Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Round-Up of Articles

As usual, several of the articles I’ve found interesting are from the NY Times. The first is on the publishing industry.

The next is on computer translation.

Another piece is about bailing out the writers.

I also enjoyed an article on teaching literature.

Finally, a piece about the Icelandic author Halldór Laxness. This article mentions an early novel by Laxness, which is now out in a “vigorous translation” to English, whatever that means.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Site for Learning Indo-European Languages

This is a great resource: a website for learning Indo-European languages. I’ve already started looking at some of the courses offered there and I can imagine I’ll spend more time on the site in the future.

Monday, December 22, 2008

More Metaphors for Translation/Translators

In the last post, I mentioned Susan Bassnett’s Comparative Literature: A Critical Introduction. She includes some analysis of translation metaphors, which is a topic I am interested in. She writes that studying metaphors translators use about their work is an important part of translation studies today. Here are some of the ones Professor Bassnett mentions:

  • “[C]lusters of metaphors used by translators reflect their thinking about the role and status of translation in their own time. Predictable metaphors relating to rhetoric in general include following in footsteps, changing clothing, discovering treasure or alchemical transfer, and these metaphors also show a certain degree of ambiguity towards the source text, with the status of the text in its source system being significant in determining the attitude and strategies of the translator as well as the right of the target culture to possess it.” (146)

  • The translator as a servant was a popular metaphor through 19th century. (147)

  • Augusto de Campos uses the metaphor of the transfusion of blood. “Translation is for him a physical process, it is a devouring of the source text, a transmutation process, an act of vampirization.” (155)

  • “The images of translation as cannibalism, as vampirism, whereby the translator sucks out the blood of the source text to strengthen the target text, as transfusion of blood that endows the receiver with new life, can all be seen as radical metaphors that spring from post-modernist post-colonial translation theory.” (155)
  • Wednesday, December 17, 2008

    Comparative Literature Has Had its Day?

    I was reading Susan Bassnett’s Comparative Literature: A Critical Introduction and noticed that her chapter on translation studies is a good basic introduction to the field, though it focuses primarily on recent times and trends. She argues that “[c]omparative literature as a discipline has had its day…We should look upon translation studies as the principal discipline from now on, with comparative literature as a valued but subsidiary subject area.” (161) What do you think about that?

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    Nobel Lecture by Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio

    You can read or watch the Nobel lecture by Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, this year’s Nobel Prize winner in literature, online. There is also a lot of other interesting material on the Nobel Prize website.

    Saturday, December 06, 2008

    Favorite Translation/Language Blogs

    I've long kept a list of blogs on this site, but I thought I'd call your attention to it now, as the days are getting darker and people just want to stay inside with a warm drink and some good reading material. This is not a complete list, of course, just a few of my favorite, frequently updated blogs on translation and language.

  • Three Percent

  • Beyond Words

  • Language Log

  • David Crystal's Blog

  • Language Hat

  • Omniglot

  • From Our Lips

  • Web Translations

  • Life In Translation

  • Translating is an Art

  • Masked Translator

  • About Translation

  • Separated by a Common Language
  • Ur språkens tunnlar (in Swedish)
  • Tuesday, December 02, 2008

    Another Round-Up

    A short NPR news segment looks at translation and interviews three translators.

    article is on the future of books and publishing.

    Here is an essay on bilingualism.

    And just for fun, from the same site, an
    essay on procrastination. Warning: this might keep you from your work!

    Friday, November 28, 2008

    A Reference Website

    This reference website doesn't include the Scandinavian languages, but it does have Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Russian, Greek, Korean, and other languages. You type in a word in Dictionarist's search engine and it then gives you the translation to all those languages and you can also hear the word pronounced. Unfortunately, it doesn't offer the pronunciation of the translations, but this feature could be useful for English-language learners.

    Sunday, November 23, 2008

    Podcast on Translation

    I haven't listened to this yet, but I have been informed about a new podcast on translation.

    Tuesday, November 18, 2008


    A few weeks ago, I was reading Voltaire’s Candide (in translation) and I came across the following lines in Chapter 18:

    Cacambo translated the King’s witticisms for Candide, to whom they seemed witty even in translation. Of all the things that astonished Candide, this was by no means the least astonishing.

    In other words, Voltaire seems to be suggesting that the idea that humor could be translated is astonishing. Many things on Candide’s adventures are indeed astonishing, but good translations, in my opinion, should be viewed as achievable in the hands of good translators, not shocking.

    Friday, November 14, 2008

    The Smell of Books

    I can’t be the only bibliophile to love the smells of books and of libraries. Leather, a hint of dust or mustiness, ink, even pipe tobacco. Mmmm.

    So for my birthday a few weeks ago, I was very pleased to receive an amazing perfume called
    In the Library. This is one of many unusual scents created by Christopher Brosius. I recommend it for all book-lovers!

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    Residency Program for Translators

    I learned about a residency program at Banff International Literary Translation Centre.

    The Banff International Literary Translation Centre is open to literary translators from Canada, Mexico, and the United States translating from any language, and to international translators working on literature from the Americas.

    The annual BILTC residency program has places for 15 translators. Since the inaugural program in 2003, the program has hosted translators from 21 countries, translating work involving 31 languages.

    Applicants must have published at least one book-length literary translation (or equivalent) and participants are selected on the basis of material submitted to the Advisory Council. Eligible projects include translations of works of fiction, literary essays and biography, poetry, oral tradition, children’s literature, and drama.

    Priority is given to projects that have signed publishing contracts.

    Thursday, November 06, 2008

    Call for Submissions for Translation Award

    I received word of the following award:

    Northern California Book Awards-Translation Award

    Dear Friends:

    The Center for the Art of Translation is co-sponsoring the Northern
    California Book Award in Translation for the best translation by a Northern
    California translator. The deadline for nominations is quickly approaching
    so please send in any suggestions for the award.

    We are gathering books that may be qualified for the translation award and
    ask for your assistance in identifying book-length translations from any
    language into English (primarily fiction and poetry, though some non-fiction
    will be considered) published by Northern California translators in 2008.
    For clarification, Northern California is here defined as Fresno and north
    to the Oregon border; the publisher does not have to be from Northern
    California, but the translator must currently reside there. This award is
    co-sponsored by the Northern California Book Reviewers (formerly Bay Area
    Book Reviewers Association/BABRA) and PEN West Translation Committee.

    Sponsors of the Northern California Book Awards (with categories in fiction,
    non-fiction, poetry, children's literature, and translation) include the
    Northern California Book Reviewers, Poetry Flash, and the San Francisco
    Public Library. This year's NCBA ceremony will be held at the San Francisco
    Main Library in April 2008.


    (If the book is due out later in December, we still need all the information
    in advance of the deadline.)

    For all suggestions, please include the author's name, the translator's
    name, the publisher, the original language, and the title of the book, and
    send the information to:

    Olivia Sears: osears@catranslation.org

    You can also write to us at:

    Center for the Art of Translation
    Attn: NCBA Translation Award
    35 Stillman Street, Suite 201
    San Francisco, CA 94107
    tel: (415) 512-8812
    fax: (415) 512-8824

    We look forward to hearing from you,

    Olivia E. Sears & Barbara Paschke

    Center for the Art of Translation
    web: www.catranslation.org

    The Center for the Art of Translation is a non-profit organization that
    promotes international literature and translation through programs in the
    arts, education, and community outreach

    Our postal address is
    35 Stillman Street
    Suite 201
    San Francisco, California 94107
    United States

    Our website is www.catranslation.org.

    Sunday, November 02, 2008

    Cultural References in Translation

    How obvious do you have to make cultural references in translation? Recently, I was reading an English translation of a novel by a Japanese author. I caught phrases such as “going to a Japanese teahouse” and “X, the Japanese god of…” and so on. In other words, the translation gives more information than the original and emphasizes the “Japaneseness” of the text (I assume this anyway, since I can’t read Japanese, but I doubt a Japanese work would need to explain Japanese concepts for Japanese readers). Do you think literary translations should have added explanations (non-fiction translations require different strategies, as we know)?

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008

    Article Round-Up

    Time for another article round-up!

    The first
    article is on the growing strength of Latin courses. As someone who studied Latin (and even attended the Latin School of Chicago!), I was happy to read that.

    Next is a
    piece on text analysis and the use of words.

    article on preserving the Arapaho language also has an accompanying video.

    Speaking of videos, I also liked this brief
    one featuring physicist Murray Gell-Mann talking about languages.

    review made me want to read of Roy Blount Jr.’s new book The Alphabet Juice.

    Penultimately, here is an
    article on on urban fiction, or “street lit”.

    And finally, the
    piece on translation and the U.S. This article includes quotes such as the following:

    It is a commonly held assumption that Americans don’t like to read authors who write in languages they don’t understand. That belief persists here in Frankfurt, where publishers from 100 countries show off a smorgasbord of their best — or at least best-selling — books.
    By and large, the American publishers spend most of the week in Hall 8, the enormous exhibit space where English-language publishers hold court.

    “When you look at how much is paid for a mediocre midlist author” in the United States, he said, “and how much you have to pay to get a world-class author who has been translated into 18 languages, it is ridiculous that more people don’t invest in buying great literature.” Mr. Godine said he had purchased the rights to a foreign book for as little as $2,000.

    Saturday, October 25, 2008

    Conference on Subtitling

    I saw this announcement for a conference on subtitling and thought some of you would be interested:

    Languages & The Media
    7th International Conference on Languages in the Audio Visual Media


    Quality Audiovisual Media for All

    // Quality standards of subtitling and translation are high on the agenda of this year's Languages and The Media conference //

    Berlin, Germany. The conference programme of Languages and The Media has been finalised. The 7th International Conference and Exhibition on Language Transfer in the Audiovisual Media will take place from October 29th - 31st at Berlin's Hotel InterContinental.

    Bringing together delegates from more than 20 countries, the conference will contribute to the international debate on inclusion and universal access to mass media on a global scale.

    The event focuses on the translation and transfer of language in films and on television, as well as in interactive media such as computer games and the Internet. Experts from the fields of media, translation and academia from all over the world discuss current developments in the media industry and exchange their expertise.

    The conference programme offers insight into quality standards of translation, synchronisation and subtitling. Further topics are the localisation of content, as well as the effect of new tools and future technologies on the transfer of language, like machine translation and speech-recognition captioning.

    Localisation refers to the process of adapting digital content to culture, locale and linguistic environments at a high quality. Carmen Mangiron, who is one of the localisers of the Final Fantasy series into Spanish, will show how language barriers in video games can be overcome through audiovisual translations and editing techniques.

    Subtitling and audio description enable the deaf and hard-of-hearing as well as the blind or partially sighted audiences to access media. Bernd Benecke from Bayerischer Rundfunk - Germany's only full-time editor for audio description - will offer insight into this rare discipline in a pre-conference workshop.

    The conference will be accompanied by an exhibition, showcasing vendors and manufacturers of language technology products and providers of language services.

    Further information: www.languages-media.com

    7th International Conference & Exhibition on Language Transfer in Audiovisual Media
    October 29 - 31, 2008, Hotel InterContinental Berlin

    Participation fees: 400 Euro, students 190 Euros
    Organiser: ICWE GmbH, Leibnizstr. 32, 10625 Berlin, Germany
    Contact: Ms Astrid Mendoza, Tel: +49 (0)30 310 18 18-0
    info@languages-media.com, www.languages-media.com

    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    The Best Translations?

    The Society of Authors has posted a list of the 50 best translations to English from the last 50 years. In a way, the list represents the usual suspects. It’s perhaps not surprising that many of the books reflect the few foreign books English-speaking readers have actually heard of. What do you think?

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Ethical Concerns, Or, Being Plagiarized

    Ethics are important in every job. In our field, our customers rely on us to be the experts, especially as they may not have the knowledge to check over our work. It is up to us to make sure we translate the words correctly, edit the text multiple times, and so on. Doing something incorrectly or sloppily can cause a lot of damage for our clients.

    So I can’t help but wonder what it means for their clients when a translation company plagiarizes and doesn’t seem to be overly concerned about ethical and legal behavior. It could very well imply that said company doesn’t have good oversight and that they don’t care about doing things the right way. That’s bad news for the company’s clients.

    A few weeks ago, I was made aware that a British translation company called Merlin Translations (I won’t link to them, so as not to give them additional traffic) was plagiarizing me. They post this blog on their website so that it looks like they themselves do all the work of researching and crafting these posts.

    I emailed them. A manager claimed not to have been paying attention to what an employee was doing. That suggests a clear and worrisome lack of supervision that shouldn’t exist in any company, including a translation company. I said that either they could credit me for each post they used or else they must remove all my content from their site. Not only have they made no improvements to the situation, but they also have continued to post the content from Brave New Words.

    I’m a person who works hard at what I do. I take my work as a translator, writer, and editor very seriously. I also enjoy making knowledge about translation more widely available via this blog. So it is disappointing and upsetting to me personally when I am being plagiarized in this way. But on a bigger scale, the fact that a company that provides services to clients would use unethical means to try to make themselves look better (that is, increasing the material on their website by plagiarizing others) is disturbing indeed.

    Monday, October 13, 2008

    Another Call for Submissions

    TWO LINES Call for Submissions

    TWO LINES World Writing in Translation is currently accepting submissions for its sixteenth volume, guest edited by award-winning translators MARGARET JULL COSTA and MARILYN HACKER.

    DEADLINE: October 31, 2008.

    TWO LINES World Writing in Translation publishes original translations into English of writing from any literary genre. Translations from any language will be considered, and works from outside Europe are especially sought.

    - Previously unpublished work only.

    - The translator cannot also be the author of the piece unless it is a co-translation.

    - We generally publish one to four poems from a single submission, but we will read up to a maximum of ten pages.

    - The average prose submission is about 2500 words, but we do publish shorter and longer pieces (1000-4000 words). Short stories are preferable to novel excerpts. However, novel excerpts will be considered if thoughtfully excerpted to stand as independent pieces (to the extent possible).

    - In order to be considered, submissions must include a brief introduction (400-500 words) with information about the original author, the background of the piece, and unique issues that the translation process presented.

    - All submissions must include a copy of the original text.

    - Translators are expected to acquire copyright permission for all work not in the public domain.

    Electronic submissions are preferred, but hardcopy submissions are also accepted. For electronic submissions, please save your documents as RTF (Rich Text Format). If you would like your materials returned, please send an appropriately-sized SASE.

    Send submissions to submissions@catranslation.org or to the postal address below.

    35 Stillman Street, Suite 201
    San Francisco, CA 94107

    We highly encourage everyone who submits to TWO LINES to read a copy before submitting.

    Translators will be notified of editorial decisions by February 1, 2009.

    We offer a complimentary copy of TWO LINES to translators and living authors whose work is chosen for publication as well as a nominal honorarium.


    Lauded for her translations of Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago's novels of the last decade, including SEEING, MARGARET JULL COSTA has also brought the work of Fernando Pessoa into English, for which she received the Portuguese Translation Prize. Costa also translates from Spanish, her work with novelist Javier Marias having garnered an International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Instituto Cervantes Translation Prize. This year Costa was awarded both the PEN Translation Prize and the Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize for her translation of THE MAIAS by Eca de Queiroz. Described by Jose Saramago as "the greatest book by Portugal's greatest novelist," THE MAIAS first appeared in excerpt in TWO LINES World Writing in Translation.

    Distinguished with the first ever Robert Fagles Translation Prize, MARILYN HACKER has published numerous volumes of her translations of poets Venus Khoury-Ghata, Claire Malroux, Emmanuel Moses, Guy Goffette, and Marie Etienne from French, several of which have appeared in previous volumes of TWO LINES World Writing in Translation. Also the author of twelve books of poetry, most recently ESSAYS ON DEPARTURE and DESESPERANTO, Hacker has been a recipient of the National Book Award, two Lambda Literary Awards, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Hacker's numerous honors include the Bernard F. Conners Prize from the Paris Review, the John Masefield Memorial Award of the Poetry Society of America, and a Guggenheim fellowship.

    Saturday, October 11, 2008

    Call for Submissions: Translations from Spanish

    I saw the following call for translations in Erika Dreifus’ excellent newsletter:

    Sudden Fiction Latino: Short-Short Stories Wanted for New Anthology from W.W. Norton. "We seek translations from the Spanish of short-short stories from Latin America. The stories may be previously published, preferably within the last ten years, or unpublished, and should be between 500 and 1750 words long. Any topic or style, traditional or experimental - we are looking simply for the best recent stories from Latin America in this length. Our past anthologies, such as Sudden Fiction International, have included some of the world's most well known writers, and some yet to be known. If there's a great story that's just a little outside our time period or length limits, we'll consider it - but the odds of acceptance are much
    better if it's within. The pay is not great but the company of writers will be excellent. Projected fee: $150 total to include both translator and author. Deadline: December 1, 2008." For more information, see the announcement on the
    ALTA Calls for Submissions page,

    Thursday, October 09, 2008

    The Nobel Prize

    Once again, it's time for the Nobel Prize in literature.

    The secretary of the Swedish Academy, Horace Engdahl, recently got himself into some trouble with his comments about American literature. If you can read Swedish, check out this
    article. And if not, here is one in English.

    Basically, Engdahl criticized American literature and suggested that not much good is coming out of the U.S., literature-wise at least, now (also implying that American writers better not hope for a Nobel any time soon!). What do you think? Is American literature more insular than that of other countries? Do any Americans deserve a Nobel Prize for their writing?

    This year's winner is Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio.


    Tuesday, October 07, 2008

    Friday, October 03, 2008

    A Debate on Children’s Literature

    On September 16, at Kulturhuset in Stockholm, there was an interesting panel debate on children’s literature. The participants were Lotta Olsson, who reviews books for Dagens Nyheter, Sweden’s biggest newspaper; the author Ulf Stark; Karin Salmson, the publisher of Vilda, a publishing company that only puts out books that are politically correct; Jan Hansson, the head of the Swedish Institute for Children’s Books; Kristin Hallberg, who teaches children’s literature; Dag Henried, the publisher of Alfabeta; and Johan Unenge, an author and illustrator. The debate was led by Lillemor Torstensson, who also works at the Swedish Institute for Children’s Books.

    Earlier this year, Dagens Nyheter criticized Vilda for the way it marks books as though they were organic or free-range products and for the ideology that runs through them. This set off something of a debate in the Swedish media and among Swedish children’s authors and illustrators of children’s books. So the debate on the 16th focused on art versus ideology, commercialism, and what children’s books are instruments of/for.

    Kristin Hallberg felt that children’s books “create a meeting” between text/author and reader. She said they shouldn’t have morals or points or be used for a specific purpose. Others agreed that it should be about the story and if the story happens to teach or comfort or do anything else, that’s fine, too. Obviously, Karin Salmson thought differently. She felt that it was important to have books with gender equality, race quality, etc. Some participants, including some audience members who spoke, agreed that it was important for all children to feel they were “reflected” in books (i.e. that there were books about people like them), but that marking books or having requirements for books might be going a bit far. Then the issue of whether ideology affects quality was raised, but no final points were made regarding this.

    Another topic that came up was Dagens Nyheter’s recent list of the 100 most important children’s books. About 1/3 of the books were by Swedish writers, mostly modern ones, and the rest of the books were primarily classics from the western world. Some felt that it was strange that so few Swedish books were on it, while others felt that too many were. Others thought older Swedish books and more modern foreign books were ignored. My own annoyance with the list came from the fact that for foreign books that had been translated to Swedish more than once (which is often the case for classics, such as Alice in Wonderland), the newspaper simply wrote “multiple translations available”. As we translators know, translations can vary wildly in quality, and therefore I think it is important that if one recommends a book in translation, one also recommends which translation is best.

    It was an interesting evening and I hope there will be future debates on children’s literature, both in Sweden and elsewhere. Over 100 people were in the audience and it was great to see how many people are actively engaged in and concerned about the field of children’s literature.

    Tuesday, September 30, 2008

    IBBY Conference

    In early September, I attended the IBBY conference in Copenhagen. To be honest, I was disappointed by this conference, though on paper it sounded really interesting (not to mention the fact that the social events, such as dinner at Tivoli and a buffet at Copenhagen’s city hall, were fun).

    IBBY is the International Board on Books for Young People, with chapters in 72 countries. Every two years, it has a large conference, at which there are many presentations, and the H.C. Andersen Prize is awarded to one living author and one living illustrator (this year, Queen Margrethe of Denmark gave the prizes to the winners, Swiss author Jürg Schubiger and Italian illustrator Roberto Innocenti), and the IBBY Honour List of good books and translations for children is announced, and the IBBY-Asahi Awards for reading promotion are presented (this year to Editions Bakame of Rwanda and Action with Lao Children). Incidentally, regarding the H.C. Andersen award nominees, as I was reading through the detailed list, which was given in Bookbird magazine, I was surprised, and a little frustrated, to see that a not insignificant number of writers felt that writing for children was easier than writing for adults. I would definitely disagree with that.

    One of the keynote speeches was by a Norwegian woman (note: not a Jewish Norwegian) who wrote children's books based on her own experience as a Norwegian child during the German invasion in Norway in WW2 and another keynote speech was by a Danish writer, who had published children's books based on her mother's experiences during the war (her mother was Jewish and left Hungary for Denmark, but the author herself was baptized and raised Lutheran). Another speaker, who presented children’s books on the Holocaust, was criticized for not discussing Palestinians, even though that was not her area of expertise and there was not enough time to discuss every possible issue. Also, there was a keynote speaker who discussed Palestinian children’s books. So something that made the conference leave a bad taste in my mouth, so to speak, was that quite a few people complained about all this attention being paid to Jews at the conference. That an academic conference – especially one on children’s literature, which should be a field that is open and accepting – is expected to be politically correct is not news to me, but it is disappointing.

    The next post will discuss more on ideology and children’s literature.

    Saturday, September 27, 2008

    A Lovely Tree

    Not long ago, I read Ett Träd Med Vida Grenar: De Indoeuropeiska Språkens Historia by Ola Wikander. In case you don’t know Swedish, the title is A Tree with Wide Branches: A History of the Indoeuropean Languages. And in fact, the only problem with this book is that as of now, it’s only in Swedish. I hope it will be available to readers in other countries soon, as it is quite interesting.

    Mr. Wikander is a young Ph.D. student and translator in Sweden who is already the author of several books on “dead” languages, as well as co-author, with his father, of a novel. In this book, he discusses the science of reconstructing what is called proto-Indoeuropean (PIE), or the language from which stem all the Indoeuropean languages, including Swedish, English, Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, Romanian, and many more. The purpose of this field, as he thoroughly explains in his book, is not just to reconstruct this language for the fun of it (although he includes some examples of writing people have attempted to do in PIE in modern times), but is in part to understand the cultures and languages that have helped shape Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world.

    Mr. Wikander is a talented writer who manages at times to make this science seem like a mystery, in that it is exciting to learn about how the reconstruction work is done and how Indoeuropeanists can use the reconstructed vocabulary, and other evidence, such as archaeology, come to conclusions about where those who spoke PIE lived (probably the south Russian steppes) and what their culture was like.

    If you can read Swedish, I recommend this book and also Mr. Wikander’s
    blog. If not, you’ll have to wait for a translation!

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    Speaking of Punctuation…

    Well, after reading Alfie the Apostrophe, I was in the mood for more punctuation. So I was glad Erika Dreifus sent me this article.

    And further speaking of punctuation, what punctuation mark are you? I’m a colon! Take this
    silly quiz to find out.

    Here’s what the quiz says about me and all the other colons out there:

    You Are a Colon

    You are very orderly and fact driven.

    You aren't concerned much with theories or dreams... only what's true or untrue.

    You are brilliant and incredibly learned. Anything you know is well researched.

    You like to make lists and sort through things step by step. You aren't subject to whim or emotions.

    Your friends see you as a constant source of knowledge and advice.

    (But they are a little sick of you being right all of the time!)

    You excel in: Leadership positions

    You get along best with: The Semi-Colon

    Friday, September 19, 2008

    Alfie the Apostrophe

    A friend of mine who works at a library and knows about my love for punctuation, especially apostrophes, and my interest in children’s literature recently bought me a children’s book as a present. Called Alfie the Apostrophe, it is by Moira Rose Donohue and illustrated by JoAnn Adinolfi.

    Little Alfie is in a talent show and he wonders how he can possibly compete with the exclamation points and question marks and commas (some wonder if he isn’t just an upside-down comma himself!) and the rest of the gang. You’ll have to read the book to see if Alfie the Apostrophe’s magic show wins him first place!

    A fun book for any children and/or punctuation-fans you may know!

    Thursday, September 18, 2008

    Just In Case...

    Just in case any of you happen to be in Stockholm tomorrow and have a couple of free hours in the afternoon, come hear a guest lecture by yours truly at Stockholm University. Here are the details:

    Child’s Play: Translating Figurative Language in Children’s Literature

    B. J. Epstein, Swansea University, UK


    What is figurative language? Why do authors use it in their work? How can translators translate such language? And are the answers to any of these questions different when it comes to children’s literature?

    In this presentation, B.J. Epstein will use her research into the translation of children’s literature to analyse what figurative language is and how it can be translated. She will discuss a dozen translatorial strategies and will employ a variety of English source texts and their Swedish translations to exemplify how these strategies work (or don’t).

    The presentation will be given in English, but examples will be based on translations from English to Swedish.

    The lecture will be between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on 19 September, at F 220 i F-huset, Södra huset, Frescati, Stockholms universitet (i.e. at the Frescati campus in F House, room 220).

    Wednesday, September 17, 2008

    2008 Literary Translation Prizes and the 2008 Sebald Lecture

    On 29 September at 8 p.m., there will be the presentation of the 2008 Literary Translation Prizes followed by the 2008 Sebald Lecture, given by novelist Louis de Bernières (Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, among other books). This event will take place at the Southbank Centre and tickets cost £10. If you get there at 6.30 p.m., you can hear readings from the prize-winners.

    Monday, September 15, 2008

    A Problematic Lingua Franca

    We all know that English has become the world’s lingua franca (now that’s a phrase that needs updating!). But sometimes having English as a common language can be a bad thing, or at least a problematic thing.

    For example, as Yann Foucault has
    pointed out, translation can help expand both the target language and whatever topic the text is on.

    Also, using tongues other than English can create a sense of regional identity. Read this
    piece on using English in the Nordic countries. In the Nordic region, is it better to use English as the common tongue or to insist on interpretation and translation?

    Thursday, September 11, 2008

    How to Get Grants

    An article I wrote recently on how to get grants has been published in the Funds for Writers newsletters. I am posting it here as well.

    How to Get Grants
    B.J. Epstein

    In the past year alone, I’ve been the recipient of 16 different grants. Eleven of these were on behalf of a major international conference I organized and five were for me individually. Of those five, one was a grant for my academic research on the translation of children’s literature, two were for my writing (one of those two paid half of the costs for me to attend a writing workshop), one helped pay for me to attend a conference, and the most recent one is to support my work translating a novel from Swedish to English. In this same year, I applied for two other grants that I did not receive; the rejection letter for one explained that the foundation preferred to support people further along in their doctoral studies and encouraged me to apply again next year. This means that out of approximately 18 applications/requests (it is possible that I may be forgetting something here), I had a success rate of close to 90%. The total sum of these grants was over $30,000.
    So how have I been so successful? What are my tips for getting grants? Here, I will give you the secret to my success.

    -Research is the first step. This is the same advice I’d give if you were, say, looking to query a publication or apply to an MFA program. You should carefully study any information the foundation or other grant-giving body provides, whether it is just a blurb in a newsletter or a multi-paged, detailed website. You must understand what the foundation is looking for and whether you fit the profile, so you don’t waste both your time and theirs. If you are unsure, call or email them and tell them a little bit about yourself and your project and see if they think you should apply. If you do contact them, don’t take up too much of their time. There are reference books on grants at many libraries and bookstores and helpful newsletters and websites, so use these resources, too.

    -Apply for any grant that is even slightly relevant, no matter how small the amount of money they offer is. Remember that each grant you receive helps you get the next one by showing other potential sponsors that people already believe in you. Also, of course, even small sums matter, especially for struggling writers. The smallest sum I received was $100 but it still made a difference to me and it helped build the “grants received” section of my CV.

    -Write excellent letters/essays. Here again is where the research comes in; refer to the foundation or organization in particular and explain why what you are doing fits in with their goals and how it will benefit them to support you. Do not just explain why and how they can help you. They already know you are looking for money and they are surely inundated with letters from people like you. State what you can do for them. If it is a foundation that focuses on supporting writers from a certain region, discuss your connection to that region and how your work is inspired by it. If you are applying for a grant and you know your project is a bit different from what they usually choose to sponsor, make sure you tell them why you felt it was worthwhile to apply anyway and why your project relates to their foundation. Do not send a form letter for every grant you apply for. You must personalize each application by referring to the particular foundation and their objective.

    -In your application pack, include all the information they ask for. Do not send anything they don’t really need, as that just creates more work for them. Don’t try to impress them with extra reference letters or by sending many samples of your work. Similarly, don’t send them less than they ask for, as they can not thoroughly judge you then. Follow the instructions precisely or you will end up overwhelming and/or annoying them.

    -Check the grammar and spelling of everything you send. Remember that if a foundation receives a letter riddled with misspellings and odd grammar, they will not feel confidence in your writing skills and they will be glad to have a reason to swiftly reject you rather than have to spend time reading your application.

    -Always be polite in your dealings with the foundation. Sounds obvious, right? Well, I have had to deal with secretaries of foundations who spelled my name wrong or addressed me as Mr. (I am a Ms.), but I always politely correct them, or just let it go, rather than write a rude email such as, “My name is clearly spelled in my signature! How hard is it to get it right?” I have also had meetings, such as on behalf of the conference, with people who were clearly unsure about me and whether I could pull off the project. Sometimes such people made harsh comments that hurt my feelings. I always stayed calm and polite and just explained again who I was and what I could do for them. Offending people is a sure way of not getting the grant.

    -If you need letters of reference, ask the referees early (i.e. weeks before the application is due) and give them all the information they need. Give them the name and address for where they should send their letters. Provide letters and stamps if snail mail is required. Tell them all about the foundation and why you think this grant suits you. Give them the latest copy of your CV, your list of publications, writing samples, and anything else that is appropriate, so they have enough information about you to write a good letter. One of my grants came from a foundation in Sweden. None of my referees knew Swedish, so they could not read the website that offered information on how the letters were to be written and what issues should be addressed in them. Therefore, I translated all the relevant details for my referees. I was later told how helpful this was. Make the process of writing letters as easy for your referees as possible.

    Following the steps above should help you as you apply for grants. But writing a great letter and being polite is not all that you need to do. Here are a few final tips for after you’ve submitted your application:

    -Here’s another obvious point. Thank your referees and anyone else who has helped you as you applied. For one application, the administrator actually took the time to let me know that one of my references hadn’t arrived and since the reference was coming abroad, she offered to accept the letter by e-mail for the time being. The letter did eventually arrive, but the fact that she both let me know and helped me find a solution to the problem was something I definitely thanked her for. It’s good manners to be grateful to anyone who goes out of their way for you.

    -If you do not get a grant and no reason has been given, whether in the letter to you or else on their websites (such as in the form of a press release about what projects they have supported and why or in statistics), write to the administrators and ask if they can tell you why. Say that you would like to know so you can make your application stronger for the next time. Whether they give you this information or not, if you do apply again, clearly state both that you have applied before and that you have developed since your last application. Then say what you have done differently and/or what is new with your project since you last applied.

    -Add all the grants you’ve received to your CV and your website. As I said above, the knowledge that others have sponsored and believed in you often can have a domino effect that makes additional foundations look at you differently.

    - Many foundations require a detailed report of what you did, sample work finished during the time of the grant, and complete budgets for how you spent the money. Keep careful track of all the money you have spent. Get receipts and have a running spreadsheet for the period of your project. Depending on the grant, different things count: if you bought a pen or a notebook or an ink cartridge for your printer, if you traveled by train to a workshop, if you bought groceries, workshop fees, if you took time off work, etc. Be very clear in advance about what you can use the money for. Provide the foundation with the complete budget and report and anything else they want to see by the deadline they give you.

    I hope this advice will help you successfully apply for more grants!

    Monday, September 08, 2008

    Yay, 78!

    Brave New Words is at 78 in a list of the top 100 language blogs on the web. See the list on the Lexiophiles website for more interesting sites to visit.

    Wednesday, September 03, 2008

    Chinglish: Leaving Values Far Behind

    Shanghai was an interesting choice of location for the FIT conference. I must say that China does not seem to be a country that places much emphasis on professional translations.

    One of my particular interests is
    bad menu translations. Here are a few of the items I saw in China:

    beef pulls noodle

    frying without adding anything shrimp

    sheet iron Germany salty pig's hoof

    liquor rice with mini-bums

    the seafood is harsh

    cowboy bone

    fried how delicious crab

    vegetarian ham

    the tea tree mushroom roasts the winter bamboo shoot

    syrup carbon fever pork

    social beef

    marinated three white

    vermicille with wild fangs

    soft-shelled turtled cooks ox whip

    peaceful is big prawn

    characteristic fish gluten

    crab ovary

    the chinese flowering quince the clam gentlemen frog

    sichuan taste gluttonous frog

    crosses the bridge spare ribs

    pot pan

    sandwich calcium cake

    fragrant tasty entry

    best tasty

    high fly pizza

    crystal-like cake

    On tour buses, I repeatedly heard “Don’t leave your values on the bus.” And I saw the motto “We service you whole-heartedly” throughout the country. I just wonder if that whole-hearted service really extends to translation. I think many people in China left their translation skills on the bus.

    Friday, August 29, 2008

    The Visual Made Verbal

    As I mentioned in the last post, at the FIT conference, I learned about a different kind of translation.

    Joel Snyder gave a very interesting presentation on audio description, which can be said to be a form of translation for blind people. He defines audio description as “a verbal version of the visual image.” In other words, while visually impaired people listen to a tv show or movie or even a live performance, they not only hear the dialogue, but they also hear a description of what is being shown.

    Mr. Snyder gave an entertaining and informative presentation and since his
    website offers a lot of details on audio description, I won’t repeat it here. However, what I want to emphasize in this post is that learning about this field broadened my understanding of translation. Mr. Snyder may not translate from one language to another, but he does translate from one format to another and he transfers cultural and visual elements for his customers.

    Sunday, August 24, 2008

    On the FIT Conference

    Earlier this month, I attended the FIT conference in Shanghai. It was a huge event, with over 1500 attendees from 70 countries, 4 keynote lectures (including one by Karl-Johan Lönnroth, the Director-General of the Directorate-General for Translation of the European Commission), and 8 parallel sessions with ten or so choices per session (i.e. 80+ parallel sessions, some with 5 speakers per session).

    There were presentations on everything from the translation of Chinese medicine to terminology, from interpretation studies to translation and culture, from corpus-based translation studies to the translation industry, from publishing and copyright to translation criticism. I myself spoke about translating allusions in children’s literature. Talks were given in Chinese, French, and English, and despite this being a translation conference, only the keynote speeches were interpreted, unfortunately.

    There were also poster presentations, including one by Yann Foucault, who translates accounting texts between English and French. His conclusion was relevant to fields far beyond accounting, however: Mr. Foucault felt that by translating texts and not just keeping them in the international language of English, one was both expanding the target language and allowing new, useful ideas to be created in that language.

    In the next post, I will discuss a new kind of translation I learned about at FIT.

    Wednesday, August 20, 2008

    Another Round-Up of Articles

    The first article is by Hillel Halkin, whom I mentioned just a few posts ago. Thank you to Erika Dreifus for sending me this article!

    The second
    piece is on Sweden, where I lived for a number of years, and its literature. Thank you to Professor Duncan Large for sending me this article!

    The next
    article is about online writing.

    Sunday, August 17, 2008

    A Reference Website

    h2g2 is a website put out by the BBC. It is a bit like Wikipedia in that anyone can contribute to the information, but the focus is somewhat different. It calls itself “an unconventional guide to life, the universe, and everything

    There are around 200 articles in the
    language section, on topics such as alphabets and usage. An interesting article is on the letter thorn.

    Thursday, August 14, 2008

    About WALTIC

    At the beginning of July, I attended the WALTIC conference in Stockholm. It is a bit late to write about it, but I did want to say that it was an enjoyable opportunity for translators, writers, and others interested in literature and literacy, to meet and discuss things.

    There were several sessions on translation and I attended as many of those as I could. Some were rather disappointing, as people were not always as well-prepared as they should have been, but I enjoyed learning about, for example, Russian literature (as I mentioned in my last post) and about writing in Mongolia. The latter presentation was read by a translator on behalf of Khaidav Chilaajav, a Mongolian poet who started
    the Union of Mongolian Writers. Mr. Chilaajav passed out copies of The Poetry of the Steppe, which afforded us a chance to experience Mongolian writing.

    The keynote speeches by authors Mia Couto and Nawal El Saadawi were enjoyable. Around the city during the conference, there was a free literature festival as well. I attended one on children’s literature that included authors and/or story-tellers Philip Pullman (who spoke well about
    age banding, among other issues), Gcina Mhlophe, and Sonia Nimr.

    My biggest criticism is that the conference was very expensive to attend, and I knew many people who would have liked to go but could not afford it. Since many writers and translators don’t necessarily earn much money, I think the price of future WALTIC conferences would have to be significantly lower.

    Sunday, August 10, 2008

    Russian Writing in Translation

    I have written nothing about the WALTIC conference so far (see the next post!), but I would like to mention a publisher I learned about there called Glas Moscow. Glas publishes contemporary Russian writing in English translation, including quite a few interesting anthologies, and their catalog is worth a look.

    Wednesday, August 06, 2008

    Books with Translators

    We know that translators translate books, but are translators ever characters in books? I don’t believe that it is too common for “translator” to be a character’s job title. Why is that?

    I recently read The Liberated Bride by A.B. Yehoshua (I read it in translation by Hillel Halkin) and was happy to see that one character, though a fairly minor one, was a translator. Hannah Tedeschi, referred to as “the translatoress”, is the second wife of the main character’s former mentor, and she translates from Arabic to Hebrew. In fact, she does some on-the-spot translations that the main character judges to be excellent and moving. The reader never sees her working (except in the one scene where she translates as a poet reads the poems, though her actual labor is not portrayed), but we do experience her actual translations.

    Can you think of other books with translator characters?

    Thursday, July 31, 2008

    Contest for Japanese-to-English Translators

    Japanese-to-English translators may be interested in the Kurodahan Press Translation Prize, “awarded for excellence in translation of a selected Japanese short story into English”. See this website for more details.

    Sunday, July 27, 2008

    A Question about Ergonomics

    As someone who runs her own business and works very hard, I often find that I spend long days (sometimes as much as 16 hours) in front of the computer. Like many translators, editors, and writers, I have suffered from carpal tunnel and other pains in my arms, hands, neck, and back.

    I’ve tried different things (physical therapy, buying a more comfortable chair, an ergonomic keyboard, voice-recognition software – well, that was some years ago and I wasn’t patient enough to keep training the software), but I still have the same problems. Now the best thing I’ve come up with is to force myself to step away from the computer and take breaks, either by doing something else in the house or by getting out for a walk. This helps to some extent, but doesn’t really solve my problems.

    I saw this website, which offers many products to make your work station more ergonomic. What products do you use and what do you recommend? Do you have any pain-reducing or pain-avoiding tips to share with your fellow translators?

    Monday, July 21, 2008

    Ideology and Translation

    I want to quote from Clifford E. Landers’ book Literary Translation: A Practical Guide once more.

    Regarding translation and ideology, he writes “What does the profession of translation do? Obviously, it translates. If a translator allows ideology to color anything he or she translates, the profession suffers. And when translation is stifled ether by repression or self-censorship entire nations are deprived of a glimpse into the mind of the Other.”

    Clearly, his comment refers to the ideal of translation. In this ideal world, ideology would not color our translations. But sometimes (especially for texts that are not primarily factual, such as contracts) it is impossible to avoid. We translators must simply be hyperaware of the fact that our opinions and experiences do influence and they may make us choose certain translatorial strategies or words or styles of writing that perhaps are not exactly right for the text.

    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    Mission: Possible?

    I have mentioned Clifford E. Landers’ book Literary Translation: A Practical Guide several times on this blog before. He includes the well-known quote from writer Kurt Vonnegut: “All I require of a translator is that he or she be a more gifted writer than I am, and in at least two languages, one of them mine.”

    I know the comment is partly tongue-in-cheek, but it does reveal how high the demands are on translators. Of course, based on some books I have read, this goal is not only possible to reach, but almost impossible not to!

    Friday, July 11, 2008

    A Round-Up of Articles

    Time for another round-up of articles!

    The first
    article is on the translation of Chinese menus. As you know, I love menu translations.

    The next
    piece is on literary lists. I personally love to make lists so I was interested in this article. What would be on a list of books about translation and/or language?

    The third
    article is about the Pennsylvania Dutch (actually German, not Dutch) language/dialect. What words sound like home to you?

    Next, we have an
    article on the disappearance of the semi-colon.

    This BBC
    piece is about the perfect voice.

    Learning languages is another of my interests, so I enjoyed this
    article on that topic, specifically on learning Hebrew.

    Continuing with Hebrew, this
    article is about translating to and from that language. Thank you to Erika Dreifus for sending me this article!

    Tuesday, July 08, 2008

    Much Ado About Language Books

    I like to read books about language. Often the books are rather serious (not so for “Mother Tongue” by Bill Bryson, but in general). So I enjoyed getting the chance to read something much lighter.

    Richard Watson Todd’s “Much Ado About English” is a short, easy-to-read, and entertaining book about the English language. Sure, it is educational, too (for example, many chapters have little exercises, although they are mostly fun), but basically you just find yourself giggling and shaking your head at how illogical English can be.

    Every brief chapter (usually around three pages) is about a different topic, such as slang, wordplay, British versus American English, pronunciation, making plurals, and much more. You learn a lot of random but interesting facts, such as that the word “penguin” comes from the Welsh “pen gwyn”, which means “white head”, and that “bizarre” comes from the Basque word “bizar”, which means “beard.” Then you are invited to try out your new knowledge by making guesses about other words or phrases.

    The section on “self-contradictory sentences” is quite amusing, when you consider sentences such as “This vacuum cleaner really sucks” (is that good or bad?) and “Her intelligence is legendary” (does that mean the legend is true or false?). You’ll be wondering how people actually communicate in English.

    I’m always looking for suggestions for books about language, so
    email me if you have any ideas. During the summer, I’d especially like to read some entertaining books, like Todd’s was.

    Wednesday, July 02, 2008

    No to Age Banding

    Last month, on one of my children’s literature lists, the writer Philip Pullman posted a note, wondering what list members thought of age banding. Age banding is when publishers place an age recommendation/restriction on the book, much like what generally occurs with films.

    I believe everyone who responded on the list (including me) was against age banding. Naturally, publishers may find that it boosts sales and is also a way of protecting themselves against parents or teachers who complain about (or who even threaten to sue over) books that they feel are not age-appropriate for their children or students. However, there are many reasons against this.

    Mr. Pullman and a group of other writers, including David Almond, Aidan Chambers, Terry Pratchett, Helen Dunmore, and Melvin Burgess, then decided to write an explanation of why they are against this. Their letter has now been published in the
    Bookseller. In addition, they have started a website that serves both to express their view on this subject and also to collect signatures of those who agree with them about it.

    Their sensible reasons include:

    “Each child is unique, and so is each book. Accurate judgments about age suitability are impossible, and approximate ones are worse than useless.

    Children easily feel stigmatized, and many will put aside books they might love because of the fear of being called babyish. Other children will feel dismayed that books of their ‘correct’ age-group are too challenging, and will be put off reading even more firmly than before.

    Age-banding seeks to help adults choose books for children, and we're all in favour of that; but it does so by giving them the wrong information. It’s also likely to encourage over-prescriptive or anxious adults to limit a child's reading in ways that are unnecessary and even damaging.

    Everything about a book is already rich with clues about the sort of reader it hopes to find – jacket design, typography, cover copy, prose style, illustrations. These are genuine connections with potential readers, because they appeal to individual preference. An age-guidance figure is a false one, because it implies that all children of that age are the same.

    Children are now taught to look closely at book covers for all the information they convey. The hope that they will not notice the age-guidance figure, or think it unimportant, is unfounded.

    Writers take great care not to limit their readership unnecessarily. To tell a story as well and inclusively as possible, and then find someone at the door turning readers away, is contrary to everything we value about books, and reading, and literature itself.”

    Sunday, June 29, 2008


    Translators to and from Swedish might be interested in this new website, which proclaims itself to be a meeting place for those who translate or work with language.

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008

    BookTrust’s Translated Fiction Website

    BookTrust here in the UK has recently started a new website dedicated to translated fiction. It is definitely worth a look, and I think that BookTrust is open to suggestions for how to improve the site.

    Also, I noticed that translator Eric Dickens, who has previously provided this blog with
    information about Yiddish, has an article on the new website.

    Thursday, June 19, 2008

    Resource: The PEN Website

    The PEN site has a lot of useful and interesting information on translation (and other topics, of course). There is a page for translation and this includes a translation handbook and a model contract. There is also a report called “To Be Translated or Not To Be”, with a foreword by novelist and translator Paul Auster.

    Thanks to poet and translator Rika Lesser, who helped write the model contract and reminded me about what a good resource PEN is!

    Tuesday, June 17, 2008

    He died writer Chingiz Aitmatov

    It is, of course, cruel to use someone's death as an example. However, this article, translated by machine translation software and sent to me by translator Eric Dickens, is yet more proof of what a mistake it is to rely on translation software.

    He died writer Chingiz Aitmatov

    writer Chingiz Aitmatov died in a clinic in Germany on June 10, 2008. He had not lived to 80 - anniversary a few months. Classic Kyrgyz and Russian literature, he was one of the most famous and beloved writers for many millions of people, Bakililar.AZ passes with reference to the BBC.

    His novels and novels, "Farewell, Gulsary "," White steamer "," Pegy dog, running the edge of the sea "," I lasted longer than a century day "," Plaha "made him well-deserved glory and entered the textbooks and hrestomatii.

    In one interview, Chingiz Aitmatov said that love - this is the true home of vitality. And in his works seen a tremendous love for the author's rights is part of nature, which, in turn, inform, acquiring human traits.

    According to Tatar Ravilya Buharaeva writer, "his home, his world, in which it was, is the world of mythology and folklore Kyrgyz mountains and space .... Because mythology - a reflection of mythology in everyday life. And in this sense he was a consummate craftsman ".

    C stigma "enemy of the people " Torekulovich Chingiz Aitmatov was born in 1928, in Kyrgyzstan. When he was nine years old, in 1937, his father was arrested. After another year of his shot.

    Chingiz son grew up with the stigma enemy of the people. That played a big role in shaping the identity of the writer. His Uzbek counterpart Hamid Ismailov believes that this probably was the "initial impetus to the fact that he was able to trust their feelings only white sheet of paper, where he was able, so to speak, vyplesnut himself ".

    At the age of 20 years Aitmatov received by the Agricultural Institute in the city of Frunze (the current Bishkek). Even a student, Aitmatov was published in the periodical press their first stories in Kyrgyz language.

    Joined the highest literary courses in Moscow, he was able only in 1956, after HH CPSU congress. That is, after being exposed Stalin's personality cult, a repressed, including his father Aytmatova, have begun to rehabilitate.

    At the end of the year courses in 1958, Aitmatov published a story, "Jamil" That brought him worldwide fame.

    "Jamil" - the thing is so great that even a genius for its communist leaders were unable to recognize the danger in which it lies - believed Hamid Ismailov. -- When rereads Aytmatova, amazes his literary genius ".

    Novels and Aytmatova novels written over the next 20 years, read throughout the world.

    " What would he nor wrote, either, "White steamer", where he makes this great image of mother-olenihi, or wild camel from "Burannogo polustanka ", or - this great thing, absolutely not afraid of the word - "Pegy dog, running edge of the sea ", which refers to the north, are all seen a single vision. This is - an attempt to find a common language of all humanity "- Ravil writer believes Buharaev.

    Titulovanny Writer

    Over the next quarter-century Aitmatov wrote a number of novels and novels, which are now classics of Russian and Kyrgyz literature.

    This "Topolek in my red kosynke " "first teacher", "Farewell, Gyulsary! " "White steamer", "Pegy dog, running the edge of the sea", "I lasted longer than a century Day" (novel, which was renamed the "stop Burana"), "Plaha ".

    In these works Aitmatov raises the eternal questions: about a man, his soul, feelings, conscience. That's what Chingiz Aitmatov told himself: "Conscience - is a great heritage, the great legacy of the human race, human consciousness, the human spirit. Thanks to a person becomes a man of conscience ".

    Chingiz Aitmatov was one of the most Soviet writers to style: Hero of Socialist Labor, the winner of many awards, deputy leader or member of many groups and committees ...

    In 1990, Aitmatov is becoming a diplomat. First, he was Ambassador USSR, and later the Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan in the Benelux countries.

    Biograf Abdyldazhan Akmataliev writer believes that the diplomatic service Aytmatova gave Kyrgyz much: " Since Soviet times world to know about Aytmatove more than about Kyrgyzstan. He embodies our spiritual passport, our calling card ".

    However, in March 2008, Aitmatov was dismissed without explanation from the post of Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan in Europe.

    In the middle May writer, while in Kazan on film shooting in the novel "I lasted longer day century", was hospitalized with a diagnosis of "kidney failure ".

    Then he was sent to continue treatment City of Nuremberg (Germany). I

    n one interview, Chingiz Aitmatov said: "I do feel life as a tragedy. Since zhizneutverzhdayuschim finale ".

    " Upasi you about people from the ills nelyudskih - Upasi fire neugasimyh, From the bloody Battle irresistible, Forbid you from irreparable Affairs, Upasi you about people from the ills nelyudskih ... "Aytmatova end of the book" Cry of migratory birds

    Friday, June 13, 2008

    So You Think You Can Translate

    The popularity of reality TV shows has sometimes made me wonder what a reality show about translation would involve. Note that I don’t have a television, so I may be a bit off on what the average reality show is all about, but from what I understand, it involves challenges and each week someone is kicked off the show.

    So we have a group of eager wannabe-translators. What would they face on So You Think You Can Translate?

    Every week, our eager contestants would pick a new style of text out of a box (financial report, poem, academic article, medical records, play, essay, speech, contract, short story, etc.) and they would have to translate that on their own. To make this even more difficult, they could also pick references from a box, so they would be limited to using one or some combination of the following: computer tools, dictionaries, Internet references, encyclopedias, or libraries. Contestants might get a total of two special links for the entire season, and that would mean that if they were really stuck on a translation, they could decide to call a professional translator or some other expert (a professor, language teacher, botanist, lawyer, novelist, editor, architect, etc.) for help.

    In addition, there would be group, pair, and individual challenges. Challenges might include learning a new language, performing a sight translation, working on a relay translation, subtitling, interpreting, giving a presentation on some aspect of translation, learning how to use a new computer tool, reviewing a book on language or translation, negotiating with a customer, handling an angry client, advertising their services, and putting together a literary magazine of new translations.

    The contestants’ translations would be critiqued by a panel of experienced judges, but the viewers would vote on who the winners of the other challenges should be. Each week, the contestant with the least votes would have to leave the show.

    As the season draws to a close, the ultimate winner would be pronounced the nation’s Best Translator and she or he would get help starting her or his own freelance business. This would include an office with the works (computer, big desk, ergonomic chair, coffee machine, full sets of dictionaries and encyclopedias, etc.) plus a year’s worth of advice from an accountant, a mentor, and membership in any appropriate translators’ association.

    I know I’d watch this show! Anyone else? What else should be on it?

    Saturday, June 07, 2008

    Summer Break

    Now that it's summer, I'm going to be posting a little less frequently. I'll be travelling for part of the time (seven different countries in a matter of months!) and I'll be attending various conferences, including two translation-focused ones (WALTIC in Stockholm later this month and FIT in Shanghai in August -- let me know if you're going to be there!). But I will keep posting, so check back.

    And stay tuned for my version of Translation: The Reality TV Show!

    Have a great summer!

    Tuesday, June 03, 2008

    More Humor

    I am a fan of bad translations – not in a professional sense, of course, but just because I find them amusing. This funny website is primarily for those who know Swedish, but there is a section that can be read by everyone (at least the bad translations can; the commentary can not be). Click “äldre inlägg” at the end of each page to get to the next one.

    Saturday, May 31, 2008

    A Round-Up of Articles and Videos

    Time for a round-up of interesting articles and videos.

    Here is an
    article on words meaning what they say/how they sound.

    The next
    piece is on standardizing English and it relates to a guest post featured on Brave New Words last year.

    brief video is about how Aramaic is still being used in some villages today.

    Ars Magna,
    short documentary, is about about anagrammist Cory Calghoun.

    Finally, this
    parody song, “I Am Thesaurus,” is a play on the Beatles’ “I am the Walrus.”

    Tuesday, May 27, 2008

    Learn Vocabulary and Help Others

    I freely admit that I love word games. Scrabble is probably my favorite (and if you’re on facebook, feel free to join me in a game – scrabble is about the only good thing I think facebook has - but make sure you let me know who you are when you "friend" me!).

    Anyway, a word game I found not long ago is Free Rice and it is addictive and also is a way of donating to charity. You correctly define words and rice is donated through the UN World Food Program. That’s a game worth playing!

    Friday, May 23, 2008

    On Loan Words

    An article in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet about Finland Swedish claims that “loan words are the spice of a language.” On the other hand, some languages are staunchly against loan words and try to create new words rather than borrow ones from other tongues. What do you think?

    What are your favorite loan words? Or words that you think should be loaned from one language to another?

    I have written here before about my desire to see the Swedish word “sambo” adopted to English. Share some of your favorites!

    Monday, May 19, 2008

    Summer School for Translators

    Here is some information on a summer school for translators:

    The British Centre for Literary Translation has been offering the International Literary Translation Summer School, the highlight of our annual programme of activities, since 2000. Every year acclaimed writers and translators are gathered together for an intense week of translation workshops, panel discussions, and talks, culminating in multilingual readings of the work accomplished. This residential programme takes place from 20-26 July at the University of East Anglia, with participants coming from many different countries. The languages represented change from year to year, and in 2008 will include the following:

    Arabic to English
    Translator/Workshop Leader: Paul Starkey. Writer: Hassan Daoud

    English to Italian
    Translator/Workshop Leader: Susanna Basso. Writer: Giles Foden

    German to English
    Translator/Workshop Leader: Shaun Whiteside. Writer: Lena Gorelik

    Translator/Workshop Leader: Paddy Bushe. Poet: Gabriel Rosenstock

    Portuguese to English
    Translator/Workshop Leader: Daniel Hahn. Writer: José Eduardo Agualusa

    Spanish to English
    Translator/Workshop Leader: Cecilia Rossi. Writer: Carmen Posadas

    Registration is now open and bursaries are available.
    For more information and registration details, please visit the BCLT website: www.uea.ac.uk/bclt .

    Friday, May 16, 2008

    Avoiding the Influence of English

    I’ve recently discovered a great site for those who translate to Swedish or use Swedish in any way. It looks at English words that are being used unnecessarily in Swedish and gives the Swedish equivalents of these words. While some countries reject the influence of English and other languages, others, such as Sweden, seem to absorb too much, to the point that people use English words rather than perfectly acceptable Swedish ones. This site tries to rectify that. I wonder if there are websites like this for other languages.

    Thursday, May 08, 2008

    Writing for Young Adults

    Writing for young adults is a relatively new genre (a genre, some say, that has been created by the pressures of marketing) and recently, I've had two opportunities to learn more about it. The first was a workshop I attended several weeks ago at the Arvon Foundation (at their center in beautiful Yorkshire), taught by writers Linda Newbery and Nick Manns (with the entertaining, controversial Melvin Burgess as a guest speaker), and the second was a lecture yesterday by Scottish writer James Jauncey, the author of a new book for young adults entitled The Witness.

    What I've found is that authors themselves aren't always certain they are writing for young adults. They feel they are just writing books, period. That the texts may have characters who are young adults does not necessarily mean the work should be limited (in terms of marketing and readership, that is) to young people. Mr. Jauncey pointed out that if books such as The Catcher in the Rye or To Kill a Mockingbird had been labelled as being for children or young adults, they might never have become as popular or well-read as they did. The label limits the work.

    What all the writers I heard or spoke to in recent weeks have mentioned is that creating a category of books for young adults is generally a choice made by publishers, teachers, parents, and other adults, and some believe that it stems from two major issues: the desire to make money and the idea of reducing risk. For the former, having another genre creates more opportunities for marketing (and also for producing side products, films, tv shows, etc.). As for the latter, people today do not want to make choices or to have to be accountable. A parent may not have the time or interest to read and vet their children's reading choices. So a little label on a book that says which age group it is suitable for removes responsibility from the adults. And it also supports publishers; some parents complain to the publishers if their children are exposed to words or themes they do not deem appropriate. Now, publishers can say, "Well, there was a label on there, so if your child read a book that was not age-appropriate, that was your fault, not ours."

    Besides the genre reducing responsibility, it also imposes limits. Many authors say their publisher makes them aware of words or topics they must avoid. Mr. Jauncey claimed he did not consider language or appropriateness; all he thinks about when writing is being honest to the story and the characters and telling the tale as authentically and truthfully as he can. Other writers are not so lucky, however, and this is something people must consider when working on a book that they think may be aimed at children or young adults.

    A point Ms. Newbery made is that children tend to read up, so they can learn what is coming next in their lives. She felt that 9-12 year-olds wouldn't read the books labelled as being for that age group; instead, they'd books for the 13-15 year-old set, because they are looking towards that time in their lives.

    But does all this mean that children and young adults don't read about adults? Or that adults don't read about young people? I really don't think so, even if publishers seem to believe that. Why is there so much separation in literature now? Mr. Jauncey reminded us that there are no books for 30-year-olds or for 80-year-olds. In a way, of course, one can understand that the childhood and teenage years are a challenging time and that young people like and need to read about others their age. But when I was young, I certainly read voraciously about people of all ages, not to mention all backgrounds, religions, genders, races, and so on, and I know I am not alone in this. Are we underestimating young people? Are we doing them a disservice by deciding what books and topics they should have access to?

    Monday, May 05, 2008

    A Bad President Under a Crowd

    Not long ago, I was somewhere that had several flat-screen televisions lining the walls. The volume on the tvs was off, but programs were playing anyway, and closed-captioning was used so those watching could know what was being said.

    I know that closed-captioning, unlike subtitling, is generally in real-time, but I was still surprised by the number of mistakes -- there were errors in nearly every sentence. Some were really odd, though many were clearly based on phonetic confusions. Sometimes a caption was corrected, but usually the viewer was left to puzzle it out (and to giggle, as in my case).

    Here are a few of the wrong captions I recall:

    “This sets a bad president” instead of “This sets a bad precedent”
    “Now things are under a crowd” instead of “Now things are under a cloud”
    “This is about award” instead of “This is about a war”

    Bad closed-captioning and bad subtitling can definitely set a bad president.

    Wednesday, April 30, 2008

    Pirated Translations

    I recently started getting the bi-monthly email newsletter called “Annogram”, sent out by Ann Cefola, whom I met at the AWP conference in January. The newest issue has the following interesting information:

    Free translations lead to book sales

    Thanks to translator Ruth A. Gentes Krawczyk (www.krawczyktranslations.com) for this fascinating piece of marketing insight:

    Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho has grown his readership with free translations. Fortune says, "Intrigued by his growing sales in Russia, Coelho used the Bittorrent site—a favorite for illicit distribution of media—to seek out and download online translations of his books as well as audio versions. By 2006 he was hosting an entire sub-site he called The Pirate Coelho, with links to books in many languages."

    His newsletter is said to have 200,000 subscribers and Coelho indicates he gets about 1,000 e-mails from fans every day. "I don't understand why publishers don't understand that this new medium is not killing books," Coelho says. "I'm doing it mostly because the joy of a writer is to be read. But at the end of the day, you will sell more books."

    I’ve heard a lot about the music and software industries being upset about torrents, but there hasn’t been as much news about how the publishing industry is dealing with this technology. So it is interesting to see what one author is doing with pirated trans
    läted editions.

    Sunday, April 27, 2008

    An Editor’s Rant: On Using Foreign Languages in a Text

    Today’s post is more of a rant. Why do authors who want to include words or phrases in foreign languages not check that they are using the correct spelling and grammar (unless, of course, there is a reason for using something in the wrong way, such as to show that a character is pretentious but really ignorant)? Why don’t editors check these things?

    In recent weeks, I’ve been reading a lot of work in Swedish. In Sweden, it can be considered cool to include English in a poem or short story, or an author may genuinely find that there is something she or he must say in English rather than in Swedish. But often, I find serious mistakes. And to be honest, the author has lost me as soon as I see that she or he (or the editor or publisher) couldn’t be bothered to have an editor check over the text.