Monday, December 27, 2010

A Round-Up of Articles

You probably have some time off now due to the holidays, so here is a round-up of articles that you might find interesting.

The first piece is on a klezmer and Yiddish program in NY state.

The next article is about the translation of work by Boris Pasternak.

Maureen Freely, who calls herself a “shadow novelist,” writes about translating Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk from Turkish to English.

The next article calls translation a “literary ambassador,” which I heartily agree with.

This piece is on an anthology of translated Middle Eastern literature that doesn’t include any Hebrew literature. This is a strange situation and I enjoyed the article’s take on it. Thank you to Erika Dreifus for sending me this article!

Finally, here is a short story by yours truly.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Market Research

If you translate short stories, novel excerpts, poems, or other shorter works, sometimes it can be hard to know where to submit your translations. In the future, I will post more links to journals that actively seek and regularly publish translated work. Remember for each journal, try to read a number of back issues to get a sense of the editors’ interests before you submit. There’s no point in submitting an experimental work to a journal that mainly publishes science fiction, for example. Do your research.

Now, check out Subtropics.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Some Interesting Links

Here are some new links that might be of interest to you. All of these links have been to sent to me by friends, relatives, and acquaintances, which I much appreciate!

My mother told me about the NounProject, which is a site devoted to visual language, i.e. symbols for words.

Keeping things in the family, my father sent me the link to The Phrontistery, a dictionary of unusual words.

My friend Lottie Lodge has been creating a lovely new cartoon, in which I have even been featured (as the Love Doctor, which is one of my nicknames among my friends). Lottie told me about the Sustainably Creative site.

There’s a new translation blog up. Thank you to Erika Dreifus for sending me this link!

And through one of my translation e-lists, I learned about a new site for translators from Finnish, Sami, and Finland-Swedish.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Article on Etymology

I love etymology and find it really fascinating, so I enjoyed this article and hope you will too.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

New Blog on Translation

If translators are invisible, students training to be translators are even more so. This new blog is hoping to change that as well as to contribute to the field of translation general.

The blog was my idea and I’m running it as part of my job teaching literature and translation at the University of East Anglia. I will post there on occasion, as will other faculty members, but mostly the posting will be done by our students who are training to be translators. They will post about what they are learning and what it means to study translation, and about what they are translating, and about the translation world in general. I think it will be a good complement to this blog, so check it out.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Call for Submissions

It is great to see journals actively seeking translated works or texts about translation. Thank you to Erika Dreifus for sending me the following call for submissions:

Hi all,

We're very pleased to invite submissions of poetry, short fiction, essays, visual poetry, photography, artwork and video for a translation-themed issue. The deadline is December 6, and the issue will begin to appear online after the New Year. All submissions must be made via qarrtsiluni’s new submissions manager.

In addition to work translated into English, we encourage a universal interpretation, including though not limited to movement between and within cultural fields and from signifier (code, symbol, signal) to signified (message, meaning, transcription). Translation being inherent in all acts of writing/reading, both semantic and non-verbal, we are interested in short, non-academic essays relevant to such readings and mis-readings. Please also send adaptations, definitions, conversions, and homophonic translations. Text submissions should not exceed three poems or short prose pieces, or some combination thereof, for a maximum of three single-spaced pages in .doc or .rtf format.

For translations, include originals, permission status, and a bio for the original author as well as your own. Translations from any language are welcome. We look forward to reading or viewing your work.

—Nick Admussen, Nathalie Boisard-Beudin, Nick Carbó, Alex Cigale, and Ayesha Saldanha
See editors' bios and more at the complete CFS:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Winner of Give-Away

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about translating cookbooks. I included a give-away. The winner is Louisa, who wrote:

My favorite resource is Wikipedia -- I look up whatever term I need to translate in that language and then switch to the English Wikipedia version using the sidebar on the left. There are usually pictures on each language's site so I can be sure they refer to the same thing. Wikipedia has almost everything -- it's great for more than just food!

Louisa, please email me to get your voucher!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Quote from Proust

Translators unfortunately get used to people looking down on us and thinking that what we do is less important or creative than what writers do. So that’s one reason why I like this quote from Proust, because it equates writing with translating. And of course I always say that translators have to be great writers themselves, which many people seem to forget.

To write that essential book, a great writer does not need to invent it but merely to translate it, since it already exists in each one of us. The duty and task of a writer are those of translator. -Marcel Proust

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Cultural Heritage Dictionary

I’m always interested in new and useful reference materials, so I thought I’d point out TermDoc, which focuses on terminology related to cultural heritage. So far, the languages on the site are pretty limited (Spanish, Italian, Catalan, French, German, and Dutch), but if the site expands, it could be quite helpful one day.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Cookbooks and a Give-Away

CSN Stores is offering a £50 gift voucher give-away to one lucky reader of Brave New Words. At CSN, you can find everything from cookware items to chest of drawers to lighting.

How does this relate to translation? Well, readers of Brave New Words might remember a post from over a year ago, where I wrote about translating cookbooks. One of the challenges I mentioned in that post was knowing what tools and implements are available in various countries and what the names of said items might be.

For a cookbook I was translating recently, I struggled with a couple of very specific cookware items. I knew what the items were in Swedish but I wasn’t sure if they necessarily existed in English. One way of approaching this, especially if you don’t even know what the original item looks like, is by using Google images, and then studying sites that sell cookware, such as CSN. These sites are also a great resource for reminding yourself what different items might be called (that’s particularly handy for those of us who work with both US and UK English, because the UK and the US don’t always use the same terminology), or they can give you inspiration for products you could use in recipes should the original product not be available.

In order to win this generous gift voucher, leave a comment on this post. Mention your favorite tip for translating cookbooks/recipes or your favorite food-related resource. Do this by 15 November and then a winner will be chosen randomly to receive the gift voucher.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A Round-Up of Articles

It’s been so long since I’ve done a round-up of articles and links that I have a lot of them to share with you now.

At the university where I teach, there is a regular literary festival, and local readers might be interested in the program.

Speaking of programs, this sounds like a great new MFA.

I saw this article about translator and writer Lydia Davis first mentioned on my friend Erika Dreifus’ excellent blog.

Here is a melodramatic but hopefully tongue-in-cheek piece on the death of English.

This article discusses how publishers choose translators.

Next up is a piece about how languages influences our thinking.

Another New York Times article looks at learning languages online.

If you’re looking for a short story to read (or listen to!), you can try this one by yours truly.

If you can read Swedish, you might find this article interesting.

Here are some facts about English.

This article is on the best languages to learn.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

More Metaphors

If you read this blog, you know I’m always interested in metaphors for translation. Well, there’s an entire book on the subject now, Thinking Through Translation with Metaphors, edited by James St. André.

As Ben Van Wyke points out in his contribution, which is about metaphors relating to bodies and clothes, translation and metaphor have always been tightly linked:

“The word for translation in English, as well as in many other European languages, comes from the Latin translation, which is a translation of the Greek metaphora, the word from which English derives “metaphor.” In ancient Greek, metaphora was used in the sense that we employ the word “metaphor” today, as well as for translation from one language into another. Thurs, related in this way, translation and metaphor both imply the notion of carrying over or transferring meaning from one word or phrase to another.” (18)

In this anthology, Celia Martín de León talks about the metaphor of footsteps, while Sergey Tyulenev discusses translation as a form of smuggling, and Yotam Benshalom focuses on performance, among other metaphors analyzed.

The book also includes a helpful bibliography of works that discuss metaphors for translation.

This is a light, enjoyable read that might give readers new ways of understanding old metaphors as well as offer entirely new metaphors for thinking about translation.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

So Close and Yet So Far

I really enjoyed the recent article by George Packer in the New Yorker about Israeli author David Grossman.

The article mentions Mr. Grossman’s relationship to Palestinian writers, such as a professor called Ahmad Harb. Here is a quote from the article:
“I visited Harb, a tall, painfully formal man in his late fifties, in his Ramallah home. His living room looked out over a hillside that was covered with Palestinian construction projects. In the early aughts, Israeli troops had the town under siege, and Grossman phoned him often to be sure that he was all right. Harb did the same after Uri’s death. Harb had once thought of writing a book on the works of David Grossman, but the political situation in the West Bank wasn’t right—it might have led to trouble.

“Yesterday, I was talking to David about the possibility of translating one of my novels into Hebrew,” Harb told me. “He said, ‘Honestly, there isn’t much interest to translate Palestinian literature.’ And if a Palestinian translated or taught Israeli literature he would be considered a kind of collaborator.” There was no reason for this, Harb believed—in spite of their enmity, the two peoples should know each other and read each other. But, for now, all that they tried to build twenty years ago has come to nothing. In a better world, he and David would be close friends. “I hope, sometime in the future,” he said. “But it’s like a phantom. You say, ‘At some point I will reach it,’ but then anything will explode everything else, and you are back at square one.”

As I left, Harb gave me an English translation of his new novel, “Remains,” to carry the eight miles from Ramallah to Grossman’s home, in Mevasseret Zion.”

I tend to believe, perhaps idealistically, that reading literature about other people is a way of bringing us closer. That’s one reason why we need translation and translators. There’s something very sad about the fact that two people living in such close proximity and yet not reading each other’s literature. Something is seriously wrong with this situation.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Reviewing Kudos

I was very impressed to note in the 6 September issue of the New Yorker that a book reviewer, James Wood, actually read a translated book and its original in order to comment on the translation. This is very rare but a welcome step in terms of reviewing translated literature. Writing about Jean-Christophe Valtat’s book O3, Mr. Wood said:

“Some of the aesthetic credit should go to Mitzi Angel, Valtat’s translator. A reading of the original novella, published in 2005, reveals what a careful, alchemical job she has done, often coming up with ingenious slang, and with creative ways of patching English syntax into complex, and very French, phrasing.”

I hope more reviewers follow Mr. Wood’s example of comparing the original to the translation.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Translation as Possibility

I saw the following quote in one of my favorite e-newsletters, A Word a Day:

Poetry, indeed, cannot be translated; and, therefore, it is the poets that preserve the languages; for we would not be at the trouble to learn a language if we could have all that is written in it just as well in a translation. But as the beauties of poetry cannot be preserved in any language except that in which it was originally written, we learn the language. -Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (1709-1784)

People are always claiming that poetry cannot be translated. But of course it regularly is translated and often quite well, too. So I think it’s time we moved on from this idea that translation is impossible, especially of poetry. No one can ever learn all the languages in the world, no one can be able to read all the literatures in the world, no one can converse with all the people in the world in their own native tongues – thus translation is necessary and by necessity, it must be possible.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

And the Winner is…

This year's Nobel Prize in Literature was given to Mario Vargas Llosa.

What do you think? Was it the right choice?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

2010 Nobel Prize in Literature

This year's Nobel Prize in Literature will be announced on Thursday. Who do you think will win?

People regularly suggest authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, Adonis, and Amos Oz. I don't think it's likely an English-language author will win this year. And given the way the Nobel tends to be linked somewhat to politics, I doubt an Israeli will get it, no matter how deserving his oeuvre might be.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Happy International Translation Day!

Today is International Translation Day, which is celebrated annually on the feast day of the patron saint of translators, St. Jerome.

So today is a great day to appreciate the art of translation and the translators who make it possible.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Social Networking for Translators

Has anyone tried out social networking site for translators and translation agencies? Is it any better than facebook or other such sites?

For example, I’ve heard about Langmates, which describes itself as a “community of freelance and in-house translators, translation project managers, human resource managers, and other industry experts.” Is this useful at all?

Personally, I rely on repeat customers and word-of-mouth, so I don’t do much in the way of advertising or networking, but this could be helpful for translators who are just starting out.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Job in Translation

There is a one-semester vacancy in my department for a lecturer in literature and translation. It would be a great opportunity for a recent PhD graduate or for someone looking for more experience teaching literature and translation at the BA and MA levels.

Here is the info:

University of East Anglia
School of Literature and Creative Writing

Ref: ATS420

£29,853 to £35,646 per annum

The School of Literature and Creative writing is hoping to recruit a Lecturer to cover for a colleague's study leave during the Spring Semester 2011 and the following summer period.

The Lectureship will involve teaching in the areas of Literature and Literary Translation, and will also include administrative and enterprise and engagement work relating to these areas.

This is a full time, fixed-term appointment available from 1 January 2011 to 31 August 2011.

Closing date: 12 noon on 15 October 2010

Further particulars and an application form can be obtained by calling (+44) 01603 593493.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

Creating a Dictionary during the Holocaust

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum sent me a calendar for 2011. It has quotes from diaries written during the Holocaust and is very moving. The quote for December 2011 caught my eye because it is from a Dutch Jew, Selma Wijnberg, who fell in love with a Polish Jew, Chaim Engel, and together they created a dictionary so that they could communicate with one another. In other words, during World War Two, as they were in a concentration camp, they were still living and loving and thinking about language.

The quote from her diary, written on 21 June in 1944, says: “This little book is for me…about the time that my man and I are hidden in a hayloft somewhere in Poland. I have the hope that I will live free again.”

The information about Ms. Wijnberg (happily, later Mrs. Engel) says: “Selma Engel, a Jewish woman born in the Netherlands, met her future husband, Chaim, a Polish Jew, when they were imprisoned in the Sobibór killing center. Young and in love, they made a daring escape with other prisoners during the camp uprising and found refuge with a farmer until liberation. In her diary Selma writes about Sobibór and her deepening relationship with Chaim, with whom she created a translation dictionary so the two could communicate with each other.”

Sunday, September 05, 2010


I just learned about a new dictionary and thesaurus, Wordnik. It’s a really handy reference tool because it offers a number of sentences for each word, so you can see how the word is employed in various contexts. Wordnik was founded by Erin McKean, the former editor-in-chief of The New Oxford American Dictionary, and it already contains more than four million words.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Entrepreneurial Linguist

The translating twins, Dagmar and Judy Jenner, who also run a great blog, have recently published a book, The Entrepreneurial Linguist.

The premise of their book is that translators need to run their business as though it were, well, a business. Too many of us translators view ourselves as freelancers rather than businesspeople and we act accordingly, so the Jenner twins provide a lot of helpful advice and practical suggestions for how we can act more business-like. They discuss what it means to have a business and how said business can work best for both the owner and the customers.

They start the book with the basics, such as what you should buy for your office and how you can save money on necessary goods. Then they use case studies, as is done in business school, to look at what a customer wants, what the translator and business-owner wants, and how a compromise can be reached. They also look at a variety of related topics, such as how a translator can make use of blogging and Facebook, how to negotiate and decide prices, marketing and media coverage, how to find and work with customers, why conferences and other types of professional development are useful, how to keep a good work-life balance, how to avoid isolation as a translator, why volunteer work is good to do, how to work towards and reach goals, and much more.

This is not a book about the linguistic aspects of translation or about translation theory or other such issues. Instead, The Entrepreneurial Linguist is a very detailed and thorough book about how to “run a business like a business,” even if your business is just a small one. It’s a perfect book for people just starting out in the field, but it also has useful information for more experienced translators. The Jenner twins have hit a very important point: translators must be professional, if we want to be successful and to have other people respect our profession, and this book gives tips on how to accomplish that.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Reasons for Learning New Languages

I’ve long had a fascination for languages and I’m always eager to dip into new ones. But some people are quite resistant to learning languages, so here is a list of reasons why they might want to give another language a change:

50 Reasons You Should Learn a New Language

Monday, August 23, 2010

Changing Biblical Sexual References in Translation

Mentions on translation pop up in all sorts of unexpected places. I was reading Jonathan Margolis’ book O: The Intimate History of the Orgasm and was surprised to see him refer to the way Bible translators changed sexual references. For example:

“Generally speaking, when Bible translators have happened upon sexual references, they have been assiduous in seeking out neutralizing euphemisms like men with a mission to protect unborn generations of virginal Sunday School teachers. Thus is ‘penis’ changed in every instance to ‘thigh’. ‘Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh,’ Abraham asks his servant in Genesis, ‘and I will make thee swear by the Lord, the God of heaven, and the God of earth.’ (This is a reference to the custom of ‘testifying’, by which anyone taking a vow places their hand on their testicles.” (138)

Of course, he doesn’t specify which translations and translators he’s talking about, but at least it’s good to see issues of translation crop up in a variety of works. And it’s important to remember that ethical issues, in terms of what translators change and why, have been around for a very long time and still are.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Translators on Translating

While convalescing from surgery a few weeks ago, I enjoyed reading Andrew Wilson’s new book Translators on Translating. Each themed chapter includes quotes, anecdotes, and extracts from practicing translators, and it makes translators and their thoughts on translation more visible.

Many of the usual suspects are included (such as Douglas Robinson, Lawrence Venuti, Martin Luther, Anthea Bell), but there are also names that are less familiar, such as Sharon M. Bell, Cathy Hirano, Eivor Martinus, Moura Budberg), and it’s very interesting to get such a wide variety of views, from different countries, languages, and time periods.

The themes include work (Samuel Johnson refers to translation as “the great pest”), technical translation, the relationship between translators and authors (Wilson points out that “[f]ew authors will ever have occasion to read a translator’s work with anything like the attention the translator puts into theirs, and fewer still are actually capable of judging the quality of the translation.”), translation theory (Andrew Chesterman and Emma Wagner say that “[m]essages from the ivory tower tend not to penetrate as far as the wordface. (The wordface is the place where we translators work – think of a miner at the coalface.)”), and more.

Wilson’s book is more than an anthology of extracts, as he explores many of the concepts and adds his own opinions and experiences. It’s a fun and fascinating book to dip into.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Translation as Manipulation

Some of you might be interested in this recently published article of mine, which is on how translation can manipulate the reader. In this particular piece, I’m looking at how this happens in children’s literature, and with regard to dialects and allusions.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Calls for Papers

I am on the editorial committee for In Other Words, which is published by the British Centre for Literary Translation. I will be guest editing the next issue and co-editing the following one, so I’d like to invite submissions of papers for those issues. Here are the calls:

Translating Queers/Queering Translations

We welcome article submissions on any aspect of 'Translating
Queers/Queering Translations', which can include but is not limited to:

- Whether lgbtq writers/subjects ought to be translated differently
than other texts and, if so, how

- How queer theory influences translation and translation theory

- Whether a queer form of translation should be developed

- What it means to queer translation or translators

Articles should be a maximum of 4000 words; style guidelines are provided in the back of each issue of In Other Words.
Further queries should be addressed to the guest editor at: Deadline for submissions is 1 October 2010.

Translation and Philosophy

We welcome article submissions on any aspect of 'Translation and Philosophy', which can include but is not limited to:

- Translating philosophical texts

- What philosophers say about translation and what philosophy can contribute to the act of translation

- Philosophies of translation

- Philosophical and ethical issues in translation

Articles should be a maximum of 4000 words; style guidelines are provided in the back of each issue of In Other Words. Further queries should be addressed to the guest editor at: Deadline for submissions is 1 March 2011.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Creative Constraints

I’m a great fan of Italo Calvino, and I’m generally interested in Oulipo and similar literary movements. Sure, sometimes it seems too “shticky” (Jonathan Safran Foer springs to mind) but when done well, it can make you think about what literature is and what it could be. I recently read John McGreal’s novel The Book of IT, for example, which employs non-standard spelling and language as part of the method for telling the story. I gave a selection to my undergraduate literature students as a way of challenging them to think beyond the traditional style of literature and the typical ways of using language, and then I asked them to write a work with self-imposed constraints.

Oulipo and writers who work in that vein create artificial constraints for their writing. In a way, this is how translators always work – while a writer might decide to write a novel without a particular letter or based on, say, the five senses, our constraint as translators is the original text. This forces us to be very creative within the limits imposed by the writer. So while some of these literary movements seem very modern and daring, in fact they are doing what translators have always done, but what translators rarely get credit for.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

It’s a Crime to Ignore Translation

Yes, we know how popular Stieg Larsson’s books have gotten and how people in English-speaking countries and elsewhere are suddenly becoming aware of Nordic crime fiction (note: they aren’t showing much interest in Nordic literary fiction, unfortunately), but it’s no surprise that articles about the phenomenon still fail to mention translation. Here’s a typical article on Larsson’s work and Nordic crime fiction in general. It does not include a word on how these books make it into English (or other languages) and onto the international market.

How can we educate the reading public, including book reviewers, about what translation is and what it involves?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Swedish References

I maintain a list of references on my main website and that prompted someone to let me know about this other list of mainly Swedish references. I also note that is tweeting a Swedish word each day at WordSweden. Are other countries doing the same with their languages?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Word Nerds ‘R’ Us

This list of the “50 Coolest Online Tools for Word Nerds” is definitely for me. It has links to references sites and sites where you can play games, among many other things. As a proud word nerd who plays Scrabble regularly and works with language on a daily basis, I enjoyed the list.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Job in Translation

I thought some of you might be interested in applying for this job. I teach at the University of East Anglia, which is where the British Centre for Literary Translation is based, and part of my job involves working with the BCLT as well. The BCLT is currently looking for an interim director. Here are the details:

Ref: ALC173

£37,839 to £43,840 per annum

The School of Literature and Creative Writing is looking to recruit an Interim Director to oversee and manage implementation of the Centre's 2010-11 plan, and to liaise with members of the School, especially those working in Literature and Translation, and with a number of external bodies. You should have a relevant postgraduate degree and experience of funding applications, arts administration and events management, as well as knowledge of the literary translation community in the UK and beyond.

This full-time, fixed term post is available from 1 October 2010 until 31 August 2011.

Closing date: 12 noon on 6 August 2010

Monday, July 05, 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Round-Up of Articles

As you read this, I am at a conference, attending stimulating sessions on the connection between authors and translators (and I’m giving a talk myself, on the Swedish author and translator Gösta Knutsson). Here’s some interesting reading to keep you occupied while I’m away.

The first article is about the use of French in France, and how this compares to the way many Americans complain about the role of Spanish in the U.S.

Next is a piece on linguistics, which includes the sentence: ‘Language diversity is the “crucial fact for understanding the place of language in human cognition”’.

The Swedish author Stieg Larsson has become a worldwide phenomenon and this article explores him and his work, including its translation. I don’t usually read thrillers myself, but I have read and enjoyed his first book in Swedish, and I plan to read the next two while I’m at home next month, recovering from surgery.

Here, Edith Grossman explores translating Quixote.

The next piece on all the languages in NYC and on preserving languages.

Finally, have a laugh with these funny signs from around the world.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Question from a Reader: Answered

Brave New Words recently featured a question from a reader. Peter Linton kindly replied, saying that
The Language Of sells second-hand books in more than a dozen languages. Thanks, Peter!

If you have a question on language, literature, or translation, email me!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Top 10 Translator’s Blogs

Check out this list of the top 10 translator’s blogs. Brave New Words is happy to be included, and is in great company, including BNW guest bloggers Dagmar and Judy Jenner.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Multilingual Eye Chart

In non-Latin-alphabet-employing countries, what do people use for eye charts when they go to the optometrist? Certainly not the standard one in the US or the UK, which is now being replaced by computerized projections. This question never occurred to me until I learned of multilingual eye chart. While this multilingual eye chart would not be practical for actual use, it is enjoyable to look at, and would be fun to have in the classroom.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Question from a Reader

Brave New Words reader Alice asks if there was any place in the UK that holds English books translated into other languages. Does anyone know the answer?

If you have a question about translation or literature, email me and I’ll post it on the blog.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

References on Translating Children’s Literature

For my second list of references (the first list was on translation in general), I thought I’d offer a list of books on translating children’s literature, which happens to be my area of special.

Hallford, Deborah, and Edgardo Zaghini, Outside In: Children’s Books in Translation (London: Milet, 2005).

Klingberg, Göte, Barn- och ungdomslitteraturforskning: områden, metoder, terminologi [Research on Children’s Literature: Areas, Methods, Terminology] (Göteborg: Lärarhögskolan, 1969).

Klingberg, Göte, Barn- och ungdomslitteraturen [Children’s Literature] (Stockholm: Natur & Kultur, 1970).

Klingberg, Göte, Barnlitteraturforskning. En introduktion [Research on Children’s Literature: An Introduction] (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1972).

Klingberg, Göte, Översättningen av barn- och ungdomsböcker: en metodisk förundersökning [The Translation of Children’s Literature: A Methodological Preliminary Investigation] (Göteborg : Lärarhögskolan, 1974).

Klingberg, Göte, Att översätta barn- och ungdomsböcker: empiriska studier och rekommendationer [Translating Children’s Literature: Empirical Studies and Recommendations] (Mölndal: Lärarhögskolan, 1977).

Klingberg, Göte, ed., Children’s Books in Translation: the Situation and the Problems. Proceedings of the third symposium of the International Research Society for Children’s Literature (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1978).

Klingberg, Göte, De främmande världarna i barn- och ungdomslitteraturen [Strange Worlds in Children’s Literature] (Stockholm: Rabén & Sjögren, 1980).

Klingberg, Göte, Children’s Fiction in the Hands of Translators (Stockholm: CWK, 1986).

Gillian Lathey, ed. The Translation of Children’s Literature (Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 2006).

Oittinen, Riitta, I am Me – I am Other. On the Dialogics of Translating for Children (Tampere: University of Tampere, 1993).

Oittinen, Riitta, Translating for Children (New York: Garland, Inc., 2000).

O’Sullivan, Emer, Comparative Children's Literature, trans. Anthea Bell (London: Routledge, 2005).

Jan Van Coillie and Walter P. Verschueren, eds., Children’s Literature in Translation: Challenges and Strategies (Manchester: St. Jerome, 2006).

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Some Other Blogs

Here are two new blogs I’ve recently found that you might be interested in checking out.

Become a Translator


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Thinking Italian Translation

I was looking at the Thinking Italian Translation book put out by Routledge as part of my thus-far lazy effort to learn Italian. This book is part of a series that also includes Spanish, German, and French. These texts do not teach you the language, but they teach you to think about the language from a translator’s perspective and thus they’re quite useful both for translators and for language-learners (well, for language-learners of a certain nerdy inclination, like yours truly).

There is some basic information, such as explanations of sociolect, adverbs, code-switching, and calques, among other topics, and there is information on scientific and technical translation and legal and business translation. Throughout the book, there are a number of examples, tips, and practical exercises. There are also several chapters on contrastive linguistics, in which the authors compare and analyze linguistic features in English and Italian, such as the conditional tense.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Saying No Now -- and Forever?

One thing many translators (and other people who run their own small businesses) tend to worry about is what will happen if they turn down a job. They fret, saying things such as, "If I say no to this particular job, the client will never ask me to do anyting again. And s/he won't recommend me to anyone else either." This leads to a situation where many translators (myself included) take on more work than they handle and thus find themselves stressed and overworked. Okay, I can admit that I personally prefer being stressed and overworked to not having any jobs at all, but it's actually not an ideal situation.

So is it true that if you say no to a client once, that means never hearing from him or her again? I would say that this depends on how you say no. Do not say no without explaining why. And always say you are looking forward to hearing from that client again at some point.

If you are turning a job down because you simply do not have the time, explain that, and make sure you add, "Thank you for asking me. I hope you will think of me again in the future."

If you are turning a job down because it is not in your area of expertise, recommend an appropriate colleague (or give a link to where the client can find a translator, such as the Swedish Association of Professional Translators) and remind the client what your particular speciality is.

The point is that even as you say no, do so politely and helpfully, while also subtly telling the customer you will be available in the future for other assignments.

It's true that once clients have found a good translator who delivers on time, charges a fair price, and is professional to work with, they might be unwilling to switch to someone else, partially due to inertia. So if you say no once and the client finds another translator who fulfills the requirements, you may not hear from that person again. But if you are selective about which projects you take on, which clients you choose to work with, and when and how you turn down assignments, it is likely that you will build up a stable of customers who return to you over and over again, even if sometimes you have to reject certain jobs.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Vote for Brave New Words

Brave New Words has been nominated as one of the Top 100 Language Blogs 2010 by Lexiophiles.

Please vote for Brave New Words!

Vote the Top 100 Language Professionals Blogs 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

References on Translation

I often get emails from people who ask me for reading lists and while I don't think I should do people's research for them, as I've said before, I can provide some suggestions. And if any readers come up with other books and articles that could be of use, feel free to add them in the comments.

So, for the first such list, I thought I'd offer some good introductory texts on translation. These will serve as a useful academic basis for a deeper understanding of what translation is and what translators do.

Mona Baker: In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation

Basil Hatim and Ian Mason: Discourse and the Translator

Clifford E. Landers: Literary Translation: A Practical Guide

André Lefevere: Translating Literature: Practice and Theory in a Comparative Literature Context

Jeremy Munday: Introducing Translation Studies

Peter Newmark: Approaches to Translation

Peter Newmark: A Textbook of Translation

Eugene A. Nida and Charles R. Taber: The Theory and Practice of Translation

Christiane Nord: Translating as a Purposeful Activity: Functionalist Approaches Explained

Gideon Toury: Descriptive Translation Studies and Beyond

Thursday, May 06, 2010

400 Posts

This is just to mark that there have now been 400 posts on Brave New Words, amounting to close to 130,000 words. Thank you to everyone who reads this blog and thank you, too, for all your comments and emails.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Bilingual Editions

I know that it isn't always practical or feasible to publish bilingual editions of translations, but when possible, I think publishers should do so. Such editions are good for language-learners, of course, and I remember a bilingual version of Carlos Fuentes' book Aura that I read when I was learning Spanish many years ago. But they are also great for people who are interested in translation, because then we can analyze the original and the translation in a convenient way.

I was thinking about this recently while reading a bilingual edition of Edward Lear's nonsense limericks, as translated to Spanish by a student of mine, Matías Godoy, and published by Destiempo Libros. Here, for example, is one page in the book:

Había una joven con una quijada
Igual a la punta de una larga espada;
Mandóla afilar, compróse un citar,
Y así tocó música con su quijada.

There was a Young Lady whose chin
Resembled the point of a pin;
So she had it made sharp and purchased a harp,
And played several tunes with her chin.

It's really nice to be able to see Lear's original with Godoy's translation. Poetry is particularly well-suited to bilingual editions due to its length, but I wonder if, as more people gain a deeper understanding of translation and what it involves, publishers might start to publish bilingual editions of prose as well.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Free Language Classes Online

I’ve posted a number of links and other information before about learning languages, so here is another such reference. It has 100 links for learning languages for free online.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Twitterature by Alexander Aciman & Emmett Rensin

A friend of mine gave me Twitterature by Alexander Aciman & Emmett Rensin and I read the entire book in one setting. Yes, it’s shticky and self-consciously so. But it’s also a lot of fun.

Aciman and Rensin play with the classics, retelling them through the medium of Twitter. Is it essential that you have read the original tales before you read the Twitter versions? No, but you’d probably get more out of the book if you have, because otherwise some of the jokes might be a bit difficult to get. Aciman and Rensin helpfully include a glossary (bromance, LOL, MILF, nose candy, and STFU are just a few of the terms that get defined) and an introduction to Twitter format, but they do not summarize the books they satirize, nor should they, since having a joke explained takes the humor out of it.

In one of my classes this semester, we used this book to look what it means to “translate” texts from one form to another (in this case, from a classic novel to Twitter) and then the students attempted to parrot Aciman and Rensin. It was enjoyable to read what they came up with too and to discuss what it means to update classics.

If you like, for example, Mel Brooks’ films, you’ll probably like Twitterature by Alexander Aciman & Emmett Rensin, but you’re also likely to find the joke wearying halfway through.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sloppy, Inconsistent Translation Between Englishes

As I’ve mentioned before, I research children’s books. In reading a few books that were published in both the UK and the US, I’ve noticed that the English is not always consistent. The English in children’s books is often adjusted so UK children study “maths” while US children study “math,” for example, or wear “trousers” versus “pants,” or spell “favourite” with the “u.” But in a number of books, I’ve come across very sloppy translation (because translating between Englishes is indeed translation). I wonder if publishers are particularly careless about children’s books or if this is a problem in literature for adults, too.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

A Site for Freelancers

I recently received information on Caterpi, a new website where freelance translators can find jobs. I haven’t tried it out, but Caterpi offered a special link for readers of Brave New Words, so you can get one month free on the site. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who tries it out.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Some Reading

Here is some more reading for you:

The first article is on machine translation.

The next piece is on the translation of poetry.

Here is a blog on Spanish-English translation.

A colleague of mine at the University of East Anglia, the poet George Szirtes, also has an interesting blog.

Friday, March 26, 2010

SUISS Edwin Morgan Translation Fellowship

I was sent the following information on a fellowship:

The Scottish Arts Council offers again this year the Edwin Morgan
Translation Fellowship for a professional literary translator of
British literature (preferably Scottish) into their native language.
The fellowship is worth £3525 as it covers the course and
accommodation fee to attend the course "Text and Context: British and
Irish Literature from 1900 to the Present' at the Scottish
Universities' International Summer School at Edinburgh University.
Attached further information.

We would appreciate it if you could make your members aware of this
opportunity by advertising it on your website and maybe forwarding
the information to relevant members. The closing date for the
Fellowship is 12th April and the Text and Context application form
can be downloaded from our website.

Your help is much appreciated.

Scottish Universities' International Summer School
Text and Context:
British and Irish Literature from 1900 to the Present

SUISS Edwin Morgan Translation Fellowship
(supported by the Scottish Arts Council)

During his long and prestigious career, Edwin Morgan has revolutionized contemporary Scottish literature, not least with his six decades of work in translation. Perhaps most celebrated is his translation of the poetry of Mayakovsky into Scots, but he has also worked extensively from, amongst others, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Hungarian poems and plays. Edwin Morgan has been a friend of SUISS for many years, giving readings and meeting students, and his work forms an important and popular part of our literature course.

Thanks to a generous donation from the Scottish Arts Council, SUISS is able to offer a free place on the 2010 six-week ‘Text and Context: British and Irish Literature from 1900 to the Present’ course. The Fellowship will be payable in Edinburgh and will cover the costs of all tuition, accommodation, most meals, the social and cultural programme, and includes full use of the facilities of the library of Edinburgh University and the National Library of Scotland. Please note that the Fellowship does not include travel expenses or spending money.

Applications for this Fellowship are invited from professional translators with an interest in twentieth-century and contemporary Scottish writing. The closing date for the award is 12th April 2010. Applicants should indicate on the application form that they would like to be considered for the Edwin Morgan Translation Fellowship, and include a letter explaining their reasons for applying, together with any details of past and/or prospective publications. We also require one of your referees to support the fellowship application, which is normally from the candidate’s publisher.

Further information can be found on the SUISS website, which also contains the facility to download an application form. A brochure, application form and credit information can also be obtained from:

The Administrator
Scottish Universities’ Telephone: 0044 131-650 4369
International Summer School Fax: 0044 131-662 0275
21 Buccleuch Place E-mail:
Scotland (UK)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Travel Resource

I like resources that can serve double duty. This “travel survival guide” is a good resource for those travelling, but also potentially good for translators.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Word on the Ethics of Blogging

In recent times, more and more companies have contacted me to ask if they could become “patrons” of this blog. They offer me money in exchange for me promoting their work or letting them advertise on my blog.

I know many other blogs do have patron programs like this, but this is not a route that I want to take. I’d rather offer my readers information and resources that I think could be genuinely of use. Otherwise, for me, there is no point to this blog.

So I just wanted to mention this both so my readers know what they can expect to get from Brave New Words and so potential patrons know I am not interested. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to receive suggestions for topics or websites, because of course that could be very beneficial; it just means that I’m not going to accept money in exchange for posting about something that is not relevant or helpful or true.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Food Allergy Resources

Someone sent me the link to a website that offers “a new language tool dedicated to travelers with food allergies.” This site is not only useful to those who suffer from food allergies, but could potentially be helpful to translators who are working on culinary or medical texts.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Learning Chinese

I like information on how to learn various languages, so here is an article with resources for learning Chinese.

Monday, March 01, 2010

A Round-Up of Articles

Time for another round-up of interesting articles:

The first one is on one of the oldest dialects dying out.

Next is an article on Open Letter Books, which publishes translations.

The third is a discussion of European literature.

Then a piece on the professionalization of translators.

Finally, an article on the global novel.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Another Prize Announcement

I thought I would also tell you about the Stephen Spender Competition.

For this competition, you are to “translate a poem from any language, classical or modern, into English,” and there are three categories for entries: “open, 18-and-under and 14-and-under.”

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Some Job Announcements

Here are a couple of interesting job announcements.


The Center for the Art of Translation is a San Francisco-based non profit
promoting international literature and translation through programs in
publishing, education, and public events. The Center is currently seeking an
experienced Senior Editor & Literary Programs Manager for our Two Lines
publications program, which includes the annual Two Lines World Writing in
Translation anthology and the World Library series of regional anthologies.

The Two Lines Senior Editor & Literary Programs Manager will provide the
editorial and artistic vision for Two Lines publications and curate the
Center¹s Lit&Lunch event series, manage Two Lines staff and volunteers, and
will represent Two Lines externally and in strategic internal discussions
and decisions. This position reports to the Executive Director. The ideal
candidate will have at least five years experience of publishing/editorial
work, familiarity with international literature and literature in
translation, will have significant management and arts administration
experience, and will share enthusiasm and passion for the Center¹s mission.

The Senior Editor & Literary Programs Manager must be able to manage staff
and multiple projects from inception to completion with minimal direction or
oversight. This position will also coordinate shifting priorities, provide
regular reports to the Executive Director, and work effectively both leading
and working on a team.

Responsibilities include the following:

EDITORIAL: Oversee artistic vision, editorial planning and production of all
publications, including selecting guest editors, regions and/or languages
for World Library, soliciting and evaluating monographs for publication,
cultivating contacts within the publishing and translation fields,
evaluating annual anthology submissions, and editing and proofreading
introductions and translations. Provide editorial support on periodic grant
writing and fundraising materials.

LITERARY PROGRAMMING: Curate Lit&Lunch series and other events, including
event programming and annual publication party planning, act as artistic
spokesperson at all Center events, coordinate translation workshops and
other collaborative events and pursue partnerships and collaborations with
publishers, translators, and cultural institutions.

MANAGEMENT & ADMINISTRATION: Manage Two Lines staff, volunteers, guest
editors, translators, language readers, and copyeditors and act as program
representative in staff and management meetings. Ensure tasks are
coordinated, schedules and budgets are maintained, and provide biweekly
reports. The Senior Editor & Literary Programs Manager will also develop a
process to build Two Lines supporters in the literary and translation
communities. Assist with research to identify potential grants and donors.

PRODUCTION: Oversee the production of all Two Lines titles, including the
production timeline, submissions guidelines and production procedures,
submission processing, copyright permissions, final proofreading and
editing, and book design.

publications and provide feedback and support to marketing staff to develop
and implement marketing and public relations plans for publications. Inform
Development Director of any potential funding leads or creative fundraising
ideas. Seek opportunities to raise awareness of and interest in Two Lines
publications, promote the Center and build connections with other
translation and literary organizations, act as a representative of the
Center and lead discussions and/or presentations at literary events, forums
and conferences (3-5 per year).


• Strong background (5+ years) in book publishing, particularly in a
management role

• Experience as a literary translator, editor of translation, or
director of a literary center

• Able to offer contacts within the publishing and translation

• Enthusiasm and passion for the Center¹s mission

• Excellent interpersonal, written, and verbal communication skills,
including editing and proofreading

• Strong organizational sense with a sharp eye for detail

• Ability to prioritize and follow up on activities in a timely manner

• Energetic, flexible and willing to learn

• Proficiency in Microsoft Office, familiarity with the Mac environment
and excellent analytical skills

• Experience with FileMaker Pro a plus

This is a full-time position with an initial probationary period. The Center
is an equal opportunity employer and offers generous vacation package,
retirement plan and benefit stipend. Our office is located South of Market
in San Francisco near public transportation. To apply, please email with a resume and cover letter addressed to:

Erin Branagan
Acting Executive Director
Center for the Art of Translation
35 Stillman St., Suite 201
San Francisco, CA 94107

Olivia E. Sears, President
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.

2. I write as a member of the Education Committee for the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution (HLSI). We are looking for a tutor in contemporary literature in translation for the academic year 2010 to 2011 and I wondered if you would know anyone who might be interested in applying.

HLSI is a charity and apart from a professional librarian and office staff, it is run by volunteers. Among our many activities we run 26 classes for adults, mainly in the daytime. Our membership is mostly retired and highly educated, with a good general knowledge of literature. We would want someone for the complete academic year and fees are subject to negotiation. We find most people enjoy teaching here. At the moment we are running a course around the theme of ‘Writers on Writers’. We are aware that literature in translation, even narrowed down to the contemporary (postwar) period, is a huge subject and we would of course be flexible about specific themes or areas of the world in the interests of finding an excellent tutor.

HLSI is situated in the middle of Highgate village in North London, website Apart from classes, we run art exhibitions, concerts and a programme of lectures. Our literature courses, which have a good following, take place on Wednesday afternoons between 2.30 and 4.30 in one of the Institution’s purpose-built classrooms. As we are a charity we have to work to limited budgets - our fees are around £35 per hour for each two hour session. There are two ten week terms in Autumn and Spring and a seven week term in the Summer.

Any interested applicant can simply email me ( with a CV which I can then forward to our Committee.

Mary Butler

Monday, February 15, 2010

More Metaphors

In the last post, I discussed Translation in Practice, edited by Gill Paul and published by Dalkey Archive Press. The book offered two new metaphors, one for translation and one for editing.

Mahmoud Darwish is quoted giving another metaphor of translation: “The translator is not a ferryman for the meaning of the words but the author of their web of new relations. And he is not the painter of the light part of the meaning, but the watcher of the shadow, and what it suggests.” (5)

And Ros Schwartz describes a metaphor of editing: “A good editor is like a midwife – he or she helps bring forth that perfectly formed translation that is inside you but doesn’t necessarily emerge unaided.” (65)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Relationship between Translators and Editors

The title of the new book Translation in Practice, edited by Gill Paul and published by Dalkey Archive Press, is a misnomer. It is a very short (70 pages) book that seems – judging by the title and some of the topics mentioned – to want to be an introduction to various issues on translation but actually is mostly on the process of editing and the relationship between translator and editor. It would have been better called The Role of Editors in Translation or The Relationship between Translators and Editors, or something along those lines. A book on that subject would be interesting and worthwhile and if one focuses on that aspect of Translation in Practice, then one gets something out of it.

This books briefly introduces information about issues such as the role of the outside reader, picking a translator, what a sample translation is and if a translator should get paid for it, what it means for two translators to collaborate on a topic, contracts (both in terms of money and also in terms of relationships, such as establishing boundaries between translators and writers), schedules, publicity (though just one paragraph on this), style, particular challenges such as swear words or humor, what it means to be edited, the use of UK vs. US English, and so on. The issues have generally been discussed in more detail in other texts. It also offers ideas that it doesn’t really explain, such as by defining a bad translation as a “flat” one (69), which is a definition that needs more exploration, or by saying that translators should be paid if their work is used in a relay translation (53), which in fact is something that rarely happens, although Translation in Practice doesn’t analyze why that is the case or how to change it.

But the main part of the text, as already mentioned, explores the jobs of and relationship between the translator and the editor. It offers lists of dos and don’ts for translators and editors. For example, translators should “keep careful notes of changes and decisions made in the process of translating” and “carefully recreate the nuances of the original language” (this last point is one of the major difficulties of translation!), but not “take major liberties with the author’s text without reference to both editor and author” (what is a “major liberty”?) or “anglicize a book beyond recognition” (where is the border here?) (57-8). An editor should “approach the text as an original book rather than a translation” (a debatable point, I’d say) and not “rewrite the text in their own voice, changing the vocabulary choices that the translator has made.” (70-1) The book assumes that English is the target language, so it does not look into issues relevant to the publishing industry elsewhere, though the process of working with editors and publishers in other countries would be fascinating to learn about. Still, what it does discuss regarding the editing process in English-language publishing companies is interesting.

One other comment on the Dalkey book is that oddly, a couple of times a translator is quoted but not named or a translation is mentioned but the name of the translator is not provided (such as on pages 2 and 42-3), so the translator remains invisible. Of course, if this person chose to be anonymous, that should be stated. But if not, this shows how far translators still have to go in terms of visibility.

Translation in Practice tries to cover a lot of ground, but not in any great detail. So it is a good overview, but definitely not the final word.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Links on Children’s Literature

My last post discussed what it means to study children’s literature, so here I want to offer a few links that might be useful or interesting.

Outside In is about children’s literature and translation and Deborah Hallford and Edgardo Zaghini, who run the site, edited a collection of articles about and summaries of children’s literature in translation.

Write Away has many reviews of children’s literature and runs a conference and other activities.

Two organizations dedicated to the study and promotion of children’s literature are IRSCL and IBBY (note that I’ve given the link to IBBY in the UK, but there are branches all over the world).

Here are some major academic journals on children’s lit:

IRCL, which is run by IRSCL


Looking Glass


New Review of Children's Literature and Librarianship


If you know of any other useful links, let me know!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Studying Children’s Literature

As some of you may know, my PhD dissertation was on the translation of children’s literature and I do a lot of research on children’s lit. I have to deal with a lot of misconceptions about what this means:

-People ask me if I sit around, reading children’s books, and they assume that this must be easy. No, actually, I don’t spend hours reading Laura Ingalls Wilder and Judy Blume and Lewis Carroll and Lemony Snicket and nothing else. I do read them, and I read them very closely, but I also have to read around them, which means studying literary theory, psychology, anthropology, reception theory, translation theory, and much more. I don’t just read books and then summarize them, as you might do in grammar school. I have to analyze them and what they mean and what effect they have on the reader, among other things. It is not easy to study children’s literature.

-People often assume I must be an expert on fairy tales. Actually, no, I’m not. The field of children’s literature is much larger than just fairy tales, and fairy tales are not my area of expertise, even though of course I need to understand them in order to be able to understand the history of children’s literature.

-One of the most common questions I get asked is what I think of Harry Potter. I’ll be honest: I’ve never read any of the Harry Potter books. I don’t study them. It’s very frustrating when I give a talk at a conference and then during the question session people ask me about J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter, even though I never mentioned her and her books once during my presentation. There is more to children’s literature than Harry Potter.

-One of the other most common issues people often ask about is in regards to tv shows and films. First of all, I study literature, not tv. Second of all, I don’t even own a tv. While some people study the transition of children’s books from literature to film, most of us in the field don’t. Again, there is much more to the subject than tv.

-Finally, people tend to think it is a ridiculous, non-serious field and they mock me for choosing such a “simple” topic. It seems to me essential that we understand what ideas are behind children’s literature and how they affect the next generation. How could this possibly be unimportant?

In the next post, I will offer some links on children’s literature.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Translation as a Profession

I am always quite excited when it seems that more attention is paid to translation and to translators. Our profession needs more understanding and recognition. And it needs more talented people. I encourage people to learn more about translation. But sometimes I wonder about some of the people who join the field, or who attempt to join it, or who show interest in it.

I get many emails asking for advice about how to become a translator. In the past year or so, perhaps along with the economic crisis, I’ve been disturbed to see an increase to the number of messages I get where people tell me that they need a job and think their language skills are pretty good, or that they’ve lived in a certain country and believe they could translate that country’s literature, or that they really would rather do something else, but this is a good option because they could do it from home, in between taking their kids to school, and so on.

Translation is not an easy profession. It’s a satisfying and thrilling and stimulating one, in my opinion, but it isn’t right for everyone. Nor is everyone right for translation. It is not a job to do because you happen to know a particular language sort of well. It’s not a field you can just break into by deciding that it’s the best option. It’s not something you can do while waiting for something better to come along, or even while waiting for your kids at their sports events or dance classes. It’s a profession, which means translators must be professional. Ideally, they’d also be passionate.

So if you are unsure about translation as a career and you think it is a fast and simple way of earning money, let me assure you that you are wrong. It isn’t and you’d be better off picking another job. However, if you are truly linguistically talented and knowledgeable about languages and cultures, this might be the right career for you.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dryden Translation Competition

You might want to submit work for the Dryden Competition, which is run by the British Comparative Literature Association and administered here at the University of East Anglia, in part by yours truly. You can find more details on the BCLA site or on the Dryden's Facebook page.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Books on Language

Last year, Brave New Words had our first giveaway. As part of this, we asked readers for suggestions for books on language. Here is the compiled book list:

Maya wrote: There was a classic book on language called The Mother Tongue. It must be out of print by now, but it was what started my passion for language and its history, way back in the early seventies.

Pennifer suggested: How about Horace Lunt's "Old Church Slavonic Grammar" one of my bibles when I took an OCS graduate seminar back in the day?

From Debs: I recommend David Crystal's "Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language". Covering everything from gender issues to regional variations, this gold mine of information is a definite asset on anyone's bookshelf.

S. Borei wrote: With a library full of books on language with some dating back to the early 1700s it is no easy task to choose just one or even two. So instead of picking an out-and-out reference work, let me recommend one that has given me both insights and pleasure - the latter a somewhat rare commodity for someone who struggles constantly with language. So for that then, I recommend Karen Elizabeth Gordon's "The Deluxe Transvestite Vampire – the ultimate handbook of grammar for the innocent, the eager and the doomed." It's a wondrous window on the winsome, winning ways of words.

Susan King recommended: I grew up in a house filled with books. I don't remember the exact title but I loved browsing through Menken's American Language when I was in Junior High. I didn't understand much of it, but it was fun.

Jaax suggested: My bible for paper-writing: The Little, Brown Handbook by H. Ramsey Fowler and Jane E. Aaron.

Nina wrote: _In the Land of Invented Languages_ by Akira Okrent discusses non-naturally occuring languages like Esperanto, Klingon, Bliss Symbols (an early communication system for people with disabilities who are nonverbal. This is perhaps an unconventional choice, but I read it some time ago, and found it interesting.

A. Argandona recommended: I recently bought in France 'Le Pourquoi des Choses' by Anne Pouget. It is a very entertaining read about word origins, expressions and curiosities.

From Liz Nutting: One of my favorites is Sin and Syntax, by Constance Hale. She gives the grammar and syntax rules--then tells you how to break them for more effective prose!

From Luella Goodman: I still think "Eats, Roots and Leaves" by Lynne Truss is a winner in terms of presenting idiosyncracies of English punctuation in an entertaining read that appeals to both professional and lay linguists. Its tongue-in-cheek style dares any wannabe writer to flex their punctuation muscles!

Stephen wrote: Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language by Steven Pinker. Steven Pinker examines a rather narrow topic (irregular and regular verbs) and the cognitive processes behind these verbs. In it, Pinker explores how language is stored, produced, learned, etc. The book is more technical than his more famous work, The Language Instinct, but for anyone who wants to understand regular and irregular verbs and the many language oddities that come along with these verbs, it is a wonderful read. It will teach you more about language processes than almost any other mainstream book on the market.

Ben Boblis recommended: I love Native Tongues by Charles Berlitz. I can read it over and over and always find something new and interesting. It has a little bit about a lot. :)

Lauren Redman wrote: I'd like to recommend a fairly new book titled 'The Secret Life of Words' by Henry Hitchings. It's about the 'promiscuous' English language and how it came to have so many words - and synonyms - from over 350 other languages! It's entertainingly written and includes a bit of history too. Lots of interesting tidbits to drop into the dinner conversation!

Mehregan suggested: Halliday's An Introduction to Functional Grammar is a quite fruitful book. It is the basis of My M.A. thesis. I found wonderful notions about different languages especially English. I am not an English native speaker but this book took me to the depth of English.

From Prof Adam: I would recommend Bill Bryson'a book, "mother tongue" as it is a truly fascinating book about the Development and history of the English Language. I would also recommend "Troublesome Words" by the same author as it highlights interesting uses and misuses of modern English.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Sontag Prize

Some readers may be interested in applying for the Sontag Prize. Here is the information:

This $5,000 grant will be awarded to a proposed work of literary translation from Swedish, Norwegian, Danish or Icelandic into English and is open to anyone under the age of 30. The translation must fall under the category of fiction or letters, and the applicant will propose his or her own translation project. The project should be manageable for a five-month period of work, as the grant will be awarded in May 2010, and the translation must be completed by October 2010.

Acceptable proposals include a novella, a play, a collection of short stories or poems, or a collection of letters that have literary import. Preference will be given to works that have not been previously translated. (Previously translated works will be considered, however applicants should include an explanation for why they are proposing a new translation.) Applicants wishing to translate significantly longer works should contact the Foundation before sending in their applications so that supplementary materials can be included. The prizewinner will be notified on May 14, 2010 and results will be announced online at

The recipient will be expected to participate in symposia on literary translation with established writers and translators, as well as public readings of their work once the translation has been completed.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Happy 2010, and a Holiday Peeve

Ah, the holidays! Personally, I'm glad the season is over now, but I hope all you readers had a good time, and that 2010 is wonderful year for you, filled with translation and literature!

As is my custom, I recently donated money to a charity run by a major organization for the holiday season. I received a card in thanks and this card had grammar and punctuation errors! It's enough to make me not want to donate to this organization again. I've also chosen not to go to restaurants whose signs or menus have errors or to shop at stores that use apostrophes incorrectly, and so on.

This is a lesson to all of us who work with language -- we must make sure all our materials (business cards, websites, pamphlets, emails, etc) are impeccable! Otherwise, clients may choose someone else to take on the assignments.