Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Round-Up of Articles

Ordinarily, when I see an article on language, translation, or literature, I like to write a whole post about it, but in recent days, there’ve been so many interesting pieces that I thought the best thing to do would be to have a round-up of them all in one post.

first article is from Scientific American and it talks about tonal and nontonal languages and brain development. Scientists have found that people who speak nontonal languages (such as English) have a newer versions of two genes that may affect the cerebral cortex than those who speak tonal languages (such as Chinese).

The second piece is an editorial by Stephen Benjamin, a gay man trained as an Arabic translator, who was forced to leave the U.S. Army because of his sexual orientation. At a time when there is such a need for Arabic (and other) translators, it seems extremely short-sighted (not to mention offensive) for the military to continue to have such a policy.

Next is an e-panel on literary translation, featuring translators Howard Curtis, Katherine Silver, Paul Olchvary, and Richard Jeffrey Newman. They talk about which languages they work with (French, Italian, Spanish, Hungarian, and classical Persian), how they began translating, how fast they translate, and other topics. Thank you to Erika Dreifus for sending me this article!

fourth and final article is from the Times Literary Supplement and it is about the poet Ted Hughes and his work as a translator. He apparently translated from at least fourteen languages, some of which he didn’t actually know. Clive Wilmer, a poet and translator himself, explores connections between various translations by Hughes and Hughes’ own poetry. Mr. Wilmer writes, “In any poem of value there seems to be some poetic element, some inner intensity, which is separable from the language it is embodied in and which therefore appears to defy the truism we began with [i.e. that translation is imperfect and maybe even impossible].” Thank you to novelist Steven Russell-Thomas for sending me this article!

Enjoy these articles!

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