207 posts tagged with translation.
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Thou Shalt Not Forget the Not

The Risky Business of Bible Translation. Last month, a highly unusual Bible sold at auction for a whopping $47,311. From its exterior, the book looks rather unassuming: It lacks a general title. It contains only two colors of ink — black and red. Its pages are jagged and frayed, as if cut with a hacksaw. Yet deep inside this 1631 copy of the King James Version, nestled in the Ten Commandments, lies what is widely considered to be the worst typographical error ever made in a Bible. [more inside]
posted by storybored on Jan 9, 2016 - 62 comments

The dark shadow of Mordor creeping into the Ukraine

The occupiers from Mordor and their sad little horse - I mean Russians from the Russian Federation and their Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov - such is Google translate. Probably not an intentional Google bomb, but just how the Ukrainians have actually been describing their occupiers in online documents which feed Google's translation algorithm.
posted by caddis on Jan 7, 2016 - 2 comments

Themed Guides to Translated Literature in 2015

Chad W. Post at Three Percent recently linked to World Literature Today's 75 Notable Translations of 2015 and went on a list-making tear to provide more structure and commentary: 7 books by women, 6 water-cooler fiction books, 6 university press books, 3 'funny' books, 4 books from underrepresented countries, and the best poetry I should read. The commentary often leads to further matters of interest, e.g. the Women in Translation Tumblr or Marianne Fritz and the translation challenges (scroll down) in her work.
posted by Wobbuffet on Dec 31, 2015 - 7 comments

“We actually met because of Russian literature.”

Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, The Art of Translation No. 4 [The Paris Review] [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Nov 21, 2015 - 20 comments

Translating gender: Ancillary Justice in Five Languages

In Ann Leckie’s novel Ancillary Justice (Orbit Books: 2013), the imperial Radch rules over much of human-inhabited space. Its culture – and its language – does not identify people on the basis of their gender: it is irrelevant to them. In the novel, written in English, Leckie represents this linguistic reality by using the female pronoun ‘she’ throughout, regardless of any information supplied about a Radchaai (and, often, a non-Radchaai) person’s perceived gender. This pronoun choice has two effects. Firstly, it successfully erases grammatical difference in the novel and makes moot the question of the characters’ genders. But secondly, it exists in a context of continuing discussions around the gendering of science fiction, the place of men and women and people of other genders within the genre, as characters in fiction and as professional/fans, and beyond the pages of the book it is profoundly political. It is a female pronoun. When translating Ancillary Justice into other languages, the relationship between those two effects is vital to the work.
posted by sciatrix on Nov 8, 2015 - 95 comments

“Time and again, I have gone to bed early.”

I Have Gone to Bed Early: Translating Proust by Dan Piepenbring [The Paris Review]
Richard Howard, who turns eighty-six today, first appeared in The Paris Review in our thirteenth issue—from the summer of 1956. Since then, several of his poems and translations have found their way to these pages, and in 2004, J. D. McClatchy interviewed him for our Art of Poetry series. In our Summer 1989 issue, George Plimpton spoke with Howard about translating Proust.
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Oct 14, 2015 - 14 comments

“What's past is prologue.”

Oregon Shakespeare Festival Launches Three-Year Shakespeare Translation Commissioning Project [Oregon Shakespeare Festival]
OSF is commissioning 36 playwrights and pairing them with dramaturgs to translate 39 plays attributed to Shakespeare into contemporary modern English between now and December 31, 2018. By seeking out a diverse set of playwrights (more than half writers of color and more than half women), we hope to bring fresh voices and perspectives to the rigorous work of translation. Play on!
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Oct 9, 2015 - 52 comments

Chinese calligraphy and painting manual from 1633 now online, in full

Since 1933, the Cambridge University Library has had a pristine copy of Shi zhu zhai shu hua pu, the Ten Bamboo Studio collection of calligraphy and painting from 1633. Because the book was so fragile, the butterfly bound (Google books preview) manual for teachers of art and writing was not opened until it could be properly digitized. That day has come, and the entire book is online, giving the world a view of “the earliest and the most beautiful example of multicolor printing anywhere in the world,” according to Charles Aylmer, head of the Chinese department at Cambridge University Library. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Sep 11, 2015 - 13 comments

“We are thrilled when fragments of reality become utterable.”

The Mysterious, Anonymous Author Elena Ferrante on the Conclusion of Her Neapolitan Novels [Vanity Fair]
Passions run high when you’re talking about Elena Ferrante and her work, particularly her sensational, highly addictive Neapolitan novels, which paint a portrait of a consuming female friendship against the backdrop of social and political upheaval in Italy from the 1950s to the present day. My Brilliant Friend,The Story of a New Name, and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay have made Ferrante, an enigmatic figure who writes under a pseudonym, and is widely regarded as the best contemporary novelist you’ve never heard of, a worldwide sensation.
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Sep 3, 2015 - 17 comments

Una poca de gracia

Google Translate's real-time sign translation [Word Lens] vs. La Bamba. Plus a link to a video interview with creator Otavio Good about how it works.
posted by Westringia F. on Aug 20, 2015 - 21 comments

True translation has its own shadows.

Translator's Note.
A translator must naturally take certain liberties with other people’s words in order to wrest the most truth into the text. In this essay on translation, composed strictly of quotations, I have taken the liberty of replacing select words and phrases with “translation,” “translator,” and the various verb forms of “translate.” I have also committed untold infidelities.
[more inside] posted by shakespeherian on Aug 19, 2015 - 6 comments

"You don't know my name, do you?"

A translator's struggle to export Seinfeld to Germany. How could she possibly translate the episode where Jerry doesn't know the name of the woman he's dating, but only knows it "rhymes with a female body part"? [more inside]
posted by John Cohen on Jul 24, 2015 - 67 comments

Hwæt a minute mister postman

Check it! We may have been mistranslating the first word of Beowulf for 200 years.
posted by Iridic on Jul 23, 2015 - 64 comments

From uneasy dreams

100 thoughts on Kafka's "Metamorphosis" to mark the 100th anniversary of its publication. (via) [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jul 20, 2015 - 4 comments

LiederNet

The LiederNet Archive is the world's largest reference archive of texts and translations of art songs and choral works, currently cataloguing 135,129 vocal pieces and 25,078 translations. [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Jun 14, 2015 - 8 comments

Women and Gender in the Middle Ages

Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index covers journal articles, book reviews, and essays in books about women, sexuality, and gender during the Middle Ages. [some pages may contain medieval nudity] [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Jun 8, 2015 - 6 comments

Why can't I speak German???????

What happens when an English reporter live blogs from a German press conference. The Telegraph newspaper sends reporter Ben Bloom to Germany to live blog the resignation of Jurgen Klopp as the manager of Borussia Dortmund football club. Reading from the bottom of the page upwards, at 12:37 it dawns on Bloom that the press conference is in German, which he doesn't understand. Panic and embarrassment levels rise rapidly. Luckily, he becomes an internet phenomenon.
posted by milkb0at on Apr 17, 2015 - 46 comments

Thirty crore speakers, seven lakh words

A group of volunteers has broken the record for most words added to Google Translate in a day. [more inside]
posted by tractorfeed on Mar 31, 2015 - 12 comments

"There is something maddeningly attractive about the untranslatable"

Variations on the Right to Remain Silent is an essay by poet and classicist Anne Carson about translation, cliché, divine language and the way some words violently resist being explained. She touches on Homer, Sappho, Joan of Arc, Friedrich Hölderlin, and the painter Francis Bacon.
posted by Kattullus on Mar 28, 2015 - 6 comments

On Memory: New Writing from Japan

On Memory: New Writing from Japan : a collection of newly translated fiction and non-fiction by Japanese writers, appearing in Words Without Borders magazine.
posted by Nevin on Mar 18, 2015 - 2 comments

Women of the Islamic State: A Manifesto

Women of the Islamic State: A manifesto on women by the Al-Khanssaa Brigade is a manifesto by women, for women "that aims to clarify the realities of life and the hallowed existence of women in the Islamic State, in Iraq and in al- Sham, and to refute the rumours that detractors advance against it." [more inside]
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory on Feb 8, 2015 - 58 comments

Four Translations of Dante’s Inferno

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita mi ritrovai per una selva oscura che la diritta via era smarrita Zappulla: Halfway along the journey of our life, Ciardi: Midway in our life’s journey I went astray Mandelbaum: When I had journeyed half of our life’s way, Hollander: At the midpoint in the journey of our life
[more inside] posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 15, 2015 - 28 comments

"I wanted to leave a monument to the Roman plebe."

Giuseppe Gioachino Belli was a 19th Century poet who lived in Rome and wrote sonnets in the Romanesco dialect spoken by the poor of his native city. An accountant by trade, he wrote from the perspective of working class Romans living in the theocratic Papal States, and has been referred to as the voice of Rome. Translating his work has caused translators some difficulty, with many opting for equivalent dialects, such as Peter Dale who used working class speech of his native Melbourne as a model. Anthony Burgess made his Belli Mancunian, while Mike Stocks rendered Belli into something closer to standard English. Collections of translated sonnets by Belli can be read on Andrea Pollett's Virtual Roma website and on Maurizio Mosetti's site about Belli.
posted by Kattullus on Dec 30, 2014 - 4 comments

over their charred ashes / scattered on the horizon

The great Iraqi poet Badr Shakir al-Sayyab died fifty years ago today, on December 24, 1964. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Dec 28, 2014 - 2 comments

Babelfish Not Required

On Dec 15, 2014, Microsoft announced the first public beta preview for new Skype Translate, a service which will (eventually) work as a go-between to help break down language barriers during voice calls. The initial trial is Spanish <> English only, [2m marketing video] but that's only the beginning. How, though, does it work? And the even bigger question, DOES it work? (The answer appears to be yes.)
posted by hippybear on Dec 16, 2014 - 53 comments

César Aira

“I‘ve realized that the perfect length for what I do is 100 pages. In my brevity there may be an element of insecurity. I wouldn‘t dare give a 1,000-page novel to a reader […] My novels became shorter as I became more renowned. People now allow me to do whatever I want. At any rate, publishers prefer thick books. But with books, the thicker they are, the less literature they have.””—César Aira [more inside]
posted by misteraitch on Dec 15, 2014 - 24 comments

The Maqamah of Hamadhani and Hariri, early Arabic literature

"Maqamah is an old story in prose interspersed with poetry about the hero who is involved in different adventures. Towards the end of the story he disappears to show up in another guise in the next Maqamah (maqamah is singular from maqamat). So Maqamat is the collection of separate stories with unity in subject. Hariri’s Maqamat is one of the outstanding literary works of Arabic literature written in the 5th century." This is the introduction to an article on Hariri's Maqamat. You can read an English translation online in The Assemblies Of Al Hariri, Vol. I, translated by Thomas Chenery M.A. (1867) and Vol. II, translated by Dr. F. Steingass (1898), both on Archive.org. Hariri's Maqamat is heavily influenced by Hamadhani's Maqamat, considered to be the first collection of such writings, is also translated online (also on Archive.org). Both works include footnotes from the translators.
posted by filthy light thief on Nov 29, 2014 - 4 comments

The caudate nucleus

What goes on in the brains of simultaneous interpreters. Miles told me about an agricultural meeting at which delegates discussed frozen bull’s semen; a French interpreter translated this as “matelot congelés”, or ‘deep-frozen sailors’. (via) [more inside]
posted by spamandkimchi on Nov 23, 2014 - 12 comments

I'll come at night / for no one censures / traveling the path of dreams

We know very little about Ono no Komachi aside from that she was Japanese, female, a poet, and the subject of numerous medieval legends about her beauty and hard-heartedness, with her name becoming a metonym for a beautiful woman (much like Helen is in English). Our best guess as to her dates is "active in the 850s," and as to her background, "probably a lady-in-waiting to someone in the capital," though tradition has spun out many speculations. Based on 22 poems thought reliably attributed to her, she is considered today one of Japan's greatest woman poets, noted in particular for her passionate love poems and her technical mastery, especially at using words with multiple meanings.

This last feature makes her difficult to translate, of course, but nonetheless people keep trying -- her most famous poem, selected for the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, is one of the most-translated poems from any language. Links to several attempts at her corpus inside. [more inside]
posted by Quasirandom on Nov 11, 2014 - 19 comments

This is like a game of the automaton of telephones.

Original text:
"Bad Translator" takes any English text input, pings it back and forth on a translation engine through a few other languages, and outputs the result, again in English, but... different. It's like a robot game of "Telephone."
...5 translations later, SDL gives us:
To bad door of translator of the sounds the given English of the text, that of a long time an in extend in a motor of translation through someone the other languages and the result go, again in the English, but outside of of... contraryly. This is like a game of the automaton of telephones.
[more inside] posted by not_on_display on Nov 10, 2014 - 140 comments

The wreck of Columbus' Santa Maria is still undiscovered.

Earlier this year, Underwater explorer Barry Clifford claimed to have found the Santa Maria, one of Christopher Columbus' three ships, off the coast of Haiti. But a few days ago, A UNESCO mission of experts has concluded that a shipwreck is actually from a much later period, citing the bronze or copper fasteners found on the site that point to shipbuilding techniques of the late 17th or 18th centuries, and the journal of Columbus (translated text online; Archive.org scan of the 1893 translation from the Hakluyt Society), which indicates that this wreck is too far from the shore to be the La Santa María de la Inmaculada Concepción. Despite this setback, Haiti will continue to search for the historic shipwreck.
posted by filthy light thief on Oct 9, 2014 - 16 comments

"He was quite helpful, but then I trusted him too much."

Lydia Davis on Madame Bovary, Nabokov's Marginalia, and Translation: [YouTube] In this video from the Center for the Art of Translation, author and translator Lydia Davis discusses how she used Nabokov's margin notes from his edition of Madame Bovary to aid her own translation. She also discusses in-depth translation choices that she made. A full audio recording of this event can be hard on the Center's website.
posted by Fizz on Sep 15, 2014 - 9 comments

"This is a book for both the new and experienced reader."

Deep Chords: Haruki Murakami’s ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’ [New York Times] Patti Smith reviews Haruki Murakami's latest novel. Book Trailer
posted by Fizz on Aug 12, 2014 - 40 comments

Seven roses later ... each rose opens like an ideogram, like a gate

In an essay reflecting on translation, Yoko Tawada reads the poems of Paul Celan as if he had written in Japanese. The essay's translator, Susan Bernofsky, offers context, and in an earlier piece, Rivka Galchen considers "Yoko Tawada's Magnificent Strangeness." More conventional introductions to Celan are available via the Poetry Foundation page on Celan, 14 poems from Breathturn, and a video of Celan reading "Allerseelen" (English sub.; alt. trans.). Tawada's own poetry includes "The Flight of the Moon" (video in Japanese). [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Jul 13, 2014 - 1 comment

Cultural Cannibal: The journalism of Gabriel García Márquez

“Would I want to read the young García Márquez’s journalism if it didn’t happen to be written by García Márquez?” I asked myself while speedwalking toward Bocars Libros in the Barracas neighborhood of Buenos Aires, and again while shelling out 150 pesos for the three-volume Obra periodística with an introduction by Jacques Gilard. Back home, reading his work, my anxiety was quickly dispelled. Gabriel García Marquez (1927–2014) is known in the English-speaking world for his lyrical, densely descriptive novels, but as a journalist he was acerbically funny, charming, and slightly bizarre. The young García Márquez devoured what surrounded him. Everything was raw material for his newspaper columns—film adaptations of Faulkner, nudism, dancing bears, the letter X, a woman he saw in an ice cream parlor who may have been the “ugliest I’ve ever seen in my life, or, on the contrary, the most disconcertingly beautiful.” [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Jul 5, 2014 - 7 comments

For them, every valley and desert was home.

Travel was always desirable to them / And they visited every continent … They considered travel and homeland synonymous / For them, every valley and desert was home. [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Jun 8, 2014 - 7 comments

That is I's gleaning. Now is doing of it.

A-hind of hill, ways off to sun-set-down, is sky come like as fire, and walk I up in way of this, all hard of breath, where is grass colding on I's feet and wetting they. [more inside]
posted by infinitewindow on Jun 7, 2014 - 35 comments

the snow instigateth not lugubriosity within me…

The Egyptian singer Nesma Mahgoub, in the song’s chorus, sings, “Discharge thy secret! I shall not bear the torment!” and “I dread not all that shall be said! Discharge the storm clouds! The snow instigateth not lugubriosity within me…” From one song to the next, there isn’t a declensional ending dropped or an antique expression avoided, whether it is sung by a dancing snowman or a choir of forest trolls. The Arabic of “Frozen” is frozen in time, as “localized” to contemporary Middle Eastern youth culture as Latin quatrains in French rap.
So Disney used to translate its movies into Egyptian Arabic but recently switched to Modern Standard Arabic, which is somewhat more formal.
posted by MartinWisse on Jun 4, 2014 - 19 comments

The Moby Dick Variations

Where does one novel end and another one begin? One day not too long ago, I was thinking about this as I considered what sort of message to send next to my little email list. I decided to do a little research. Gather just a bit of data.
[more inside] posted by the man of twists and turns on May 25, 2014 - 22 comments

Dismantling and rebuilding someone else's work

Starting up fan localization projects feels much like amassing the cast of your typical role-playing game: a group of random strangers rally around a common cause before embarking on their journey together. In was in this way that Mandelin and Erbrecht found each other — stumbling to create something beautiful and meaningful, and realizing they could make that beautiful and meaningful thing better by working together. — For Polygon, Alexa Ray Corriea dives into the underground world of fan-translated games.
posted by MartinWisse on May 21, 2014 - 7 comments

Dummy text

Rrow itself, let it be sorrow; let him love it; let him pursue it, ishing for its acquisitiendum. The standard lorem ipsum text has been translated by Jaspreet Singh Boparai. Lorem ipsum is a standard placeholder text which has been used since the 16th Century and is a mangling of a passage from Cicero's De finibus bonorum et malorum, specifically Book 1, passages 32-33, which you can read in translation here.
posted by Kattullus on Mar 17, 2014 - 15 comments

Text Me, Ishmael

Although Moby-Dick is regarded as a pinnacle of American Romanticism, its themes of destiny and defiance transcend national borders. Over the decades, the Library of Congress has procured editions translated into Spanish, German, Russian, Japanese, Korean and Lithuanian. But the latest translation eschews the written word altogether, telling the story through emoji icons—the pictograms seen in text messages and e-mails. It’s the most ambitious (and playful) effort to explore whether emoji itself is becoming a free-standing language.
posted by chavenet on Mar 1, 2014 - 57 comments

81 Cantonese proverbs in one image.

This cartoon by graphic designer and cartoonist 阿塗 (Ah To) contains 81 Cantonese proverbs and idioms in one image. It was originally published on the Hong Kong website Passion Times, and was inspired by a 1559 oil painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder called Netherlandish Proverbs. [more inside]
posted by Corinth on Feb 26, 2014 - 17 comments

Translations of Stefan Grabinski, Poland's Poe, Lovecraft, of sorts

Stefan Grabiński is often called "the Polish Poe" or "the Polish Lovecraft," which are both useful for short-hand, but don't quite capture Grabiński's style. As suggested by China Miéville in the Guardian, "where Poe's horror is agonised, a kind of extended shriek, Grabinski's is cerebral, investigative. His protagonists are tortured and aghast, but not because they suffer at the caprice of Lovecraftian blind idiot gods: Grabinski's universe is strange and its principles are perhaps not those we expect, but they are principles - rules - and it is in their exploration that the mystery lies." If you haven't heard of Grabiński, it is probably because only a few of his works have recently been translated to English. The primary translator is Miroslaw Lipinski, who runs a site dedicated to Grabiński. You can read Lipinksi's translation of Strabismus (PDF linked inside), and The Wandering Train online. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Feb 10, 2014 - 11 comments

"In a way the easiest and laziest way is to write in English."

"I love your work, Jonathan…but in a way you are smeared by English American literature…I think certain American literature is overrated, massively overrated." In the session on the global novel during the first day of this year's Jaipur Literature Festival, Jonathan Franzen served as a giant piñata, as Xiaolu Guo and Jhumpa Lahiri bemoaned American literary culture and lamented "the lack of energy put into translation in the American market."
posted by RogerB on Jan 20, 2014 - 70 comments

Nightmare Before Christmas: known throughout England, France, Italy ...

If you've like Jack, the Pumpkin King, and you've grown so tired of the same old thing, you know all the songs from the The Nightmare Before Christmas Soundtrack (YT Playlist), and you're done with the covers in the 2006 reissue bonus CD (featuring Fiona Apple, Fall Out Boy, She Wants Revenge and Panic! at the Disco) and the 2008 cover album, Nightmare Revisited (YT Playlist), why not check out the official translated versions? There's L'Étrange Noël de Monsieur Jack, Pesadilla Antes De Navidad, and ナイトメアー·ビフォア·クリスマス, to name a few versions. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Nov 13, 2013 - 12 comments

Seiobo There Below

László Krasznahorkai's most recently translated book, Seiobo There Below, whose first chapter can be read online, is a collection of interconnected stories about art and revelation, stories composed almost entirely of pages-long sentences, "long, sinewy sentences," sentences which might make you think "Krasznahorkai holds the run-on in a suffocating bear hug," as Adam Z. Levy has it, sentences which other critics call "captivating", "vertiginous", "apparently endless [...] like diving deep underwater, with no hope of coming up for air, or like releasing the brakes on a bicycle at the top of a steep hill", but those sentences, which go on for pages as they shift scenes and perspectives, serve as vehicles for a terrifying aesthetic bliss or bewilderment [more inside]
posted by RogerB on Nov 8, 2013 - 6 comments

"As always, they are published without Medvedev’s permission."

america: a prophecy, by Kirill Medvedev [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 30, 2013 - 7 comments

Translator Beware

"Why translators should give Dr Alaa Al Aswany and Knopf Doubleday a wide berth" is a "cautionary tale," which involves literary agent Andrew Wylie, seen in a recent metafilter post, and translator Jonathan Wright who says, "The least I can say is that he [Dr. Aswany] is not an honorable man. But let others be the judge, as I explain the origins of our dispute." Some of Dr. Aswany's objections to Wright's translation can be found in this file.
posted by ChuckRamone on Oct 28, 2013 - 16 comments

Contemporary poetry from around the world in English translation

Poetry International Rotterdam has contemporary poetry in English translation from all over the world, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, including countries as different as Argentina, China, Finland, Iran and Romania, in languages as unrelated as French, Malayalam and Zulu, as well as many poems originally in the English language. The poets range in age and stature from those barely over thirty to Nobel prize winners. There are also videos and audio recordings of poets reading, as well as articles about poetry.
posted by Kattullus on Oct 13, 2013 - 5 comments

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