Saturday, June 28, 2014

Found In Translation

I hadn’t heard of this great organization, Found In Translation, before, but thanks to my fellow Bryn Mawr College alumna Enid and her son Noah, I’m pleased to have now done so.

The organization’s mission is: “To help homeless and low-income multilingual women to achieve economic security through the use of their language skills” and “To reduce ethnic, racial, and linguistic disparities in health care by unleashing bilingual talent into the workforce”. It sounds fantastic, and I recommend that you look into the work they do.

Monday, June 23, 2014

True North: Literary Translation in the Nordic Countries

In April 2013, I ran the second Nordic Translation Conference. Based on that event, I’ve now edited a collection of articles about Nordic literary translation. The book has just been published and I think it looks great. Check it out: True North: Literary Translation in the Nordic Countries.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Spolia and Edith Södergran

Check out the most recent issue of Spolia magazine. I have some translations of poems by Edith Södergran in there, along with an introduction to her work. It's generally a great magazine too; I love how it highlights translation!

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Lost

There are many reasons why I’d recommend Daniel Mendelsohn’s wonderful book The Lost, but for now I’ll just mention Mendelsohn’s exploration of translation. He is a translator, so perhaps it makes sense that he has a particular interest in translation, but it also feeds into his story.

First of all, during some of his trips, he has an interpreter/guide with him. Few books actually acknowledge the use of interpreters, so I appreciated that he did. Many authors simply act as though they were able to communicate with local populations through their own abilities, never acknowledging that there was a layer of interpretation between them.

Also, and more importantly for the story, Mendelsohn talks about different editions of Jewish books, and the way the translators interpret the works differently, thus making the readers see them from varying perspectives. Mendelsohn’s analyses of religious passages and their interpretations are fascinating counterpoints to his travels and his explorations of his family history. For example, he discusses the story of Cain and Abel and how Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo ben Ittzhak) and (Rabbi Richard Elliot) Friedman translate the story, and how they analyse the story and their own translations. Sometimes Mendelsohn even says which version he prefers and why. The biblical tales he chooses always fit with the themes of whatever he is thinking about or going through at the moment, and this has the effect of highlighting just how essential translation is.

I found it hard to put The Lost down, and I definitely recommend it, both for the translatorial aspects and as a generally fascinating read.