spiralsheep: Woman blowing heart-shaped bubbles (Bubble Rainbow)

African and Asian poets, and English translations

The Poetry Translation Centre, dedicated to translating works by African and Asian and Latin American poets into English (while further publishing the poems in their original language/script alongside), has launched a book to celebrate a decade of translations. This book, published by Bloodaxe, is just short of 400 pages and contains 111 poems by 45 poets in 23 languages (from Arabic to Zapotec). All the poems are presented in their original languages/scripts first and then in an English translation made through the collaboration of literal translators with respected English poets. It’s been sponsored by various worthy organisations and has a cover price of only £12. Bloodaxe are also intending to publish collections by some of the individual poets in the coming years.

My Voice page at Bloodaxe Books.

(1) Literary event in London with multilingual readings and discussions and (2) the official book launch in London with multilingual readings and discussions. I’ve been lucky enough to hear Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi from Sudan reading intensely in Arabic (modern standard, obv) and Reza Mohammadi from Afghanistan reading lyrically in Persian (Dari, amongst other dialects), and to listen to them both discussing poetry and translation in English, and I wholeheartedly recommend the experience.

The title of the book is taken from a poem by Partaw Naderi, translated as "My Voice".

My Voice by Partaw Naderi (written in Kabul, December, 1989)

I come from a distant land

with a foreign knapsack on my back

with a silenced song on my lips

As I travelled down the river of my life

I saw my voice

(like Jonah)

swallowed by a whale

And my very life lived in my voice

The Persian/Dari original poem. The literal translation is by Yama Yari and the poetic translation by Sarah Maguire.

There are many other poems freely available on the Poetry Translation Centre website. Enjoy!
lea_hazel: I am surrounded by tiny red hearts (Feel: Love)
[personal profile] lea_hazel2013-11-05 11:18 pm

Playlist: Multilingual Songs

My playlist came out fifteen songs long, of which many were recommended by this community. The playlist can be found on YouTube and the track listing is on my Tumblr. I will also be crossposting to AO3. Corrections and constructive criticism are always welcome.

The title is from a translation of a Leah Goldberg poem (originally in Hebrew) which I believe has been posted here. I'm not tagging all the languages that appear in the mix because there are so many and I think DW has a tag limit.
lea_hazel: Neuron cell (Science: Brains)
[personal profile] lea_hazel2013-10-06 10:20 am

Bilingual and Multilingual Music

I'm trying to put together a music mix of bilingual and multilingual songs. However, I'm a little limited in my familiarity and I don't want to over-represent the two languages I do speak. Of course, I'm also interested in discovering amazing new music.

Does anyone have a favorite bilingual or multilingual song? One of my favorites is this version of La vie en rose in both Hebrew and French, by Corinne Alal, translated by Ehud Manor.

Note to mods: Please let me know if this post is outside the community's scope, or if I tagged wrong or broke any of the rules.
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter2013-07-12 07:05 am

Looking for original language texts

I'm posting some favorite poems-in-translation this week to the comm [community profile] poetry, and would love some help tracking down the original language texts to include with the English translations. Does anyone know where I could find the original texts for the following poems? (Links, when included, go to the relevant posts to be edited at [community profile] poetry.)
spiralsheep: Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society (Sewing Circle Terrorist Society)

Two poems for National Poetry Day (UK)

I posted two poems for the UK's National Poetry Day at my journal. The first is Pia Tafdrup's poem for Norway, in Danish with an English translation. The second is a humorous piece about linguistic and cultural translations written by a Scottish poet about the English and the French, and using both languages.
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter2012-02-20 01:29 pm

Rec: Meta About Translating Japanese Poetry @ POETREE

Meta: translating Japanese by [profile] lhhammer @ [community profile] poetree
Aside from the usual translation problem of how words do not match one-to-one across languages, but rather overlap in meaning and tenor and connotation, the biggest difficulty with Japanese is that it's what linguists call a pro-drop language. That is, any information that a listener can understand from context can and usually will be omitted. The attitude is something like, If you have enough context to understand who a pronoun refers to, why bother with the pronoun? In everyday conversation or an extended prose passage, this generally isn't hard to deal with as there's a lot of context, but in a short, detached poem, the lacunae can be hard to fill, leaving you to ponder whether a verb describes the action of "I," "you," "us," or some other person or people.


Also, for those who missed [personal profile] goneahead's fabulous week as POETREE Host focusing on 'International Poetry' earlier this month, [personal profile] alee_grrl has put together an excellent roundup post.
spiralsheep: Flowers (skywardprodigal Cog Flowers)

Translate, a poem by Benjamin Zephaniah

For reasons that will become apparent, I prefer not to translate this poem by Benjamin Zephaniah (although I will interpret and elucidate on request). Note: author's dialect/accent is Brummie (i.e. from Birmingham, England), and English Rastafarian, and with Caribbean Island inheritances.

More Benjamin Zephaniah here: http://spiralsheep.dreamwidth.org/358757.html


Who will translate
Dis stuff.
Who can decipher
De dread chant
Dat cum fram
De body
An soul

3 more verses this way.... )

Great Expectations, by Dickens Charles

Great Expectations is a novel which has been historically acclaimed as a portrait of the Victorian society of Eng-land, and of the social mobility that was taking place during this time of upheaval. Named for the autocratic monarch of the country at that time, this period was marked by a gradual liberalisation of the native warlords (who began taking on a more political than military role) and of the gender-segregated and caste-based society. The author of the novel, Dickens Charles (Man or Male-person, a common Eng-land name), was one of the most representative writers of Eng-land.

My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip1, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.

I give Pirrip as my father's family name, on the authority of his tombstone and my sister - Mrs. Joe2 Gargery, who married the blacksmith. As I never saw my father or my mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them (for their days were long before the days of photographs), my first fancies regarding what they were like, were unreasonably derived from their tombstones3. The shape of the letters on my father's, gave me an odd idea that he was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair. From the character and turn of the inscription, "Also Georgiana4 Wife of the Above," I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly. To five little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long, which were arranged in a neat row beside their grave, and were sacred to the memory of five little brothers of mine - who gave up trying to get a living, exceedingly early in that universal struggle - I am indebted for a belief I religiously entertained that they had all been born on their backs with their hands in their trousers-pockets, and had never taken them out in this state of existence.

Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea. My first most vivid and broad impression of the identity of things, seems to me to have been gained on a memorable raw afternoon towards evening. At such a time I found out for certain, that this bleak place overgrown with nettles5 was the churchyard6; and that Philip Pirrip, late of this parish7, and also Georgiana wife of the above, were dead and buried; and that Alexander8, Bartholomew9, Abraham10, Tobias11, and Roger12, infant children of the aforesaid, were also dead and buried; and that the dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dykes13 and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the marshes; and that the low leaden line beyond, was the river; and that the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing, was the sea; and that the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip.

1 Horse-lover. The Anglo-Saxon peoples originated as nomadic horse-tribes. A Christian name is the given name of the person, typically bestowed upon a child in a religious initation ritual called christening. A family name is a second name common to all members of a patriarchal family unit. These peoples put the given name preceding the family name.
2 An abbreviation of the common name He-will-add (Joseph). Mrs is a prefix that indicates his aunt was the wife of Gargery Joe. Women in this time legally renounced their own names and properties upon their marriages.
3 These people traditionally bury their dead and erect over the graves small squarish stones carved with the names of the deceased.
4 A female form of the common name Farmer (George).
5 A weed which stings the hands, common to the inhospitable terrain of Eng-land.
6 A burial-yard attached to a church (religious building; these people are typically monotheists whose central tenet of faith is the incarnation, execution and resurrection of their god).
7 The region supervised by a single member of their priesthood.
8 Defender-of-men.
9 Son-of-the-furrowed.
10 Father-of-a-multitude. In their tribal mythology, this was a nomad who made a contract with their patron god to be the ancestor of many descendants as long as they kept their agreement.
11 God-is-good.
12 Famous-spear. By this time, however, the Anglo-Saxon peoples were no longer organised in a warrior-oriented caste system. Armies still existed, and could be summoned by the native warlords (called peers of the realm).
13 A flood-gate, frequently found in the landscape which the narrator describes.
[personal profile] naad2011-02-19 05:31 am

Bhakti dohas ('devotional' couplets) Part I(b) - Tulsidas

In Avadhi as far as I can remember...

Hindi, Devnagri -
राम नाम अवलंब बिना परमारथ की आस
बरसद बारिद बूंद गहिन चाहत चढन अकास

Hindi, Roman -
raam naam avalamb binaa, paramaaratha ki aas
barasada baarid boond gahin, chaahat chadan akaas

English Translation, Roman -
[my own translation, so inaccurate and non-poetic]
aspiring to attain the Ultimate Truth, without meditating upon Raam's name
is like trying to climb to the sky, with a ladder made of raindrops
[personal profile] naad2011-02-19 05:05 am

Bhakti dohas ('devotional' couplets) Part I - Tulsidas

In Avadhi as far as I can remember...

Hindi, Devnagri -
एक भारोसो एक बल एक आस बिसवास
एक राम घनश्याम हित चातक तुलसीदास

Hindi, Roman -
(with diacritical marks to indicate pronunciation - hyphen over a vowel means the long form of that vowel)
ek bharoso, ek bal, ek ās viśhvās
ek rām ghanshyām hit, chātak tulsidās

English Translation, Roman -
[my own translation, so inaccurate and non-poetic]
one (object of) faith, one (source of) strength, one (object of) belief and refuge...
there is only the one Rām for Tulsidās, just as there is only the raincloud for the chātak bird.

this is based on a कवि सत्य (kavi satya) i.e. poetic truth, which is a particular phenomenon or fact broadly accepted as true within the writer/poet community of Hindi literature. it may or may not be scientific fact. in this case, the kavi satya being referenced, is that the chātak bird, a particular species of bird, refuses to drink any water 'from the earth', and waits for the monsoon clouds to slake his thirst. For marginally more details, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobin_Cuckoo#In_culture

Mima Simić and Dalkey Archive

Saw this guest post on Three Percent by Mima Simić about how her English translation of a story she had originally written in Croatian was published and edited without her permission. Relevant quote:
Sometime in April of 2010 I was informed that my story (“My Girlfriend”) was to be included in the 2011 Best European Fiction edition (as the Croatian representative, yay!). This was, naturally, quite a delightful piece of news for me; an opportunity to reach the vast English speaking market, as writing in so-called small languages can be quite a limitation to one’s literary ambitions. Dalkey received my story not in Croatian, but in English; it was I who translated it. As a conscientious author, and not wanting to be misread nor derided for my command of the lingua franca of the universe, before I’d sent it in, I had it (proof) read by a few native speakers, including my American professor of creative writing (American as in born, raised, writing and teaching in the U.S.).

All seemed well; no one from Dalkey contacted me except to sign a contract that allowed the publisher to use the story, or parts of it, for their advertising and other purposes. There was nothing in the contract about the text of the story itself, nothing about editorial interventions, proofreading etc. And why should there be? Even in “uncivilized” non-EU and non-U.S. countries (such as mine) we know that a publisher/editor ought to consult the author should they think it necessary to change their text. And one would expect this to be doubly true of Dalkey who are hailed as the trailblazer of translated fiction in the English-speaking world, are producing a report on best practices in publishing translations and have in fact published a guide to editing translations (!)

As no one contacted me about any edits, I presumed everything was fine with the story. Imagine then my astonishment when the Anthology arrived at my doorstep (in December 2010) and I realized that a diligent Dalkey editor not only made quite a few interventions in the text, but they also inserted (!) a piece of text that changed/determined sex of my narrator! As this gender/sex ambiguity is one of the thematic pillars of my story, this benevolent editorial intervention (which made the narrator a man and the relationship heterosexual!) completely changed my story, its aims and effects. To be sure, the author is not, nor can they be, the owner of the interpretation, but surely they should be the owner of their text? The copy editor’s job is not to rewrite or retell the story in their own words—but rather to intervene as little as possible and if they do change something, to check with the author before the text goes to print. Is this too much to ask of Dalkey? And is it unfair to ask this: Would this have happened to me if I had been an American author?
Wow, extremely problematic on multiple levels. I wonder how often this sort of thing happens to authors who get translated into English.
bravecows: Picture of a brown cow writing next to some books (Default)
[personal profile] bravecows2010-10-31 12:59 pm

Prescriptions for the drinking of tea

The Chinese writer Lin Yutang, who I believed was based in the USA at the time, quotes the following in his book The Importance of Living from "Ch'asu, an excellent treatise on tea". I have no idea who wrote this or indeed if it is even a real book, rather than something Lin Yutang made up himself; do let me know if you've heard of it and know where the original may be found.

Proper moments for drinking tea:

When one's heart and hands are idle.
Tired after reading poetry.
When one's thoughts are disturbed.
continued under the cut )
tevere: Jihae, solemn with hint of smile (Default)
[personal profile] tevere2010-09-10 04:42 pm

Western publishing houses and translated texts

Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated! (Although it occurs to me that it's always a bad idea to ask the internet for advice on a holiday weekend...)

A Timorese author I know is interested in finding an Australian publisher for the English translation of his novella, the original of which is in Tetum. The translation into English has already been done by someone other than myself; he's asked me to edit the translated manuscript with an eye for preparing it for publication in Australia. He's actually already found a publisher who's willing to look at it, but I understand no promises have been made.

I read the manuscript for the first time last night, and it's left me feeling rather bewildered as to how best to proceed. The story itself is engaging and moving -- it's a semi-autobiographical account of Timorese children who were forcibly separated from their families shortly after the Indonesian occupation of Timor-Leste in 1975 and sent to orphanages in Indonesia. Many of the younger children forgot their Timorese identities and were only able to rediscover them with difficulty during adulthood; some were eventually reunited with their families after independence in 1999.

Timor-Leste has a rich oral tradition, but to the best of anyone's knowledge this novella is actually the first published longform work of fiction actually written in Tetum, the lingua franca. (Other Timorese works published internationally, like Naldo Rei's Resistance, were written in English or Portuguese.) As such, it reads like a mix between an oral narrative and a documentary: omniscient third-person description of events as they unfold, but incorporating an integrated parallel narrative where the protagonist speaks directly about his experiences during those events (as if being interviewed several years after the fact). The omniscient third-person and the protagonist's recollections are completely intertwined in a way that I don't think I've ever really seen in an English-language novel-- the closest I can think of is Chimamanda Adichie's The Headstrong Historian, where the past and present seem gently blurred.

I personally find the structure really interesting because it says so much about the evolution of Timorese storytelling into different media, but I suppose my concern is: will it work as a young adult novel for a Western audience that's perhaps more used to perfectly linear first- or third-person POV? Maybe even more to the point: will a mainstream publisher even accept it, let alone publishing it to see if it can work for a Western audience?

On the other hand, I absolutely don't want to be the person saying, "Your story must match these conventions of the English-language storytelling tradition, otherwise it will never get a chance." I hate the fact that publishing houses (deliberately or unconsciously) police non-Western and non-white narratives, choosing which gets to be 'representative' of a particular culture or race or ethnicity.

There's probably a way of preserving the novel's unique structure while making it slightly more comprehensible to a Western audience, and I've gone back and asked the author for his thoughts on the issue. In the interim, though: does anyone have opinions about the issue of translating the culturally-specific structure of a work, as well as simply the language? Is it betraying the original text by pandering to a lowest common denominator (the closed Western experience of the world), or is it widening its reach for cross-cultural enjoyment?