I don’t quite know how to describe Renee Gladman’s novel Event Factory, but it is fascinating, especially for those of us interested in language.
The protagonist travels to Ravicka, a city-state (that I somehow imagined looking a bit like San Marino) where the language is a combination of words and movements. For example, at one point she wants to apologize, but has trouble “recalling the “turns” I needed to perform my apology…I went through pareis several times, but always tripped up on the same move and had to start over again. You cannot skip ahead, or you’ll be saying something entirely different. I wanted to say, “When you are a visitor to a place, especially one such as Ravicka, it is difficult to remain stationary. The landmarks call out.” But I could not get my body to say “landmark” versus the “shipyard” it kept performing.” (p. 29) Her inability at times to communicate echoes the confusion many travelers feel when in a new place, where a different language is spoken and a different culture is the background.
As the main character says, “If only travelling were about showing off your language skills, if only it did not also demand a certain commitment of body communication, of outright singing or dancing—I think I would be absolutely global by now. In Ravicka, I was barely urban.” (p. 42) I think many of us forget that language does involve a certain amount of facial expressions and movements and we tend to focus on the meaning of words, although obviously Ravicka is an extreme (and made-up) example.
It is worth reading Gladman’s novel not only for her poetic turns of phrase but also for her philosophical ideas about communication.
You might be interested in this call for papers or in simply attending the conference:
Crime in Translation
Park Building, University of Portsmouth
Saturday 9 November 2013
Plenary speakers: Dr Karen Seago (City University, London)
Dr Yvonne Fowler (Aston University)
A selection of papers will be published in Jostrans, issue 22, July 2014
The translation of crime fiction is all around us, from the current wave of Scandinavian and European crime novels, film and television to recent screen adaptations of classic crime fiction such as Sherlock Holmes. But it’s not only in fiction that translation meets crime. The police and the courts rely heavily on public service interpreters and translators. Translation itself is criminalised in various ways, e.g. in relation to copyright infringement, legal proceedings against translators of ‘problematic’ texts and various forms of piracy.
The 2013 Portsmouth Translation Conference aims to bring the different facets of translation and crime together in an interdisciplinary one-day conference, allowing exchange of ideas between translators, criminologists, interpreters, literary scholars and translation researchers.
We invite proposals for 20-minute papers and 60-minute practical workshops on any area connecting crime and translation or interpreting. We welcome approaches from practitioners as well as researchers.
Topics may include (but are not limited to):
The challenges of translating crime fiction
Subtitling and dubbing thrillers
Crime, translation and the law
‘True crime’ in translation
The role of translation and interpreting in criminal justice
Translation by and for criminals
Translation as a crime
Translation and forensic linguistics
The representation of translation and interpreting in crime fiction and film
Enquiries and/or 300-word abstracts should be sent to email@example.com by 15 June 2013
Last month, I was in Israel. So I thought it was appropriate to include some links here on Hebrew and Yiddish.
Interestingly, I couldn’t find as many free options for these languages as I could for other tongues, but some of these links might be a start, and you can also check out some older posts on this blog for more on Yiddish and Hebrew.
Here’s a silly game to entertain you: the telephone game in translation. You enter some text in English (or another language), then you watch as it gets translated back and forth between languages. Then you see what the text ends up as – it’s just like playing telephone/operator/Chinese whispers/whatever else you might have called it, except with multiple languages.
Originally from Chicago, I lived in southern Sweden for nearly 5.5 years, and moved to southern Wales in September 2006. I completed a Ph.D. translation studies in June 2009 at Swansea University, with a dissertation on the translation of children's literature.
Now I live in Norwich, England, where I am a lecturer at the University of East Anglia, and I also work as a translator, writer, and editor.
Contact me at bravenewwords (AT) gmail (DOT) com.