridgwater Four Appeal and the Ronald Bolden trial, at the conclusion of which, in 1989, the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad was disbanded. He has also worked with the Metropolitan, the Scottish, the South Wales and the Military police on internal investigations. His latest court appearance was at the trial of David Hodgson for the murder of Jenny Nicholl in February 2008.

This should be a fascinating lecture for anyone interested in language and how it works.

The lecture will take place on Thursday 20th May in Park Building 1.23 at 5pm. The event is free and all are warmly invited.

Friday, 14 May 2010

winner of Independent Foreign Fiction prize 2010

The winner of this year's Independent Foreign Fiction prize is Philippe Claudel for his novel Brodeck's Report, translated by John Cullen. A summer reading suggestion.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

translation funnies

Some light relief for exam stress/election frustration/combat fatigue/dissertation anxiety (delete as applicable):

The ALTA blog has a lovely page of foreign-language cover versions of songs and their originals. For generational-nostalgic reasons I particularly liked the German version of 'Walk Like An Egyptian', but there's something for everyone here.

And the New York Times has a great page of amusing translated signs from foreign places with more funny than you can shake a stick at (and some quite thought-provoking ones too).

PhD studentships at Leicester: deadline 4 June 2010

For those of you considering PhD research in translation:

The School of Modern Languages at the University of Leicester is making available two bursaries for candidates interested in pursuing PhD research in the area of Translation Studies.

Bursary 1:
Home/EU students: Exemption from fees; £10,000 living cost allowance.
Overseas students: Fee reduction to the value of the H/EU rate; £10,000 living cost allowance.

Bursary 2:
Home/EU students: Exemption from fees; £5,000 living cost allowance.
Overseas students: Fee reduction to the value of the H/EU rate; £5,000 living cost allowance.

Each bursary is for 3 years and candidates will be expected to undertake teaching for up to 6 hours (bursary 1) or up to 4 hours (bursary 2) each week from the beginning of their second year of study.

Applications should include the applicant's full CV, the names of two academic referees who have agreed to support the application, and a research proposal which should:

• Define a series of research questions, issues or problems to be addressed
• Specify the research context in which these research questions, issues and problems arise, and explain why it is important to address them: What other research has been or is being undertaken in the area, and what will be the applicant's particular contribution to the enhancement of knowledge and understanding.
• Describe the research methods to be used to address the research questions, issues or problems, explaining the rationale for choosing those methods: Why are these the most appropriate methods for addressing these questions, problems or issues?

Applications should be sent by electronic mail to Professor Sharon Wood (slw26 at and Professor Kirsten Malmkjær (kirsten at by Friday 4 June. Interviews will be held on Friday 2 July in Leicester.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

What is telephone interpreting?

Telephone interpreting is an increasingly important sector of the interpreting profession; it's logistically convenient, faster and cheaper than having an on-site interpreter. See this interview with telephone interpreter Nataly Kelly on National Public Radio for more information. The broadcast is based on a nice piece by Kelly in the journal Health Matters.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

London translation events,

For those of you near London, two very interesting-looking events coming up at the Centre for Translation Studies at City University:

Calling the Shots - A New Approach to Audio Description
A panel discussion on Wednesday 19 May 2010

An expert panel will examine "Cinematic audio description", a new style of audio description for blind and partially-sighted people.

Panelists include:
Tim Suter, Broadcasting policy expert, former Managing Editor, Current Affairs, at the BBC and Partner at Ofcom (Chair)
Louise Fryer, Project Researcher and Audio Describer
Joan Greening, RNIB
Dr Sabine Braun, University of Surrey
Juliet McKeon, Screenwriter and Director
David Cheshire

Preceding the panel, there will be a screening of David Lean's Brief Encounter showcasing the new approach to audio description. Book your place at


"I Never Said That!" The Problem of Translated Records of Interpreted Police Interviews with Police Suspects

On Wednesday 16 June 2010 Krzysztof Kredens from the Centre for Linguistic Studies, Aston University, will examine what problems can arise in the translation of tape-recorded interpreter-mediated police interviews when the translator has to rely solely on the transcript and has no access to the original recordings.

Book your place at

survey about subtitling industry

This just came round from ESIST: they are working on a survey to gather information on the current state of the interlingual subtitling industry as well as on working conditions for subtitlers. This is the first time such a study is taken and it is hoped that the results will provide insight into the conditions under which subtitlers work and – in the longer term – help safeguard quality and ensure decent working conditions in the industry.

The survey is supported by a number of national and international associations and the results will be posted on their websites and sent directly to those participants who request it. To complete the survey please go to:

The survey will be open until 30 June 2010 and we hope that as many people as possible will complete the questionnaire.


Kirstine Baloti, Danish Union of Journalists
Jorge Díaz-Cintas, President of ESIST
Helena Johansson, Chair of Subtle, The Subtitlers' Association
Paula Mariani, Chair of ATRAE, Asociación de Traducción y Adaptación Audiovisual de España
Leo Reijnen, Treasurer of BZO, Dutch Association of Subtitlers
Estelle Renard, Chair of ATAA, Association Traducteurs Adaptateurs Audiovisuel

marketing yourself to agencies

Well, it's the last week of teaching term (at Portsmouth at least), and the end of the course is looming ever larger on the horizon for translation MA students all over (bar a few tiddly things like dissertations, of which we shall not speak). So a timely post from Corinne McKay on marketing yourself to agencies, with some useful comments from other professionals. Don't just throw yourself into indiscriminate CV-bombing - think about who you want to work for and what your USPs (Unique Selling Points) are and have a structured approach to marketing yourself from the start. Good recruitment tips for freelancers too at the Essential Project Management blog.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Juvenes Translatores competition 2010

For any of you with children the right age or who are in touch with schools, advance warning of this year's competition:

The translation contest 'Juvenes Translatores' organised by the European Commission will take place for the fourth time on 23 November 2010. You can register from 1 September - 20 October on this site.

This round of the contest is aimed at secondary school pupils born in 1993 who want to test their translation skills. The pupils will be asked to translate a text of about one page from any of the EU's 23 official languages into any other official language.

The contributions will be evaluated by European Commission translators and the winners, one from each EU country, will be invited to Brussels in 2011 for an awards ceremony.

News on the contest as well as pictures and information from previous rounds are available on Facebook, and you can also follow Juvenes Translatores on Twitter.

Friday, 7 May 2010

seminar at Portsmouth on French in Quebec

For those of you in the Portsmouth area, we have a distinguished visiting speaker this week for the Language Across Borders research seminar. Dr Leigh Oakes, Reader in French and Linguistics at Queen Mary, University of London, will give a paper entitled "From monocentric ideology to pluricentric reality: the case of
French in Quebec".

The talk takes place in Room 2.07, Park Building, at 5pm on Thursday 13 May. All welcome, and as usual refreshments provided.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

summer school in financial translation, 7-9 July, Luxembourg

This has just come round from Chris Durban. It's organised by the SFT (Société française des Traducteurs) and it will interest those of you working in financial translation or considering it as a specialism. There may be funding available to attend, so do contact the organisers if you're interested! (I see the SFT also organise very practical-looking webinars on translation which may also interest those of you working with French).

5ème Université d’été de la traduction financière — Luxembourg, les 7, 8 et 9 juillet 2010

Si vous évoluez dans l’une des nombreuses spécialités du monde de la traduction financière, voici l’occasion d’encore mieux maîtriser votre sujet, d’actualiser vos connaissances sur des sujets pointus, de rencontrer des experts et de pratiquer le réseautage avec vos collègues.

Pour consulter le programme de cette conférence bisannuelle de la SFT, absolument unique en son genre, et pour vous inscrire, une seule adresse :

- La plupart des intervenants sont directement issus du secteur financier. Ils présenteront leurs exposés en français ou en anglais, et se prêteront volontiers au jeu des questions-réponses.

- Tout comme en 2008, nous avons prévu un atelier d’écriture pour le jeudi après-midi. (A German component will be added if there is sufficient interest).

- Pour les members de ATA : ce séminaire a été approuvé pour 10 “continuing education points”.

- Pour les traducteurs et interprètes libéraux installés en France : séminaire peut faire l'objet d'une prise en charge par le FIF-PL.

- Compte tenu de la forte demande, nous prévoyons que les 100 places disponibles seront rapidement prises. Si vous souhaitez participer à cette formation, inscrivez-vous sans tarder.

Et si vous avez des questions, faites-nous signe ! Nous vous répondrons avec grand plaisir.

Chris Durban / at

Dominique Jonkers / dominique.jonkers at


5th Summer School for Financial Translators / Luxembourg, July 7-9, 2010

If you work in financial translation -- in any of the many, many specialist areas this encompasses -- here’s your chance to consolidate your understanding of the big picture, gain up-to-date information on specific topics from industry experts, and network with peers.

The full program for this unique biennial conference organized by the SFT is now up at

You can register at the same address.

Please note:

- Most speakers work directly in the financial sector; their presentations will be in French or English, with ample time for questions.

- As in 2008, a writing workshop is scheduled on Thursday afternoon. (A German component will be added if there is sufficient interest).

- For freelancers based in France: this event qualifies for FIF-PL financing.

- For ATA members: this event has been approved for 10 continuing education points.

- Given strong interest, we expect all 100 places to be taken. If you plan to attend, you should sign up quickly.

And if you have questions, get in touch -- we’d be glad to answer them.

Chris Durban / at

Dominique Jonkers / dominique.jonkers at

doctoral funding, Universitat Rovira i Virgili

Four pre-doctoral research fellowships are available at the Department of English and German Studies at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Spain:
https://seuelectron treballar- a-la-urv/ predoc_fellowshi ps_en.html

Each fellowship runs for four years and pays just under 1000 euros a month (after tax).

Students enrolled in the Research Masters or Doctoral programs in Translation and Intercultural Studies are eligible to apply. Enrollment in the Research Masters program is open until May 15th 2010:
http://isg.urv. es/publicity/ doctorate/ index.html

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

translation controversy

A lively translation controversy has been unscrolling over the pages of the London Review of Books this spring. It began with Toril Moi's critical review of the new translation of Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex and continued with ripostes from the translators, the publisher and other interested parties. A great illustration of the pressures that are exerted on ideas travelling between languages. Economic factors aside (if one can ever say that) I'm a big fan myself of heavily annotated translations - like good DVD extra features they puncture the illusion of transparency and lift us out of our absorption in the text to show us some of the scaffolding behind it. It will be interesting to see whether the rise in e-books will generate e-book extra texts, for those readers who want a sense of how the text turned out the way it did; could be very enriching for translation.

MA student workshop on setting up in business as a translator

Dear all,

There's a afternoon workshop on setting up in business as a translator for all Portsmouth MA students on Wednesday 19 May from 2-5 pm in Park 0.10. The workshop will be led by Tony Greatbatch, the Business Development Manager of the Portsmouth Centre for Enterprise. The event is free but please notify Ian Kemble if you would like to attend. More details on the course site on Victory.

Monday, 3 May 2010

25 things a translator should never do

Just came across this really useful post on the twenty-five things a translator should never do. Lots of food for thought there, and some lively debate and extra links in the comments.

When it comes to client education the ATA guide is still the best short guide around for translation commissioning. And I recently came across some useful tips for clients using interpreters which you might find useful.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

translation and the law

Came across a nice article this evening on making the best combined use of MT and human translators in translating for legal purposes. The observation that translations of the same text provided by the two sides in one case might be materially different reminded me of a nice anecdote I came across in a Times account of a trial for obscene libel in 1831. The bookseller George Cannon was prosecuted for supplying a French copy of Sade’s Juliette, and a literal translation into English was presented as evidence by the prosecutors for the book's objectionable content. When one jury member questioned the translator and suggested that there might be some bias in the translation because it had been made for the prosecution, he was allowed to see the two texts side by side. At which point he acknowledged that ‘it is a most literal translation indeed. So much so, that it is worse than the book itself’. :)

winner, Best Translated Book awards

The winners of this year's Best Translated Book awards for fiction and poetry have just been announced. They are Elena Fanailova for The Russian Version, translated from the Russian by Genya Turovskaya and Stephanie Sandler and published by Ugly Duckling Presse, and Gail Hareven for The Confessions of Noa Weber, translated from the Hebrew by Dalya Bilu and published by Melville House Press. For the longlist and shortlist, see here.

poems about translation 4

Hey all,

It's been a little while since we've had a poem about translation. Today I thought I'd pick a classic: John Denham's poem in praise of Sir Richard Fanshawe's 1647 translation of Guarini's Il Pastor Fido (1590). It's very well known but for good reason, being both a pithy expression of the binaries of translation and a strong statement in support of paraphrase:

That servile path thou nobly dost decline,
Of tracing word by word and line by line.
Those are the labour'd births of slavish brains,
Not the effect of poetry but pains;
Cheap vulgar arts, whose narrowness affords
No flight for thoughts, but poorly stick at words,
A new and nobler way thou dost pursue,
To make translations and translators too,
They but preserve the ashes; thou the flame,
True to his sense, but truer to his fame.