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Author Topic: Lost in Translation
malex
recent-rabble-rouser
Babbler # 13797

posted 30 January 2007 09:45 AM      Profile for malex        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Did anyone catch the two part series on CBC's Ideas about literary translations called IN OTHER WORDS? I missed the second and final part last night but since hearing the first I've been thinking about issues surrounding translations of books as I struggle through the original version of "Our Lady of the Assassins" by Columbian writer Fernando Vallejo. This is one of the first books by a non-English writer that I've tried to read on my own in its original language. Are the struggles with my Spanish/English dictionary really worth the enjoyment of a richer literary experience?

Anybody out there who has had similar experiences?


From: toronto | Registered: Jan 2007  |  IP: Logged
Québécois in the North
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 10727

posted 30 January 2007 10:35 AM      Profile for Québécois in the North     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I can read three languages (french, english, spanish) and, from my perspective, translation does make a difference.

There are good translations out there, but its always better in the original version. Always.

Poetry can't be transleted.

I read Kerouac's "On the Road" in french and found it boring. Years later, I read it in english and it started making sense. There was a pulse. A beat. It was brillantly written.

I would not read in a foreing language that I don't fully understand however. Having to open a dictionnary every few sentences, is too much of a pain in the ass. Reading is supposed to be fun.


From: Yellowknife | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
malex
recent-rabble-rouser
Babbler # 13797

posted 30 January 2007 01:43 PM      Profile for malex        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
That's interesting that you mention Kerouac because "On the Road" was also mentioned on the Ideas programme I mentioned earlier--a bad translation of the book in Czech was recalled on the show as being very lovey-dovey rather than having 'a beat' as you describe...

What I've found useful with reading poetry in French is to have a version of the book with English and French and either page of the book so you can refer back and forth...


From: toronto | Registered: Jan 2007  |  IP: Logged
Rundler
editor
Babbler # 2699

posted 31 January 2007 08:03 AM      Profile for Rundler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Welcome to the book lounge Malex!
From: the murky world of books books books | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 518

posted 31 January 2007 11:12 AM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I read several languages, and always prefer to read something in the original.

However, it may be that my enhanced pleasure is partially due to the brute fact that I am reading in the original!

For sure, most originals are richer than the translation. However, it is a common thought among translators of Spanish that Gregory Rabassa's translation of One Hundred Years of Solitude and Autumn of the Patriarch are richer and more beautiful than the originals.

On occasion, it has happened to me that I fail to read something because I am waiting to obtain it in an original language. However, after thirty years of waiting, it begins to seem that reading it in translation would have been better.


From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 31 January 2007 11:16 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by jeff house:
On occasion, it has happened to me that I fail to read something because I am waiting to obtain it in an original language. However, after thirty years of waiting, it begins to seem that reading it in translation would have been better.

That's probably what I should have done with the Bible!


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Wilf Day
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 3276

posted 31 January 2007 06:30 PM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by malex:
What I've found useful with reading poetry in French is to have a version of the book with English and French and either page of the book so you can refer back and forth...

When reading a federal statute or regulation, a bilingual text with a French column beside the English column is very handy: you can easily see if there is an ambiguity or difference in meaning between the two, and since they are both official, it's the right way to construe federal laws.

But does anyone publish poetry in such a legalistic format? The ALPs* are not for everyone.

* Association of Lawyer Poets.


From: Port Hope, Ontario | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
unionist
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11323

posted 31 January 2007 06:37 PM      Profile for unionist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:

That's probably what I should have done with the Bible!


I'll keep waiting for the Humanitarian version.


From: Vote QS! | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged

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