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Articles tagged "Language"

From “Um País”

You undulate, soaked in iodine and sun around the cold outline of a universe: profound, public, oceanic, the mindset of a country: a tank of pleasure, of collective loss, shimmering in different grades of sepia since sepia is the shade of fine sand, and sand             is the color here, and ocean-blue. The night is at rock-height trying to pronounce your name: hot, salty in my mouth. How to explain the heat a language...

translation

is there a zone of darkness between all languages, a black river, that swallows words and stories and transforms them? here sentences must disrobe, begin to roam, learn to swim, not lose the memory that nests in their bodies, a secret nucleus. will the columbine’s blue be a shade of violet when it reaches the other side, and the red bee balm become a pear, cinnamon- sweet? will my tench be missing a fin in the light of the new language? will it have to learn to crawl or to walk...

I Am a Refugee

My apologies, Sir, That I come to you As a refugee. Accept me as a human being and not As a slave. Do not look down on me; Do not look me up and down. I am a poet; My testimonies plaster the walls, And people far and wide recite my poems. Will you accept me among you As a refugee? They destroyed my poems, along with the walls they hung upon; When they torched the verses, I burned with them. They broke my mind; They robbed my thoughts; They stripped our insides. Will you accept me among...

How \“To Algeria, with Love\” became \“La Repubblica di Wally\”

Einaudi bought the Italian rights to my novel before it had an English language publisher, editor, or even a title. Work on the translation began last summer, around the time the book was published in the UK by Virago as To Algeria, with Love. As luck would have it, my husband and I were in southern Italy last summer for an extended stay, and the translator, Lucia Olivieri, was close enough for us to meet and share thoughts.  Hers were blunt. “They gave your book a terrible...

Teaching in Translation: Poet as Translator

Editor's note: This essay was delivered at the panel "Teaching Translation in the Workshop," organized by Douglas Unger and with presentations by Jason Grunebaum, Becka McKay, Malena Morling, and Douglas Unger, at the Associated Writing Programs conference, March 2, 2012. Other panelists' presentations will follow. Translation is an art of analogy, the art of finding correspondences. An art of shadows and echoes…  Baudelaire said poetry is essentially analogy. The...

Celebrating International Mother Language Day

On February 2, 1952, during a peaceful demonstration to demand national status in East Pakistan for the Bengali language, four students were shot dead in the street. A postcolonial trauma that would lead to war and the creation of the nation of Bangladesh. In 1999 the General Conference of UNESCO proclaimed February 21 as International Mother Language Day “to promote all the languages of the world, as an effective mobilization opportunity for linguistic diversity and...

The Sound Words Have

Once there was a town where no two people spoke the same language. No one used the same words for anything. And yet everyone understood everyone else and they all lived together in peace and harmony. Until recently, the locals were cheerful, cordial, and— though it’s hard to believe—talkative. The town was in a nameless region deep in central Europe. The place had no name because it was so remote that it was usually represented on maps as a black hole. That is, if it was...

from “Ru”

I came into the world early in the Year of the Monkey, during the Tet Offensive, when long strings of fireworks hanging from the houses exploded in polyphony with the sound of machine guns. Saigon was my birthplace, and thousands of bits of old firecrackers covered the soil in red as if they were petals from a cherry tree, or the blood of two million soldiers, scattered through the towns and villages of a Vietnam torn in two. I was born in the shadows of skies embroidered with...

from “Broken Glass Park”

I hate men. Anna says good men do exist. Nice, friendly men who cook and help clean up and who earn money. Men who want to have children and give gifts and book vacations. Who wear clean clothes, don’t drink, and even look halfway decent. Where on earth are they, I ask. She says they’re out there—if not in our town then in Frankfurt. But she doesn’t know any personally, unless you count people she’s seen on TV. That’s why I always repeat the words...

from Baudelaire, the Metaphysical Ostrich

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The Knowledge Holder Doesn’t Choke on Cleverness

Feridun Zaimoğlu's Koppstoff: Kanaka Sprak vom Rande der Gesellschaft (1998) presents the fictionalized voices of twenty-six women of Turkish heritage living in Germany. "Koppstoff," which when translated literally means "head material," refers not only to the headscarf worn on the heads of many Muslim women, but also to what is going on in their heads—their thoughts, perspectives and inner lives. ındeed, the book seems to offer readers information "straight from the...

Translation and the Teaching of Literature

In my first post, I suggested that translators' efforts in the sphere of education might have a transformative effect on the understanding and appreciation of the work of translation. In my second, I focused on the domain of foreign language teaching as one place where such efforts might bear fruit. Several people commented and asked questions about these posts, and I promise to respond to their questions in a subsequent post. But first I would like to turn to another educational sphere...

Do You Suppose It’s the East Wind?

The enormous weight of three hundred and sixty-five days once again slips from my hand and falls down into the dark cavern of the past. The windows in this desolate room are wide open. How improbably strange the sky looks, draped in a sheet of dense gray clouds, behind the luxuriant green trees. It seems as if someone has filled space itself with a sweet, melancholy beauty. A cool breeze has finally started to blow, after much heat and sun. Could it be the east wind? Papers and books...

Translation and Proficiency Language Teaching

In a previous post, I suggested that the covers of books make for rather poor soil in which to cultivate an appreciation for translated contemporary literature among the general English-reading public. Of course the essential work of translators should be recognized whenever possible, on covers and title pages, and in bios, prefaces, reviews, and interviews. But if highlighting the fact of a book's having been translated makes it less likely that readers will be interested in it, less...

Beyond Between: Translation, Ghosts, Metaphors

What is translation? Translation is an English word. Translation is, moreover, a somewhat peculiar English word. Peculiar, I would suggest, because it eludes definition. It is impossible to define because it is a sort of node--a point of intersection. Translation, used in the most ordinary of its many senses, refers to something that takes place, or at least seems to take place, between two languages. The English word "translation" has meaning only because we know there are other...

A Surprising Tale in the Form of an Alphabet

They say that the monks of eight or nine hundred centuries ago often had to face unenthusiastic, occasionally hostile audiences, who were most reluctant to follow the steps of a theological proof or of a moral sermon, and that the Alphabeta exemplorum was born out of that difficulty and the need to overcome it. What the monks did was to share out the weight of the discourse equally, so that each of the twenty or so letters of the corresponding alphabet would bear some of that weight on...

From “Paris–Athens”

I first wrote this text in French. I finished it on November 20, 1988. I chose French because I wanted to make sense of my relationship with this language in which I have also written other books. I translated it as faithfully as I could: I don't touch upon events that took place after 1988; I simply omitted some explanations that were necessary for the French public and added others for the Greek reader.— V.A. I. Silence I don't know when I began to write this book. I...

From “Paris–Athens”

To my father I. Silence I don't know when I started to write this book. I know that today is the 9th, I'm looking in my datebook: Sunday, November 9th, 1986, St. Theodore's day—no, I'm off by a week, today is only the 2nd, All Souls Day. I would have preferred to start on the 9th—Theodore is a Greek name. Oh, well; the Day of the Dead isn't bad, either. Actually, I didn't begin this book today. A year ago, perhaps. Perhaps twenty-five years ago,...

Abulafia

"Abulafia" is from a collection of short stories published in Poland in September 2008, entitled Cold Sea Tales. Although the eleven stories in the collection were written at different times over a number of years, they feature some common themes that have also appeared in Huelle's novels. The "cold sea" of the title is the Baltic—all the stories are set on our near the Baltic coast, most of them in the author's native region, in and around Gdansk. Almost all feature a large...

Speaks about “Clash of Civilizations”

"Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio" could be called a book about translation. It's the story of people from different cultures trying to live together in one place—a country, a city, a square, an apartment building, an elevator, even. Different customs, different languages, different foods. It takes place in Rome, in the neighborhood around Piazza Vittorio, where immigrants from all over the world have settled; the dominant culture, the host, so to...

Brazilian Arabesques

At the very beginning of the twentieth century, at the height of the rubber boom, my paternal grandfather left Beirut for the Bolivian territory of Acre, where he worked as a peddler on the rivers from Rio Branco to Xapuri. He was one of the first Lebanese immigrants in my family. Eight years later, he returned to Beirut with pictures and stories about the Amazon region, which he passed along to his children and relatives. It's said that he told fantastic stories of shipwrecks, duels,...

Esterházy Per Se: A Translator’s Ball Game with a Postmodern Author

Just as there are user-friendly computers (they don't delete your latest text when you didn't mean to press the delete button, a dream!), user-friendly ovens (they ring when the roast is ready), and user-friendly scissors (left-handed!), so there are translator-friendly authors. And then, again, not. Some authors thumb their noses at the difficulties they are creating for the translator, and they are right to do so; their job is to write, the translator's is to translate. And...

The A to Z of Literary Translation: W, X, Y & Z

Worldwide web development and the long-tail phenomenon offer new opportunities for the visibility of literary translation. Electronic translation software is to be avoided. Postcolonial and new immigrant writing benefit from cross-frontier digital exchange. And lesser known cultures and languages can become more familiar to wider audiences—Ala Al Aswany's runaway seller The Yacoubian Building (translated by Humphrey Davies), comes to mind.   Xenophobia feeds off ignorance...

Of Words and Borders

As a writer, I have come to know that writers have the misfortune of being invited to speak on things about which they know absolutely nothing. What do I know about this magic string of words: "Hospitality knows no borders." All I know is that millions of innocent people have been killed or died fighting to preserve those things called borders, frontiers, boundaries, some kind of barriers against your friends or enemies, even if they are only potential enemies. Imagine a world without...

from “How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone”

The promise a dam must keep, what the most beautiful language in the world sounds like, and how often a heart must beat to beat shame Francesco rented a room from old Mirela and moved in opposite, and old Mirela unpacked her dusty make-up, saw that the powder was crumbly and the lipstick no use any more, bought herself new make-up that very same day, and fiddled around with the tomatoes in her garden, her cheeks all rosy. You had a good view into Francesco's room from the garden. On...

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