Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Two Irish events for International Translation Day, Cork and Dublin, 2016

A flurry of posts, as St. Jerome's day heaves into view.
This next event looks fantastic; I wish I could go! What a dream line-up of speakers including Professors Luis Perez Gonzalez, Michael Cronin, Hilary Footitt, Lawrence Venuti and other very distinguished scholars...

There is more information at https://www.ucc.ie/en/french/translationactivism/#d.en.685554.

The event is organized by Dr Caroline Williamson of University College Cork whose article "Post-traumatic growth at the international level: The obstructive role played by translators and editors of Rwandan Genocide testimonies" was published in issue 9(1) of the journal Translation Studies.


As it happens the reason I can't go is a happy one; I will be taking part in another event on Tuesday 27 September for International Translation Day, at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. The programme is as follows:

Translation Seminar with Professor Reine Meylaerts, KU Leuven

Translation and Citizenship: 'La loi doit être connue pour être obligatoire'

Since the European democratization processes of the long nineteenth century, the very core of the legal and political potential to act as a citizen was formed by communicative resources. Communication between authorities and citizens through one (or more) national language(s) thus became of utmost importance. That is why studying language and translation policies is crucial to understand the role of language and translation in the construction of democratic citizenship. Drawing on examples from nineteenth-century Belgium, this presentation will reflect on issues of translation and citizenship and on methodological and theoretical implications for Translation Studies.

14:00—16:00, choose one of the following round tables:

1) The Work of the Professional Translator

This roundtable will discuss topics such as training, freelance v staff translator, the translation market, specialising and technology. Chair: Annette Schiller (ITIA)

2) Translation History: Why Bother?

This roundtable will discuss the function and utility of translation history, approaches to translation history, futures of translation history, interdisciplinarity and impact. Chair: Carol O'Sullivan (University of Bristol) and Alice Colombo (NUI Galway)

3) Why Translation Matters

This roundtable will look at the function and place of translation in society, its role in intercultural dialogue, its challenges and its future. Chairs: David Johnston and Piotr Blumczynski (Queen's University Belfast)

The afternoon's roundtables will be followed at 17:00 by 'Translating Anne Enright' - an event with Anne Enright in conversation with four translators of her work; Sergio Claudio Perroni (Italy), Hans-Christian Oeser (Germany), Isabelle Reinharez (France) and María Porras Sánchez (Spain). 

Click here to book tickets for the 'Translating Anne Enright' event at 17:00 on 27 September 2016.

More information on both events and booking links at https://www.ria.ie/events/translation-seminar-and-roundtables.

Celebration of Charles Tomlinson, poet, translator, teacher, Bristol, 30 September

British readers of poetry in translation will long have been familiar with Charles Tomlinson's generation-defining Oxford Book of Verse in English Translation, first published in 1980. Tomlinson was a poet, translator and lecturer who taught for many years at the University of Bristol. On 30 September (the day of St. Jerome, patron saint of translators, as regular readers of this blog will know well) the English Department is putting on an event in celebration of Tomlinson:

Charles Tomlinson - A celebration
Fri 30 September, 1.30 pm – 8.30 pm
Reception room, Wills Memorial Building, Queen’s Road, BS8 1RJ

An afternoon of academic papers followed by a series of poetry readings in the evening to celebrate the legacy of Charles Tomlinson, internationally acclaimed poet, translator, artist and literary scholar. Charles taught at the University's English department for 36 years. Free to attend, booking required.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Wikiproject Translation Studies: how to get involved

There is a long tradition among academics of treating Wikipedia with caution, or even disdain. Many of us don’t allow students to use it as a reference for academic essays. At the same time it’s very widely used by translators (see e.g. Alonso 2015), and it’s thus part of our role as trainers to teach students how to use it in their practice. Wikipedia has a translation interface and associated translation projects (see e.g. Panigrahi 2014) and the relevance of this aspect of Wikipedia for both research and training is increasingly evident (Ronen et al. 2014, McDonough Dolmaya 2014, 2015).

Academics use Wikipedia to different extents in their work (see Aibar et al. 2015). I know I use it a lot as a quick point of reference. Of course, it has to be taken with the appropriate pinch of salt. But whatever our relationship with Wikipedia, we must recognize that it is an important resource used by specialists and non-specialists across all subjects and disciplines all over the world. It is therefore relevant for us as scholars to consider what information Wikipedia holds about translation and Translation Studies. Other disciplines and scholarly associations are already doing this (see e.g. Ridge 2013; Hodson 2015; Machefert 2015; Whysel 2015).

Some of the initiatives already in progress seek to improve the visibility of less-studied and less-chronicled issues, for example female scientists or alternative perspectives on the First World War. Other initiatives seek to encourage greater diversity among Wikipedia editors (see e.g. Wexelbaum et al. 2015). Such initiatives speak to central Translation Studies concerns, which include increasing the visibility of translators as well as improving public understanding of translation and interpreting practices.

Translation Studies researchers who look at TS-related pages may have noted problems with some content. The Translation page, for instance, covers a huge range of phenomena, some of which are key concepts in their own right; not all of these have pages of their own. I was very surprised to find that ‘literary translation’ is not a heading in Wikipedia, for instance; it's just a sub-section on the translation page. Literary translation is a very specialized and separate area of translation, with different professional associations, different requirements, different norms and often different practitioners, so the creation of separate entries for this seems very desirable. The only language in which there seems to be a separate entry for literary translation at the moment is Spanish. Many bibliographical references for TS content are outdated, and links may be broken. While some important Translation Studies scholars have pages on Wikipedia, many others do not. Some pages are available in very few languages. Quality of entries is variable, and there are lots of stubs.

The European Society for Translation Studies set up an initiative, led by Dr Esther Torres Simón, Dr David Orrego Carmona and yours truly, to see what could be done to improve Translation Studies content. We ran two editing events in June 2015 and January 2016 to gauge interest, and created or edited a number of articles (for a sample, see James S. Holmes in English and Spanish; Indirect Translation; Retranslation). Further work was done on the main Translation Studies entry. See here for a list of articles created so far.

This work culminated in the setting up of the Wikiproject: Translation Studies in spring 2016. Participation in the project is warmly welcomed from anybody with an interest in improving the quality of Translation Studies content in any language. This may involve anything from proofreading and error correction to translating content to adding of new sections or indeed new entries. It may also include groundwork such as tagging articles which are of interest to the project.

This will inevitably be an incremental process. Wikipedia is a crowd-sourced environment where many different users negotiate their understanding of subject matter, so this is an initiative that is likely to take time. Anybody with an interest in taking part in the project, from experienced Wikipedians to newbies, is invited to contact me (you can find my email address here).

We are running a third Editathon to coincide with the 2016 EST Congress at Aarhus from 14 to 17 September 2016. A training event before the Congress on 14 September will be followed by three days of editing with support for on- and offsite editors. Expressions of interest in participating in this Editathon can be sent to me by email or you can signup via the event page here, any time before the event). For catering purposes, anyone wishing to attend the training event in Aarhus on 14 September should notify us by 11 September (extended deadline).

Aibar, Eduard, Josep Lladós-Masllorens, Antoni Meseguer-Artola, Julià Minguillón, Maura Lerga. 2015. Wikipedia at university: what faculty think and do about it. The Electronic Library (33)4: 668-683. Online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/EL-12-2013-0217
Alonso, Elisa. 2015. Analysing the use and perception of Wikipedia in the professional context of translation. Journal of Specialised Translation 23. Online at http://www.jostrans.org/issue23/art_alonso.php
Evans, Siân, Jacqueline Mabey and Michael Mandiberg. 2015. Editing for Equality: The Outcomes of the Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thons. Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America 34(2): 194-203
Fahmy, Sarah. 2012. Rewriting History: The JISC/ Wikipedia World War One Editathon [blog post], July 2. Online at https://jiscww1.jiscinvolve.org/wp/2012/07/02/rewriting-history-the-jisc-wikipedia-world-war-one-editathon/.
Hodson, Richard. 2015. Wikipedians reach out to academics. Nature (7 September 2015), doi:10.1038/nature.2015.18313
McDonough Dolmaya, 2014. Analyzing the Crowdsourcing Model and Its Impact on Public Perceptions of Translation. The Translator 18(2): 167-191
McDonough Dolmaya, 2015. Revision History: Translation Trends in Wikipedia. Translation Studies 8(1): 16-34. Online at http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/t6JuCRMRgdU2wSgYuSQD/full (open access at time of writing)
Machefert, Sylvain. 2015. Improving the articles about modern art in Wikipedia: a partnership between Wikimédia France and the Pompidou Centre. Art Libraries Journal 40: 34-40. doi:10.1017/S030747220000033X.
Panigrahi, Subhashish. 2014. Doctors and Translators Are Working Together to Bridge Wikipedia's Medical Language Gap. Online at http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/07/27/doctors-and-translators-are-working-together-to-bridge-wikipedias-medical-language-gap/, 27 July
Ridge, Mia. 2013. New Challenges in Digital History: Sharing Women's History on Wikipedia (March 23, 2013).Women's History in the Digital World. Paper 37. [conference paper] Online at http://repository.brynmawr.edu/greenfield_conference/papers/saturday/37
Ronen, Shahar, Bruno Gonçalves, Kevin Z. Hu, Alessandro Vespignani, Steven Pinker and César A. Hidalgo. 2014. Links that speak: The global language network and its association with global fame.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111(52): E5616.
Thomas, Amber. 2012. 21st-century Scholarship and Wikipedia. Ariadne 70. Online at http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue70/thomas#36
Whysel, Noreen. 2015. Information Architecture in Wikipedia. Bulletin of the Association for Information Science and Technology 41(5): 26-33 Online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bult.2015.1720410508.
Wexelbaum, Rachel S.; Herzog, Katie; and Rasberry, Lane. 2015. Queering Wikipedia. Library Faculty Publications. Paper 49. Online at http://repository.stcloudstate.edu/lrs_facpubs/49
Yong, Ed. 2012. Edit-a-thon gets women scientists into Wikipedia. Nature News, Oct 22, 2012. Online at http://www.nature.com/news/edit-a-thon-gets-women-scientists-into-wikipedia-1.11636.

N.B. This post is an extended version of a piece signed by Carol O'Sullivan, Esther Torres Simón and David Orrego Carmona which originally appeared in the newsletter of the European Society for Translation Studies.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Poem about translation 26: Paul Muldoon on the erotics of retranslation

I've been thinking a lot about retranslation recently - indeed, earlier this year I did a first draft of a Wikipedia entry on the topic. And as it happens, I have just come across a poem on precisely the topic of retranslation. This seemed too serendipitous not to blog about, as part of my occasional series on (more or less) translation-themed verse.

The poem is by Paul Muldoon and is entitled 'Whim'. It can be found in Muldoon's New Selected Poems 1968-1994. A chat-up line based on the obsolence of a nineteenth-century translation leads to an unfortunate al fresco incident in Belfast's Botanic Gardens:

Monday, 8 August 2016

Subtitling 'Du' and 'Sie'

I was just watching Michael Verhoeven's 1990 film Das schreckliche Mädchen [The Nasty Girl] and I was struck by this exchange between the protagonist Sonja and her crush Martin, a trainee teacher.
MARTIN: Wenn ich mein Staatsexamen hab' komm'ich zurück zu dir...vielmehr - zu Ihnen. [Pause.] Wollen wir nicht Du sagen zueinander?
SONJA: Doch, schon.
MARTIN: Ich heiß' Martin.
SONJA: Weiß schon...
Translating the shift from formal to informal address, which is standard in many languages but somehow not in English, is always tricky. (And not just in subtitling either. For a great discussion about this, sparked by an ingenious solution of Ros Schwartz's, see this languagehat post.)

A rough translation of Martin's remark would be something like: When I pass my state teaching exam, I'll come back to you [informal]...or rather [correcting himself] - to you [formal]. [Pause.] Can't we address each other as you [informal]?.

Multimodal elements of this scene will have to be taken into account. Kinetics, mise en scène, sound and rhythm may reinforce, undercut or otherwise inflect what's happening with the dialogue. A distinct change of mood occurs when Martin sees Sonja's secret framed photograph of him. He takes off his glasses. The scene opens with him standing while she sits. When he catches sight of the picture he crouches down to see better. She stands up so that she is momentarily taller than him; he stands and is again taller than her. His face is surprised, then serious; hers is quizzical. There's a short pause before he corrects Du to Sie and then a longer pause before he suggests that they call each other Du. All these things contribute to how the scene signifies, and may act as a guide (consciously or intuitively) to the subtitler.

Obviously, English uses the same word for both Du and Sie, so if transposed directly Martin's self-correction would make no sense, and there is no corresponding English expression for the question abut using Du.

The subtitler of this clip on the Miramax Youtube channel solves the problem as follows:

The subtitler changes the emphasis of Martin's line. Instead of correcting himself, he starts by saying that he will come back (implied, to the school), and then corrects himself that he will come back to her, specifically. You can see the whole clip here (it's at 2 mins 24 secs):

My 1992 VCI videocassette edition has, presumably, a different (unnamed) subtitler, and a different solution. The subtitler in fact has done the opposite of what the Miramax subtitler did:

This solution actually fits more closely with the dynamic of this scene, since he moves from a more intimate register (back to you) to a more 'formal' register in that 'to all of you' re-situates her as just a girl in his class. The long pause gives him time to gather his courage to request that they start using Du (and, by implication, that they begin a romantic relationship). The rather awkwardly formal 'Shall we be on Christian-name terms' is not out of keeping with the film's register.

So, a nice example of how opposite approaches by two translators can both work, in the moment.

More on translating formal and informal address, in a future post. Meanwhile if anybody has a copy of this film to hand, in any language, with a different subtitling solution, I'd love to hear about it.

UPDATE 20 August 2016: I rewrote and extended this post because on re-viewing the clips I realised I'd missed a couple of important things. (That will teach me to blog late at night.)

UPDATE 24 August 2016: The wonderful 20th-Century Flicks in Bristol turns out to have yet another subtitled version of the film, distributed by Arrow on Region 2 DVD (dated 2005). It has quite a different take on this scene again. The subtitles are by Lotti Mardell and Peter Templeton for SBS Australia, dated 2002:

This solution works very well to get across the levels of formality, though there's a lack of correspondence between the audio, where the proper names are not heard, and the subtitles. The trade-off seems worth it in this instance.

Any more versions out there...? Any information that might help me identify the subtitlers of the first two versions?

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Poem about translation (if you squint): The capybara as unit of measure

I should say in advance that this post has nothing at all to do with the Rio Olympics, but today a Facebook friend linked to a picture of the baby capybaras recently born at Berlin zoo and I was irresistibly reminded of a well-loved poem, Sandra Beasley's 'Unit of ':
All can be measured by the standard of the capybara.
Everyone is lesser than or greater than the capybara.
Everything is taller or shorter than the capybara.
Everything is mistaken for a Brazilian dance craze
more or less frequently than the capybara. [...]
You can read the whole, wonderful poem, and listen to Beasley reading it, at the Poetry Foundation website. It's not really a poem about translation, but it does mention translation at one point, so I figure it just squeaks in on that basis. Let's call it no. 25a in the series.

Speaking of squeaking:

 For more auditory descriptions of the capybara, in the immortal prose of Gerald Durrell, see here.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Save the date: Professor Mona Baker, Professor Anne Coldiron guest lectures at Bristol

We are delighted to announce two visits to Bristol by distinguished and internationally known translation scholars this autumn.

Professor Anne E.B. Coldiron is Professor of English, affiliated faculty in French, and Director of the History of Text Technologies Program at Florida State University, USA. In 2014-15 Professor Coldiron was Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Year-Long Colloquium on Renaissance/Early Modern Translation. Her Printers without Borders: Translation and Textuality in the Renaissance (Cambridge UP, 2015) follows a book on gender and early modern poetic translation (English Printing, Verse Translation, & the Battle of the Sexes, 1476-1557, Ashgate, 2009) and revises some of the transnational challenges in her Canon, Period, and the Poetry of Charles of Orleans: Found in Translation (2000). Her articles on Shakespeare, Spenser, Sidney, Donne, Milton, Chaucer, as well as Villon, Du Bellay, and Verlaine, appear in, for example, Renaissance Studies, Comparative Literature, Yale Journal of Criticism, JEGP, Criticism, and Translation Studies. She is currently editing a collection of Christine de Pizan in English, 1478-1549 for the MHRA.

Professor Coldiron will speak at Bristol on Thursday 27 October 2016. Title, time and venue TBC.


Mona Baker is Emeritus Professor of Translation Studies at the Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies, University of Manchester, UK, and Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded project Genealogies of Knowledge: The Evolution and Contestation of Concepts across Time and Space. She is author of In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation (Routledge, 1992; second edition 2011) and Translation and Conflict: A Narrative Account (Routledge, 2006), Editor of Translating Dissent: Voices from and with the Egyptian Revolution (Routledge, 2016), the Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies (1998, 2001; 2nd edition, co-edited with Gabriela Saldanha, 2009); Critical Concepts: Translation Studies (4 volumes, Routledge, 2009); and Critical Readings in Translation Studies (Routledge, 2010). Her articles have appeared in a wide range of international journals, including Social Movement Studies, Critical Studies on Terrorism, The Translator and Target. She is founding Editor of The Translator (St. Jerome Publishing, 1995-2013), former Editorial Director of St. Jerome Publishing (1995-2013), and founding Vice-President of IATIS, the International Association for Translation & Intercultural Studies (2004-2015).

Professor Baker will speak at Bristol on Thursday 10 November 2016. Title, time and venue TBC. 
Titles of both lectures will be confirmed later in the summer. I hope many readers of the blog may be able to attend, so do save the date!