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:

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

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

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)?