Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Most Beautiful Word

What word do you think is the most beautiful one in English? You can vote on it here. What about your favorite words in other languages?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Call for Papers

Call for Contributions:
'It just doesn't sound right.' - Translation and Intuition
Translation is a problem with two horns: to be caught on the point of free and apparently
subconscious decision; or to be pinned by the mechanical application of theory. But perhaps
this is not a helpful dichotomy. Rather, we would like to ask where in the muddle translation
actually happens, and how balance is struck between conflicting thought processes.
'It just doesn't sound right' is both the catchphrase and bane of the practising translator. A lot
stands behind these apparently throwaway words, and we would like to invite considerations of
how they might be unpacked.
Areas of interest include, but are not restricted to:
- spirit and affect - how can poetics account for the sublime, or literature's affective
power, the hairs that stand on the back of the neck?
- intentionality - the relationship between translator and author.
- preservation of non-standard features, especially in texts written to be read as if spoken.
- critical reception of translations, and the intuitive approval of translations that read smoothly.
- what is strange about translated language, and why?
- the stuff and substance of language - can we understand or only intuit the iconicity of sound?
Submission details
Please submit your papers to
Deadline: Friday April 29th, 2011

Format: Word documents or Rich Text Format (.rtf). Please follow the Harvard style of
referencing. Articles should be between 4000 and 5000 words long, written in English.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lost in Translation

For my birthday in October, one of the gifts I received was Lost in Translation by Charlie Croker. It’s a funny collection of odd English phrases and sentences from around the world. Some of the mistakes come from bad translations, but many are simply due to people trying to write in English even though their language skills aren’t quite up to it.

A Chinese hotel tells guests: “We serve you with hostiality.” A Japanese shopping bag offers this message: “Now baby. Tonight I am feeling cool and hard boiled.” In the Czech Republic, people are warned: “No smoothen the lion.” An Australian dish is “dumping soup” while an Indian restaurant includes “Aborigines” in their brinjal bhaji and a Greek dish is “chopped cow with a wire through it and bowels in sauce.” Yum.

This is a light, fun book that made me giggle. I wish people took translation more seriously but if they did, we wouldn’t have these mistakes to laugh at.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Holocaust Literature

Last month, I attended a one-day workshop at my university on Holocaust literature and translation. I gave a talk on how the Holocaust is portrayed in books for children and what challenges might lie in translating those books (the challenges, incidentally, are manifold – linguistic, cultural, historical, and ethical – but I won’t go into that in more depth here now).

Someone then sent me a list of the top books about the Holocaust. I’m not sure I agree with the list (I really didn’t like The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, for example), but it is an interesting starting point. What do others think of this list? Which books on the Holocaust would you recommend?

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Top 50 Linguistics Blogs

Someone sent me this list of the top 50 linguistics blogs. I’m happy to see Brave New Words there and I also enjoyed looking at some of the other links mentioned in the list.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Shameless Self-Promotion

I have two recent publications that readers might be interested in. The first is an issue of the journal In Other Wordsthat I edited. In Other Words is a journal on translation that is published by the British Centre for Literary Translation. The BCLT is house at the University of East Anglia in England, where I teach. The issue I edited explores the theme of Translating Queers/Queering Translation. Translation studies has looked at concepts such as how colonialism influenced what was translated and how, and some of us who work in children’s literature have similarly looked at how adults’ power over children has influenced which texts are translated for children and in what ways. Queer studies is the latest field to explore translation from this perspective, developing on from feminist analyses of translation.

On a related subject, I have a piece in the newly published anthology Queer Girls in Class.

Hope you enjoy this reading!