robertogreco + translation   155

ℳatt on Twitter: "1. So, each episode of the Simpsons is dubbed into two different versions for French markets. There's a Quebec French version, and a France French version. Fans of the Quebec dub hate the European dub, and vice versa. https://t.co/W4di
“1. So, each episode of the Simpsons is dubbed into two different versions for French markets. There’s a Quebec French version, and a France French version.

Fans of the Quebec dub hate the European dub, and vice versa.

[video]

2. In the France dub, the Simpsons all speak in typical Parisian accents. A few other characters have regionalized accents, like the Van Houtens who speak with a Belgian accent, but it’s mostly Parisian, and they don’t try to regionalize the US-specific jokes.

3. In the Quebec dub, the Simpsons family speaks with a thick working-class dialect of Montreal French called joual. They also do something the France dub doesn’t do: they regionalize the scripts, subbing in Quebecois politicians or places for the more US-centric references.

4. Here’s an example of the Quebec French Simpsons dub localizing references: this is a scene you might know, but they added a local twist. (I’ve done my best to provide translated subtitles.)

[video]

5. Now, something I always wonder when I watch movies or TV where the plot revolves around a character speaking a second language: how do they handle dubbing it into that second language? This is where we get to the Quebec Simpsons’ masterpiece.

6. Classic episode, season 1’s “The Crepes of Wrath”, Bart goes to France and foils an antifreeze wine scam by learning French. There’s no way to dub around it being some other language Bart learns, it’s very clearly France. Seems impossible to translate into French, right?

7. In the Quebec dub, Bart starts speaking to the French police officer in Quebecois slang, and can’t be understood. (Bart: “I thought they spoke French in France”). It’s only when he learns to talk like a stereotypical Parisian that he can get through to the cop. Perfection.

[video]“
language  french  thesimpsons  2019  translation  localization  quebec  humor  words 
august 2019 by robertogreco
Language Is Migrant - South Magazine Issue #8 [documenta 14 #3] - documenta 14
"Language is migrant. Words move from language to language, from culture to culture, from mouth to mouth. Our bodies are migrants; cells and bacteria are migrants too. Even galaxies migrate.

What is then this talk against migrants? It can only be talk against ourselves, against life itself.

Twenty years ago, I opened up the word “migrant,” seeing in it a dangerous mix of Latin and Germanic roots. I imagined “migrant” was probably composed of mei, Latin for “to change or move,” and gra, “heart” from the Germanic kerd. Thus, “migrant” became “changed heart,”
a heart in pain,
changing the heart of the earth.

The word “immigrant” says, “grant me life.”

“Grant” means “to allow, to have,” and is related to an ancient Proto-Indo-European root: dhe, the mother of “deed” and “law.” So too, sacerdos, performer of sacred rites.

What is the rite performed by millions of people displaced and seeking safe haven around the world? Letting us see our own indifference, our complicity in the ongoing wars?

Is their pain powerful enough to allow us to change our hearts? To see our part in it?

I “wounder,” said Margarita, my immigrant friend, mixing up wondering and wounding, a perfect embodiment of our true condition!

Vicente Huidobro said, “Open your mouth to receive the host of the wounded word.”

The wound is an eye. Can we look into its eyes?
my specialty is not feeling, just
looking, so I say:
(the word is a hard look.)
—Rosario Castellanos

I don’t see with my eyes: words
are my eyes.
—Octavio Paz

In l980, I was in exile in Bogotá, where I was working on my “Palabrarmas” project, a way of opening words to see what they have to say. My early life as a poet was guided by a line from Novalis: “Poetry is the original religion of mankind.” Living in the violent city of Bogotá, I wanted to see if anybody shared this view, so I set out with a camera and a team of volunteers to interview people in the street. I asked everybody I met, “What is Poetry to you?” and I got great answers from beggars, prostitutes, and policemen alike. But the best was, “Que prosiga,” “That it may go on”—how can I translate the subjunctive, the most beautiful tiempo verbal (time inside the verb) of the Spanish language? “Subjunctive” means “next to” but under the power of the unknown. It is a future potential subjected to unforeseen conditions, and that matches exactly the quantum definition of emergent properties.

If you google the subjunctive you will find it described as a “mood,” as if a verbal tense could feel: “The subjunctive mood is the verb form used to express a wish, a suggestion, a command, or a condition that is contrary to fact.” Or “the ‘present’ subjunctive is the bare form of a verb (that is, a verb with no ending).”

I loved that! A never-ending image of a naked verb! The man who passed by as a shadow in my film saying “Que prosiga” was on camera only for a second, yet he expressed in two words the utter precision of Indigenous oral culture.

People watching the film today can’t believe it was not scripted, because in thirty-six years we seem to have forgotten the art of complex conversation. In the film people in the street improvise responses on the spot, displaying an awareness of language that seems to be missing today. I wounder, how did it change? And my heart says it must be fear, the ocean of lies we live in, under a continuous stream of doublespeak by the violent powers that rule us. Living under dictatorship, the first thing that disappears is playful speech, the fun and freedom of saying what you really think. Complex public conversation goes extinct, and along with it, the many species we are causing to disappear as we speak.

The word “species” comes from the Latin speciēs, “a seeing.” Maybe we are losing species and languages, our joy, because we don’t wish to see what we are doing.

Not seeing the seeing in words, we numb our senses.

I hear a “low continuous humming sound” of “unmanned aerial vehicles,” the drones we send out into the world carrying our killing thoughts.

Drones are the ultimate expression of our disconnect with words, our ability to speak without feeling the effect or consequences of our words.

“Words are acts,” said Paz.

Our words are becoming drones, flying robots. Are we becoming desensitized by not feeling them as acts? I am thinking not just of the victims but also of the perpetrators, the drone operators. Tonje Hessen Schei, director of the film Drone, speaks of how children are being trained to kill by video games: “War is made to look fun, killing is made to look cool. ... I think this ‘militainment’ has a huge cost,” not just for the young soldiers who operate them but for society as a whole. Her trailer opens with these words by a former aide to Colin Powell in the Bush/Cheney administration:
OUR POTENTIAL COLLECTIVE FUTURE. WATCH IT AND WEEP FOR US. OR WATCH IT AND DETERMINE TO CHANGE THAT FUTURE
—Lawrence Wilkerson, Colonel U.S. Army (retired)


In Astro Noise, the exhibition by Laura Poitras at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the language of surveillance migrates into poetry and art. We lie in a collective bed watching the night sky crisscrossed by drones. The search for matching patterns, the algorithms used to liquidate humanity with drones, is turned around to reveal the workings of the system. And, we are being surveyed as we survey the show! A new kind of visual poetry connecting our bodies to the real fight for the soul of this Earth emerges, and we come out woundering: Are we going to dehumanize ourselves to the point where Earth itself will dream our end?

The fight is on everywhere, and this may be the only beauty of our times. The Quechua speakers of Peru say, “beauty is the struggle.”

Maybe darkness will become the source of light. (Life regenerates in the dark.)

I see the poet/translator as the person who goes into the dark, seeking the “other” in him/herself, what we don’t wish to see, as if this act could reveal what the world keeps hidden.

Eduardo Kohn, in his book How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human notes the creation of a new verb by the Quichua speakers of Ecuador: riparana means “darse cuenta,” “to realize or to be aware.” The verb is a Quichuan transfiguration of the Spanish reparar, “to observe, sense, and repair.” As if awareness itself, the simple act of observing, had the power to heal.

I see the invention of such verbs as true poetry, as a possible path or a way out of the destruction we are causing.

When I am asked about the role of the poet in our times, I only question: Are we a “listening post,” composing an impossible “survival guide,” as Paul Chan has said? Or are we going silent in the face of our own destruction?

Subcomandante Marcos, the Zapatista guerrilla, transcribes the words of El Viejo Antonio, an Indian sage: “The gods went looking for silence to reorient themselves, but found it nowhere.” That nowhere is our place now, that’s why we need to translate language into itself so that IT sees our awareness.

Language is the translator. Could it translate us to a place within where we cease to tolerate injustice and the destruction of life?

Life is language. “When we speak, life speaks,” says the Kaushitaki Upanishad.

Awareness creates itself looking at itself.

It is transient and eternal at the same time.

Todo migra. Let’s migrate to the “wounderment” of our lives, to poetry itself."
ceciliavicuña  language  languages  words  migration  immigration  life  subcomandantemarcos  elviejoantonio  lawrencewilkerson  octaviopaz  exile  rosariocastellanos  poetry  spanish  español  subjunctive  oral  orality  conversation  complexity  seeing  species  joy  tonjehessenschei  war  colinpowell  laurapoitras  art  visual  translation  eduoardokohn  quechua  quichua  healing  repair  verbs  invention  listening  kaushitakiupanishad  awareness  noticing  wondering  vicentehuidobro  wounds  woundering  migrants  unknown  future  potential  unpredictability  emergent  drones  morethanhuman  multispecies  paulchan  destruction  displacement  refugees  extinction  others  tolerance  injustice  justice  transience  ephemerality  ephemeral  canon  eternal  surveillance  patterns  algorithms  earth  sustainability  environment  indifference  complicity  dictatorship  documenta14  2017  classideas 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Why the Spanish Dialogue in 'Spider-Verse' Doesn't Have Subtitles
"While watching the new animated feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – featuring Miles Morales’ big screen debut as the arachnid superhero – it’s reassuring to notice the subtle, yet transcendent details through which the creators ensured both parts of his cultural identity are present.

Miles (voiced by Shameik Moore), an Afro-Latino teen who lives in Brooklyn and first appeared in Marvel’s comics back in 2011, is the son of a Puerto Rican mother and an African-American father. The protagonist’s significance – when it comes to representation – cannot be overstated, making the fact that he and his mother (Rio Morales who’s voiced by Nuyorican actress Luna Lauren Velez) speak Spanish throughout the action-packed narrative truly momentous.

Although brief, the Spanish phrases and words we hear connote the genuine colloquialisms that arise in bilingual homes as opposed to the artificiality that sometimes peppers US-produced movies and feels like the result of lines being fed through Google Translate. It might come as a surprise for some that Phil Lord, known for writing and directing The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street with his close collaborator Christopher Miller, was not only one of the main scribes and a producer on Spider-Verse, but also the person in charge of the Spanish-language dialogue.

“I grew up in a bilingual household in the bilingual city of Miami where you hear Spanish all over the place, and it’s not particularly remarkable,” he told Remezcla at the film’s premiere in Los Angeles. Lord’s mother is from Cuba and his father is from the States. As part of a Cuban-American family, the filmmaker empathized with Miles’ duality: “I certainly understand what it’s like to feel like you’re half one thing and half something else,” he noted.

[image]

Despite the massive success of Pixar’s Coco, including Spanish-language dialogue in a major studio’s animated release is still rare – doing so without adding subtitles, even for some of the longer lines, is outright daring. “It was important for us to hear Spanish and not necessarily have it subtitled,” said Lord. “It’s just part of the fabric of Miles’ community and family life.”

For Luna Lauren Velez, whose character speaks mostly in Spanish to Miles, Lord and the directors’ decision to not translate her text in any way helped validate the Latino experience on screen. “That was really bold, because if you use subtitles all of a sudden we are outside, and we are not part of this world anymore. It was brilliant that they just allowed for it to exist,” she told Remezcla. Her role as Rio Morales also benefited from the production’s adherence to specificity in the source material, she is not portrayed as just generically Latina but as a Puerto Rican woman from Brooklyn.

With the help of a dialect coach, Velez and Lord were also partially responsible for getting Shameik Moore (who has roots in Jamaica) to learn the handful of Spanish-language expressions Miles uses during the opening sequence were he walks around his neighborhood. “[Luna] has been getting on me! I need to go to Puerto Rico, and really learn Spanish for real,” Moore candidly told Remezcla on the red carpet.

Aside from Rio and Miles, the only other Spanish-speaking character is a villain named Scorpion. The insect-like bad guy who speaks only in Spanish is voiced by famed Mexican performer Joaquín Cosio. “He is an actor from Mexico City who was using slang that we had to look up because we didn’t understand it! I had never heard some of the words he used,” explained Lord.

[video: "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse - "Gotta Go" Clip"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Q9foLtQidk ]

For Lord, having different Spanish accents represented is one of the parts of Into the Spider-Verse he’s the most proud of. He wanted to make sure Miles and Rio didn’t sound alike to indicate how language changes through different generations. Being himself the child of a Cuban immigrant, the parallels were very direct. “Miles is second-generation, so he speaks different than his mother.”

Velez, who like Miles is born in New York, identifies with what it’s like to communicate in both tongues. “Growing my parents spoke to us in Spanish and we responded in English. Now this happens with my nieces and nephews,” she said. “You want to make sure kids remember their culture and where they come from.” In playing Rio, she thought of her mother who instilled in her not only the language but appreciation for her Latinidad.

Clearly, casting Velez was essential to upholding the diversity and authenticity embedded into Miles Morales’ heroic adventure since not doing so would have been a disservice to an iteration of an iconic figure that is so meaningful for many. “If Spider-Man’s Puerto Rican mom had been played by somebody who isn’t Latino I’d have a problem with that,” Velez stated emphatically."
language  translation  spanish  español  bilingualism  bilingual  srg  edg  glvo  carlosaguilar  2018  spider-verse  spiderman  miami  losangeles  nyc  coco  subtitles  specificity  puertorico  cuba  immigration  via:tealtan  accents  change  adaptation  latinidad 
february 2019 by robertogreco
An Essay by Miho Nonaka | Kenyon Review Online
[So good. There's really no good way to quote this one, so here are just a few sections.]

"Heavenly Worm

Mrs. Itō, our fourth-grade teacher, drew a new kanji character on the board: 蚕. “Worm from heaven,” she announced, “as you can see.” Heaven splits open like a curtain (天) and inside it dwells the worm (虫). For each student, she took out five worms from her basket and put them in a small paper box to take home. Having just hatched from their eggs, these worms were still covered in little black hairs. That’s why at this stage they are called kego (hairy baby), Mrs. Itō told us. To feed these dark babies, julienne your mulberry leaves first."



"Platinum Boy, 2006

After decades of research, Japanese silkworm breeders discovered a reliable method of hatching exclusively male silkworms. Female silkworms eat more, sleep more, take up more space, and are measurably less efficient in transforming mulberry leaves into silk. The verdict was clear: female silkworms are inferior for silk production.

Silk spinners and kimono weavers are unanimous in their praise of male silk: their thread is consistently finer, sturdier, glossier, whiter, and their cocoons are easier to harvest when boiled.

The birth site of Platinum Boy is literally black and white. When you look at a piece of paper where silkworm eggs are laid, white eggs are the empty shells from which male larvae have already hatched. They will thrive on the diet of tender mulberry shoot which, combined with their spit, will eventually turn into raw silk, translucent like frosted glass. The dark eggs contain female larvae that will never hatch and only keep darkening."



"Ten Thousand Leaves I

Compiled in the mideighth century, Man’yōshū (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves) is the oldest Japanese anthology: more than forty-five hundred poems in twenty books. In the sweltering heat of the attic, I wasn’t looking for any particular motif when I happened on poem No. 2495, composed by Kakinomoto no Hitomaro, a low rank courtier and one of the “Saints of Japanese Poetry”:
like my mother’s
silkworms confined
inside cocoons,
how can I see my love
who lives secluded at home?

Poem No. 2991 is almost the same poem by another poet, simply tagged “unknown”:
like my mother’s
silkworms confined
inside cocoons,
sadness clouds my heart
when I cannot see her

The motif of a silk cocoon as the inaccessible, lyrical interior goes back to the dawn of Japanese poetics. The cocoon encases the image of the beloved, the poet’s longing that keeps building inside, and in my poem it holds the mother as a mythical seamstress, stitching blue in each wrist of her unborn daughter."



"職人 I

I used to blame my grandmother on my father’s side, who was described to me as fierce, frantic, funny, a destructive visionary and unsuccessful business entrepreneur during the critical times of the Second World War. When I felt defeated by the radical pull of my own emotion, I would attach them to the face of the woman I had never met in person, only in a fading picture where she stands next to my young father without glasses, still a student with surprisingly gentle eyes.

My father recently told me during one of our late-night international calls from Tokyo: “Your grandfathers were both shokunin (craftsman), remember? It’s in your DNA, too.” His father had come from a large family of silk farmers. After he left home, adopting the newly introduced Singer sewing machines, he began manufacturing Japanese cloven-toed socks, the traditional kind that used to be hand-sewn, and during the war, he took the assignment to sew parachutes for the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. While he worked under dimmed light, my young father put up his primitive drawing of warplanes on the wall, covered in fine grains of sand."



"Small Things

They say (I love the convenience, but who are “they”?) that attention to detail is a characteristic of the Japanese. I am drawn to small things: tadpoles, silica beads, star sands in a vial, a notebook the size of a thumbnail, fish scales, a nativity scene inside half a walnut shell. I am terribly myopic like my father, and I like things that are near. Large things loom over and terrify: airports, Costco, churches in Texas, the Tokyo Skytree, Mount Rushmore (those granite faces I once believed had surfaced in response to the historic atomic bombing), and that elusive word “global.”"



"Komako

It didn’t occur to me until I tried translating a few passages from Snow Country that the young geisha’s name Komako (駒子) means Pony Child. What inspired the author Kawabata to portray his heroine as a woman of equine grace? We don’t know her family name. On the other hand, we don’t know the first name of Shimamura, who is referred to only by his last name.

I imagine if your family name is a gate to the house, your first name must be its interior. In the days when the first book of Man’yōshū was composed, asking a maiden’s first name was synonymous with proposing to her. Knowing it meant possessing the person.

Komako’s body is translucent like a silkworm, and an unearthly room encloses her fruitless passion like a white cocoon. While writing Snow Country, Kawabata says he distanced himself from Shimamura, who serves merely as a foil to Komako. “As an author, I entered deep inside the character of Komako, but casually turned my back to Shimamura,” he writes in the afterward. “Especially in terms of emotion—Komako’s sadness is nothing other than my own sadness. . . .” And so it is; his heart has become subsumed into her heart."



"Body

I find it impossible to talk about the body (mine and everyone else’s) without sounding embarrassed or oddly distant. I don’t mean to self-deprecate, but it has been almost too fashionable, too charged a topic for me to feel safe around. (A cowardly thing to say—the truth is, no one is safe.)

I won’t pretend my body is a plain blockhouse, or a slab of flesh aching with desire or lack thereof. Who could have taught me to stay at home in my own body all the while I traveled from one country to another, turning from the spontaneous, if careless, music of my mother tongue to the cautious economy of English, reaching out, in the hope of actually reaching and being reached?

For the subjects most critical to me, I find no teachers. Perhaps there is not enough demand? I believe I am badly behind everyone and that I missed an opportunity to ask questions long ago. People my age in this country sound fluent in the body, discussing it with just the right amount of sarcasm and laughter without revealing much, like they have been on intimate terms with it since they learned to speak. I suppose I should have listened to the body harder, without ulterior motives."
mihononaka  silk  essays  canon  howwewrite  2017  silkworms  multispecies  japan  japanese  language  gender  via:ayjay  poetry  writing  fabric  textiles  srg  glvo  insects  history  cocoons  craft  translation  languages  childhood  change  materials  process  form  details  weaving  texture  morethanhuman  shinto  bodies  body  small  slow 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Tips for Beginning Translators - TRANSLATIONiSTA
"It’s not as if every young and/or aspiring translator is the same as every other one, but I do get a lot of notes asking basically the same thing: If I’m interested in breaking into the field of literary translation, how do I start? How do I get published? Here’s the sort of advice I tend to give out, starting with the question: You do understand that being a literary translator is probably not a way to make a living without a day job, right? If that’s all right with you, keep reading.

For starters, you should be submitting your work to literary magazines. These don’t have to be magazines that specialize in translation; most literary mags are happy to consider translated work, especially if you let them know in your cover letter that you’ve already looked into the rights situation. As with any other work you’d submit to a magazine, you should take care to match your submission to the magazine’s aesthetic preferences and literary tastes, which you can determine by reading the magazine. You shouldn’t be in the business of trying to get published in magazines you don’t actually read. So your first order of business is to head over to your local bookstore or library and check out the rack of literary magazines; get to know which ones specialize in which sorts of work (plot-driven realistic stories? formally experimental work? the fantastic?), and then you’ll be well prepared to place your work sensibly; mention in your cover letter what made you think the particular translation you’re submitting would be a good match for the journal in question. Well, you might say, that’s a lot of work! Indeed, it is. Getting your translations published in magazines will help you confirm both to yourself and to other potential publishers (of books, say) that you are capable of producing professional-level, publishable work. As the list of your publications grows, so will your desirability to publishers. Note that there are also a number of journals (online and paper) actively seeking translated work; this list comes to you courtesy of the PEN Translation Committee. Oh, and speaking of literary magazines, you should also make a point of reading journals published in the countries where the language you translate from is spoken; it’s a great way to discover newer authors who haven’t been translated yet.

The second thing you should do is network with other emerging translators. Go to readings in your town and make a point of meeting other translators there. Join ELTNA (the Emerging Literary Translators Network in America). Check out the yearly conference of the American Literary Translators Association, which offers a lot of opportunities for networking (as well as competitive travel fellowships to attend the conference). If you can find peers interested in getting together to swap and critique work, that’s a great way to hone your skills if you’re not in a position to do coursework somewhere and are still learning.

The third thing you should do is get on the mailing list of any cultural institute relevant to the language you translate. Many countries have these – they promote a country’s language and/or culture internationally, and many of them sponsor readings, workshops, contests, and other sorts of events.

The fourth thing you should do is enter any competition relevant to your language (which you’ve found out about through the relevant cultural institute) and apply for grants, especially the PEN/Heim Translation Fund grants, which are open to emerging translators and are a great way for someone new on the scene to come to the attention of potential publishers. Since you apply with a specific book project, it’s a great grant to try for if you already have your heart set on translating a particular work.

When you’ve gotten your first magazine publications under your belt, then it’s time to shoot for the big league: book publishers. Look for publishers that print the sort of work you’re most interested in, and send around a few letters of introduction, including samples of your work and a list of your publications. Often publishers need translators to prepare sample translations from books they’re thinking about acquiring, and often the professional translators who regularly work for these publishing houses don’t have time for these samples, so this is your easiest way in. It’s also a good idea at this point to introduce yourself to the program staff at any relevant cultural institution; they too sometimes need sample translations and synopses for books they’re promoting.

Finally, here’s a paragraph for brand-new translators who’ve discovered a fantastic unknown-in-English author they want to pitch to publishers: Sure, you can do that, but first, imagine the situation from the publisher’s point of view. To publish (acquire rights, edit, copyedit, print, distribute, promote) a book involves a seriously substantial investment of money and time on a publisher’s part. Even if you’ve produced a strong short sample from the book (which you might have gotten help with, for all the publisher knows) – for an editor to trust that a translator without a track record is really going to be able to produce a translation of the entire book that is of the same quality as the sample within a reasonable time frame is a leap of faith. The more previous publications you can demonstrate (including in journals), the easier you make it for a publisher to decide to take you on. And of course if you win a competition or a grant, that’s an excellent calling card right there. In preparing a pitch, think about what you yourself would want to know about a project before deciding to invest in it; among other things, that will probably involve an assessment of where the author you’re proposing fits in the context of international writing as well as in the English-language literary landscape, and also what the book in question has in common with other works published by this publishing house.

There’s no one right way and no easy way to get into the translation business, but it’s definitely quite possible to break in to the profession if that’s your goal. Did I remember to mention that it’s a really really hard way to pay your rent?

P.S. I’ve been hearing from annoyed colleagues who are professional literary translators who do make a living translating literature, so obviously it’s possible, particularly in the UK (where the Translation Association of the Society of Authors recommends minimum rates that are widely adhered to), and particularly if you live in a place with a lower cost of living than, say, New York. In the United States, surviving as a literary translator without also performing other sorts of work (or having resources from another source) is much less common, and I myself have never managed to make a living that way, even though “literary translator” has been my primary professional identity for a long time now, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible, of course, and it doesn’t mean a translator shouldn’t negotiate for a living wage with publishers. Two years ago I posted a discussion of translation rates in the U.S. that covers a lot of bases – check it out!

I also recommend you consult the ALTA Guides published by the American Literary Translators Association."

[See also: http://literarytranslators.org/resources/alta-guides ]
publishing  tips  translation  susanbernofsky  2017  literature  srg 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Tarsila do Amaral: Translating Modernism in Brazil - Words Without Borders
It seems the role of the translator is not so different from that of a curator. Just as a translator will often introduce a new text, a curator of an exhibition might present something entirely new, which is certainly the case with the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition of work by Tarsila do Amaral. Entitled “Tarsila do Amaral: Inventing Modern Art in Brazil,” it is the first US show devoted exclusively to the Brazilian artist.

A curator, like a translator, acts not only as a mediator but also as an interpreter—another curator, another translator, would tell a slightly different story. When I asked MoMA curator Stephanie D’Alessandro what narrative she and her colleague Luis Pérez-Oramas set out to tell, she admitted it was “a hard story to write.” Their ultimate goal was to engage audiences who were both familiar and completely unfamiliar with Tarsila; to do justice to her legacy while also making her story accessible.
tarsiladoamaral  translation  brazil  brasil  modernism  art  curation  2018  elisaoukalmino  srg 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Translation Blogs We Think You Should Be Reading | Center for the Art of Translation | Two Lines Press
"Here are some of our favorite translation blogs (listed alphabetically). And we need your help! Which ones are we missing?

• Arablit was founded by M. Lynx Qualey and covers Arabic literature in (and not yet in) translation. There you can find roundups of forthcoming books translated from Arabic, book reviews, resources for teachers of Arabic literature in translation, and so much more. Plus, it’s the home of the ArabLit Story Prize.
https://arablit.org/

• Asymptote’s blog has a regular circulation of reviews, essays, and translations, as well as a weekly roundup of world literature news.
https://www.asymptotejournal.com/blog/
https://arablit.org/category/teaching-with-arabic-literature-in-translation/
https://arablit.org/2018/02/11/sunday-submissions-announcing-the-2018-arablit-story-prize/

• Biblibio is the blog of Meytal Radzinski, the founder of the Women in Translation movement and WITMonth. As Radzinski herself describes: “Biblibio is not a review blog. What does that mean? It means that the humble figure behind the veil sees the purpose of this blog as discussing a life in books in general, not only through reviews (though obviously somewhat). Bibli – book. Bio – life. This is a life in letters.”
https://biblibio.blogspot.com/
https://twitter.com/Read_WIT

• The Complete Review and its accompanying blog, The Literary Saloon, are run by M. A. Orthofer. Go here for reviews of books both popular and obscure, as well as international literary news that is rarely covered elsewhere. A great resource!
http://www.complete-review.com/main/main.html
http://www.complete-review.com/saloon/index.htm

• Conversational Reading is the blog of our own Publicity Director and Senior Editor, Veronica Scott Esposito. While not exclusively translation, the blog is largely translation-focused, including lists of interesting new and forthcoming books, Q&As with translators and authors, essays, and other related news in the field.
http://conversationalreading.com/
http://conversationalreading.com/category/interviews/

• Lizok’s Bookshelf is the blog of award-winning Russian translator Lisa Hayden. This is the go-to place for those interested in Russian literature. Lisa will let you know what is going on in the world of Russian literary prizes, tell you about interesting books coming out in Russia, books she’s reading, and, of course, books she’s translating.
https://lizoksbooks.blogspot.com/

• Reader@Large is the blog of Tara Cheesman-Olmsted, a freelance book critic, National Book Critic Circle member, and 2018 Best Translated Book Award fiction judge. The blog began as a general book review blog, but Tara currently only reviews books by international authors and translations, with a preference for small presses!
https://readeratlarge.com/

• Three Percent is the translation blog of the University of Rochester. Chad Post delights us with in-depth blog posts on a wide range of topics within the translation field. Home to book reviews, the Best Translation Book Award, and updates on trends in the translation field (including graphs and all kinds of fancy data analysis)!
https://www.rochester.edu/College/translation/threepercent/

• Tony’s Reading List is the blog of a true international literature aficionado. Dive into the expansive book review archives (spanning back to 2009) or, if you’re feeling adventurous, dig into something a little different.
https://tonysreadinglist.wordpress.com/
https://tonysreadinglist.wordpress.com/something-a-little-different/

• Translationista is the blog of Susan Bernofsky, German-language translator extraordinaire. She’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest literary prizes, as well as other news in the field. Make sure you check out: “Getting the Rights to Translate a Work: A How-To Guide” and “Tips for Beginning Translators.”
http://translationista.com/
http://translationista.com/2017/02/getting-rights-translate-work.html
http://translationista.com/2017/08/tips-beginning-translators.html

• WWB Daily, the blog of Words Without Borders, features a monthly watchlist of books coming out that month, in-depth essays by translators, excerpts from forthcoming books in translation.
https://www.wordswithoutborders.org/dispatches/
https://www.wordswithoutborders.org/dispatches/article/tarsila-do-amaral-translating-modernism-in-brazil-elisa-wouk-almino
https://www.wordswithoutborders.org/dispatches/article/first-read-from-lion-cross-point-masatsugu-ono-angus-turvill "
blogs  translation  writing  language  languages  books  arabic  srg 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Center for the Art of Translation | Two Lines Press
"MISSION

The Center for the Art of Translation champions literary translation.

We are dedicated to finding dazzling new, overlooked, and underrepresented voices, brought into English by the best translators, and to celebrating the art of translation. Our publications, events, and educational programming enrich the library of vital literary works, nurture and promote the work of translators, build audiences for literature in translation, and honor the incredible linguistic and cultural diversity of our schools and our world.

HISTORY

The Center for the Art of Translation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, was founded in 2000 by Olivia Sears, an Italian translator and editor who serves as the Center’s board president. In 1993, prior to forming the Center, Sears helped to establish the literary translation journal Two Lines: World Writing in Translation at a time when there were very few venues for translated literature in English, and those handful rarely paid much attention to the translator beyond a brief acknowledgment. Two Lines set out to challenge that trend—to make international literature more accessible to English-speaking audiences, to champion the unsung work of translators, and to create a forum for translators to discuss their craft. In this way, Two Lines serves as the Center’s cornerstone, and the journal’s spirit radiates through all of the Center’s work today.

OUR PROGRAMS

Two Lines Press is an award-winning press committed to publishing outstanding literature in translation.

With the rich publication history of Two Lines serving as its foundation, Two Lines Press specializes in exceptional new writing and overlooked classics that have not previously been translated into English. With books such as Naja Marie Aidt’s Baboon (translated by Denise Newman), which won the 2015 PEN Translation Prize, and Marie NDiaye’s Self-Portrait in Green (translated by Jordan Stump), which won the 2015 CLMP Firecracker Award, Two Lines Press seeks to publish daring and original voices in striking editions.

The biannual journal Two Lines amplifies the aims of the press by capturing the most exciting work being done today by the world’s best translators—and by forging a space to celebrate the art of translation. Within our pages you’ll find work by writers such as Yuri Herrera, Kim Hyesoon, Christos Ikonomou, Rabee Jaber, Emmanuel Moses, Anne Parian, Chika Sagawa, Enrique Vila-Matas, and Jan Wagner—in translations by Lisa Dillman, Don Mee Choi, Karen Emmerich, Kareem Abu-Zeid, Marilyn Hacker, Emma Ramadan, Sawako Nakayasu, Margaret Jull Costa, and David Keplinger, respectively. You’ll also encounter arresting insights on language, literature, and translation from the point of view of writers such as Lydia Davis, Johannes Göransson, Wayne Miller, and Jeffrey Yang.

***

The Two Voices event series hosts international writers and translators for original and provocative conversations about literature and language.

Recent events include Yoshimasu Gozo in conversation with Forrest Gander, Best Translated Book Award-Winner Yuri Herrera in conversation with Daniel Alarcón, Eka Kurniawan in conversation with Annie Tucker, Horacio Castellanos Moya in conversation Katherine Silver, and Malena Mörling in conversation with Pulitzer Prize-Winner and former Poet Laureate Robert Hass.

For our salon series we speak with superior translators, many of whom join us via Skype from far beyond the Bay Area, about their work. Recent conversations have featured Chris Andrews on César Aira, Bela Shayevich on Nobel Prize-Winner Svetlana Alexievich, Ottilie Mulzet on International Man Booker Prize-Winner László Krasznahorkai, Ann Goldstein and Michael Reynolds on the ineffable Elena Ferrante, and Valerie Miles on Enrique Vila-Matas.

Whenever possible, we offer post-event audio online.

***

Poetry Inside Out is a collaborative language arts curriculum that celebrates classroom diversity, builds literacy skills, improves critical thinking, and unlocks creativity by teaching students to translate great poetry from around the world.
As a cross-cultural literacy program, Poetry Inside Out embraces—and relies upon—cultural and linguistic differences in classrooms in schools. It is also a world literature program that treats great poets as teachers and their work as models.

Students who participate in Poetry Inside Out come to understand how close reading heightens comprehension, precise writing enhances communication, and attentive listening builds new knowledge. By practicing the art of translation, students become familiar with the building blocks of language and the full range of expression available to them as readers, writers, speakers, poets, thinkers, and world citizens. Student translations reflect profound responses to language, society, and one another’s personal experiences."
translation  sanfrancisco  poetry  literture  language  events  srg 
january 2019 by robertogreco
EarthBound / MOTHER 2 Translation Comparison « Legends of Localization
"I was a big fan of EarthBound when it was released in 1995. It’s silly to admit, but even though it’s just a game it’s been a big part of my life. In fact, comparing EarthBound with its original Japanese counterpart, MOTHER 2, was one of my earliest EarthBound projects and eventually led to the creation of Legends of Localization!

Naturally, in this sub-section of Legends of Localization we’ll be exploring how MOTHER 2 was localized into EarthBound. It’s more than just comparing simple graphical changes – we actually dig deep into the text to see what was changed, why it might have been changed, and how it was an improvement (or the opposite) over the original version.

For what it’s worth, I’m a professional translator and translating games, anime, movies, etc. is what I do for a living (see my list of my translations here), which also gives me a unique and detailed view of how EarthBound’s translation was handled. Some of the stuff I point out might seem super-picky or uninteresting, but don’t pay it too much mind, that’s just how translation analyzing tends to be 😛

If you’d like a quick taste of the kinds of differences between the two games, here are just a handful of interesting changes that Nintendo of America made:"

[There is a 432-page book about this:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1945908904/ ]
earthbound  mother2  localization  translation  videogames  games  gaming 
november 2018 by robertogreco
The National Book Awards Haul Translators Out of Obscurity - The Atlantic
"In 2018, American literature no longer means literature written by Americans, for Americans, about America."



"Some of the first stories you remember reading or hearing read aloud were probably translations, though chances are you didn’t realize it. “The Emperor’s New Clothes”? That was from the Danish. “Sleeping Beauty”? French. One Thousand and One Nights? Arabic. “Hansel and Gretel”? German. “Pinocchio”? Italian. “Cinderella”? French—or, depending how far you back you want to go, German, Italian, or even Greek. As you grew up, if you read The Swiss Family Robinson or The Count of Monte Cristo, did you notice who translated it?

Not so long ago, it was rare for a translator’s name to appear on a book’s title page, let alone a cover, or for a review of a foreign novel to mention its translator. With a handful of exceptions (Robert Fitzgerald’s Aeneid, anyone’s Proust), if a book originated in a language other than English, that fact was downplayed. Behind this disappearing act lay an assumption that readers would recoil from a book if they realized it was translated, fearing it would be “tricky or complicated or inaccessible,” as Samantha Schnee, the founding editor of the translation journal Words Without Borders, put it.

This is changing. In the span of about 15 years, foreign provenance, once treated almost like a guilty secret, has become a source of allure. As blockbusters from foreign lands invaded American best-seller charts in the first decade of the 21st century—Suite Française, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo—independent and nonprofit presses that specialized in translated literature sprang up from coast to coast; among them Archipelago Books (2003), Europa Editions (2005), Open Letter (2008), New Vessel Press (2012), and Restless Books (2013) in New York; Deep Vellum (2013) in Texas; and Transit Books (2015) in California. On November 14, the National Book Foundation, recognizing this shift in relevance, will award a Translated Literature prize—the first category added to the National Book Awards in more than two decades.

Lisa Lucas, the foundation’s executive director, sees the prize as “a lens. It’s a spotlight … It’s not about a distillation of all the works that are meritorious; the point is that you’re celebrating.”

There are a few possible explanations for this metamorphosis from near-invisibility to celebration. One is that in the late-20th century, a craze arose for retranslating the classics. Critics, always fascinated by what’s difficult and eager to spot a trend, took note, raising the profile of translators in the process. Perhaps the most prominent in this cohort are Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, a husband-and-wife team who embarked in the 1980s on the audacious project of retranslating much of the Russian canon—which they are still doing, three decades on. Every time they let fly a new Slavic doorstop, a critical explosion ensues. Today the release of any new translation of a famous work—by Homer, Proust, Kafka, Flaubert—tends to elicit a passionate reaction from the literary elite, even if the translator is relatively unknown.

A complementary trend at the turn of the century heightened interest in the lived experience of people in or from other nations. A generation of American writers born outside of this country were coming of age: Chang-Rae Lee and Edwidge Danticat, Jhumpa Lahiri and Gary Shteyngart, Khaled Hosseini and Junot Díaz. In their books, they reached into other lands—Korea, Haiti, India, England, Russia, Afghanistan, and the Dominican Republic—braiding imported history, attitudes, and priorities into American narratives. Although they wrote in English, they were translating foreign cultures through their fiction. In the process, they created a flourishing literary hybrid that broadened domestic reading tastes.

Even as the identity of American fiction took on an international flavor, technological advances in machine translation demystified foreign languages for monolingual Americans, making the outside world more legible. Cellphones can translate street signs, notice boards, and menus into English (or German, or Chinese, or French) with the click of a button; internet translation engines can convert foreign-language news stories into readable English in seconds. Philipp Koehn, a computer scientist at Johns Hopkins University who wrote the book on machine translation (literally, it’s called Statistical Machine Translation), recalls that when he started out in this field, 20 years ago, “all that these machines produced was gibberish. We were amazed when something came out that you could almost read.” Now, however, “if you find a newspaper article in good languages—by which I mean the ones we have enough data on, like French or English—and run it through Google Translate, you actually have to look for errors.”"



"In 2018, American literature no longer means literature written by Americans, for Americans, about America. It means literature that, wherever it comes from, whatever nation it describes, American readers recognize as relevant to them, as familiar. Foreign is no longer foreign.

That said, the question of how “foreign” a translation should “feel” provokes fierce disagreement. When you open a translated novel from overseas, do you want to sense its author’s French, German, Swedish, Spanish, or Italian sensibility, even if that breaks the spell of your reading experience? Or do you want to feel as if the book has magically converted itself into flawless, easeful English, attuned to your own idiom? (This is called the “foreignization versus domestication” debate.) And should a translation hew closely to the language and structure of the original, or should it re-craft the language to appeal to the target audience? (This is the “faithfulness” question.) Hardly anyone agrees—not editors, not scholars, not translators, and not readers. This makes it difficult even for experts to reach a consensus on which translated new books by unfamiliar authors and translators should be singled out for praise. Another difficulty is that few have read the translated books in the original language, which means that most base their assessments on their opinion of the English, not knowing to what extent it reflects the urtext.

That’s why Lucas prefers to avoid using the word best when she discusses the prize contenders. “There are always going to be people who object to which books are chosen,” she says. “They’ll say, ‘This should have been on the long list, this should have been on the finalists list, this or that book should have won.’” To her mind, all the books win because the act of nominating them “generates energy, conversation, and critique.” The prize is not a competition, but an affirmation.

Collectively, the five titles on the National Book Foundation’s shortlist for the Translated Literature prize demonstrate the transformation and continuity of America’s investment in international voices. Three of the books come from two houses that formed only in the past 15 years—Archipelago, with Love, by Hanne Orstavik, translated from the Norwegian by Martin Aitken; and Europa, with Disoriental, translated from the French by Tina Kover, and Trick, by Domenico Starnone, translated from the Italian by Jhumpa Lahiri. A fourth title, The Emissary, by Yoko Tawada, translated from the Japanese by Margaret Mitsutani, comes from the venerable independent house New Directions. Only one of the books, Flights, by Olga Tokarczuk, translated from the Polish by Jennifer Croft, comes from one of New York’s “big five” houses (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster). It was published by Riverhead, a division of Penguin Random House.

Still, there is room for progress. All five of the shortlisted books feature the translator’s name on the title page, but only two put it on the cover. One of these, Trick, presumably does so because its translator, Lahiri, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist, is better known in the United States than its author. Imagine that: reading for the translator."
2018  literature  translation  us  language  languages  chang-raelee  edwidgedanticat  jhumpalahiri  garyshteyngart  khaledhosseini  junotdíazphilippkoehn  lieslschillinger  machinetranslation  karloveknausgaard 
november 2018 by robertogreco
In What Language Does Rain Fall Over Tormented Cities? – Raiot
"Text of The W. G. Sebald Lecture on Literary Translation by Arundhati Roy
5 June 2018, The British Library, London."

[more excerpts coming soon]

"Twenty years after the publication of The God of Small Things, I finished writing my second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Perhaps I shouldn’t say this, but if a novel can have an enemy, then the enemy of this novel is the idea of “One nation, one religion, one language.” As I composed the cover page of my manuscript, in place of the author’s name, I was tempted to write: “Translated from the original(s) by Arundhati Roy.” The Ministry is a novel written in English but imagined in several languages. Translation as a primary form of creation was central to the writing of it (and here I don’t mean the translation of the inchoate and the prelingual into words). Regardless of which language (and in whose mother tongue) The Ministry was written in, this particular narrative about these particular people in this particular universe would had to be imagined in several languages. It is a story that emerges out of an ocean of languages, in which a teeming ecosystem of living creatures—official-language fish, unofficial-dialect mollusks, and flashing shoals of word-fish—swim around, some friendly with each other, some openly hostile, and some outright carnivorous. But they are all nourished by what the ocean provides. And all of them, like the people in The Ministry, have no choice but to coexist, to survive, and to try to understand each other. For them, translation is not a high-end literary art performed by sophisticated polyglots. Translation is daily life, it is street activity, and it’s increasingly a necessary part of ordinary folks’ survival kit. And so, in this novel of many languages, it is not only the author, but the characters themselves who swim around in an ocean of exquisite imperfection, who constantly translate for and to each other, who constantly speak across languages, and who constantly realize that people who speak the same language are not necessarily the ones who understand each other best.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness has been—is being—translated into forty-eight languages. Each of those translators has to grapple with a language that is infused with many languages including, if I may coin a word, many kinds of Englishes (sociolects is perhaps the correct word, but I’ll stay with Englishes because it is deliciously worse) and translate it into another language that is infused with many languages. I use the word infused advisedly, because I am not speaking merely of a text that contains a smattering of quotations or words in other languages as a gimmick or a trope, or one that plays the Peter Sellers game of mocking Indian English, but of an attempt to actually create a companionship of languages.

Of the forty-eight translations, two are Urdu and Hindi. As we will soon see, the very fact of having to name Hindi and Urdu as separate languages, and publish them as separate books with separate scripts, contains a history that is folded into the story of The Ministry. Given the setting of the novel, the Hindi and Urdu translations are, in part, a sort of homecoming. I soon learned that this did nothing to ease the task of the translators. To give you an example: The human body and its organs play an important part in The Ministry. We found that Urdu, that most exquisite of languages, which has more words for love than perhaps any other language in the world, has no word for vagina. There are words like the Arabic furj, which is considered to be archaic and more or less obsolete, and there are euphemisms that range in meaning from “hidden part,” “breathing hole,” “vent,” and “path to the uterus.” The most commonly used one is aurat ki sharamgah. A woman’s place of shame. As you can see, we had trouble on our hands. Before we rush to judgment, we must remember that pudenda in Latin means “that whereof one should feel shame.” In Danish, I was told by my translator, the phrase is “lips of shame.” So, Adam and Eve are alive and well, their fig leaves firmly in place.

Although I am tempted to say more about witnessing the pleasures and difficulties of The Ministry of Utmost Happiness being translated into other languages, more than the “post-writing” translations, it is the “pre-writing” translation that I want to talk about today. None of it came from an elaborate, pre-existing plan. I worked purely by instinct. It is only while preparing for this lecture that I began to really see how much it mattered to me to persuade languages to shift around, to make room for each other. Before we dive into the Ocean of Imperfection and get caught up in the eddies and whirlpools of our historic blood feuds and language wars, in order to give you a rough idea of the terrain, I will quickly chart the route by which I arrived at my particular patch of the shoreline."



"So, how shall we answer Pablo Neruda’s question that is the title of this lecture?

In what language does rain fall over tormented cities?7

I’d say, without hesitation, in the Language of Translation."
arundhatiroy  language  languages  translation  literature  2018  india  colonialism  nationalism  authenticity  elitism  caste  nativism  identity  culture  society  inbetween  betweenness  multilingual  polyglot  everyday  communication  english  hindi  nationstates  imperialism  urdu  persian  tamil  sinhala  bangladesh  pakistan  srilanka  canon 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Katrina Dodson on Clarice Lispector, "Brazil's Kafka" — Chapter & Verse
"The figure of Clarice Lispector (1920-1977) left two mysteries in her wake: the mystery of how her writing hits us so powerfully, and the mystery of how it came to be composed by this particular Brazilian-Jewish woman, who was, by turns, a law student, a glamorous journalist, a diplomat’s wife, a mother of sons, and, by the 1970s, perhaps the most treasured writer in Brazil’s literary firmament.

Katrina Dodson has spent the last several years grappling with Lispector's mysteries in a very tactile way: as the translator of her Complete Stories, a collection whose pieces range from the comic to the anguished, the mystical to the surreal, the journalistic to the experimental. In their variety Lispector's short stories serve as a perfect entry-point into her multifaceted genius, and so it's quite fitting that Dodson's translation of the complete short stories — which recently won the 2015 PEN Translation Prize — has helped touch off a full-fledged Lispector revival in the English-speaking world.

In this episode, Dodson reads two Lispector short stories in their entirety — the fable-like "A Chicken" and the intricate "The Smallest Woman in the World" — and reflects on how she tried to render Lispector's very special Portuguese in the English language.

Dodson's sensitive translation of Lispector's Complete Stories has been much acclaimed. In the citation for the PEN award, the PEN judges called Dodson's translation "a revelation that lays bare the breadth of both the author's and translator's talent...An extraordinary translation of an exceptional author." Dodson holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley."

[direct link to SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/chapterversepod/katrina-dodson-on-the-short-stories-of-clarece-lispector ]
claricelispector  tolisten  katrinadodson  brazil  brasil  2016  benjaminmoser  translation 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Ecclesiastes
"For National Novel Generation Month, a superposition of ten translations of a book of the Bible: http://hypotext.co/bible "
https://twitter.com/hypotext/status/934484306675855361

"On refresh, each sentence of the supertranslation is drawn randomly from one of ten translations of Ecclesiastes. It's very likely that no two people will read the same book!

Put differently, this book is sampled from a distribution over possible understandings of Ecclesiastes, like a more random Septuagint.

The code and corpus can be found here: https://github.com/hypotext/hyperbible
h/t @tinysubversions for starting NaNoGenMo!"

[from https://github.com/hypotext/hyperbible :

"The new revised international KJV-ASV-DRB-DBT-ERV-WBT-WEB-YET-AKJV-WNT version of Ecclesiastes.

Each sentence in this translation of Ecclesiastes is drawn uniformly at random from one of ten translations of the Bible on every refresh. Study the text. Learn it. Love it. Live it. Refresh the page and you'll never see it again.

Put slightly differently: this book is sampled from the distributions of possible understandings of Ecclesiastes, like a more systematic Septuagint. You haven't really understood the text until you've studied the nuances of each of its variations.

Made for National Novel Generation Month 2017, Ecclesiastes (KJV-ASV-DRB-DBT-ERV-WBT-WEB-YET-AKJV-WNT) runs to 10k words per translation, but as it draws its strength by consuming ten (slightly) different translations of the Bible, the hyperobject weighs in at well above the threshold of 50k.

Much thanks to the King James Bible, American Standard Version, Douay-Rheims Bible, Darby Bible Translation, English Revised Version, Webster Bible Translation, World English Bible, Young's Literal Translation, American KJV, and Weymouth New Testament.

Different translations are optimized for different qualities, such as "thought-for-thought" or "word-for-word." Here are three comparisons (1, 2, 3) and a page on the Douay-Rheims Bible.

I'd be curious to see a quantitative study on the qualities of the translations, such as where the mean words lie in an embedding space."]
via:robinsloan  ecclesiates  bible  translation  nanogenmo 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Welcome - TheaterEars — TheaterEars
"Family Members who can't speak English can now watch movies in the theater in their own language with the TheaterEars app."



"For too long, language has prevented families from coming together at the movies. Now your parents, grandparents, and other friends and family members have the freedom to choose their movie language with the Theater Ears app.

The Theater Ears app utilizes a new type of technology that enables you to sync to a movie directly through your phone's microphone. Once the connection is made, the full movie audio experience from dialogue, sound effects, and music plays directly through your earbuds in the language of your choice. "
apps  translation  multilingual  ios  iphone  android  film 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Notes + Links / Casey A. Gollan — At once something like scales fell from the eyes....
"At once something like scales fell from the eyes. All at once something like scales fell from the eyes. Immediately something like scales fell from the eyes. Immediately something like fish scales fell from the eyes. And immediately something like scales fell from the eyes. And immediately some things that were like scales fell from the eyes. And immediately there fell from the eyes as it had been scales. And immediately there fell from the eyes as it were scales. And immediately there fell from the eyes as it had been scales. And immediately there fell from the eyes something like scales. And straightway there fell from the eyes as it were scales. Instantly something like scales fell from the eyes. Instantly there dropped from the eyes what seemed to be scales."
translation  interpretation  bible 
august 2017 by robertogreco
There's a translation joke for Korean-Americans in the subtitles of Okja.
"There are many excellent jokes in Okja, Bong Joon-ho’s genre-mashing movie about the titular GMO super-pig and its kid caretaker Mija, which is now streaming on Netflix. There are poop jokes; there are Tilda Swinton’s braces; there are references that run the high-low gamut, including a re-creation of the Obama war-room photo and Andrew Lincoln’s poster-board confessional from Love Actually. But there’s another joke buried in the subtitles, a little gem reserved for that special group of people who can speak both Korean and English.

The moment happens when the radical animal-rights group ALF (the Animal Liberation Front), headed by Jay (Paul Dano), ostensibly rescues Okja from the Mirando corporation. But what they’re really trying to do is use Okja as a mole to expose Mirando’s animal-rights abuses. To do this, they would have to hack into Okja’s monitoring system and allow the super-pig to be taken back to the lab. Jay won’t go through with the plan without Mija’s (Ahn Seo-hyun) consent, but the only way to communicate with her is through fellow ALF member K, a Korean-American character played by Steven Yeun. When they ask Mija what she wants to do, she says that all she wants is to go back to the mountains with Okja, but K lies and says that she agrees to the plan, much to the delight of his comrades.

[screenshot]

With that, each ALF member jumps out of the truck into the Han River below, with K the last to go. According to the subtitles, his parting words to Mija are “Mija! Try learning English. It opens new doors!” In an earlier version I watched, the subtitle read, “How’s my Korean?” What he actually says is “Mija! Also, my name is Koo Soon-bum.”

[screenshot]

It’s a flagrant mistranslation—but one that would only be apparent to those who can speak both languages. Moreover, the mistranslation is a clever subversion of the supremacy of English. The subtitle is a command to learn English—something that every Korean student has heard throughout her life—but to actually understand what K is saying, you would have to know Korean. There’s an added layer of comedy to the name itself, which has the whiff of the old country about it: “Koo Soon-bum” is sort of like a white man saying his name is “Buford Attaway.” As Yeun told me, “When he says ‘Koo Soon-bum,’ it’s funny to you if you’re Korean, because that’s a dumb name. There’s no way to translate that. That’s like, the comedy drop-off, the chasm between countries.”

Bong wrote the character of K specifically with Yeun in mind, because he’s a character that only a Korean-American could play. Yeun’s performance itself is a nod to that gap; it reads differently if you know Korean. While it’s obvious that he’s a bit of a dolt, if you have the ear for the language, his failures are more apparent, because he speaks with the stiltedness of a second-generation speaker (Yeun’s actual pronunciation is a lot better). He’s not quite sure of himself, and is trying to fit into both spaces, but can’t. (This is also why the other subtitle joke that I saw, “How’s my Korean?” works in a subtler way.) Yeun said the character “speaks to the island we live on”: He was a character written for Korean-Americans.

Throughout Okja, Bong plays with the idea of translation, both its necessities and inherent limitations, and the inevitable comedy that arises out of that space. When Jay learns that K deliberately lied, he starts to beat him up, telling him to “never mistranslate!” Toward the end of the movie, K pops back up with a fresh tattoo that reads, “Translations are sacred.”

[screenshot]

Part of what makes Okja so remarkable is that Bong Joon-ho has found ways to make jokes that track across both cultural spheres. Unlike the wave of male Korean directors who crossed over into Hollywood around the same time, Park Chan-wook on Stoker or Kim Jee-woon with The Last Stand, Bong never let go of his roots. He cast Korean actors Song Kang-ho and Ko Ah-sung and had them speaking Korean dialogue alongside Hollywood stars Chris Evans and Octavia Spencer in his dystopian train ride thriller Snowpiercer. He furthers the Korean-American dynamic in Okja, centering on a young Korean girl and pitting her against the forces of an American corporation headed by Tilda Swinton’s knobby-kneed CEO. Just as the dialogue shifts seamlessly between both languages, Bong easily trots around the world, from the Korean countryside dotted with persimmon trees to the underground shopping malls of Seoul to the streets of New York City.
“Director Bong is probably one of the few, if not the only, people I’ve seen so far, that’s been able to bridge the two together,” said Yeun. “I don’t mean being able to do an American movie—a lot of directors could probably do that—but bridging the two cultures together in a cohesive way. That’s a tall order, and somehow, he accomplishes that.”"
language  translation  korean  film  okja  bongjoon-ho  stevenyeun  subtlety  via:sophia  culture  thirdculturekids  liminalspaces  2017 
july 2017 by robertogreco
John Berger: ‘Writing is an off-shoot of something deeper’ | Books | The Guardian
[via: http://jarrettfuller.tumblr.com/post/105319669752/language-cannot-be-reduced-to-a-dictionary-or ]

"I have been writing for about 80 years. First letters then poems and speeches, later stories and articles and books, now notes. The activity of writing has been a vital one for me; it helps me to make sense and continue. Writing, however, is an off-shoot of something deeper and more general – our relationship with language as such. And the subject of these few notes is language.

Let’s begin by examining the activity of translating from one language to another. Most translations today are technological, whereas I’m referring to literary translations: the translation of texts that concern individual experience.

The conventional view of what this involves proposes that the translator or translators study the words on one page in one language and then render them into another language on another page. This involves a so-called word-for-word translation, and then an adaptation to respect and incorporate the linguistic tradition and rules of the second language, and finally another working-over to recreate the equivalent of the “voice” of the original text. Many – perhaps most – translations follow this procedure and the results are worthy, but second-rate.

Why? Because true translation is not a binary affair between two languages but a triangular affair. The third point of the triangle being what lay behind the words of the original text before it was written. True translation demands a return to the pre-verbal. One reads and rereads the words of the original text in order to penetrate through them to reach, to touch, the vision or experience that prompted them. One then gathers up what one has found there and takes this quivering almost wordless “thing” and places it behind the language it needs to be translated into. And now the principal task is to persuade the host language to take in and welcome the “thing” that is waiting to be articulated.

This practice reminds us that a language cannot be reduced to a dictionary or stock of words and phrases. Nor can it be reduced to a warehouse of the works written in it. A spoken language is a body, a living creature, whose physiognomy is verbal and whose visceral functions are linguistic. And this creature’s home is the inarticulate as well as the articulate.

Consider the term “mother tongue”. In Russian it is rodnoy-yazik, which means “nearest” or “dearest tongue”. At a pinch one could call it “darling tongue”. Mother tongue is one’s first language, first heard as an infant.

And within one mother tongue are all mother tongues. Or to put it another way – every mother tongue is universal. Noam Chomsky has brilliantly demonstrated that all languages – not only verbal ones – have certain structures and procedures in common. And so a mother tongue is related to (rhymes with?) non-verbal languages – such as the languages of signs, of behaviour, of spatial accommodation. When I’m drawing, I try to unravel and transcribe a text of appearances, which already has, I know, its indescribable but assured place in my mother tongue.

Words, terms, phrases can be separated from the creature of their language and used as mere labels. They then become inert and empty. The repetitive use of acronyms is a simple example of this. Most mainstream political discourse today is composed of words that, separated from any creature of language, are inert. And such dead “word-mongering” wipes out memory and breeds a ruthless complacency.

What has prompted me to write over the years is the hunch that something needs to be told, and that if I don’t try to tell it, it risks not being told. I picture myself as a stop-gap man rather than a consequential, professional writer.

After I’ve written a few lines I let the words slip back into the creature of their language. And there, they are instantly recognised and greeted by a host of other words, with whom they have an affinity of meaning, or of opposition, or of metaphor or alliteration or rhythm. I listen to their confabulation. Together they are contesting the use to which I put the words I chose. They are questioning the roles I allotted them.

So I modify the lines, change a word or two, and submit them again. Another confabulation begins. And it goes on like this until there is a low murmur of provisional consent. Then I proceed to the next paragraph.

Another confabulation begins ...

Others can place me as they like as a writer. For myself, I’m the son of a bitch – and you can guess who the bitch is, no?"
johnberger  2014  translation  language  words  writing  thinking  voice  meaning 
january 2017 by robertogreco
One Book: One Press
"This year, I did something I'd always been meaning to do: I subscribed to the entire year's output of a small press, in this case Wave Books [http://www.wavepoetry.com/collections/subscriptions ], the Seattle poetry publisher. There were new books by writers I already loved, like Renee Gladman and Mary Ruefle. There were books by new-to-me poets who I now adore, like Hoa Nguyen. And there were also books I thought were so-so, or didn't finish, or didn't get around to at all. But I loved the fact that that discrete output of a publisher for the year 2016 came to my doorstep. I loved it so much that next year, and maybe every year in the future, I am going to subscribe to another small press.

A number of small presses will send you a bunch of their books for a smallish lump sum (for instance, Dorothy [http://dorothyproject.com/books-gallery/ ] will send you all 14 of their books for $140) but for me the temporality, the getting the books as they're published, is the exciting part. Here are a few that do a yearly subscription:

Two Lines Press [http://twolinespress.com/subscribe/ ]: literature in translation, fifty bucks! Includes a newly translated Marie NDiaye

PM Press [https://secure.pmpress.org/index.php?l=product_detail&p=1 ]: radical history/politics/lifestyle with occasional fiction, monthly subscriptions

Deep Vellum [http://deepvellum.org/product/10-book-subscription/ ]: literature in translation, subscribe for 5 or 10 books

Aqueduct Press [http://www.aqueductpress.com/orders.php ]: feminist science fiction, subscribe to Conversation Pieces series

Black Ocean [http://www.blackocean.org/subscriptions14/ ]: literature, mostly poetry

Sarabande [http://www.sarabandebooks.org/subscriptions/2017-subscription ]: ditto, includes a Mary Ruefle chapbook

Perhaps supporting a small press might brighten your or a friend's year."
suzannefischer  books  subscriptions  gifts  publishing  literature  poetry  sciencefiction  translation  history  politics  temporality 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Eyeo 2016 – Sarah Hendren on Vimeo
"Design for Know-Nothings, Dilettantes, and Melancholy Interlopers – Translators, impresarios, believers, and the heartbroken—this is a talk about design outside of authorship and ownership, IP or copyright, and even outside of research and collaboration. When and where do ideas come to life? What counts as design? Sara talks about some of her own "not a real designer" work, but mostly she talks about the creative work of others: in marine biology, architecture, politics, education. Lots of nerdy history, folks."
sarahendren  eyeo2016  2016  eyeo  dilettantes  interlopers  translation  ownership  copyright  collaboration  education  marinebiology  architecture  design  research  learning  howwelearn  authorship  socialengagement  criticaldesign  thehow  thewhy  traction  meaning  place  placefulness  interconnectedness  cause  purpose  jacquescousteau  invention  dabbling  amateurs  amateurism  exploration  thinking  filmmaking  toolmaking  conviviality  convivialtools  ivanillich  impresarios  titles  names  naming  language  edges  liminalspaces  outsiders  insiders  dabblers  janeaddams  technology  interdependence  community  hullhouse  generalists  radicalgeneralists  audrelorde  vaclavhavel  expertise  pointofview  disability  adaptability  caseygollan  caitrinlynch  ingenuity  hacks  alinceshepherd  inclinedplanes  dance  pedagogy  liminality  toolsforconviviality  disabilities  interconnected  interconnectivity 
august 2016 by robertogreco
K.T. Billey: Utmost Import: Instagram & the Future of the Icelandic Language - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics
[about: https://www.instagram.com/everysinglewordinicelandic/

"Futbol vikings, moonbeams, Björk—Iceland has long-since captured the global imagination, often capitalizing on foreign fascination. Tourism has been essential to the country’s post-crash economic recovery and guerrilla activities in the form of social media have emerged as a complement to ad campaigns and travel initiatives. Put simply, the posted image is the new word of mouth and Iceland is Instagrammer heaven. When cabin porn is a noun-ed phenomenon, Grade-A bragging visuals have brought hordes of visitors and money to the Nordic island. However, the influx has not been without anxiety. One Instagram account embodies the bane and boon of tourism for contemporary Icelandic identity.

Every Single Word in Icelandic, @everysinglewordinicelandic, is one of the most charming mini-galleries around. The concept is simple: pictographs break down the etymology of Icelandic words, illustrating cultural personality and the magic of language while teaching interested followers a thing or two.

Created by Eunsan Huh, a graphic designer who began learning Icelandic in New York City, many Every Single Word entries are Icelandic symbology: wool sweater, hot dog, whale (peysa, pylsa, hvalur). Others reflect Iceland’s absorption of new practices. In a shepherding country, chopsticks are called matprjónar or “food knitting needles.” Idioms also pop up—in Icelandic a tough cookie could be called a harðjaxl, a “hard molar.” The ranks of the account’s followers has steadily grown. Particularly in terms of nature and ‘folk’ attitudes, we seem collectively predisposed to being amused by Iceland the way audiences at comedy shows come ready to laugh.

The interest in Icelandic is certainly welcome. A language spoken by about 300 000 people must work to preserve itself. Reliance on importation and a history of Danish rule make Iceland no stranger to fears of foreign influence. A vital function of the Icelandic Language Council is to establish Icelandic words for new inventions. Drawing on Old Norse and Icelandic roots, the goal is to prevent an influx of loanwords—once Danish, now English—from taking over. Some borrowed words have taken hold—the use of banani far surpasses bjúgaldin “sausage fruit”—but preservation efforts have paid off in terms of language survival and intrigue. The word for television is a popular example that reminds us of how strange tv was upon its invention, as well as of the beauty of the English word. Sjónvarp breaks down into “vision caster.” Tele-vision. It may seem obvious, augljós, (auga<, eye, + ljós, light), but is there anything we take more for granted?

Perhaps one thing. The internet, whose here-to-eternity English poses an unprecedented threat to Iceland’s notoriously difficult, poetic, and odd tongue. Icelandic schooling has long included English, Danish, Latin, and various other languages, but English is particularly alluring for young people looking to participate in global arenas. Not just the online, but in technology use in general. As the Icelandic writer Sjón put it in an interview I conducted with him for Asymptote International Literary Journal,“When the day comes that we have to speak to our refrigerators in English (which I believe is not far in the future), Icelandic will retreat very fast.”

Former President of Iceland Vigdis Finnbogadóttir drew an oft-repeated distinction: Icelandic is not a ‘small language’ but rather ‘a language spoken by few.’ According to Finnbogadóttir, an active linguistic advocate (and the world’s first elected woman head of state—fewer speakers often boast when they can), there are no small languages. This rings true to anyone who has been mouth-baffled in a land of extensive compound words. It is not a numbers game, but hundreds of years of Nordic literature—an immeasurable contribution to world culture and mythology—is contingent on linguistic knowledge."



"Tomorrow’s folk tale might be a cautionary yarn about the Pokémon hunter who fell into Goðafoss. Purists might cringe at the notion, romantics might refuse to read it—or watch the trailer. There is much to bemoan about the evolving tension between technology and our physical and social lives: bodily detachment, fractured attention, intimate dis-ease. Worries about Icelandic are well-founded, but its speakers are aware. Gerður Kristný responded to the ‘why not write in English’ question by explaining that language has so much to do with Icelandic independence and identity, she will always write in Icelandic. It is her language. Technology looms, but pride and artistry is made of different stuff. Human obstinacy is a phenomenon unto itself.

The fate of Icelandic and other languages spoken by few remains to be seen, read, and heard. For now, as with anything, we can take the mixed bag, if we believe we have a choice. Absorbing positive resonance when we can is a coping skill as venerable as sagas. Marveling at inventions creates space for thought about how to use them well.

Rarity may protect languages via the kind of cult interest Icelandic enjoys. Print was supposed to be dead by now, or the realm of fetishized art objects and eccentric collectors. Yet book-devices haven’t supplanted books themselves. There are simply more ways to read. The internet is akin to Borges’ Babel in both threat and potential—it cultivates a browsing attitude that eats its children but also offers a place to be intentionally communicative. Never have we had such a grand chance to self-define or such an audience for our own terms.

“Orchestra” is a pertinent Every Single Word in Icelandic entry. Hljómsveit, literally “sound team.” The ancient chorus persists, in one form or another, and it is what we make of it."

[See also: http://grapevine.is/author/eunsan-huh/
https://www.behance.net/gallery/28612451/Every-Single-Word-In-Icelandic ]
iceland  icelandic  language  languages  instagram  ktbilley  eunsanhuh  symbols  symbology  history  linguistics  audio  pronunciation  translation  english  illustration  via:tealtan  instagrams 
august 2016 by robertogreco
a16z Podcast: The Meaning of Emoji 💚 🍴 🗿 – Andreessen Horowitz
"This podcast is all about emoji. But it’s really about how innovation really comes about — through the tension between standards vs. proprietary moves; the politics of time and place; and the economics of creativity, from making to funding … Beginning with a project on Kickstarter to crowd-translate Moby Dick entirely into emoji to getting dumplings into emoji form and ending with the Library of Congress and an “emoji-con”. So joining us for this conversation are former VP of Data at Kickstarter Fred Benenson (and the 👨 behind ‘Emoji Dick’) and former New York Times reporter and current Unicode emoji subcommittee member Jennifer 8. Lee (one of the 👩 behind the dumpling emoji).

So yes, this podcast is all about emoji. But it’s also about where emoji fits in the taxonomy of social communication — from emoticons to stickers — and why this matters, from making emotions machine-readable to being able to add “limbic” visual expression to our world of text. If emoji is a (very limited) language, what tradeoffs do we make for fewer degrees of freedom and greater ambiguity? How exactly does one then translate emoji (let alone translate something into emoji)? How do emoji work, both technically underneath the hood and in the (committee meeting) room where it happens? And finally, what happens as emoji becomes a means of personalized expression?

This a16z Podcast is all about emoji. We only wish it could be in emoji!"
emoji  open  openstandards  proprietarystandards  communication  translation  fredbenenson  jennifer8.lee  sonalchokshi  emopjidick  mobydick  unicode  apple  google  microsoft  android  twitter  meaning  standardization  technology  ambiguity  emoticons  text  reading  images  symbols  accessibility  selfies  stickers  chat  messaging  universality  uncannyvalley  snapchat  facebook  identity  race  moby-dick 
august 2016 by robertogreco
61 Glimpses of the Future — Today’s Office — Medium
"1. If you want to understand how our planet will turn out this century, spend time in China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Brazil.

2. If you’re wondering how long the Chinese economic miracle will last, the answer will probably be found in the bets made on commercial and residential developments in Chinese 3rd to 6th tier cities in Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai and Tibet.

4. Touch ID doesn’t work at high altitude, finger prints are too dry.

5. You no longer need to carry a translation app on your phone. If there’s someone to speak with, they’ll have one on theirs.

6. A truly great border crossing will hold a mirror up to your soul.

9. The art of successful borderland travel is to know when to pass through (and be seen by) army checkpoints and when to avoid them.

10. Borders are permeable.

12. The premium for buying gasoline in a remote village in the GBAO is 20% more than the nearest town. Gasoline is harder to come by, and more valuable than connectivity.

13. After fifteen years of professionally decoding human behaviour, I’m still surprised by the universality of body language.

14. Pretentious people are inherently less curious.

15. Everything is fine, until that exact moment when it’s obviously not. It is easy to massively over/under estimate risk based on current contextual conditions. Historical data provides some perspective, but it usually comes down to your ability to read undercurrents, which in turn comes down to having built a sufficiently trusted relationship with people within those currents.

16. Sometimes, everyone who says they know what is going on, is wrong.

17. Every time you describe someone in your own country as a terrorist, a freedom is taken away from a person in another country.

18. Every country has its own notion of “terrorism”, and the overuse, and reaction to the term in your country helps legitimise the crack-down of restive populations in other countries.

17. China is still arguably the lowest-trust consumer society in the world. If a product can be faked it will be. Out of necessity, they also have the most savvy consumers in the world.

18. After twenty years of promising to deliver, Chinese solar products are now practical (available for purchase, affordable, sufficiently efficient, robust) for any community on the edge-of-grid, anywhere in the world. Either shared, or sole ownership.

20. When a fixed price culture meets a negotiation culture, fun ensues.

21. The sharing economy is alive and well, and has nothing to with your idea of the sharing economy.

25. Chinese truckers plying their trade along the silk road deserve to be immortalised as the the frontiersmen of our generation. (They are always male.)

29. The most interesting places have map coordinates, but no names.

30. There are are number of companies with a competitive smartphone portfolio. The rise of Oppo can be explained by its presence on every block of 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th tier Chinese cities.

32. People wearing fake Supreme are way more interesting than those that wear the real deal.

33. An iPhone box full of fungus caterpillar in Kham Tibet sold wholesale, is worth more than a fully specced iPhone. It’s worth 10x at retail in 1st/2nd Tier China. It is a better aphrodisiac too.

35. One of the more interesting aspects of very high net worth individuals (the financial 0.001%), is the entourage that they attract, and the interrelations between members of that entourage. This is my first time travelling with a spiritual leader (the religious 0.001%), whose entourage included disciples, and members of the financial 0.01% looking for a karmic handout. The behaviour of silicon valley’s nouveau riche is often parodied but when it comes to weirdness, faith trumps money every time. Any bets on the first Silicon Valley billionaire to successfully marry the two? Or vice versa?

37. For every person that longs for nature, there are two that long for man-made.

38. Tibetan monks prefer iOS over Android.

40. In order to size up the tribe/sub-tribe you’re part of, any group of young males will first look at the shoes on your feet.

42. After the Urumqi riots in 2009 the Chinese government cut of internet connectivity to Xinjiang province for a full year. Today connectivity is so prevalent and integrated into every aspect of Xinjiang society, that cutting it off it would hurt the state’s ability to control the population more than hinder their opposition. There are many parts to the current state strategy is to limit subversion, the most visible of which is access to the means of travel. For example every gas station between Kashi and Urumqi has barbed wire barriers at its gates, and someone checking IDs.

43. TV used to be the primary way for the edge-of-grid have-nots to discover what they want to have. Today it is seeing geotagged images from nearby places, sometimes hundreds of kilometres away.

44. Facebook entering China would be a Pyrrhic victory, that would lead to greater scrutiny and regulation worldwide. Go for it.

45. The sooner western companies own up to copying WeChat, the sooner we can get on with acknowledging a significant shift in the global creative center of gravity.

48. Green tea beats black tea for acclimatising to altitude sickness.

49. The most interesting destinations aren’t geotagged, are not easily geo-taggable. Bonus points if you can figure that one out.

50. The first time you confront a leader, never do it in front of their followers, they’ll have no way to back down.

51. There is more certainty in reselling the past, than inventing the future.

55. Pockets of Chengdu are starting to out-cool Tokyo.

56. To what extent does cultural continuity, and societal harmony comes from three generations under one roof?

58. If you want to understand where a country is heading pick a 2nd or 3rd tier city and revisit it over many years. Chengdu remains my bellwether 2nd tier Chinese city. It’s inland, has a strong local identity and sub-cultures, and has room to grow. Bonus: its’ only a few hours from some of the best mountain ranges in the world.

60. The difference between 2.5G and 3G? In the words of a smartphone wielding GBAO teenager on the day 3G data was switched on her town, “I can breathe”."
janchipchase  2016  travel  technology  borders  authenticity  pretension  curiosity  china  tibet  japan  eligion  culture  capitalism  wechat  facebook  android  ios  tokyo  chengdu  future  past  communication  tea  greentea  certainty  monks  translation  nature  indonesia  nigeria  brasil  brazil  india  shoes  connectivity  internet  mobile  phones  smartphones  sharingeconomy  economics  negotiation  touchid  cities  urban  urbanism  location  risk  relationships  consumers  terrorism  truckers  oppo  siliconvalley  wealth  nouveauriche  comparison  generations 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Inclusive on Vimeo
"Learn how human-led design makes a deep and connecting impact, leading to innovative and inclusive solutions.

Learn more at inclusivethefilm.com

Participants:
Catharine Blaine K-8 School
Susan Goltsman - MIG, Inc
Will Lewis and Ted Hart - Skype Translator
TJ Parker - Pillpack
Graham Pullin - University of Dundee
The High School Affiliated to Renmin University Of China (RDFZ) Beijing
Jutta Treviranus - OCAD University
Mike Vanis - Interaction Designer"
inclusion  inclusivity  microsoft  via:ablerism  2015  design  catharineblaine  susangoltsman  willlewis  tedhart  tjparker  grahampullin  juttatreviranus  mikevanis  video  documentary  audiencesofone  sewing  aging  retirement  work  ambientintimacy  memory  nostalgia  presence  telepresence  inclusivedesign  technology  translation  healthcare  prescriptions  playgrounds  seattle  sanfrancisco  captioning  literacy  communication  hearing  deaf  deafness  skype 
june 2016 by robertogreco
The 'Not Face' Is Universally Understood - D-brief
"When your boss strolls up to your desk at 5 p.m. on a Friday and asks you to work on Saturday, your facial expression tells the whole story. And, according to a new study from researchers at Ohio State University, no matter if your boss comes from Nigeria, Nepal or Nebraska, the look on your face will still come across loud and universally clear.

How Many Ways to Say No?

The study, led by Aleix Martinez, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at OSU, looked at the facial expressions of 158 students with a range of native languages as they expressed “I don’t want to.”

Speakers of English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese and American Sign Language (ASL) were filmed while reciting a sentence with a negative valence, or responding to a question that they were likely to disagree with. The researchers manually selected the telltale signs of what they called the “Not Face” — furrowed brows, raised chin and compressed lips — from the images and set a computer algorithm to work sorting out “Not Faces” from others. They published their results Monday in the journal Cognition.

The Universally Understood ‘Not Face’

They found that the “Not Faces” appeared with the same frequency as spoken syllables, indicating that it was a genuine mode of communication, as opposed to a random occurrence. What’s more, the expression translated almost perfectly across languages, implying that the genesis of this particular expression extends far back into the past. While our words may differentiate us, our expressions remain a global unifier.

Martinez has done research into facial expressions before. In a 2014 study, he categorized 21 unique emotions, including “happily disgusted,” and “sadly angry,” for use in cognitive analysis. The new research builds on his previous findings by definitively linking a facial expression to language. While most of us recognize nonverbal modifiers with ease, proving that one of these modifiers exists across cultures and languages will allow for more accurate facial recognition software, as well as insights into the beginnings of communication and language.

Words and sentences make up only a part of human communication — anyone who has ever succeeded in obtaining directions in a foreign country by sole use of hand movements can attest. These arm-flailing conversations may look ridiculous, but they nevertheless succeed in getting the basic concept across. Even in normal conversation, our faces and bodies convey subtle shades of nuance that can add up to distinctly alter the meaning of a sentence.

Crucial for Sign Language

In certain languages, the unspoken cues hold much more significance. Sign language, for example, is based off of hand and body movements, but also relies heavily on a diverse array of facial expressions. For proof, look no further than ASL translator Lydia Callis, who became an Internet sensation during Hurricane Sandy for her virtuosic use of facial expressions while signing about the impending storm.

In his study, Martinez found that ASL users also deploy the “Not Face,” but do so to even greater effect than verbal language users. While those speaking English, Spanish and Chinese used the expression to strengthen the stated emotion, ASL users would replace the sign for “not” entirely, using only the “Not Face” to convey the same statement.

Martinez says that this is the first documented instance of ASL speakers completely replacing a word with a facial expression. Such a discovery highlights the crucial role facial expressions play in fully communicating how we feel to others.

Martinez hopes to expand his library of faces by teaching computer algorithms to recognize different expressions without the need for manual selection. Once they have that ability, he plans to use thousands of hours of YouTube videos to train them and hopefully compile a database of human expressions.

Such a database of expressions might be of interest to robots like Sophia, whose accurate but still creepy impressions made headlines at this year’s SXSW."
asl  expression  communication  via:anne  2016  disagreement  aleixmartinez  spanish  español  mandarin  negativevalence  notface  translation  universality  signlanguage  signing 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Translation and the news—crossing languages in the age of networked journalism - FOLD
[See site for references relating to each of the different notes.]

"As my time as a Knight Visiting Nieman Fellow winds down, I wanted to reflect a bit on what I’ve learned about journalism, translation and the importance of the network in contemporary digital journalism. Much of this applies more broadly—language is going to be and already is a critical issue for technologists concerned about supporting the increased range of people online—, but I’ll focus on the specifics of journalism in this post.

It’s been an incredible few weeks of interviews, conversations, seminars, workshops, historical research (especially at the beautiful Widener Library), Hacks/Hackers, a conference on comments and going beyond them. We also managed to squeeze in a few pilot projects with Bridge, our platform for translating social media. I’ll be writing a longer, more thoughtful version of my time for Nieman Lab in coming weeks, so I’ll not try to craft too much of a logical narrative in this post.

Instead, some notes to jot down:

We’re moving toward a majority internet population. With 3.3 billion online and a 832% growth rate, the internet is incredibly diverse.

The “next billIon” have arrived, and already, language diversity is steadily increasing. I’ve written before about how ostensibly “offline”communities like in rural northern Uganda, North Korea and Cuba are impacted by the internet, and it’s important to keep in mind that the internet has ripple effects far beyond those who are formally online. As we crossed into a majority urban population, even rural areas have now oriented toward cities, providing raw and manufactured materials and serving as dumping grounds.

A similar effect will no doubt take place with the internet—even if not everyone is officially connected with a single user account, they will be pressured to find creative solutions to get connected. (Zachary Hyman and I have a piece coming out soon in Makeshift to this effect, and you can read what Julia Ticona and I discussed in the US context for Civicist.)

With regards to language, the sheer diversity of speakers online is stunning. From 2000 to 2015, we’ve seen 6592% growth amongst Arabic speakers, 2080% amongst Chinese speakers and 3227% amongst Russian speakers, to name a few. Even more striking is the fact that English speakers will soon be the minority online, and the growth of non-Top Ten language continues apace. If the news is breaking, it’s almost always going to happen online too. And more importantly, it will be happening in many more languages than English.

Multilingual content hasn’t caught up with multilingual users.

This is both a challenge and an opportunity. According to the IDN World Report, English content is vastly overrepresented on the web. Part of this, of course, can be explained by the fact that many people speak English as a second language. But other languages, like Arabic, Chinese and Spanish, are severely underrepresented.

This sounds like an opportunity for content creators to make relevant content for language speakers, whose experience of the internet is much more limited than that of English speakers. At the same time, adapting the current business models—advertising and pay to read—for these new markets will be a challenge. As Buzzfeed’s Greg Coleman pointed out, global advertising presents unique challenges. If so many people speak English, why bother with other languages?

As came through in many interviews I’ve done, readers tend to prefer their own language, even if they do speak English. I’d like to dive into this with more rigorous research, but it generally makes sense. As digital journalist and Nieman Fellow Tim de Gier described it to me, the internet is full of road bumps. Our job as journalists is to reduce those road bumps and point people to our articles. If it’s in another language, even one we speak, that’s just one more bump in access.

Networked journalism is here to stay. And it’s an opportunity for more diverse stories.

In 2006, Jeff Jarvis defined networked journalism as a field where "the public can get involved in a story before it is reported, contributing facts, questions, and suggestions. The journalists can rely on the public to help report the story; we’ll see more and more of that, I trust. The journalists can and should link to other work on the same story, to source material, and perhaps blog posts from the sources.... After the story is published — online, in print, wherever — the public can continue to contribute corrections, questions, facts, and perspective … not to mention promotion via links."

He added that he hoped it would be a sort of self-fulling prophecy, as more newsrooms turned to networks to both source and distribute the news. Journalists are shifting from simply manufacturers of news to moderators of conversations.

This month, at the Beyond Comments conference hosted by MIT Media Lab and the Coral Project, it became increasingly clear that major news outlets are striving for an alternative. In a terrific panel moderated by Anika Gupta, journalists like Amanda Zamora, Joseph Reagle, Monica Guzmán and Emily Goligoski pointed out that we need to make a shift from thinking of the audience as an audience to thinking of them more as a community.

To meet both speed and accuracy, translators need better tech and better processes.

In a breaking news environment, both speed and accuracy are critical. Indeed, translation and technology have always worked closely together. There are two examples that stick in my mind. The first is the Filene-Finlay simultaneous translator, developed at IBM and used in the Nuremberg trials. The second is the printing press: in Western Europe, it wasn't until books were translated from Latin to vernacular languages that they started to have an impact.

What does this look like in the digital context? It's something we're exploring at Meedan with Bridge, our platform for social media translation. Other great examples include Yeeyan, a Chinese platform for crowdsourcing news translation; Amara, for subtitling videos on platforms like TED; and Wikipedia.

But just as importantly as the tech, we need better systems and processes. The rigorous training of UN interpreters has made simultaneous interpretation at scale possible today. Glossaries, keeping up to date with the news, pairing interpreters together--this is the stuff that makes the tech powerful, because the humans behind it are more effective.

These processes can be supplemented with new tools in the digital context. Machine translation, translation memories, dynamic and shared glossaries can all help, as can fostering a collaborative mindset. What's most striking to me is the fact that interpretation at the UN is collaborative, with at least two interpreters per language pair. As we do away with the myth that translation is a one-to-one matter (i.e., one translator to one text), we can generate a stronger body of translations made possible through collaboration.

....And that's it for now - I'll be working on a much longer report, complete with case studies and examples, for the Nieman Lab in coming weeks. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!"
journalism  translation  socialmedia  anxiaomina  2016  networkedjournalism  netowrks  diversity  world  languages  inclusion  inclusivity  news  meedan  yeeyan  amara  wikipedia  ted  anikagupta  amandazamora  josephreagle  monicaguzmán  emilygoligoski  jeffjarvis  timdegier  internet  web  online  gregcoleman  spanish  español  chinese  arabic  russian  zacharyhyman  juliaticona 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Unless you speak English, the Internet doesn’t care about you | Fusion
"The internet is global but it is also regional. Cats are to the U.S. and Japan what goats are to Brazil and Uganda. If you speak an uncommon language, the internet can feel downright rural. The problem isn’t just getting online, but whether there will be anything for people who get online to actually do.

“What’s critical to understand is that, with the next billion users coming online, we’re going to see a wide variety of new languages represented online,” said An Xiao Mina, a co-founder of the Civic Beat and a technologist at Meedan working to build a platform to translate social media. “We live in a world of many internets, where even if you reduce the limits of geography, censorship and connectivity, language prevents large swaths of people from connecting with each other.”

But it’s not just ‘obscure’ languages that are discriminated against on the web.

Even use of Arabic—the sixth most commonly spoken language in the world and the fourth most common language among internet users—was until recently limited on many mobile phones. In some places on the internet, it still is. To cope, Arabic speak­ers developed “Arabizi”, a combination of Roman letters and numbers that make it easier to chat. Arabizi is a essentially a transliteration of Arabic into English characters, using numbers to stand in for some of the letters that don’t have direct counterparts in sound, like 7 for ح (ha), which sounds a bit like a guttural “h.”

It’s an ingenious solution, but one that shouldn’t have to exist. When emoji exploded in popularity, developers across all platforms worked quickly to make it easily usable on their devices. Why so slow with Arabic?

Arabic Wikipedia, by the way, has just 400,000 articles. A language spoken by more than 400 million people is less represented than Swedish, a language spoken by just 9 million. The demographics of the internet have historically been very different from that of the offline world, and those colonization effects are dramatic.

Recent research has shown that speaking English is a significant factor in determining whether someone adopts use of the web. Some languages are not well represented online, but others, like Tibetan, are completely invisible, unusable on browsers, operating systems, and keyboards.

The Tibetan blogger Dechen Pemba recently wrote about the frustrations of not being able to access the Tibetan language on a phone. Google, he wrote, failed to develop a Tibetan language interface and only recently incorporated the Tibetan language font on some Android phones. (That’s one way for Apple, which does support Tibetan, to win customers from Android.)

“Given that the Tibetan literary tradition goes back to the 7th century … my pet hate is when Tibetan language is described as ‘obscure,'” he wrote. “I wonder how it is possible that the language of Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhists, comprising of as many as 60 million people, can be wilfully left behind in terms of modern technology?”

Facebook’s Free Basics program was controversial in India in large part because it limited the internet resources the digitally disadvantaged would have access to. Would it include access to domestic violence protection programs, or would it be a walled ghetto devoted to social media and online shopping? Language barriers can also force internet users into digital ghettos, or force them to forsake their mother tongue (and its culture) to escape them.

“The fact that a lot of groups have very little local-language content is problematic because it can contribute to a global homogenization of ideas and culture, and perhaps even knowledge itself,” said Mark Graham, a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute.

Graham predicts negative impacts on cultural diversity if the Internet’s language is predominantly English, Chinese, and Spanish. A version of this, for example, is happening right now in Iceland, where the packaging on so many imported goods is in English that it’s becoming more common than Icelandic in every day life.

A linguistically divided internet can also lead to the creation of monocultural bubbles. Wikipedia provides a good example: one study showed that most content on Wikipedia is available in exclusively one language. Even English Wikipedia only has articles that correspond with about half the topics of German Wikipedia.

“The Chinese internet is a good example of this,” Graham said. “There are more Chinese internet users online than internet users from any other country. So, this has meant that there is a lot of content out there in Chinese. Which, in turn, means that it is easy for Chinese internet users to exist in their own ‘filter bubble’—not really exposed to different content on the broader Web.”

Mina pointed out that the web’s prioritization of mainstream languages also leaves many tools for political organization and speaking out off-limits to marginalized groups.

“If you don’t speak a top ten language, the internet you have access to is extremely limited,” Mina told me. “Imagine going to a Chinese restaurant and just trying to order based on pictures.”

Graham told me he’d like to see more online spaces like Wikipedia that are digital commons where users can contribute content in any language they like, allowing local internet users to essential built their own web. But getting those digital commons filled with content first requires creating incentives to get people online in the first place. And part of that means making content that is already out there accessible across the boundaries of language. Mina is interested in chipping away at those boundaries by creating technology that translates social media content from one language to another. Scott Hale, a data scientist focused on bilingualism at the Oxford Internet Institute, told me that user interfaces could help break down language barriers by allowing users to interact with them in multiple languages at once. Most online interfaces—Google and Facebook among them— are designed with monolingual users in mind, only surfacing content in one language at a time. Allowing people to easily toggle between languages is one way to break down the linguistic silos that online life creates.

“You can’t just put a bunch of people in the network and expect that they connect,” Mina said.

The internet was supposed to be the thing that made all of our differences irrelevant, that erased borders and boundaries by translating everything into 1s and 0s. But online borders definitely exist with language boundaries that can be impenetrable."
internet  language  languages  web  online  anxiaomina  kristenbrown  wikipedia  arabic  english  translation  homogenization  culture  swedish  freebasics  arabizi  india  iceland  technology  socialmedia  politics  chinese  spanish  español  diversity 
february 2016 by robertogreco
An Xiao Mina at Biased Data - An Xiao Mina - Open Transcripts
"Just to close, as we think about the role of lan­guage on the Internet, it really biases our expe­ri­ence, and there are a lot of risks and chal­lenges there, espe­cially as peo­ple from the Global South are com­ing online. The abil­ity for them to access con­tent and for them to con­tribute to impor­tant con­ver­sa­tions online will be severely lim­ited. It’ll look more like this, and I think some of the most impor­tant work we can do in tech is to bring it out into lan­guages that they can under­stand."
anxiaomina  language  languages  internet  online  web  2016  mikemcdandless  translation  blacklivesmatter  umbrellamovement  crowdsourcing  machinetranslation  sarahkendzior  russian  uzbek  opentranslationproject  aiweiwei  meedan  inequity  socialjustice  wechat  audio  chinese  china  bias  experience 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Linguacode Matrix
"Explorations in language, translation and cultural bridging, particularly in the context of the social web. I co-founded and once directed Bird's Nest: Ai Weiwei in English. I now spend some of my time working for Meedan.org, a community dedicated to improving online translation through design, research, and development."
tumblrs  language  languages  translation  anxiaomina  culture  socialmedia  socialweb  web  online  internet 
january 2016 by robertogreco
English is losing its status as Internet's universal language - Tech Insider
"More than half of the internet is in English.

But that percentage may decline in the future, according to research by Álvaro Blanco from Funredes, a nonprofit that studies technology usage in the developing world.

In 1996, Blanco's research estimated that 80% of online content was in English. Less than a decade later, he said it fell to 45%. These estimations don't even take into account activity on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, since search engines only index about 30% of the web, Blanco told Quartz.

But even though English's presence online is declining, the current lack of language diversity is a huge problem on the web.

Even people who speak the most popular languages have a hard time reading online. Chinese, the most widely spoken language, makes up just 2.1% of the internet. The world's second most widely spoken language, Spanish, encompasses 4.8% of the web.Hindi, spoken by 260 million people, makes up less than 0.1% of the internet.

Organizations like UNESCO are worried that English's overbearing presence may drown out less popular languages. Activists argue that English's domination on the web could even contribute to the extinction of indigenous tongues.

Translation tools can help, however, and some experts believe machine learning will make online translation services incredibly accurate in the coming years. Within the next decade or two, all computers may have "language calculators" that interpret text with an accuracy level close to that of human translator, according to predictions by futurist Ray Kurzweil.

This technology, along with English's online decline, could create a more democratic web in the future."
language  languages  inclusion  inclusivity  culture  emergingmarkets  2016  via:anxioamina  internet  web  online  translation 
january 2016 by robertogreco
The Internet Isn't Available in Most Languages - The Atlantic
"Tweet, tuít, or giolc? These were the three iterations of a Gaelic version of the word “tweet” that Twitter’s Irish translators debated in 2012. The agonizing choice between an Anglicized spelling, a Gaelic spelling, or the use of the Gaelic word for “tweeting like a bird” stalled the project for an entire year. Finally, a small group of translators made an executive decision to use the Anglicized spelling of “tweet” with Irish grammar. As of April 2015, Gaelic Twitter is online.

Indigenous and under-resourced cultures face a number of obstacles when establishing their languages on the Internet. English, along with a few other languages like Spanish and French, dominates the web. People who speak these languages often take for granted access to social-media sites with agreed-upon vocabularies, built-in translation services, and basic grammar and spell-checkers.

For Gaelic, a minority language spoken by only two to three percent of the Irish population, it can be difficult to access these digital services. And even languages with millions of speakers can lack the resources needed to make the Internet relevant to daily life.

In September of this year, the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, an organization established five years ago to monitor the growth and use of the Internet around the world, released its 2015 report on the state of broadband. The report argues that representation of the world's languages online remains one of the major challenges in expanding the Internet to reach the four billion people who don’t yet have access.

At the moment, the Internet only has webpages in about five percent of the world's languages. Even national languages like Hindi and Swahili are used on only .01 percent of the 10 million most popular websites. The majority of the world’s languages lack an online presence that is actually useful.

Ethnologue, a directory of the world’s living languages, has determined that 1,519 out of the 7,100 languages spoken today are in danger of extinction. For these threatened languages, social-networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, which rely primarily on user-generated content, as well as other digital platforms like Google and Wikipedia, have a chance to contribute to their preservation. While the best way to keep a language alive is to speak it, using one’s native language online could help.

The computational linguistics professor Kevin Scannell devotes his time to developing the technical infrastructure—often using open-source software—that can work for multiple languages. He’s worked with more than 40 languages around the world, his efforts part of a larger struggle to promote under-resourced languages. “[The languages] are not part of the world of the Internet or computing,” he says. “We’re trying to change that mindset by providing the tools for people to use.”

One such under-resourced language is Chichewa, a Bantu language spoken by 12 million people, many of whom are in the country of Malawi. According to Edmond Kachale, a programmer who began developing a basic word processor for the language in 2005 and has been working on translating Google search into Chichewa for the last five years, his language doesn’t have sufficient content online. This makes it difficult for its speakers to compete in a digital, globalized world. “Unless a language improves its visibility in the digital world,” he says, “it is heading for extinction.”

In Malawi, over 60 percent of the population lacks Internet access; but Kachale says that “even if there would be free Internet nation-wide, chances are that [Chichewa speakers] may not use it at all because of the language barrier.” The 2015 Broadband Report bears Kachale’s point out. Using the benchmark of 100,000 Wikipedia pages in any given language, it found that only 53 percent of the world’s population has access to sufficient content in their native language to make use of the Internet relevant.

People who can’t use the Internet risk falling behind economically because they can’t take advantage of e-commerce. In Malawi, Facebook has become a key platform for Internet businesses, even though the site has not yet been translated into Chichewa. Instead, users tack-on a work-around browser plug-in, a quick-fix for languages that don’t have official translations for big social-media sites.

“Unless a language improves its visibility in the digital world, it is heading for extinction.”
In 2014, Facebook added 20 new languages to its site and launched several more this year, bringing it to more than 80 languages. The site also opens up languages for community-based translation. This option is currently available for about 50 languages, including Aymara, an indigenous language spoken mainly in Bolivia, Peru, and Chile. Though it has approximately 2 million speakers, UNESCO has designated Aymara as “vulnerable.” Beginning in May of 2014, a group of 20 volunteer translators have been chipping away at the 25,000 words used on the site—and the project is on course to be finished by Christmas.

The project is important because it will encourage young people to use their native language. “We are sure when Aymara is available on Facebook as an official language, it will be a source of motivation for Aymara people,” says Elias Quisepe Chura, who manages the translation effort (it happens primarily online, unsurprisingly via a Facebook page).

Ruben Hilari, another member of the translation team, told the Spanish newspaper El Pais, “Aymara is alive. It does not need to be revitalized. It needs to be strengthened and that is exactly what we are doing. If we do not work for our language and culture today, it will be too late tomorrow to remember who we are, and we will always feel insecure about our identity.”

Despite its reputation as the so-called information superhighway, the Internet is only legible to speakers of a few languages; this limit to the web’s accessibility proves that it can be as just as insular and discriminative as the modern world at large."
internet  languages  language  linguistics  2015  translation  insularity  web  online  gaelic  hindi  swahili  kevinscannell  via:unthinkingly  katherineschwab  edmondkachele  accessibility  enlgish  aymara  rubenhilari  eliasquisepechura  bolivia  perú  chile  indigenous  indigeneity  chichewa  bantu  google  kevinsannell  twitter  facebook  instagram  software  computation  computing  inclusivity 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Telling South Sudan’s Tales in a Language Not Its Own - The New York Times
"JUBA, South Sudan — WHEN dozens of people packed a hall in this capital city to celebrate the publication this year of the latest collection of short stories by Stella Gaitano, a South Sudanese commentator called her “our ambassador to the Arab world.” The audience included writers from Sudan, and when the book went on sale a few months later in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, the author received a glowing reception there as well.

“This is what Stella used to do back in college, bring people together,” said Omar Ushari, a former university colleague of Ms. Gaitano and a moderator of the Khartoum event.

In a relatively short time, Ms. Gaitano, 33, has built a distinguished reputation as a writer who brings to life the experiences of the South Sudanese, who have endured war and displacement as their fragile new country formed and then threatened to disintegrate. More than that, though, she does it in Arabic, a language of the country they broke away from.

“I love the Arabic language,” she said. “I am like writers who write in a language other than their own; I am no different.”

South Sudan became independent from Sudan in 2011, after a referendum that followed years of conflict with the north. Scores of indigenous languages are spoken here, but the lingua franca is Juba Arabic, a pidgin language. The elite who have studied abroad or with local missionaries generally also speak English, while Arabic is spoken by university-educated people who lived in the north, like Ms. Gaitano.

Her parents, members of the Latuka tribe, fled the town of Torit, in what is now South Sudan, in the late 1960s, as the flames of the first Sudanese civil war blazed. They took refuge in Khartoum, where Ms. Gaitano was born.

She learned several languages there, speaking Latuka at home, Juba Arabic with South Sudanese of other tribes and Sudanese Arabic in the larger Sudanese society. She learned classical Arabic in school, and studied pharmacology in college — in English.

“We were a creative generation that was forced to deal with several boundaries,” she said. “So we created gates into each cultural circle.”

She grew up in El-Haj Youssef, a poor neighborhood on the perimeter of Khartoum, as the third of seven children. Her interest in the stories of her grandmother, mother and other female relatives from the south kindled her imagination.

“The south, for me, was an imaginary place,” she said. “It was represented to me in the stories of those who went there and came back to Khartoum.”

HER early love of reading, which included the works of the Sudanese novelist Tayeb Salih and Arabic translations of works by Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende, inspired her to write.

“Writing is the legitimate child of reading,” she said.

At the University of Khartoum, she came into contact with writers, intellectuals and activists, and she began developing her literary niche. “I started writing about myself, my family and my people,” she said.

One afternoon, inspired by her grandmother, she wrote one of her first short stories, “A Lake the Size of a Papaya Fruit,” in just 30 minutes. “It was like a revelation,” she said.

It is the story of a girl and her grandmother in southern Sudan who are left to fend for themselves after the girl’s mother dies in labor, her father is killed by a wild buffalo and her grandfather is executed by the British colonial authorities. The story won a Sudanese literary prize in 2003.

“It was important for me that northern Sudanese realize that there was life, values and a people who held a different culture, who needed space to be recognized and respected,” Ms. Gaitano said.

In “Wilted Flowers,” Ms. Gaitano addressed the challenges faced by people who had fled murderous conflicts in southern Sudan, Darfur and the Nuba Mountains, and were living in shantytowns near Khartoum.

Struggling mothers, drunken fathers and pregnant teenagers living in poverty far from their homelands with little or no government assistance became the characters and setting of the story “Everything Here Boils.”

“I was trying to shed a light on these matters, and send a warning that ignoring people this way would make them feel that this is not their country,” she said. “But the message was understood too late.”

Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese exiles returned to the newly independent country with high hopes, but the paradise many thought they would find was chimerical.

“When we came to the south, we found ourselves discussing the same issues that we did in the north: racism, tribalism, corruption, nepotism and political failure,” Ms. Gaitano said.

In her latest story collection, “Homecoming,” Ms. Gaitano reflects on the hopes and disappointments of returning families.

The story “Escape From the Regular” centers on families reunited after independence; the clashes between local people and those from the diaspora; and the irony and power of a commonly used phrase that became both a lament and an excuse: “Don’t you know we were freedom fighters?”

“South Sudanese saw themselves in the mirror,” Ms. Gaitano said. “They did not think that their own brothers, who look like them, could do the same things that others did to them.”

Her husband, who works at the University of Khartoum, and their two children are Sudanese, but like others from the south, Ms. Gaitano lost her Sudanese citizenship with independence. She spends as much time with them as she can. She lives in Juba, and works as a pharmacist, even as her literary career continues to bloom.

CHOL DENG YONG, a professor of Arabic at Upper Nile University in South Sudan, describes Ms. Gaitano’s work as “narrational,” with “an economic use of words” that combines “classical Arabic, colloquial Sudanese Arabic and Juba Arabic.”

Ms. Gaitano said that some of her South Sudanese colleagues, many of whom write in English, have criticized her privately for writing in Arabic, a language they deem a “colonial tool.” English is an official language in South Sudan but Arabic is not, and its cultural future here is uncertain, making some among the Arabic-educated intelligentsia uneasy.

Victor Lugala, a South Sudanese writer who writes in English, offered some insights: “Stella may be the last generation of South Sudanese to write in Arabic,” he said. “Her publishers could promote her work better if her works are translated into English.”

He went on to compare Ms. Gaitano’s association with a language with that of the Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong’o. “Since Kenya’s Ngugi wa Thiong’o decided to write in his mother tongue, Kikuyu, he has had the burden of translating his own works into English,” Mr. Lugala said.

And regional publishers are starting to notice her.

“Without doubt, having read Stella’s short story ‘I Kill Myself and Rejoice,’ ” said Lucas Wafula, an editor for the East Africa Education Publishers, “she will gain great readership once readers get to interact with the themes in her stories.”

Ms. Gaitano said that she was working on improving her English writing and that her works were being translated. Yet she also hopes that Arabic will retain a place in her country.

“Language for me is the soul of the text,” she said. “I love the Arabic language, and I adore writing in it. It is the linguistic mold that I want to fill my personal stories and culture in, distinguished from that of Arabs.”"

[Story refreenced in article:
“I kill myself and rejoice!”
http://www.theniles.org/en/articles/small-arms/2575/ ]

[Other stories here: http://sudaneseonline.com/board/12/msg/Stella-Gaitano-Translated-into-English-By-Asha-El-Said-1449061495.htm ]
stellagaitano  southsudan  literature  language  languages  translation  africa  arabic  jubaarabic  tayebsalih  isabelallende  writing  reading  victorlugala  sudan  ngugiwathiong’o  kenya  storytelling  howwewrite  gabrielgarcíamárquez  ngũgĩwathiong'o  ngugi  ngũgĩ 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Adapting to a more global, more diverse Internet » Nieman Journalism Lab
"“Thanks to denser networks that foster better pipelines for attention, the Internet gives communities a pathway directly to newsrooms.”

According to Quartz’s Next Billion vertical, Internet use is projected to double — from 2.5 billion to 5 billion — between 2012 and 2016. That’s next year, and already, the global diversity of the netizenry and how they use the Internet is starting to change people’s relationship with the news. Much of this growth is expected to occur in Asia, while the fastest growth will be in Africa. These so-called “next billion” Internet users are often different from the first 2.5 billion in their background and lifestyles, representing a plethora of languages, cultures, incomes, and methods of technological access. And the implications, I think, will reach many different aspects of journalism.

The news will break on many networks, and these networks won’t be open.

After the explosions in Tianjin this year, GIFs, photos, and videos circulated on Twitter, Facebook and Sina Weibo. But the first person to break the news did so through a private messaging group on WeChat, posting video of fire outside the chemical plant just minutes before the explosion. For minutes afterward, the mobile-first, private platform was the primary place for sharing and discussing.

Increasingly, eyewitness media is discussed and disseminated on private networks like WhatsApp, Line, KakaoTalk, Snapchat, Viber, and Facebook Messenger. This is already having significant effects on newsgathering. At the recent TechRaking conference at MIT, journalist Andy Carvin and others pointed out that, when media do surface on the open web, it’s incredibly difficult to find and source the originator, as the images are often stripped of metadata, compressed, and of indeterminate provenance.

Digital journalism, so accustomed to APIs and tools that aid discovery and aggregation, will likely have to adapt. Partnership and advocacy efforts are likely right — platforms can do more to facilitate journalists’ efforts, and newsrooms can build better tech for these platforms. As well, the technological approach to digital journalism will need be supplemented by the traditional relational skills of newsgathering: cultivating sources, building relationships, and fostering trust.

It won’t be enough to speak just one language, or even three.

As news and reports of the Paris attacks rippled through social media, journalists captured and reported on eyewitness media shared in both French and English. Just a day before, a flurry of tweets and Facebook posts in Arabic, French and English discussed the worst bombing in Beirut since 1990.

News reports of the Paris attacks in French were translated to English:

[tweed embeds]

To Chinese:

[tweet embed]

To Arabic:

[tweet embed]

From French to English and then to Italian:

[tweet embed]

Meanwhile, false reports of a tsunami heading for Japan triggered the trending topic #PrayForJapan. An earthquake had indeed happened, but the Japanese-language reports clearly stated it wasn’t strong enough to trigger a tsunami:

[tweed embeds]

In the hecticness of the day, Spanish newspapers picked up a selfie of a Canadian Sikh man Photoshopped to look like he was wearing a suicide bomber’s vest. In Baghdad, a real suicide bomber killed 18 people. It was a day for hashtag prayers for multiple corners of the world:

[tweet embed]

Every day, global trending topics on Twitter alone appear in multiple languages and scripts — when I glance at them at different times of the day, they frequently appear in Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Arabic, Korean, and French, often outnumbering the English-language trending topics. English speakers, once the dominant group on the Internet, will soon become just one of many language speakers online.

Global communities will be talking back to media — and demanding better representation.

In recent years, we saw the transformation of #BlackLivesMatter from a hashtag and a nascent movement to a core question in the presidential primary debates. This year also saw #SomeoneTellCNN re-emerge as a satirical hashtag in Kenya in response to the network calling the country a “terror hotbed.” In the past, these tweets yielded minor changes in coverage; this year, a senior executive personally flew to Nairobi to apologize for the statements. And after Facebook turned on Safety Check for citizens of Paris, Beirutis asked why they didn’t get a Safety Check feature, even though their city had just been bombed a day before.

We can expect more of this. Geographically far from most media outlets, people in many regions of the world have historically had few avenues to attempt to improve global reportage of their issues. Thanks to denser networks that foster better pipelines for attention, the Internet gives communities a pathway directly to newsrooms. At its worst, call-out culture can be destructive and foster a herd mentality against the less privileged in society. But at its best, when people organize and amplify their voices to punch up rather than down, they can make real changes in media and media representation. What can we do to listen more effectively?

GIFs won’t be icing: they’ll be the cake.

[gif embed]

Let’s go back to Tianjin. Some of the most powerful images that circulated on WeChat were, in fact, GIFs. While livestreaming video tools like Periscope will push the boundaries of high-bandwidth, high-resolution video, the humble GIF is also on the rise, with built-in tools on sites like Tumblr and Instagram and autoplay features on Twitter now making it easier than ever for people to generate and share compelling moving images.

This matters for global Internet users because GIFs, in addition to being eminently shareable, consume less data — and less data charges. They also work well with smaller screens, whether that’s a low-cost smartphone or an Apple Watch. While cats and dogs will always have a special home on animated media, so will the mews, er, news."
anxiaomina  journalism  2015  messaging  internet  web  socialmedia  language  languages  news  translation  gifs  kakaotalksnapchat  viber  facebook  whatsapp  lineapp  andycarvin  digital  digitaljournalism  online  twitter  arabic  french  english  chinese  mandarin  italian  portuguese  japanese  spanish  portugués  español 
december 2015 by robertogreco
From Digital Divide to Language Divide: Language Inclusion for Asia’s Next Billion — Words About Words — Medium
"Thinking through language divides in online platforms and what we can do to reduce them"



"New Internet users who don’t speak majority languages will likely be unable to participate in global Internet culture and conversations as both readers and contributors; as Mark Graham and Matthew Zook have noted, minority languages speakers, especially those from the global south, will experience substantial information inequality online (Young, 2015). Indeed, people’s inability to speak English can significantly afect their very adoption and use of the Internet, even if they are aware of its existence (Pearce et al., 2014)."
anxiaomina  2015  language  languages  inclusion  internet  web  online  accessibility  kevinscannell  stevenbird  aikuma  translation  meedan  socialmedia  twitter  linguistics  katypearce  power  english  scotthale  technology  edbice  digitaldivide  asia 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Trespassers on the rooftops: a secret history of Mexico City's cultural revolutionaries | Cities | The Guardian
"In the 1920s, Mexico City’s roof spaces, or azoteas, became a laboratory for modernist creativity, offering a space where artists and thinkers could push the boundaries of culture and bridge the gaps in society, writes Valeria Luiselli"



"In the 1920s, Mexico City’s roof spaces, or azoteas, became a laboratory for modernist creativity, offering a space where artists and thinkers could push the boundaries of culture and bridge the gaps in society

[…]

The “rooftop bohemia”, in turn, did not always comply to the standards of the government’s plans and programmes – rooftops often engendered a poetics of transgression. Indeed, in the late 1920s and early 30s, during the period known as the “Maximato” – when Pascual Ortiz Rubio became president but, de facto, the authoritarian Plutarco Elías Calles controlled the government – many of these rooftop dwellers came to be seen not only as transgressive, but downright unwelcome in the country.

[…]

If we think of Mexico City in terms of its many horizontal layers – ground floor, first floor, second floor – then the layer that in the 1920s stretched out horizontally at about 15 metres above the ground, can be thought of as a kind of semi-invisible, experimental laboratory for modernist creativity and its shifting of moral parameters. The relative invisibility, both physical and cultural, of rooftop rooms allowed an alternative way of life and, concomitantly, a form of cultural production that pushed the boundaries of Mexican literary and visual culture.

Although the new azotea trespassers, these middle-class transplants to rooftop-dwelling, could not actually see each other from their respective rooftops, the fact that a group of diverse but to a degree like-minded people were living and producing work at that particular level, at that particular height of the cityscape, must have had an effect on how they all imagined their place in the city. Even if Modotti, Weston and Toor, Novo and Villaurrutia, Dr Atl and Ollin may not have always crossed ideological and aesthetic paths, they knew each other and of one another, and each knew that the other was playing out their daily life at a similar height, in similar spaces.

For minds that are habituated to thinking of living in terms of its possibilities of representation – narrative, poetic, pictorial, photographic – space is more than just the barren grounds in which daily life and daily work happen be. Thus, at least in a purely symbolic plane, these rooftop dwellers may well have imagined themselves as intermediaries, placed as bridges between the “inside” and the “outside” of the city. Their work – modernist journals, translation magazines, photographic or pictorial portraits, events depicted in abstracted photographs of the city below – responded to the condition of the liminal place they chose to inhabit, both physical and intellectual.

In this sense, rooftop-dwellers can be seen, too, as translators: bridging the gap between inside and outside, between the English and the Spanish-speaking world, between the Mexican indigenous population and the Mexican elite, between the local and the foreign. Whatever their own particular endeavours, together they played a part in the making of international modernism in Mexico."
mexico  mexicocity  mexicodf  rooftops  revolution  space  place  azoteas  creativity  art  thinking  freedom  liminality  liminalspaces  2015  valerialuiselli  edwardweston  tonamodotti  nahuiollin  francestoor  dratl  xaviervillarrutia  salvadornovo  transcression  poetry  poets  subversion  ulises  translation  df 
december 2015 by robertogreco
In Translation - The New Yorker
"I write in a terrible, embarrassing Italian, full of mistakes. Without correcting, without a dictionary, by instinct alone. I grope my way, like a child, like a semiliterate. I am ashamed of writing like this. I don’t understand this mysterious impulse, which emerges out of nowhere. I can’t stop.

It’s as if I were writing with my left hand, my weak hand, the one I’m not supposed to write with. It seems a transgression, a rebellion, an act of stupidity.

During the first months in Rome, my clandestine Italian diary is the only thing that consoles me, that gives me stability. Often, awake and restless in the middle of the night, I go to the desk to compose some paragraphs in Italian. It’s an absolutely secret project. No one suspects, no one knows.

I don’t recognize the person who is writing in this diary, in this new, approximate language. But I know that it’s the most genuine, most vulnerable part of me.

Before I moved to Rome, I seldom wrote in Italian. I tried to compose some letters to an Italian friend who lives in Madrid, some e-mails to my teacher. They were like formal, artificial exercises. The voice didn’t seem to be mine. In America it wasn’t.

In Rome, however, writing in Italian is the only way to feel myself present here—maybe to have a connection, especially as a writer, with Italy. The new diary, although imperfect, although riddled with mistakes, mirrors my disorientation clearly. It reflects a radical transition, a state of complete bewilderment.

In the months before coming to Italy, I was looking for another direction for my writing. I wanted a new approach. I didn’t know that the language I had studied slowly for many years in America would, finally, give me the direction.

I use up one notebook, I start another. A second metaphor comes to mind: it’s as if, poorly equipped, I were climbing a mountain. It’s a sort of literary act of survival. I don’t have many words to express myself—rather, the opposite. I’m aware of a state of deprivation. And yet, at the same time, I feel free, light. I rediscover the reason that I write, the joy as well as the need. I find again the pleasure I’ve felt since I was a child: putting words in a notebook that no one will read.

In Italian I write without style, in a primitive way. I’m always uncertain. My sole intention, along with a blind but sincere faith, is to be understood, and to understand myself.

THE METAMORPHOSIS

Shortly before I began to write these reflections, I received an e-mail from a friend in Rome, the writer Domenico Starnone. I had been in Rome for a year. Referring to my desire to appropriate Italian, he wrote, “A new language is almost a new life, grammar and syntax recast you, you slip into another logic and another sensibility.” How much those words reassured me. They contained all my yearning, all my disorientation. Reading this message, I understood better the impulse to express myself in a new language: to subject myself, as a writer, to a metamorphosis.

Around the same time that I received this note, I was asked, during an interview, what my favorite book was. I was in London, on a stage with five other writers. It’s a question that I usually find annoying; no book has been definitive for me, so I never know how to answer. This time, though, I was able to respond without any hesitation that my favorite book was the Metamorphoses of Ovid. It’s a majestic work, a poem that concerns everything, that reflects everything. I read it for the first time twenty-five years ago, in Latin, as a university student. It was an unforgettable encounter, maybe the most satisfying reading of my life. To understand this poem I had to be persistent, translating every word. I had to devote myself to an ancient and demanding foreign language. And yet Ovid’s writing won me over: I was enchanted by it. I discovered a sublime work, a living, enthralling language. I believe that reading in a foreign language is the most intimate way of reading."



"If I mention that I’m writing in a new language these days, many people react negatively. In the United States, some advise me not to do it. They say they don’t want to read me translated from a foreign tongue. They don’t want me to change. In Italy, even though many have encouraged me to take this step, many support me, I’m still asked why I have a desire to write in a language that is much less widely read in the world than English. Some say that my renunciation of English could be disastrous, that my escape could lead me into a trap. They don’t understand why I want to take such a risk.

These reactions don’t surprise me. A transformation, especially one that is deliberately sought, is often perceived as something disloyal, threatening. I am the daughter of a mother who would never change. In the United States, she continued, as far as possible, to dress, behave, eat, think, live as if she had never left India, Calcutta. The refusal to modify her aspect, her habits, her attitudes was her strategy for resisting American culture, for fighting it, for maintaining her identity. Becoming or even resembling an American would have meant total defeat. When my mother returns to Calcutta, she is proud of the fact that, in spite of almost fifty years away from India, she seems like a woman who never left.

I am the opposite. While the refusal to change was my mother’s rebellion, the insistence on transforming myself is mine. “There was a woman, a translator, who wanted to be another person”: it’s no accident that “The Exchange,” the first story I wrote in Italian, begins with that sentence. All my life I’ve tried to get away from the void of my origin. It was the void that distressed me, that I was fleeing. That’s why I was never happy with myself. Change seemed the only solution. Writing, I discovered a way of hiding in my characters, of escaping myself. Of undergoing one mutation after another.

One could say that the mechanism of metamorphosis is the only element of life that never changes. The journey of every individual, every country, every historical epoch—of the entire universe and all it contains—is nothing but a series of changes, at times subtle, at times deep, without which we would stand still. The moments of transition, in which something changes, constitute the backbone of all of us. Whether they are a salvation or a loss, they are moments that we tend to remember. They give a structure to our existence. Almost all the rest is oblivion.

I think that the power of art is the power to wake us up, strike us to our depths, change us. What are we searching for when we read a novel, see a film, listen to a piece of music? We are searching, through a work of art, for something that alters us, that we weren’t aware of before. We want to transform ourselves, just as Ovid’s masterwork transformed me.

In the animal world metamorphosis is expected, natural. It means a biological passage, including various specific phases that lead, ultimately, to complete development. When a caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly it’s no longer a caterpillar but a butterfly. The effect of the metamorphosis is radical, permanent. The creature has lost its old form and gained a new, almost unrecognizable one. It has new physical features, a new beauty, new capacities.

A total metamorphosis isn’t possible in my case. I can write in Italian, but I can’t become an Italian writer. Despite the fact that I’m writing this sentence in Italian, the part of me conditioned to write in English endures. I think of Fernando Pessoa, a writer who invented four versions of himself: four separate, distinct writers, thanks to which he was able to go beyond the confines of himself. Maybe what I’m doing, by means of Italian, resembles his tactic. It’s not possible to become another writer, but it might be possible to become two.

Oddly, I feel more protected when I write in Italian, even though I’m also more exposed. It’s true that a new language covers me, but unlike Daphne I have a permeable covering—I’m almost without a skin. And although I don’t have a thick bark, I am, in Italian, a tougher, freer writer, who, taking root again, grows in a different way."
translation  language  italian  2015  jhumpalahiri  languages  ovid 
december 2015 by robertogreco
GrokReader
"Dual Language Interactive Alternating Chapter books offer a new way to read and learn a foreign language. The patent pending (GrokReader) interwoven and overlapping book format compels you to read the complete chapter in the original foreign language. When you make it to the end of each chapter, there is a link to re-read the chapter in English to help you understand what you read, or a link to jump to the next chapter in English or Original Language. For a Spanish English book, you choose whether to read the Spanish language chapter first, covering new territory, or take the easier route and read it in English first, followed by the same chapter in Spanish. No matter which path you take, you will come out having read a classic book in its original language, improving your Spanish (or English) chapter by chapter.

As you improve, you can choose to read more chapters in the foreign language first, which studies show is a key way to "strain the brain", forcing you out of your comfort-zone, and facilitating improved retention of vocabulary and meaning."
kindle  applications  translation  reading  languages  languageacquisition 
october 2015 by robertogreco
#Egypt_Delights: A Suez Canal Hashtag Largely Missed by English-Speaking Media — Words About Words — Medium
"1. Real time translations open up new perspectives on global events.

This is a given for anyone who straddles different cultures and linguistic zones, but it bears emphasis. Translating real time content is what we’re trying to optimize Bridge for. But it’s striking to see the difference in Google results between #مصر_بتفرح, the Arabic hashtag, and #Egypt_Delights, Nora’s English-language translation. Searching for the latter yields 0 results. And a similar search for an alternative translation, #EgyptCelebrates, yields just about a handful of pages of Google results.

[image]

Compare that to the original Arabic hashtag, #مصر_بتفرح, which has received more than 191k Tweets during the last seven days, according to Topsy.com:

[image]

Many media outlets wrote about the pomp and circumstance and some of the odd juxtapositions of imagery, but these perspectives largely came from those of journalists rather than citizens. Some social media round-ups we found focused largely on English-language posts, and thus, to a certain extent, a limited number of local perspectives. To our knowledge, only Magda Abu-Fadil at The Huffington Post covered and translated the Arabic hashtag in an English language report.

Compare that to other satirical hashtags in recent memory, like #SomeoneTellCNN in Kenya and #McDStories in the US, both of which trended in English and consequently received broad coverage in English-speaking media outlets. The effect of the language barrier is apparent, even when talking about major trending media around an event of world interest.

The content of Arabic language (and other foreign language) hashtags trends is largely invisible to the English speaking world, and the range of social media reportage therefore remains limited.

2. Sorting through real time content is still a challenge. So is verification.

When translating real-time content around breaking events, it can be hard to figure out the best content to translate. We want to optimize Bridge for mobile users’ efforts to translate social media, but there’s still a crucial first step: finding the content. This is something we struggled with when I worked on Ai Weiwei English, a project I co-founded in 2010, and with greater network density and content diversity, the need for better discovery tools is even more readily apparent. So, our sample translations are just that: a small sample, one that is not necessarily representative of the sheer diversity of responses found on the original Arabic hashtag.

Of course, sorting through local perspectives, regardless of source language, requires verification and vetting of the content and the speaker (something Tom and I wrote about recently for First Draft News). This is especially the case when the individual is making important factual claims about events, but itcan still be important when translating satirical responses. The effort can be worth the time: translating leading figures and average citizens alike can can open a window into a greater understanding of how the country as a whole is responding.

3. Local knowledge and expertise are vital for quality real time translations.

In theory, anyone with sufficient knowledge of Arabic can translate the posts that Nora and Sarah identified. But the best translations often come from those with knowledge on the ground and experience and expertise relevant to the issue. As journalists and Cairo residents, they were well positioned both to identify the right content to translate and to represent it accurately and with relevance for an English-speaking audience.

One good example? How to translate the Arabic hashtag #مصر_بتفرح. Translating Arabic to English requires a lot of knowledge not just of the two languages but of the many social and cultural situations being evoked by the words. Now, #مصر_بتفرح could be translated a number of ways, including #EgyptCelebrates and #EgyptRejoices, as Tom, a fluent Arabic speaker, has pointed out. #EgyptDelightsIn could also be an acceptable translation.

But Nora connected the dots between the hashtag, slogans playing on television, and a New York Times article that translated that slogan as “Egypt Delights.” “It was referenced in the New York Times story as ‘Egypt Delights,’” she noted, “so I thought to use that in translated tweets since readers in English might have already read the story.”

Finding just the right translation can be a challenge, especially when working with vernacular content and words that come from very different language families. These sorts of decisions require deep knowledge of the local context and a broad perspective in both languages to connect the dots and ensure the most relevant translations are used."
anxiaomina  internet  translation  meedan  arabic  twitter  socialmedia  2015  egypt  language  robinsloan 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Sense8 and the Failure of Global Imagination | thenerdsofcolor
"There should be word for the exhilaration of a half-success coupled with the glowing disappointment of the half-failure, that two-sided coin. People who don’t speak German would say that there must be a long-ass German word for it. There isn’t, but German has the virtue of allowing someone to make a half-assed attempt at coining it. Ehrgeitzversagensschoene? I mention this, because this is one of the primary failures of the show: it attaches itself to Americans’ perceptions of how things are in other idioms, as much as, or more than, it attaches to how things actually are.

To put it plainly: Sense8’s depiction of life in non-western countries is built out of stereotypes, and of life in non-American western countries is suffused with tourist-board clichés. The protagonist in Nairobi is a poor man whose mother has AIDS and whose life is ruled by gangs; in Mumbai we have a woman in a STEM career marrying a man she doesn’t love and engaging in Bollywood dance numbers; in Korea we have a patriarchally oppressed wealthy corporate woman who also happens to be a kickass martial artist; in Mexico City we follow a telenovela actor. London and Reykjavik are filmed using tourist locations and anonymous interiors.

Worse, the filmic clichés of each country are brought to bear on the production in each location — each organized by a different director: Nairobi is sweaty, garish, earth-toned, radiantly shabby; Mumbai is multicolored, and Hindu iconned, full of the jewelry, silks, flowers, and jubilant crowds that burst out of classic Bollywood; Seoul is clean to the point of sterility, with little patches of grass and mirrors and windows everywhere, a grey, hi-tech aesthetic; Mexico City is jewel-toned, rife with skulls, full of melodrama deliberately reminiscent of the telenovela; etc. I believe, quite literally, that the filmmakers primarily learned about these other cultures through their films, and considered that enough.

And finally, the pop-cultural elements of the show are all American. There’s no evidence of local or national culture influencing how the non-American characters view themselves or live their lives. The Kenyan sensate idolizes Jean-Claude Van Damme (who is, granted, not American, but known for his role in American action films). The German sensate claims Conan the Barbarian quotes as his personal philosophy. The Icelandic DJ in London puts on 4 Non Blondes’ hideous anthem “What’s Goin’ On?” and infects the entire cluster with a dancing/singing jag. Where there’s no American cultural lead — in Korea and Mexico, and even in the Ganesh-worshipping Indian sensate’s life — the characters’ life philosophies are a blank.

The Wachowskis take advantage of the apparent international ascendancy of American pop culture to unify disparate cultures, when the way American pop works on non-western cultures is often counterintuitive to Western minds. Sense8 also displays a profound lack of recognition of local pop cultures even when they would definitely have influenced such characters. In the show, American pop is specific, non American pop is generalized and clichéd, as in the Bollywood dance, or entirely absent.

The universality being promoted here is a universality of American ideas, American popular culture, American world views. It’s like Stephen Colbert’s idea of freedom of religion:

“I believe that everyone has the right to their own religion, be you Hindu, Jew, or Muslim. I believe there are infinite paths to accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior.”

If the entire show were an even spread of such thin notions, I could dismiss the show, or even enjoy it as as a guilty or problematic pleasure. But Sense8 has two great counter virtues.

The first is in the depiction of the San Francisco sensate, which is the best representation both of the city and of that particular community that I’ve ever seen on TV. Nomi, a trans woman, is first seen wandering through a very locally-informed San Francisco cityscape during Pride weekend. At every level, the limning of Nomi’s character and the study of San Francisco are intimate, layered, nuanced, and above all, specific. Nomi doesn’t fall off a bike somewhere in San Francisco, she falls off a motorcycle in the Castro during the Dykes on Bikes parade, which she rides in every year with her girlfriend, a gesture of extreme importance to her identity. She doesn’t meet-cute her girlfriend in a random park; she remembers a key moment early in their relationship where her girlfriend stands up for her against a hostile TERF during a picnic in Dolores Park.

It’s the specificity that rings true to this San Franciscan, and that signals to all viewers that this world is real, and the character is alive within it.

It’s a vision of how the entire show could have been, if the Wachowskis could have figured out in time how to bring this level of intimacy and specificity to their depiction of all the characters, and all the cities. Because Tom Tykwer, himself a Berliner, directs the Berlin sequences, you see a little bit of this familiarity in the locations chosen for that city and in the character of Wolfgang — his East German origins, his family’s Slavic name and orthodox religion, etc.

But none of the other sensates, including the idealistic Chicago cop, bear anything close to the level of intimate knowledge or specific detail that Nomi or Wolfgang have. In fact, pay attention and you’ll see how generalizing the locations and incidents are. For example: in Nairobi, the sensate’s bus is robbed in what the characters themselves call “a bad area,” i.e. they don’t refer to the district by its name.



But even this failure in the rest of Sense8’s world is countered somewhat by its second great virtue, which is that it commits totally to its clichés and rides them out to their conclusions. Thank the slow pacing for this. The entire 12-episode first season covers a story arc that would generally be covered in the first two episodes of any other show (the sensates are introduced, discover each other, start to learn the rules of their condition, meet their antagonist, and finally successfully pull off their first combined action). The very deliberation with which the story unfolds forces the writers to unpack details of each character’s life and situations that bring a kind of life and reality to the clichés they’re embedded in. Details are forced into the narrative — one by one in each character’s arc — and each character eventually becomes rooted in these details, even though they often come late in the season.



In a discussion before I wrote this piece, I disagreed with a friend about the handling of language in the show. I really appreciated the choice of having all characters speak English without forcing them all to speak English in cheap versions of their “native” accents. And, given that this was an American TV show, I didn’t expect the makers to force American audiences to read subtitles. My friend, however, pointed out that it would have been… well, less hegemonic for everyone to be actually speaking their own languages.

Upon reflection, I have to agree that having the dialogue in non-English speaking countries translated would have offered the translators an opportunity for input about the content of the dialogue. And if the Wachowskis had hired writers from each culture to translate not merely the text but also the entire culture and idiom — up to and including changing plot points and points of view to better fit with the local culture of that character — this could have solved their whole problem.

Whether or not you believe in the universality of human experience — whether or not you believe in a single global imagination — the only way to attempt to depict a true global imagination would be to create — in the writers room and on the directors’ chairs — a facsimile of a sensate cluster. Just imagine it: eight equal auteurs, each in their own physical location and cultural context, striving together — and frequently pulling apart — to achieve a single, complex story on film. Even the failure of such an enterprise would have been far more ambitious, far more glorious, far more Ehrgeizversagensschoen, than the Sense8 we actually got.

And if it had succeeded?

There are four more seasons to go on this show — if the Wachowskis get their way. Let’s hope that in the future their globalism is more than just an aesthetic decision.

Bottom line: yes, watch it. Binge it. Its failure is far more interesting than the success of almost anything else happening at this moment. And it’s truly one of the most diverse shows on TV right now."
sense8  tv  television  wachowskis  universality  language  culture  global  2015  clairelight  stereotypes  universing  translation  humans  human  humanexperience 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Why the Book I'm About to Publish Will Be Ignored — Partisan
"Given that English speakers share a country with such a vital and little understood literary market, and given how rarely these translations occur—and given that the poetry collections being rendered into English are some of the most outstanding and representative books from that territory—you would think their appearance would be regarded as a cause for celebration (or at least cause for copy). But beyond the staples of Émile Nelligan and, maybe, Saint-Denys Garneau, and outside of living poets like Nicole Brossard, Québécois poetry barely registers. And Quebec isn’t alone. There are Francophone poetry communities throughout the country—in Manitoba or New Brunswick—that exist in almost total isolation from English-Canadian reviewers, critics, and academics. I often joke that the easiest way to confound an English-Canadian poet is to tell them there are major Canadian poets who don’t write in English."



"One group gets it—Quebec’s English poets. Almost everything Canada knows about Québécois poetry is thanks to them. The McGill Movement is where it started. Led by F.R. Scott,, and active during the forties and fifties, this group was the first to demonstrate an interest in contemporary French-language verse. It was a period, according to Scott, when many “lively interchanges” were struck up among the French and English poets he invited to his home. (“I remember Louis Portugais,” Scott writes, “then editor of Hexagone publications, after reading T.S. Eliot’s translation of Saint-John Perse’s Anabase, looking up and saying to me, ‘It’s very bad’”). The McGill Movement’s importance, however, resides chiefly in its belief that translation wasn’t merely bridge-gapping tokenism but creative opportunity. Scott and his coterie sought authoritative and adventurous English equivalents—high-quality renditions that were poems in their own right."



"Anglo-Quebec poets are the only group that still seek out the invigorating surplus of these exchanges. Not surprisingly, they also appear to have harvested its considerable linguistic benefits—they write English, as Gail Scott has said of herself, “with the sound of French” in their ear. As a result, their best work not only carries a percentage of the genius of Québécois poetry, but something new: a Babelian sense of living between competing origins and tongues. For Eric Ormsby, this can lead to a phenomenon called a “shadow language.” Using the example of Basil Bunting’s familiarity with Latin or Geoffrey Hill’s knowledge of German, Ormsby argues that foreign idioms and phrases lurking below native speech can compel poets to “nuance and complicate the sound-patterns of their verse.” 

This shadow language enriches many of the English poems written in Montreal, poems marked by doubletalk and euphemism, polyphonic wordplay and impurities of diction. A. M. Klein was the first Anglo-Quebec poet to idiomatically emulsify his phrasings, to allow French to infiltrate and float inside his lines (“Mollified by the parle of French / Bilinguefact your air!”). But moments just as mesmerizing occur in poems by John Glassco, D.G. Jones, and Peter Van Toorn, as well as younger figures like Bruce Taylor, Asa Boxer, Oana Avasilichioaei, and Linda Besner.

A shadow language’s impact isn’t just linguisitic. Among Montreal poets, it can create the feeling of being set apart or cut adrift, of existing as an outsider. “I am nobody: / that is how I will enter you” is the way Michael Harris once addressed a room of imaginary readers. Or take Robyn Sarah: “I am the blip on the screen, / the cold spot, the dark area you see / with indefinite borders.” More exhilaratingly, it can contribute to a “several selves” state: life defined not only by the reality it inhabits, but also the potential—and sometimes fantastical—existences it did not fulfill. David Solway’s most notorious book, Saracen Island, features faux translations from a fictional Greek poet (he has since tried his hand at “Englishing” poems from Turkish and Domenican). And Asa Boxer’s long poem “Primer to the New World” reinvents Canada’s discovery as a Medieval travel narrative, packed with fabulous beasts and holy objects.

Anglo-Quebec poets are also the only group to successfully reconcile the century-old bicultural quarrel. The “two solitudes” have become what Solway calls the “two solicitudes.” What was once a sense of division is now a feeling of concern for the other’s well-being. Solway—who once declared Québécois poetry “the most powerful, the most interesting and the most vital poetic tradition in all of Canada”—has himself been an excellent conduit for that concern. He used to contribute a monthly translation of a French poem to the now-defunct Books in Canada (since gathered into a lovely anthology called Demilunes: Little Windows on Quebec), enjoys a fervent relationship with many francophone poets, and is the first English writer to win the Grand Prix du livre de Montréal.

It should be said such transactions aren’t exclusively between English and French. In her study Translating Montreal, Sherry Simon calls the city one of the world’s few “contact zones,” a place where languages mingle and intersect. This means poets can avail themselves of shadowy accents from a large palette of foreign vernaculars. Antonio D'Alfonso’s early collections sometimes mixed English, French, and Italian. Erin Mouré has creatively repurposed (or "transelated") Portuguese and Spanish poems into outrightly exotic dialects. Nonetheless, the shift of solitudes into solicitudes is the tale of an exploited double heritage, of poets embracing the acoustic advantage of living inside the French language and taking pleasure from its music. The self-centeredness of English dissolves in such a climate, forcing poets to acknowledge that larger soundscape.

Of course, that also means acknowledging the existence of singular talents like Nepveu. And that, in turn, means acknowledging a version of Canadian poetry found only in translation, in the sympathetic resonances between foreign words. Those of us committed to engaging with—and making available—literary worlds not our own can feel like that English radio station, discussed in Translating Montreal, that advertised delivering the “news to nous.” But “news to nous” isn’t always news that stays news. Fact is, it’s news to which Canada is now deaf."
poems  poetry  translation  french  english  canada  2015  language  languages  carminestarnino  quebec  spanish  español  portuguese  italian  mcgillmovement  ericormsby  amklein  johnglassco  dgjones  petervantoorn  brucetaylor  asaboxer  ooanaavasilichioaei  lindabesner  robynsarah  davidsolway  sherrysimon  erinmouré  pierrenepveu  gastonmiron  robertmelançon  pierremorency  michelgarneau  yvesboisvert  michaelhofmann  pashamalla  donaldwinkler  raymondbock  nellaarcan  hélènedorion  paulmuldoon  marcplourde  jacquesbrault  saint-denys-garneau 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Is Translation an Art or a Math Problem? - NYTimes.com
"One Enlightenment aspiration that the science-­fiction industry has long taken for granted, as a necessary intergalactic conceit, is the universal translator. In a 1967 episode of “Star Trek,” Mr. Spock assembles such a device from spare parts lying around the ship. An elongated chrome cylinder with blinking red-and-green indicator lights, it resembles a retracted light saber; Captain Kirk explains how it works with an off-the-cuff disquisition on the principles of Chomsky’s “universal grammar,” and they walk outside to the desert-­island planet of Gamma Canaris N, where they’re being held hostage by an alien. The alien, whom they call The Companion, materializes as a fraction of sparkling cloud. It looks like an orange Christmas tree made of vaporized mortadella. Kirk grips the translator and addresses their kidnapper in a slow, patronizing, put-down-the-gun tone. The all-­powerful Companion is astonished.

“My thoughts,” she says with some confusion, “you can hear them.”

The exchange emphasizes the utopian ambition that has long motivated universal translation. The Companion might be an ion fog with coruscating globules of viscera, a cluster of chunky meat-parts suspended in aspic, but once Kirk has established communication, the first thing he does is teach her to understand love. It is a dream that harks back to Genesis, of a common tongue that perfectly maps thought to world. In Scripture, this allowed for a humanity so well ­coordinated, so alike in its understanding, that all the world’s subcontractors could agree on a time to build a tower to the heavens. Since Babel, though, even the smallest construction projects are plagued by terrible delays.

Translation is possible, and yet we are still bedeviled by conflict. This fallen state of affairs is often attributed to the translators, who must not be doing a properly faithful job. The most succinct expression of this suspicion is “traduttore, traditore,” a common Italian saying that’s really an argument masked as a proverb. It means, literally, “translator, traitor,” but even though that is semantically on target, it doesn’t match the syllabic harmoniousness of the original, and thus proves the impossibility it asserts.

Translation promises unity but entails betrayal. In his wonderful survey of the history and practice of translation, “Is That a Fish in Your Ear?” the translator David Bellos explains that the very idea of “infidelity” has roots in the Ottoman Empire. The sultans and the members of their court refused to learn the languages of the infidels, so the task of expediting communication with Europe devolved upon a hereditary caste of translators, the Phanariots. They were Greeks with Venetian citizenship residing in Istanbul. European diplomats never liked working with them, because their loyalty was not to the intent of the foreign original but to the sultan’s preference. (Ottoman Turkish apparently had no idiom about not killing the messenger, so their work was a matter of life or death.) We retain this lingering association of translation with treachery."



"One computational linguist said, with a knowing leer, that there is a reason we have more than 20 translations in English of “Don Quixote.” It must be because nobody ever gets it right. If the translators can’t even make up their own minds about what it means to be “faithful” or “accurate,” what’s the point of worrying too much about it? Let’s just get rid of the whole antiquated fidelity concept. All the Sancho Panzas, all the human translators and all the computational linguists are in the same leaky boat, but the machinists are bailing out the water while the humans embroider monograms on the sails.

But like many engineers, the computational linguists are so committed to the power and craftsmanship of their means that they tend to lose perspective on whose ends they are advancing. The problem with human translators, from the time of the Phanariots, is that there is always the possibility that they might be serving the ends of their bosses rather than the intent of the text itself. But at least a human translator asks the very questions — What purpose is this text designed to serve? What aims are encoded in this language? — that a machine regards as entirely beside the point.

The problem is that all texts have some purpose in mind, and what a good human translator does is pay attention to how the means serve the end — how the “style” exists in relationship to “the gist.” The oddity is that belief in the existence of an isolated “gist” often obscures the interests at the heart of translation. Toward the end of the marathon, I asked a participant why he chose to put his computer-­science background to the service of translation. He mentioned, as many of them did, a desire to develop tools that would be helpful in earthquakes or war. Beyond that, he said, he hoped to help ameliorate the time lag in the proliferation of international news. I asked him what he meant.

“There was, for example, a huge delay with the Germanwings crash.”

It wasn’t the example I was expecting. “But what was that delay, like 10 or 15 minutes?”

He cocked his head. “That’s a huge delay if you’re a trader.”

I didn’t say anything informational in words, but my body or face must have communicated a response the engineer mistranslated as ignorance. “It’s called cross-­lingual arbitrage. If there’s a mine collapse in Spanish, you want to make a trade as quickly as possible."
via:tealtan  translation  language  languages  words  davidbellos  technology  2015  engineers  computing  gideonlewis-kraus 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Lydia Davis at the End of the World ‹ Literary Hub
"It all started with a resolution. After my books started coming out in various countries, I made a decision: Any language or culture that translates my work, I want to repay by translating something from that language into English, no matter how small. It might end up being just one poem or one story, but I would always translate something in return."
translation  lydiadavis  2015  books  language  culture  english  reciprocity 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Otherwordly
"What is Otherwordly?

The name Otherwordly comes from ‘otherworldly’, something strange and lovely. So this blog is about strange and lovely words. Sometimes those are words from other languages that can’t be translated. Sometimes they’re words for feelings we’ve felt but never been able to name. Sometimes they’re just words that sound good."
tumblrs  words  language  translation  unstranslatables  otherwordly  emotions  feelings 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Yuri Herrera’s <br><i>Signs Preceding the End of the World</i> — Music & Literature
[Other reviews of note:
http://thequietus.com/articles/17625-yuri-herrera-signs-preceding-the-end-of-the-world-novel-review-mccarthy-breaking-bad-border-fiction
http://www.themillions.com/2015/03/the-book-report-episode-13-signs-preceding-the-end-of-the-world-by-yuri-herrera.html
http://www.bookslut.com/fiction/2015_03_021144.php
http://www.theliteraryreview.org/book-review/a-review-of-signs-preceding-the-end-of-the-world-by-yuri-herrera/

Plus a note from the translator:
http://andotherstoriespublishing.tumblr.com/post/89747240811/translator-lisa-dillman-on-yuri-herreras-signs ]

"Things are different on the other side. What jumps out is an almost biblical bleakness, as though the world itself were beginning anew. “First there was nothing,” that section begins. The unfamiliar land itself presents an ample canvas for invention. But for Herrera, the crossing is as much about the construction of myth as it is about its deconstruction. Herrera plays with this idea most directly when Makina encounters “homegrowns,” Mexicans like herself, who have immigrated to “anglo” territory. They have become servers, dishwashers, maids, “playing it sly so as not to let on to any shared objective, and instead just, just, just: just there to take orders.” They are standing members of the underclass in a segregated, consumerist country. But it is their language above all that embodies the contradiction inherent to their condition:
They speak an intermediary tongue that Makina instantly warms to because it’s like her: malleable, erasable, permeable; a hinge pivoting between two like but distant souls, and then two more, and then two more, never exactly the same ones; something that serves as a link. . . . More than the midpoint between homegrown and anglo their tongue is a nebulous territory between what is dying out and what is not yet born. . . . In it brims nostalgia for the land they left or never knew when they use the words with which they name objects; while actions are alluded to with an anglo verb conjugated latin-style, pinning on a sonorous tail from back there.

It is hard not to quote from this section at greater length. Really, it’s one of the most necessary in the novel, because it suggests that it is only from this intermediary place, between languages, between worlds, that the old stories can be rewritten—and Signs Preceding the End of the World is an attempt to do just that.

For Lisa Dillman, the book’s translator, Herrera’s linguistic call to arms to poses a host of interesting problems. The novel itself is written in language rooted on both sides of the border, the “nebulous territory for what is dying out and what is not yet born.” In practice, this means finding a way to convey Herrera’s invented Spanish in intelligible English. A handful of such anglo-latinisms recur in the book. The most frequent is to verse, which functions like to leave or go. (As Dillman notes in her translator’s afterword, the original Spanish neologism, jarchar, refers, by way of Arabic, to couplets that were added to Arabic or Hebrew poems, intended to bridge culture and language, in Al-Andalus, present-day Spain.) Dillman also verbs nouns and “pins sonorous tails from back there” so that root, as a verb, for example, cleverly becomes rootle, making it seem as though the woman digging through Makina’s purse has been invited to have a look around. At a broader level, the diction is a playful mix of high and low, with frequent poetry-slam–like assonances, as though the book were meant to be read aloud to a quiet beat; it is at times slangy, at times arch, at times an odd confusion of both: “I’m going for my bro,” Makina says. “He’s the stupid sap who went over for a little land.”

When it works and when it doesn’t, though it usually does, Herrera’s language teaches the reader how to inhabit the text’s dislocated geography, and Dillman should be commended for arriving at this distant target. It would be hard to pin a word or phrase to a place without finding one to contradict that verdict on the next page. Her translation does what the best translations should do, namely, grow the bounds of English so that it feels larger than before, more lexically and syntactically diverse, strange, unexpected. That her prose is often striking and beautiful makes it all the richer.

Transference across borders and between languages can be marked by a beginning and an end: the moment when something stops being one thing and becomes another. In Signs Preceding the End of the World, Herrera interrogates the nature of that change, its inevitability, its often brutish force, as it sweeps through a time and a place and a people. It is a force that Makina, now beyond the border, sees acting on her and the world around her:
[The snowflake] looked like a stack of crosses or the map of a place, a solid and intricate marvel at any rate, and when it dissolved a few seconds later she wondered how it was that some things in the world—some countries, some people—could seem eternal when everything was actually like that miniature ice palace: one-of-a-kind, precious, fragile.

The reader wonders what this dissolution will mean for Makina. But here, despite its best intentions, the novel does not dig deep enough into the dirt of human consequence, even if we understand her fate. Her fear is described but not adequately felt; the slow change that we expect in her is lost in a hurried conclusion, underground. In its hundred-odd pages, Signs Preceding the End of the World manages to be many things at once: an allegory, a dark myth, an epic, a compelling meditation on language. In the end, however, Makina and the reader are left with the darkness."

[My notes on Twitter:

While AFK this weekend, I read Yuri Herrera’s *Signs Preceding the End of the World* as translated (no access to original) by Lisa Dillman.
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/587452905139138560

For more info on the book, see Adam Z. Levy’s review. http://www.musicandliterature.org/reviews/2015/4/3/yuri-herreras-signs-preceding-the-end-of-the-world … I esp. like this line on translation. http://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/115788956338/her-translation-does-what-the-best-translations
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/587453584444366849

What follows are a few lines I copied to a notebook from the book (*Signs Preceding the End of the World*) itself. To give you a taste
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/587453956428800000

“Makina spoke all three [tongues], and knew how to keep quiet in all three, too.”

“Makina thought she could hear all the water in her body making its way through her skin to the surface.”

“All cooking is Mexican cooking, she said to herself.”

“And how on versing out to the street, they sought to make amends for their momentary one-up by becoming wooden again so as not to offend…”

I’ll stop there. A short, powerful book that follows this lead: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24gCI3Ur7FM … (ht @vruba + @aredridel) https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:86c4daf20acf
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/587457312341778432

And I really like what @andothertweets is doing with publishing, as I stated previously. https://twitter.com/rogre/status/571201423548899328
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/587457679586684928 ]
yuriherrera  lisadillman  adamlevy  translation  books  mexico  us  borders  crossings  border  literature  language  spanish  español  english 
april 2015 by robertogreco
And Other Stories Publishing
"With our networks of readers, writers and literary translators and the support of a growing band of subscribers, we have been able to bring out some mind-blowing literary books, which are now capturing people’s imagination.

To find out more about us look at the pages on the About tab’s drop-down menu (11 Commandments [http://www.andotherstories.org/about/11-commandments/ ], Who We Are) – and read what people say about us in the Irish Times, in Jenny Diski’s piece in the London Review of Books or in Boyd Tonkin’s piece on the need for taste-makers in The Independent.

Or get the lowdown on us from Stefan Tobler’s piece on English PEN’s site about the first three years (October 2013), why small publishing is more fun (‘it’s the words, stupid’) on Bookbrunch or interviews on the Booktrust website and Writers’ Hub, direct from our office in ‘a town with three times as many tattoos parlours as bookshops’ (truth is actually more like thirty times more tattoo parlours). Curious about our reading groups? Follow The Guardian or Publishing Perspectives to one of our reading groups. ‘The future of publishing?’ Why not! We love the books we’re publishing and we hope you will, too.

To continue, we are reliant on your support. Please consider subscribing! We hope you’ll agree that it’s an enticing offer.

Our philosophy
We are a literary publishing house that works on the principle that great new books will be heard about and read thanks to the combined intelligence of a number of people: editors, readers, translators, critics, literary promoters and academics. We hope we can be a home for such collaboration.

Not-for-private-profit, open to you
And Other Stories has been set up as a Community Interest Company (CIC, pronounced ‘kick’ not ‘sick’). This means we are a not-for-private-profit company. Any profits are re-invested. But what really gives us a ‘CIC’? (Couldn’t resist!) We make our decisions based on what we think is good writing and a good way of working. This sets us apart from shareholder-driven publishing companies where all decisions are ultimately about increasing profits. Of course, in order to be able to continue our work in the long-term, we certainly can’t lose money. It also means:

• Our supporters and subscribers can take part in determining the direction we go in.
• We are ecologically and ethically minded. We use Forestry Stewardship Council paper from a local printer, the office’s electricity is from a renewable energy provider, Ecotricity, and we bank with an ethical bank, the Co-operative Bank (given the recent changes in ownership structure at the Bank we are monitoring the situation to see how things develop).
• We pay translators properly. Currently this is GBP £90 / 1,000 words of prose and a royalty. (We value translators highly, for their knowledge, skill and dedication to the books over many months of translation, as well as their promotional work for the books after translation.)
• The company cannot be swallowed (bought) by a larger fish, if that fish’s objectives are commercial. So there’s no danger our aims will suddenly change. (Not that hedge funds tend to buy literary presses, admittedly . . .)
• We do what we can to promote a diverse literary culture, e.g. by supporting fellow independent publishers, bookshops and literary events.
• We are a charter member of Equality in Publishing (EQUIP), which increases access to opportunities within the publishing industry.
• We make a point of looking for and mentoring the best new talent. Of giving people a foot in the door. We have an open submissions policy and have debut original English-language fiction lined up for 2015: Esperanza Street by Niyati Keni and Don’t Try this at Home by Angela Readman, with Anakana Schofield’s second novel coming soon too. We have given a number of translators and editors their first books and run competitions to find translators."

[Via a library copy of By Night the Mountain Burns, Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel (serendipitous encounter): http://www.andotherstories.org/book/by-night-the-mountain-burns/ ]
books  publishing  translation  subscriptions  literature  juantomásávila 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Interview with Sjón | The White Review
"Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Where are you from? And how did you come to write?

A: SJÓN — I was born in Reykjavík in 1962. From the beginning I read everything, from children’s books to newspapers – whatever printed material came into the house. At the age of 8 I discovered Icelandic folk stories, which is when I truly started waking up to literature. A year later, I discovered poetry. In school we were given a big collection of poetry, which was to last us throughout our school years, and I started reading this book for pleasure at home. I was reading detective novels, Icelandic folk stories, and Icelandic romantic poetry from very early on. Early reading teaches you the different possibilities of text.

When I came into my teenage years I became a huge David Bowie fan. To be a David Bowie fan in Iceland you more or less had to teach yourself English – to translate the lyrics, to be able to read the interviews in NME. My infatuation with Bowie prepared me for my discovery of modernist poetry, first in translation. At the age of 15 I found a book of Icelandic modernists from the end of the Second World War. That’s when modernism came to Iceland – and they were very much influenced by the surrealists. Somehow, I was bitten by the bug. It simply fascinated me that you were allowed to use the Icelandic language in this way, to create these incredible images and metaphors, and to present such ideas with the Icelandic language. I felt like I should be a part of it. So I started writing poetry and in a few months time I had written enough poetry for a book. I published my first book of poetry the summer I turned 16.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — You speak of an early interest in the various kinds of text, and your own writing is not easily assimilated into any single textual mode. As a writer, lyricist and poet, you move in and out of these different formats. What do you classify yourself as first and foremost, if anything? How might this resistance to categorisation link in to your interest in surrealism?

A: SJÓN — I’m a novelist who occasionally writes poetry. I write librettos, lyrics and children’s books but these are all collaborations that I do in between working on novels and poetry. One of the wonders of the novel is how easily it absorbs diverse texts. Everything that is written, whether it is non-fiction, old archives, newspaper articles, lullabies – somehow it can always find its place in the novel, and for that reason the novel became more important to me than the poem.

The novel is encyclopaedic: all of the different manners of expressing oneself in words can find their place there. In the Eighties my friends and I formed a group of surrealist poets called Medusa. Surrealism brings so much with it and one of the first things I realised when I became excited by surrealism was its link with folk stories. Surrealism is always non-academic, always looking for the source of human activity, looking into the back alleys and the darkest clearing in the forest for excitement. Somehow it was always very natural for me to bring all these different things together in what I was doing.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Your novels are hybrids – a crossbreed of narrative fiction, historical fact, myth, music…

A: SJÓN — I like my novels to be made up of different parts, realities, states of consciousness. I now see my work as realist because everything I write is grounded in at least the experience of the character, here, in earthly life. The strange things that happen in the books are what happens in people’s minds, what they experience as truth. That of course creates a hybrid, when your standard is something normalised and accepted as the only way to experience reality.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Music is a great part of this assortment – you’ve mentioned Bowie as an influence, and you have collaborated with musicians such as Björk. Do you think that words can achieve the condition of music, which has a much greater immediacy and is far less freighted with multiple meanings?

A: SJÓN — I think it’s very important to be open to influence from diverse artistic forms and forms of expression. I have been very much influenced by music and one of the routes I took to literature was through the music of David Bowie. I have worked with musicians in all fields – contemporary composers, pop artists – and I’ve worked with very diverse styles of music. But there is a huge difference between words being sung, spoken or read. The emotion that the singing voice brings to the world when sung out loud is something you cannot recreate on paper. I don’t think you should even try.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — You have spoken of realising that ‘you could take the classical string quartet as a model for the composition of THE BLUE FOX’. How did you achieve this?

A: SJÓN — I think the fact that I can take the form of the string quartet and use it as the basis of a novel is another proof of how dynamic the novel is. I’m sure that a composer writing a string quartet can learn something from a movie or the structure of film. It was music that gave me the idea of constantly breaking up the narrative. THE BLUE FOX would be a completely different novel if it were chronological. In it, there are constant cliff-hangers and repeated refrains – I’m playing with the element of two melodies that come together but never fully, only in the end finding a solution. It was very interesting that the first people who commented on the book were composers. They said it was very clear to them that I was always playing with volume of information versus text, which is the same thing they do – volume of tones versus time. You can take a melody and stretch it over five minutes, or compress it down to three seconds. They were very much aware of how I was playing with text versus information.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Does your involvement in the world of music, and the musicality of your novels, betray some sort of frustration with the limits of the written word?

A: SJÓN — No. I am in the position where I can move between those different ways of writing. For me, it is a celebration of the many possibilities given to an author. I play no instruments, my only involvement with music is in collaborations with people who know how to do it. It is a privilege to be working with these musicians and to be allowed to bring my words to their work. To hear the words sung is a wonderful present from these people."



"This view actually went against everything that I had been taught in school. The Reformation is presented in Icelandic history books as something very benevolent and it was convenient to ignore that in the first decade after the Reformation life was very difficult for the common man and for scholars. The Methodist church became very dogmatic, and everything that had to do with the old Nordic religion, with old wisdom or old medicine, was banished as sorcery. He is the only historical voice that we have speaking against this. It was an opportunity to put a seed inside somebody’s skull, and take a walk through those times with his eyes."



"The reason that I felt it right to enter this world, this state of complaint against a world going to pieces, is because he lived through the period when the Catholic Church, the only socially responsible institution, was all of a sudden taken away. In Iceland, it is a fact that the Catholic Church was the only welfare structure in the country – we had no king, no dukes, we had no one to take over the social responsibilities when the Catholic Church vanished overnight. All the monasteries were closed down, all the orphanages, the old people’s shelters – everything, overnight. And the duty that the rich had – to keep the livestock alive on behalf of the religious priests who fed the poor – that vanished too.

Jón Guðmundsson is unique in that he is the only one who wrote about this. He bore witness to a world in which man had been relieved of his duty to show charity to his fellow men. This is very much what the last decade has felt like, at least in Iceland, if not many parts of the West. With the deregulation of the economic system, social responsibility was thrown out of the window and all of a sudden the rich became richer and they had no duties any more. This is something that happened with the fall of the Eastern Bloc – the message that we were told then was that capitalism had won and communism was the dark art. The Left lost its voice, at least in Iceland. The centre Left – the social democrats – they decided to start playing along with the capitalists, which is what you would call New Labour here. The real Left was all of a sudden presented as the losers of history, even though these people had been in opposition to the totalitarian regimes in the East for decades. All of a sudden everything that began with the word ‘social’ was a dirty word. The social contract that was established in most of the West after the Second World War, was dealt the final blow."



"In times where grand narratives are needed we look to the grand narratives of our culture. In our case it is the great myths, and sometimes it is to give name to something like the panic after September 11. Myth always puts man down to size, and man realises he is just this tiny figure moving from one meal to another on his way to the grave.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Oral tradition is very much a part of myth. Is this something that can still exist today?

A: SJÓN — You have a whole continent, Africa, which has so many languages that have still not found a written form. There are places that have an unbroken tradition, stretching thousands of years back, of telling the same stories over and over again. Mostly here in the West we have lost the ability to protect our culture orally, and maybe we are in danger. What will happen when all the books have flared up and all the Kindles lost their battery power?

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Literary translation and the rise of world … [more]
sjón  2012  interviews  iceland  poems  poetry  novels  literature  writing  music  björk  reality  collaboration  surrealism  existence  humans  storytelling  davidbowie  mogenrukov  dogme95  life  living  perspective  curiosity  translation  africa  diversity  myths  myth  mythology  charity  catholicism  history  capitalism  economics  society  collectivism  interdependence  individualism  insignificance  folklore  nature  reformation  religion  magic  mysticism  enlightenment  catholicchurch  9/11  oraltradition  ebooks  books  words  coldwar  socialism  communism  jónguðmundsson  sorcery  songs  posthumanism 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Sjón & Hari Kunzru — Work in Progress — Medium
[video: https://vimeo.com/72354976 ]
[Björk introduction: http://www.fsgworkinprogress.com/2013/08/bjork-introduces-sjon/
more: http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2013/05/16/sjon-bjork-and-the-furry-trout/ ]

"Sjón: It writes me. I’m better sticking to being visual when I write. No, but for me, to go in that direction, I actually do think most literature is visual arts."



"Sjón: I think we were typical second-wave punks. I mean, obviously, the generation that started the punk movement in England, the first punk bands—The Clash and The Sex Pistols and the Buzzcocks and all these bands—these were all kids that were quite a bit older than we were. They were born around 1953, ’55, so they were all about the anger, and they were all about … I think Johnny Rotten said it came from the liver.

We came to it as teenagers, and it’s interesting that while you can clearly see similarities between punk and Dada, this absolute nihilism, and you can say that the punks were actually fulfilling one of Tristan Tzara’s battle cries where he said, “Musicians, break your instruments on the stage.”

Just as Surrealism followed Dada, something happened when you had seen all this raw anger leading to nothing but raw anger, maybe good old Surrealism became the good and right remedy to all that anger. Like Björk said, it really felt like it fit together, and we were really looking for the revolutionary, the rebellious aspect of Surrealism.

Hari: The idea that it’s sort of dreaming and an escape from reality can be rebellious and revolutionary?

Sjón: As a good Surrealist would say, an escape into reality through dreaming. Ah!

Hari: I was thinking about Jonas Palmason in From the Mouth of the Whale. He goes to Copenhagen, and it’s this huge city filled with more things and people than he’s ever seen before. He imagines that he’s in an ancient version of the city, and I was trying to square that kind of dreaming with this revolutionary dreaming. Are they the same thing? Are they different things? Is the visionary Sjón also an escapist dreamer?

Sjón: One of the first things I learned from Surrealism is that it’s not fantasy, that Surrealism makes a very clear distinction between fantasy and the marvelous. You’re always looking for the marvelous in reality, and that’s where poetry happens. It happens when you hit upon these incredible moments in your reality. In Reykjavik, we had a city of rather small size to go walking around, but this idea of walking around, getting into the spirit, surreal spirit, and awaiting the poetic to manifest in a marvelous way in your reality—that’s very much what I’m looking for."



"Sjón: No. [Pause.] I’m really interested in how people become obsessed with ideas and how they become obsessed with certain cosmologies, and how the obsessed mind starts finding proofs of its truths. How it looks for the manifestation of these truths all around it in reality. This happens all the time—that things start to manifest if you’ve got them on your brain. They start manifesting all around you.

Hari: That’s there in all your fiction, this sense that a certain kind of attention is repaid by this. You start seeing the visionary aspect of the world.

Hari: You’re fond of mythic explanations for things that maybe other people wouldn’t use that for. I saw an interview where you started riffing on the idea that maybe 9-11 was something to do with the power of the great god Pan.

Sjón: I am actually absolutely sure that the great god Pan slipped through some sort of a gateway into our world, on that day.

We’ve been living in panic ever since. Actually, when we were in Athens for Björk’s performance of our song at the Olympics in 2004, I had direct experience of one of the gods there: One day, I was in a group that went down to the peninsula south of Athens, and there is a great Poseidon temple sitting there on a rock. As we came closer to the temple, we saw better and better what a sad state it was in. Obviously, this used to be the place of great sacrifices, 500 bulls sacrificed and burned in one day and all that, and the crowds coming to bow in front of the image of Poseidon.

I thought as we got closer, “Oh, look at you, great Poseidon. Look at the sad state you’re in.” This is how the Icelandic poet’s mind works. That’s how we think when we’re traveling.

We came to the temple and started walking around and looking at these sad ruins, but then I walked to the edge of the cliff. Who was there, who hadn’t moved and left his temple, but Poseidon? The whole ocean stretched out from the cliffs. Poseidon was still there, even though man had stopped sacrificing to Poseidon, Poseidon was still there. Then, Poseidon, of course, feeling a little bit annoyed that people were forgetting him, he moved just a little finger, his little finger a tiny bit, and we had the tsunami in Indonesia.

The myths are really about man confronting the fact that nature is always bigger and stronger.

Hari: It seems that in Iceland, there’s this particular kind of negotiation with nature that has to go on, because it’s a very unstable place, geologically if in no other way. I always think of the island of Surtsey coming out of the sea in the 1960s, and suddenly, you’ve got a new southernmost tip of Iceland that’s been generated by an undersea volcano. Is this sense that things are capable of shifting and that even the ground under your feet could potentially change, do you think this has any link to Iceland’s notorious belief in hidden folk and that sense that the landscape is actually populated with forces that are beyond our immediate understanding?

Sjón: Yes, I think we experience nature as a living thing, and a part of it is to go to the extremes of actually believing that nature has a character, or if not character, that it can manifest itself in different forms. We have folk stories about the hidden people, Huldufólk, who live in rocks and fields and cliffs, and they look exactly like us except they’ve only got one nostril. Apart from having only one nostril, they always lead a much richer and better life than those of us who have to survive above ground. They’re having musical parties all the time. They dress in silk, and whenever an Icelander gives a person from that nation a helping hand, he is rewarded with a cloth of silver or a goblet of gold. We know that the earth is rich, and we know that it’s more powerful than here, so I think when you live in a place that is obviously alive, you tend to populate it with different creatures.

For example, Katla, is this great volcano that possibly will explode fairly soon, and Katla is a woman’s name. It’s the name of a giantess. It’s more than likely that it will wipe out all the habitat that is sitting there on the beach. Man’s existence is—

Hari: Precarious."



"Sjón: I’m interested in the language of faith, and I’m interested in the literature of faith. In Iceland, like in so many Lutheran countries, the translation of the New Testament into the local language was a big moment. The church defined charity and love and all these terms.

I’ve always been interested in religious texts, not only because of the language but because I see religions as cosmologies, and I’m interested in cosmologies, and I’m interested in obsessed people and where to look for obsessed people. The best place is in religion. I think I’ve really taken advantage of the language of religion just in the same way that I’ve taken advantage of the language of myths and the world of myths.

For me, these are all attempts at explaining the same thing, which is to try to answer the question, “Is it possible that in the beginning there was nothing, and now we’re here sitting on these two nice chairs here in this Scandinavia House?”

We know that our cosmology will become obsolete, and it’s really amazing that the biggest given fact of our time is that cosmology, which is the hard science, is so unstable. I love it.

Hari: You take a real aesthetic pleasure in cosmologies, don’t you? What’s the joy of a big system, a big complicated system with lots of moving, whizzing, parts?

Sjón: My joy is the joy of the Trickster. It’s the joy of Loki. It’s the joy of the Coyote, because I know it’s an unstable system, and it will be overthrown, no matter how majestic it is. With the right little tricks, you will have an apocalypse. You will have the twilight of the gods. The gods will fight the last battle, and there will be a new world that rises up from it, and the Trickster can start thinking of new dirty tricks to topple that system."



"Audience Question: You were talking about how you enjoy cosmology and I wondered how you reconcile that with science and with your own art.

Sjón: Well of course it’s the scientists who are destroying each others’ cosmologies all the time. It’s very interesting that most people today live with a cosmology that absolutely ignores the theory of relativity, for example. Most people live as if the theory of relativity never happened because nobody understands it really.

It’s amazing how unaffected we are by these wonderful amazing things. We just continue. That’s one of the ways of overturning cosmologies: just keep brushing your teeth no matter how they say the universe was made."
sjón  iceland  harikunzru  2013  interviews  literature  poetry  davidbowie  surrealism  writing  escapism  punk  reality  björk  fantasy  fiction  nature  myth  mythology  trickster  greekmyths  obsessions  ideas  cosmologies  perspective  science  learning  unlearning  relearning  collaboration  translation  howwewrite  language  icelandic  loki  faith  belief  anthropology  hunting  geology  animals  folklore  folktales  precarity  life  living  myths 
december 2014 by robertogreco
In other words: inside the lives and minds of real-time translators | Mosaic
"The world’s most powerful computers can’t perform accurate real-time translation. Yet interpreters do it with ease. Geoff Watts meets the neuroscientists who are starting to explain this remarkable ability."



"I ask Moser-Mercer if interpreters ever do anything else while interpreting. In a job dominated by women, she tells me, some knit – or used to when it was a more popular pastime. And you can see how a regular manual action might complement the cerebral activity of translation. But a crossword puzzle? Moser-Mercer hasn’t tried it, but she tells me that under exceptional circumstances – a familiar topic, lucid speakers, etc. – she thinks she could.

That such a feat might be possible suggests that interesting things are indeed happening in the brains of simultaneous interpreters. And there are other reasons for thinking that interpreters’ brains have been shaped by their profession. They’re good at ignoring themselves, for example. Under normal circumstances listening to your voice is essential to monitoring your speech. But interpreters have to concentrate on the word they’re translating, so they learn to pay less attention to their own voice.

This was first demonstrated 20 years ago in a simple experiment devised by Franco Fabbro and his colleagues at the University of Trieste in Italy. Fabbro asked 24 students to recite the days of the week and the months of the year in reverse order while listening to themselves through headphones. First they heard themselves with no delay. They then repeated the exercise with delayed feedback of 150, 200 and 250 milliseconds. Even a slight delay subverts speech, forcing listeners to slow down, stutter, slur and even come to a halt. Sure enough, many of the students made errors. But half of the group were in their third or fourth year at the university’s School of Translators and Interpreters, and these students suffered no significant disruption.

Some habits acquired in the workplace may carry over to the home. One way that experienced interpreters acquire speed is by learning to predict what speakers are about to say. “I will always anticipate the end of a sentence, no matter who I’m talking to and whether or not I’m wearing a headset,” says Moser-Mercer. “I will never wait for you to finish your sentence. Many of us interpreters know this from our spouses and kids. ‘You never let me finish…’ And it’s true. We’re always trying to jump in.”

Interpreters also have to be able to cope with stress and exercise self-control when working with difficult speakers. I read one review, based on questionnaires given to interpreters, which suggested that members of the profession are, as a consequence, highly strung, temperamental, touchy and prima donna-ish. Maybe. But I couldn’t see it in Marisa, Carmen or Anne."



"The story that is emerging from the Geneva work – that interpretation is about coordinating more specialised brain areas – seems to gel with interpreters’ descriptions of how they work. To be really effective, for example, a simultaneous interpreter needs a repertoire of approaches. “The process has to adapt to varying circumstances,” says Moser-Mercer, who still does 40 to 50 days of interpretation a year, mainly for UN agencies. “There could be poor sound quality, or a speaker with an accent, or it might be a topic I don’t know much about. For instance, I wouldn’t interpret a fast speaker in the same way I would a slow one. It’s a different set of strategies. If there isn’t time to focus on each and every word that comes in you have to do a kind of intelligent sampling.” It may be that the flexible operation of the brain networks underpinning interpretation allows interpreters to optimise strategies for dealing with different types of speech. And different interpreters listening to the same material may use different strategies."
translation  via:alexismadrigal  2014  neuroscience  geoffwatts  languages  language  brain  simultaneousinterpretation  interpreters 
november 2014 by robertogreco
3quarksdaily: Sam Hamill Interviewed
"Shadab: What is the translator’s first allegiance: the original poem in all its cultural specificity (context, tradition-based allusions, nuanced language) or the poem’s more “translatable” aspect— its essence and meaning from a universal viewpoint?

Sam: Each translation brings its own particular challenges. Every translation is unique. Many classical Chinese poems can be translated in a very literal way—like Tao Te Ching for instance. And yet we have perfectly awful translations of it from people like Stephen Mitchell when the translator intrudes on the text. It’s a delicate dance. Mitchell reads no Chinese, so he simply invents and interprets from what others have done. I go through the poems character by character and try to make the poem a poem in English that is true to the original. We can’t replicate the 5 or 7-syllable line of classical Chinese poetry, nor mirror the interior and exterior rhymes, so I seek a speaking music in English to convey the sense of rhythm in our own tongue. In my Crossing the Yellow River: Three Hundred Poems from the Chinese, there are a variety of styles and distinctly different voices. We lose a lot of nuance and subtlety when bringing them into English.

Shadab: What are some of the glaring and subtle differences between the Western tradition of poetry and the Eastern, in your experience as a translator?

Sam: This would take a book to answer properly. Chinese is rhyme-rich, while English is rhyme poor. Chinese and Japanese poets use “pillow words,” a fixed epithet that gives a double-meaning. When our Asian poet speaks of “clouds and rain,” it may be about weather, but it also may be about sex. Clouds are masculine, rain is feminine. And individual Chinese characters often contain two or three or even four distinct meanings all at once, so the translator must choose a primary single meaning in English and “dumb it down” for the western reader. Classical Chinese poetry is chanted, not simply spoken. Classical Japanese poetry is loaded with sensibility, nuance and social awareness and often makes use of “honkadori,” “shadows and echoes” of classics both Japanese and Chinese. Translation is a provisional conclusion and great poetry needs to be translated freshly for each generation.

Shadab: What can we learn from Eastern aesthetics— in particular, the Chinese tradition?

Sam: Confucian exactitude of language, Taoist-Buddhist “non-attachment,” and most of all something about great human character at its core. Rexroth called Tu Fu “the greatest non-epic, non-dramatic poet ever,” and I think that reflects what he saw as Tu Fu’s character. As Heraclitus says, “Our character is our fate.” I think most classical Chinese poets would concur. I could make a similar case for Basho or Saigyo in Japanese.

Shadab: Is there such a thing as a “poem for all times”?

Sam: Sure. “Ode to the West Wind” would be a great poem in any language any day. Same with the great Zen poets or Rilke’s “Archaic Bust of Apollo” or… I could make a very long list.

Shadab: Are poets duty-bound to include a political consciousness/conscience in their work?

Sam: “Duty-bound?” I think not. But it’s almost impossible to write “apolitical” poetry in a world in which everything has political ties either directly or indirectly. A simple love poem is loaded with politics: is it heterosexual love we celebrate today? Is the “she” submissive or assertive? Is the “he” passive or dominant? Is “she” objectified or are her complexities reflected in the poetry? We’d have no “romance” in our poetry were it not for the meeting of Arabic and European tradition in Provence in the 12th century. I can’t imagine a poetry without conscience. Poetry, because it’s meant to communicate, is a social medium. Art is a social activity because it reaches out. Whether it’s Hopper or Goya, Plath or Rich or Gary Snyder, there is a social engagement that reflects back on culture and history.

Shadab: Is activist poetry effective as a catalyst for change in our times?

Sam: The “women’s movement” of the 60s and 70s was mostly begun by poets: Margaret Atwood, Adrienne Rich, Robin Morgan, Susan Griffin, et alia. They were inspired by Sappho, by Akhmatova, etc. Poetry has almost always been a part of social revolution. Think of the great poets of the Spanish resistance to fascism or the role of poets in Latin America and elsewhere. Nazim Hikmet struck terror into the hearts of his oppressors.

Shadab: How would you define the term world poet? Has America produced such a poet?

Sam: Whitman. He was read all over Latin America before we northerns realized how important he was. And to a lesser degree, Ezra Pound, and many of the post-modern poets transcend our borders.

Shadab: You once said: “You can’t write about character and the human condition and be apolitical—that’s not the kind of world we’ve ever lived in.”
Unlike most politically inclined poets, “apolitical” poets, such as the supremely popular former poet laureate Billy Collins (and a number of others), seem to have received tremendous success in earning laurels and even money. Why is that?

Sam: They entertain the lowest common denominator. They ask (or demand) almost nothing from their audience. They are the Edgar Guests of our age. They also ask very little of themselves, and certainly nothing the least bit revolutionary. They don’t present any threat to the status quo. Billy Collins was Poet Laureate when the USA invaded Iraq. But you’ll find no protest in his poetry."



"Sam: A poet’s first duty is to open his or her heart and stand naked in the act of revelation. I wouldn’t be a poet laureate even if asked. My “master” is revolution—nonviolent anti-capitalist humane revolution. The greatest threat to the world today is American imperialism, just as it was a hundred years ago. The body count is almost beyond comprehension—millions dead in Iraq and Afghanistan, genocide against Palestinian peoples whose lands are being stolen day by day, 30,000 gun deaths in the USA every year, drone bombings of children in Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the sabotage of democratic governments in Latin American and elsewhere, sweatshops in Indonesia and China… the list goes on and on. Who will listen to the cries of the world? Who will dare speak for those who have been silenced?"
samhamill  poetry  capitalism  pacifism  imperialism  2014  interviews  activism  writing  politics  billycollins  translation  waltwhitman  garysnyder  margaretatwood  adrennerich  robinmorgan  susangriffith  basho  rilke  zen  buddhism  sappho  language  taoteching  asia  saigyo  tufu  taosim  confucianism  non-attachment  kennethrexroth 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Lorem Ipsum: Of Good & Evil, Google & China — Krebs on Security
"Imagine discovering a secret language spoken only online by a knowledgeable and learned few. Over a period of weeks, as you begin to tease out the meaning of this curious tongue and ponder its purpose, the language appears to shift in subtle but fantastic ways, remaking itself daily before your eyes. And just when you are poised to share your findings with the rest of the world, the entire thing vanishes.

This fairly describes my roller coaster experience of curiosity, wonder and disappointment over the past few weeks, as I’ve worked alongside security researchers in an effort to understand how “lorem ipsum” — common placeholder text on countless Web sites — could be transformed into so many apparently geopolitical and startlingly modern phrases when translated from Latin to English using Google Translate. (If you have no idea what “lorem ipsum” is, skip ahead to a brief primer here).

Admittedly, this blog post would make more sense if readers could fully replicate the results described below using Google Translate. However, as I’ll explain later, something important changed in Google’s translation system late last week that currently makes the examples I’ll describe impossible to reproduce."



"The researchers wondered: What was going on here? Has someone outside of Google figured out how to map certain words to different meanings in Google Translate? Was it a secret or covert communications channel? Perhaps a form of communication meant to bypass the censorship erected by the Chinese government with the Great Firewall of China? Or was this all just some coincidental glitch in the Matrix?

For his part, Shoukry checked in with contacts in the U.S. intelligence industry, quietly inquiring if divulging his findings might in any way jeopardize important secrets. Weeks went by and his sources heard no objection. One thing was for sure, the results were subtly changing from day to day, and it wasn’t clear how long these two common but obscure words would continue to produce the same results.

“While Google translate may be incorrect in the translations of these words, it’s puzzling why these words would be translated to things such as ‘China,’ ‘NATO,’ and ‘The Free Internet,’” Shoukry said. “Could this be a glitch? Is this intentional? Is this a way for people to communicate? What is it?”

When I met Shoukry at the Black Hat security convention in Las Vegas earlier this month, he’d already alerted Google to his findings. Clearly, it was time for some intense testing, and the clock was already ticking: I was convinced (and unfortunately, correct) that much of it would disappear at any moment."



"In any case, we may never know the real explanation. Just before midnight, Aug. 16, Google Translate abruptly stopped translating the word “lorem” into anything but “lorem” from Latin to English. Google Translate still produces amusing and peculiar results when translating Latin to English in general.

A spokesman for Google said the change was made to fix a bug with the Translate algorithm (aligning ‘lorem ipsum’ Latin boilerplate with unrelated English text) rather than a security vulnerability.

Kraeh3n said she’s convinced that the lorem ipsum phenomenon is not an accident or chance occurrence.

“Translate [is] designed to be able to evolve and to learn from crowd-sourced input to reflect adaptations in language use over time,” Kraeh3n said. “Someone out there learned to game that ability and use an obscure piece of text no one in their right mind would ever type in to create totally random alternate meanings that could, potentially, be used to transmit messages covertly.”

Meanwhile, Shoukry says he plans to continue his testing for new language patterns that may be hidden in Google Translate.

“The cleverness of hiding something in plain sight has been around for many years,” he said. “However, this is exceptionally brilliant because these templates are so widely used that people are desensitized to them, and because this text is so widely distributed that no one bothers to question why, how and where it might have come from.”"
loremipsum  googletranslate  security  translation  latin  blackhat  ceciladams  cia  china  cicero  lancejames  michaelshoukry  nato 
august 2014 by robertogreco
a meditation on personal translation | clusterflock
[Links to comment by India, quoted here]

"“personal translation — the way we interpret ourselves for others”

What a useful term.

Incidentally, Deron, I mentioned this to AmandaAndrewKelsey the other day, but you should know that I can’t stop thinking about what you said at CFstock last year (which IIRC you also posted here somewhere) to the effect that the survival methods we learned to get us through our childhoods are what will destroy us as adults. I definitely got the gist, but I’m still trying to translate that into thoughts I can use.

Thank you."
presentationofself  identity  codeswitching  translation  2010  vangogh  interpretation  relationships  survival  childhood  trauma  via:tcarmody 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Kenneth Goldsmith - Talks | Frieze Projects NY
[Direct link to .mp3: http://friezeprojectsny.org/uploads/files/talks/Kenneth_Goldsmith.mp3 ]

"‘I Look to Theory Only When I Realize That Somebody Has Dedicated Their Entire Life to a Question I Have Only Fleetingly Considered’

A keynote lecture by the poet Kenneth Goldsmith, whose writing has been described as ‘some of the most exhaustive and beautiful collage work yet produced in poetry’ (Publishers Weekly). Goldsmith is the author of eleven books of poetry and founding editor of the online archive UbuWeb. In 2013, he was named as the inaugural Poet Laureate of MoMA."
kennethgoldsmith  copying  uncreativewriting  mercecunningham  writing  internet  web  online  remixing  culture  art  poetry  originality  appropriation  quantity  quality  curiosity  harrypotter  poetics  digital  reproduction  translation  displacement  disjunction  corydoctorow  change  howwewrite  pointing  data  metadata  choice  authorship  versioning  misfiling  language  difference  meaning  ethics  morality  literature  twitter  artworld  marshallmcluhan  christianbök  plagiarism  charleseames  rules  notknowing  archiving  improvisation  text  bricolage  assemblage  cv  painting  technology  photography  readerships  thinkerships  thoughtobjects  reassembly  ubuweb  freeculture  moma  outreach  communityoutreach  nyc  copyright  ip  intellectualproperty  ideas  information  sfpc  vitoacconci  audience  accessibility  situationist  museums  markets  criticism  artcriticism  economics  money  browsers  citation  sampling  jonathanfranzen  internetasliterature  getrudestein  internetasfavoritebook  namjunepaik  johncage  misbehaving  andywarhol  bobdylan  barbarakruger  jkrowling  china  creati 
august 2014 by robertogreco
The Moby-Dick variations — The Message — Medium
"That’s interesting, but here’s the one that blows my mind: If we were to burn all extant copies of Moby-Dick and then rewrite the story from memory… 33% of respondents told me that would be the same novel!

I just couldn’t square that response with the others. You’re telling me that if I change the adjectives, it’s not the same novel, but if I open a blank Word document and start typing from memory, it is?

Upon consideration, what I get from these responses is an intuition of faithfulness. Translation is assumed to be faithful, whereas the substitution of adjectives is clearly a game. Likewise, when we rewrite the book from memory, we are assumed to be doing so faithfully, to the best of our paltry ability (“I… can’t remember the whaling chapters. I never actually read them. I’m sorry. I’M SORRY!”), whereas if we change the ending, we are clearly inflicting something on the story.

Faithfulness to what, though?

I think Shaenon K. Garrity has the answer.

I think we, as readers, are able to sense the shape of a particular Branch Library of Babel built around a particular story, with its particular set of images and themes. Even though this Branch Library is an abstract thing, to say the least, I think we, as readers, can trace its perimeter with surprising accuracy. Collectively—and maybe only collectively—we can determine which elements a work of fiction depends on, and which it doesn’t.

It makes me think of that indirect sort of astronomy, in which we infer the existence of an exoplanet by looking closely at a wobbling star. I think we are seeing a little wobble when we learn that adding a sex scene is less of an injury to Moby-Dick’s Moby-Dick-ness than changing the ending. Moby-Dick’s ending obviously matters, a lot. There are other stories for which the ending might feel arbitrary, even superfluous, but for which an added sex scene would be transformative indeed. (Winnie the Pooh, perhaps?)

This isn’t just intellectual play. I mean, it’s mostly intellectual play. But, having written and revised and published a novel myself, this question of where it begins and ends has become more concrete, particularly now that the book has been translated into about twenty languages. Usually, foreign publishers send over two or three copies. I look at these other editions…

…and realize that, somehow, these two statements are simultaneously true:

1. This is the same novel.
2, Every single word has been changed.

Likewise: In the earliest draft of Penumbra, there was this whole weird thing about Matthias Corvinus, the Raven King, a real-life historical figure. He and his lost library (!) were at the core of that story, yet they are nowhere in the published novel. Was that variation, printed on cheap paper and shared with early readers, not actually Penumbra? Where is the Raven King now?

Writing a novel, it is possible to become aware of yourself as an explorer in a new Branch Library of Babel, one built not around Moby-Dick but instead some other story—the one you’re writing. In this awareness, you are not so much composing as spelunking: feeling your way toward the one particular incarnation of the story that you will carry back into the light, into the world, into bookstores and libraries.

The other variations remain behind, but—I really believe this, and I think my little survey backs it up—readers can still sense them. When we read a novel, we enjoy not only a particular text but somehow the suggestion of a whole Branch Library. Sometimes, if a novel is successful, that becomes a place where others want to go exploring: with translation and adaptation, by remixing and rebooting. All of these undertakings constitute a return journey, and there are always more variations waiting in the Branch Library.

To my translators, I ought to say: “Suit up. Bring a sandwich. Carry a taser. The Raven King is in there somewhere.”

Back in Garrity’s original Branch Library of Babel, though, the real question is this: If you search and search… will you ever find Emoji Dick?"
robinsloan  literature  philosophy  translation  language  books  shaenongarrity  borges  2014  mobydick  libraryofbabelspelunking  variations  bookstores  libraries  moby-dick 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Two ways to work for nothing – GEOFF SHULLENBERGER
"In an interview about The People’s Platform, Astra Taylor notes that of late “more and more of us are encouraged to think of ourselves as artists no matter what our line of work. It’s a way of framing some of the unappealing things about our current economic condition — the lack of stability or of a social safety net—as something desirable and empowering. The ethos of the artist — someone who is willing to work with no guarantee of reward, who will sacrifice and self-exploit around the clock — is demanded of people across the board.” This tendency manifests itself in many realms: Taylor gives the example of Apple Store employees being told they should be grateful just to have the experience of working for Apple, but the rhetoric used to draw freelancers into digital sweatshops matches what she describes even more perfectly. Then we have the phenomenon I have been examining lately on this blog: the replacement of skilled workers with volunteers.

Alongside the imperative to embrace your exploitation as an artist embraces her vocation, though, proliferates the contrasting logic of what David Graeber called ”bullshit jobs” in a memorable article from last year. In a recent interview on the subject, Graeber explains that he is mainly referring to “meaningless office jobs [where workers] are basically paid to act busy all day. A lot of them may really work one or two hours, and the rest of the time they’re downloading stuff from the Internet, or playing around on Facebook or something. But, their job is to sit in an office, and basically valorize the idea that everybody should look busy all the time, that work is valuable in itself.” As Graeber notes, the expansion of this area of employment seems to be an economic paradox: “According to economic theory, at least, the last thing a profit-seeking firm is going to do is shell out money to workers they don’t really need to employ. Still, somehow, it happens.” Graeber’s solution: “The answer clearly isn’t economic: it’s moral and political. The ruling class has figured out that a happy and productive population with free time on their hands is a mortal danger… And, on the other hand, the feeling that work is a moral value in itself, and that anyone not willing to submit themselves to some kind of intense work discipline for most of their waking hours deserves nothing, is extraordinarily convenient for them.”

Compare this to BuzzFeed’s and Coursera’s translation strategies: they really need the translation to be done, but they have invented elaborate schemes to avoid paying translators. The value and necessity of the work of translation to their companies could not be clearer, yet in this area a logic of ruthless efficiency applies, but not when it comes to the kind of jobs Graeber is describing: much of that work does not seem to be fundamentally needed by anyone, yet paradoxically organizations are willing to pay workers for it. As long as it is something that you would do even if it were unpaid, it is increasingly becoming something you have to do for free or for very little. On the other hand, you can be paid to do the kind of jobs that no one would do if managers did not invent them.

For Graeber, bullshit jobs carry with them a moral imperative: “If you’re not busy all the time doing something, anything — doesn’t really matter what it is — you’re a bad person.” But the flipside of that logic seems to be: if you actually like doing x activity, if it is valuable, meaningful, and carries intrinsic rewards for you, it is wrong for you to expect to be paid (well) for it; you should give it freely, even (especially) if by doing so you are allowing others to profit. In other words, we’ll make a living from you doing what you love (for free), but we’ll keep you in check by making sure you have to make a living doing what you hate."
bullshitjobs  geoffshullenberger  astrataylor  labor  work  economics  art  2014  davidgraeber  busyness  inefficiency  waste  politics  morality  productivity  happiness  translation  taskrabbit  buzzfeed  coursera  employment  coercion  discipline  society  capitalism  universalbasicincome  socialsafetynet  class  ubi 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Seeing from Between: Toward a Poetics of Interloping : George Quasha : Harriet the Blog : The Poetry Foundation
"Poetry is translation. It takes one kind of experienced or thought reality and turns it into language—a linguality or language reality that is conscious of itself in a way that’s relatively unusual. Of course this is obvious enough, and yet what’s not always so clear is how much the view of language we hold (actively or passively) determines the outcome. I suppose that, due to the attention given rather specialized emphases in recent poetics (language poetry, conceptualism, Oulipo, etc.), poets often find it necessary to takes sides on, or at least defend, values designated by words like “content,” “politics,” “experience”; this is understandable and may be useful to them and others (recent blogs by Camille Rankine and David Lau are particularly strong statements), especially in a context where respected poetic approaches appear exclusive in one way or another. Yet the simple fact that privileged words like “content” and “politics” do not have consistent meaning (beyond what a poet’s own work or a specific social context supplies) indicates that whatever we defend is not necessarily there the way we might believe it is. There are poets, as well, who center their activity at one level or another on this (post-Wittgensteinian) problematic of language, motivated perhaps by a certain vision of language or by a commitment to conscious language as intrinsically transformative. It should be obvious that focus on the substance of language itself does not mean that these poets are not concerned, even passionately, with issues like gender, racial equality, ecology, or the menace of capitalism, militarized police and State power. They may show up at the barricades, even if their work is not written to be read at the barricades.

Significant new directions in poetry have often come from outside the literary frame as such, and this might alert us to how much innovative poetic values and approaches are not only “literary” in nature, but are conscious attempts to embody radically alternative reality views by way of language. (In an important sense poetry is pre-literary, and it is arguably fundamental to the nature of language itself. Literature, in this perspective, is historically later and is constructed on poetic foundations while often running counter to poetic values. We may come to see as well how poetry can be post-literary.) Looked at in this way, poetry may be seen as language you must learn—learn by way of its implicit poetics—in order to participate in alignment with its principles. To see this more clearly I suggest a liminalist approach, one foot in a literary poetic and one foot not."



"Arakawa, collaborating pervasively with Gins, created charged language spaces on canvas, poetic action zones that challenge habits of reading, viewing and thinking at a level comparable to Blake’s all-out assault on limits of consciousness. Their 1979 The Mechanism of Meaning: Work in progress (1963-1971, 1978) unites painting and book in a way that creates a powerful event in both visual art and poetics. They have worked conceptually in a way related to both Dada and Duchamp’s developments thereof, but they always focused on an inquiry into certain principles, which they thought to have implications far beyond art alone."



"All intelligible connection with the world for Helen Keller is a language event occurring physically between her and another person. She + another create together a liminality that is the known/knowing world. Blank is also the space of an indeterminacy of agency: who/what’s doing the doing—what Arakawa/Gins call “the perceiving field.” I think here of Maurice Blanchot’s fiction with a poetics, Thomas the Obscure (Station Hill Press, 1988), in which at a certain point of shifting textual perspectivity it takes us performatively into the book reading the reader. His notion of récit (story, narrative, a telling) has resonance for all of the above: “not the narration of an event, but that event itself, the approach to that event, the place where that event is made to happen.”"
georgequasha  interloping  poetics  poetry  madelinegins  oulipo  arakawa  autopoesis  buckminsterfuller  happenstance  via:bobbygeorge  hellenkeller  johncage  wittgenstein  melopoeia  metpoeia  liminality  logopoeia  glossodelia  ezrapound  synergy  tensegrity  williamblake  susanbee  phanopoeia  sound  soundpoetry  marcelduchamp  mauriceblanchot  paulklee  charlesolson  axialpriniciple  garyhill  connections  fiction  narrative  translation  alfrednorthwhitehead  poems  writing  liminalspaces 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Felipe Martinez: from "Grand Sertão: Veredas" by João Guimarães Rosa
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<p>Excerpts from <i>Grand Sertão: Veredas</i><br />
By João Guimarães Rosa
Translated from the Portuguese by Google<sup>TM</sup></p>

<p><u>I.</u></p>

<p>There is no devil. Neither spirit. I've never seen. Someone ought to see, so it was myself, this your servant. Would tell you ... Well, the devil regulates its black state, the creatures, women, men. Ate: children - I say. Well, not saying "boy - train the devil"? And the uses in plants, the waters, on land, wind ... Manure. ... The devil in the street in the middle of the whirlwind ... </p>

…"
felipemartinez  guimarãesrosa  joãoguimarãesrosa  grandesertão  grandesertãoveredas  translation  googletranslate 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Paris Review - The Art of Fiction No. 69, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
"When García Márquez speaks, his body often rocks back and forth. His hands too are often in motion making small but decisive gestures to emphasize a point, or to indicate a shift of direction in his thinking. He alternates between leaning forward towards his listener, and sitting far back with his legs crossed when speaking reflectively."



INTERVIEWER How do you feel about using the tape recorder?

GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ The problem is that the moment you know the interview is being taped, your attitude changes. In my case I immediately take a defensive attitude. As a journalist, I feel that we still haven’t learned how to use a tape recorder to do an interview. The best way, I feel, is to have a long conversation without the journalist taking any notes. Then afterward he should reminisce about the conversation and write it down as an impression of what he felt, not necessarily using the exact words expressed. Another useful method is to take notes and then interpret them with a certain loyalty to the person interviewed. What ticks you off about the tape recording everything is that it is not loyal to the person who is being interviewed, because it even records and remembers when you make an ass of yourself. That’s why when there is a tape recorder, I am conscious that I’m being interviewed; when there isn’t a tape recorder, I talk in an unconscious and completely natural way.



GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ I’ve always been convinced that my true profession is that of a journalist. What I didn’t like about journalism before were the working conditions. Besides, I had to condition my thoughts and ideas to the interests of the newspaper. Now, after having worked as a novelist, and having achieved financial independence as a novelist, I can really choose the themes that interest me and correspond to my ideas. In any case, I always very much enjoy the chance of doing a great piece of journalism.



INTERVIEWER Do you think the novel can do certain things that journalism can’t?

GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ Nothing. I don’t think there is any difference. The sources are the same, the material is the same, the resources and the language are the same. The Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe is a great novel and Hiroshima is a great work of journalism.

INTERVIEWER Do the journalist and the novelist have different responsibilities in balancing truth versus the imagination?

GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ In journalism just one fact that is false prejudices the entire work. In contrast, in fiction one single fact that is true gives legitimacy to the entire work. That’s the only difference, and it lies in the commitment of the writer. A novelist can do anything he wants so long as he makes people believe in it.



INTERVIEWER How did you start writing?

GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ By drawing. By drawing cartoons. Before I could read or write I used to draw comics at school and at home. The funny thing is that I now realize that when I was in high school I had the reputation of being a writer, though I never in fact wrote anything. If there was a pamphlet to be written or a letter of petition, I was the one to do it because I was supposedly the writer. When I entered college I happened to have a very good literary background in general, considerably above the average of my friends. At the university in Bogotá, I started making new friends and acquaintances, who introduced me to contemporary writers. One night a friend lent me a book of short stories by Franz Kafka. I went back to the pension where I was staying and began to read The Metamorphosis. The first line almost knocked me off the bed. I was so surprised. The first line reads, “As Gregor Samsa awoke that morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. . . .” When I read the line I thought to myself that I didn’t know anyone was allowed to write things like that. If I had known, I would have started writing a long time ago. So I immediately started writing short stories. They are totally intellectual short stories because I was writing them on the basis of my literary experience and had not yet found the link between literature and life. The stories were published in the literary supplement of the newspaper El Espectador in Bogotá and they did have a certain success at the time—probably because nobody in Colombia was writing intellectual short stories. What was being written then was mostly about life in the countryside and social life. When I wrote my first short stories I was told they had Joycean influences.



INTERVIEWER Can you name some of your early influences?

GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ The people who really helped me to get rid of my intellectual attitude towards the short story were the writers of the American Lost Generation. I realized that their literature had a relationship with life that my short stories didn’t. And then an event took place which was very important with respect to this attitude. It was the Bogotazo, on the ninth of April, 1948, when a political leader, Gaitan, was shot and the people of Bogotá went raving mad in the streets. I was in my pension ready to have lunch when I heard the news. I ran towards the place, but Gaitan had just been put into a taxi and was being taken to a hospital. On my way back to the pension, the people had already taken to the streets and they were demonstrating, looting stores and burning buildings. I joined them. That afternoon and evening, I became aware of the kind of country I was living in, and how little my short stories had to do with any of that. When I was later forced to go back to Barranquilla on the Caribbean, where I had spent my childhood, I realized that that was the type of life I had lived, knew, and wanted to write about.

Around 1950 or ’51 another event happened that influenced my literary tendencies. My mother asked me to accompany her to Aracataca, where I was born, and to sell the house where I spent my first years. When I got there it was at first quite shocking because I was now twenty-two and hadn’t been there since the age of eight. Nothing had really changed, but I felt that I wasn’t really looking at the village, but I was experiencing it as if I were reading it. It was as if everything I saw had already been written, and all I had to do was to sit down and copy what was already there and what I was just reading. For all practical purposes everything had evolved into literature: the houses, the people, and the memories. I’m not sure whether I had already read Faulkner or not, but I know now that only a technique like Faulkner’s could have enabled me to write down what I was seeing. The atmosphere, the decadence, the heat in the village were roughly the same as what I had felt in Faulkner. It was a banana-plantation region inhabited by a lot of Americans from the fruit companies which gave it the same sort of atmosphere I had found in the writers of the Deep South. Critics have spoken of the literary influence of Faulkner, but I see it as a coincidence: I had simply found material that had to be dealt with in the same way that Faulkner had treated similar material.

From that trip to the village I came back to write Leaf Storm, my first novel. What really happened to me in that trip to Aracataca was that I realized that everything that had occurred in my childhood had a literary value that I was only now appreciating. From the moment I wrote Leaf Storm I realized I wanted to be a writer and that nobody could stop me and that the only thing left for me to do was to try to be the best writer in the world. That was in 1953, but it wasn’t until 1967 that I got my first royalties after having written five of my eight books.



INTERVIEWER What about the banana fever in One Hundred Years of Solitude? How much of that is based on what the United Fruit Company did?

GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ The banana fever is modeled closely on reality. Of course, I’ve used literary tricks on things which have not been proved historically. For example, the massacre in the square is completely true, but while I wrote it on the basis of testimony and documents, it was never known exactly how many people were killed. I used the figure three thousand, which is obviously an exaggeration. But one of my childhood memories was watching a very, very long train leave the plantation supposedly full of bananas. There could have been three thousand dead on it, eventually to be dumped in the sea. What’s really surprising is that now they speak very naturally in the Congress and the newspapers about the “three thousand dead.” I suspect that half of all our history is made in this fashion. In The Autumn of the Patriarch, the dictator says it doesn’t matter if it’s not true now, because sometime in the future it will be true. Sooner or later people believe writers rather than the government.

INTERVIEWER That makes the writer pretty powerful, doesn’t it?

GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ Yes, and I can feel it too. It gives me a great sense of responsibility. What I would really like to do is a piece of journalism which is completely true and real, but which sounds as fantastic as One Hundred Years of Solitude. The more I live and remember things from the past, the more I think that literature and journalism are closely related.



INTERVIEWER Are dreams ever important as a source of inspiration?

GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ In the very beginning I paid a good deal of attention to them. But then I realized that life itself is the greatest source of inspiration and that dreams are only a very small part of that torrent that is life. What is very true about my writing is that I’m quite interested in different concepts of dreams and interpretations of them. I see dreams as part of life in general, but reality is much richer. But maybe I just have very poor dreams.

INTERVIEWER Can you distinguish between inspiration and intuition?

GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ Inspiration is when you find the right theme, one which you really like; that makes the work much easier. Intuition, which is … [more]
gabrielgarcíamárquez  1981  interviews  colombia  writing  journalism  truth  reality  fiction  literature  latinamerica  drawing  kafka  jamesjoyce  stories  storytelling  everyday  williamfaulkner  imagination  biography  autobiography  politics  childhood  fantasy  magicrealism  credibility  detail  details  belief  believability  responsibility  history  bricolage  collage  power  solitude  flow  dreams  dreaming  inspiration  intuition  intellectualism  translation  mexico  spanish  español  gregoryrabassa  borders  frontiers  miguelángelasturias  cuba  fame  friendship  film  filmmaking  relationships  consumption  language  languages  reading  howweread  howwewrite  routine  familiarity  habits 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Designing in the Borderlands by Frank Chimero
"We spend a lot of time making arguments over how to choose sides on these splits. But after a lot of reflection, I’ve decided that I’m not particularly interested in choosing sides.

I want to be the line, and I want to mess with that line, because that line is a total fabrication. Why fall on the side of print or digital if what’s usually needed is both? Isn’t that a more interesting design problem? Why make books with only text or images if they get better with both? The questions go on and on.

Luckily, these distinctions were drawn by us, which means that we can redraw them. We can move the line, toe it, and breach it with a transgressive practice that tries to turn opposition into symbiosis. But you can only cross the line and confuse the distinction if you commit to the middle space.

These borderlands are the best place for a designer like me, and maybe like you, because the borderlands are where things connect. If you’re in the borderlands, your different tongues, your scattered thoughts, your lack of identification with a group, and all the things that used to be thought of as drawbacks in a specialist enclave become the hardened armor of a shrewd generalist in the borderlands."



"I learned a lot through the design process of The Shape of Design. First, that there are opportunities to produce projects that elegantly incorporate multiple mediums. One only needs to look for them. And second, that these design problems become easier to handle if one considers the system as a whole, instead of attempting to chop it up into separate pieces and attack it as smaller bits. Division reduces them in the same way that Massage, Electric Information Age Book, or The Shape of Design would be made small if the individual parts were isolated. The individual bits would be have differently, and the designer would miss the most important thing: these projects are important and big because they are multiple, and to temporarily make them not so is to misunderstand and misconstruct them. For these sorts of projects, my mantra has become:

Everything all at once.
Everything all together.



I had two goals today.

First, I wanted to articulate the biggest opportunity I see in design today: designer as translator, designer as integrator, designer as a merchant of ideas. We’ve built up so much knowledge that is tucked away in books and websites, and often all that’s needed to get that knowledge the attention it deserves is a gentle massage of tone and a switch of format. We can introduce physical materials to the web to reap the benefits of the network, but we can also translate the web’s content to the physical realm to stabilize it so it can be held and appreciated.

The second goal was to cast an additional mold for a designer, and to provide an explanation about why a person would want to go make weird little books and sit and write essays instead of working at an ad agency or startup for six figures. It’s worth documenting the different ways one can go about pursuing a design practice. There are many stories and paths, and I hope all of this is a reminder that the lines we draw to create the contours of our expectations can be disrupted. And that this disruption can, somehow, be soothing to those of us who identify as something different than the standard.

I’d like to finish by revisiting that Calvino quote:
Whenever humanity seems condemned to heaviness, I think I should fly like Perseus into a different space. I don’t mean escaping into dreams or the irrational. I mean that I have to change my approach, look at the world from a different perspective, with a different logic and with fresh methods of cognition and verification.

I hope you get the opportunity to do this at some point in your career, and that my conclusions will help those of you who identify as generalists. If you do not, perhaps I have convinced you that our conception of work is more flexible than we typically believe. The field is wide open; that is why it’s called a field."
generalists  frankchimero  creativity  design  borders  seams  interstitial  cv  trickster  departmentalization  interdisciplinary  dualism  transdisciplinary  print  digital  books  ebooks  bookfuturism  marshallmcluhan  quentinfiore  buckminsterfuller  multimedia  jeffreyschnapp  adammichaels  allsorts  italocalvino  translation 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Making culture for the internets—all of them — The Sea of Fog — Medium
"Really, though, the reason I didn’t even contemplate translation was that I had an allergic reaction to anything that smelled like geography. This is the new model, I argued strenuously. Create a bit of culture and publish it once, for everyone, everywhere. No DRM. No regional restrictions. Just the power and beauty of a plain PDF, a simple MP4.

Because we’ve all seen the same disappointing message on a streaming service at some point, right? This content is not licensed for your region. Infuriating. The new model never gives you that message. Down with disappointment! Up with universal access!

And yes: the new model works technically. Technically, it’s beautiful. But—I have learned this, and if it seems like something a person shouldn’t have to learn, well, you’re wiser than I was—it turns out culture works in other ways, too. You can’t consume something you don’t understand, no matter how elegantly it’s presented. Further, you won’t even get the opportunity to consume it unless you hear about it from someone who speaks your language.

People ridiculed George W. Bush when he called them “the internets” but he had it right. Technically, the internet is one huge interconnected network. Linguistically and socially, it is many networks, and they are very distinct.

For example: There are 40 million Brazilians on Twitter. Do you follow any Brazilians?* This is a significant fraction of a service that many of us consider our internet front porch—and yet, unless you speak Portuguese, it’s invisible. It might as well be a different service entirely.

*Yes, I realize there are a few Brazilians reading this. To you I say: olá.

Eric Fischer’s map of the languages being used on Twitter tells the tale:

[image]

Here, where language is concerned, the internet has not conquered geography. It has repeated it."



"Right now, if you make bits of culture and you want them to be available to the entire world—truly linguistically and socially available, not just technically accessible—your best bet is to work with movie studios; with book publishers; with Netflix. My own experience with publishers has been revelatory, and it’s made some of my solo projects feel, in retrospect, quite parochial indeed.

But there should be better options for independent internet culture makers. Whether we’re writing in English or German or Italian or Chinese, we should have the tools to reach the entire world at once.

We thought we already did; we thought it was the internet.

But they have been the internets all along."
culture  internet  language  translation  writing  robinsloan  2013  books  media  web  online  plurality  internets  geography 
february 2014 by robertogreco
The ambassadors of the hinterlands [Diplomacy influenced the literature of Vinicius de Moraes, Guimarães Rosa and João Cabral] | Revista Pesquisa FAPESP
"If there are differences among the authors, there is, nevertheless, one similar point: the three were diplomats. “More than a coincidence, diplomatic work, which entails coming into closer contact with the exterior aspects of a system, an opening to a set of differences in social, cultural and political life, enabled the articulation of the extremely heterogeneous projects of all three of them, with different esthetic pathways, but sharing a single concern: the tension between the line of discourse of the development-oriented Brazil of the elite and the line of discourse of the archaic and needy Brazil, whether rural or urban,” notes Menezes. These writers-diplomats corroded the notion of a closed, toughened regionalism, alien to any connection with the external world. At the same time, they go against the pretenses of a development-oriented State focused on the idea of national unity. Their texts emphasize the diverse identities of the country, Brazil’s multiplicity of cultures and of social needs,” he analyzes. Just as the movement of diplomatic writing is underscored by “de-territorialization.”

These writers-diplomats were travelers in a Brazil lost in the labyrinths of modernization. “The tension created in the spirit at the same time bureaucratic (they were civil servants) and also as travelers casts a piercing look upon those native ‘foreigners’ that wander around their country like the mass of post-war refugees seeking a home. The dislocation, the exile, the complex adaptation to different lands, which are part of the life of diplomats, contributed to the de-territorialization of their thinking,” assesses the researcher. The social reality revealed in their texts is addressed from an overseas viewpoint.

“Diplomatic writing is suspicious of a limited link with places. Cabral, Rosa and Vinicius know that they cannot write ‘from within,’ as they lack the speaking style of the peasant or the inhabitant of the shantytowns. That is why they created ‘spaces from without,’ in which they have voices that resonate from ‘within’. This boundary-based perspective, that comes neither within nor from without, pursues a constant dialogue among various propositions, giving rise to new reflections, new esthetic configurations,” notes Menezes.

On the itinerary of the reverberations of the writer diplomats, approximations and translations among the cultural production of several parts of the world arise, precisely during times when the country was experiencing its belated modernity, when local production was articulating itself with foreign manufacturing and the concepts of dependence started to be influenced by the concepts of cultural simultaneity, even though the idea of modernity in Brazil arose before the modernization process. Brasilia is a symbol of this, as the capital of an “avant-gardist” state in a nation in which many modernity values had not yet even been assimilated. “In this, the three writers were wise to resort to diplomatic writing, in particular to the use of affection for the ‘other’ in the acknowledgement of foreignness in relation to established places,” analyses the researcher.

Diplomatic work functions like an allegory of the process of literary creation that involves writing as a type of relation with otherness. Hence the empathetic image that the authors reflect about these “foreigners” to modernity moving about Brazil’s territory."



“The writer-diplomats, when dealing with the politics of writing, know that the most important political work is not tied to the visible physical frontiers, but to the means of separating the invisible lines of prejudice, of discrimination,” states Menezes. It is in this “minor place” that they try to corrode separation and exclusion. “In official diplomacy, the work is carried out via the political, legal and economic institutions. In ‘minor diplomacy,’ it is conducted, for example, by the representation of the simple folks exposed to the cruelty of reality, by their way of dealing with biopolitics, with the limits that they must cross every single day in order to survive,” he observes. “Translating internal needs into external possibilities to expand the power of control of a society over its destiny is, to my mind, the task of foreign policy,” wrote the diplomat and University of São Paulo professor Celso Lafer in O Itamaraty na cultura brasileira [The Brazilian Foreign Office in Brazilian culture] (Instituto Rio Branco, 2001).

“Rosa’s ability to use various linguistic registers was, on the literary plane, the perfect correlate of the first item on any diplomatic agenda: the establishment of borders, the basis of foreign policy, which assumes that there is a difference between that which is ‘internal’ (the national space) and that which is ‘external’ (the world),” Lafer analyzes. “He translated in his literature one of the basic principles of Brazilian diplomacy, a line of action geared toward transforming our borders from classical, separation borders into modern cooperation borders,” he assesses. Unlike Rosa and Cabral, who experienced the hinterlands during their childhoods, Vinicius only gets to know the North and the Northeast of the country at the age of 29, in 1942. He joined the foreign office when he was discovering the country and internalizing his new ‘Brazilianness’ and, as a result, his artistic production started being influenced by the social reality of Brazil and popular culture."



"“The writings of the trio are not based on class struggles, parties or power, but on mediations, on negotiations,” observes Menezes. In the text of the three diplomats, a number of uncomfortable images arise that clash with the discourse of the development-oriented nation symbolized by Brasilia, which the trio, each in his own way, was able to admire and to criticize.

“During a time when the country wanted to join the concert of nations, investing in modernization and in progress, they trusted in the future, but mistrusted the processes employed to lead the country into this new political and economic stage,” notes the researcher. So they ventured into the hinterlands, hills and to the outskirts of the cities, in an attempt to acknowledge the value of the popular culture and creations. “The ‘minor diplomacy’ and the ‘frontier poetics’ had to find something capable of forcing thinking to emerge from its interiority. “The movement toward the exterior of conventional places contributed to the development of the imagination and to the authors’ critical view,” says Menezes."
diplomats  diplomacy  writing  interstitialspaces  outsiders  joãoguimarãesrosa  guimarãesrosa  joãocabraldemeloneto  viniciusdemoraes  2012  translation  literature  otherness  brasil  brazil  borders  sertão  hinterlands  culture  prejudice  discrimination  separation  exclusion  biopolitics  celsolafer  carloshaag  mediations  negotiations  modernism  modernization  progress  ronieremenezes  interstitial 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Our Lady of the Flowers, Echoic by Chris Tysh | HTMLGIANT
"As the second installment of her three part project titled Hotel des Archives, Chris Tysh took up the bold task of versifying Jean Genet’s hallucinatory first novel, Our Lady of the Flowers. The original novel, as Jean-Paul Sartre implies in his introduction, is already on the brink of being poetry itself: “Are we so far from poetry? Can it be that poetry is only the reverse side of masturbation?” Tysh, whether knowingly or not, explores this very question through the creation of this work."



"Rather than getting dismissed by the term, the original Our Lady of the Flowers is one of the few texts aided by the description ‘masturbatory’ toward an understanding the author’s intentions. The intricacies of Genet’s revealing and fetish-filled details in this conversion to poetry take a backseat to a more fluid, less tangential moving of action. The mania of the original gets smoothed into a tamer, tauter replica, as if the original were the muse itself, and Echoic its chiseled offspring.

Our Lady of the Flowers, Echoic acts as a great complement to the original novel. It provides just as good a reason as any to revisit an aging classic that confounded and disrupted the form of the novel by not so much refusing, but radically ignoring standards of beauty that lied outside the sordidness of a confined individual psyche, one illuminated by Genet’s rabid imagination. As a supplement, it highlights, using the restraints of verse and Tysh’s dedicated familiarity with the text, the sequence of actions that go muddled and perhaps overlooked on a first read of the original text."
translation  via:felipemartinez  2013  christysh  jeangenet  verse  literature 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Level 2 Gallery: Alejandro Cesarco. Present Memory | Tate
"Uruguayan artist Alejandro Cesarco pays special attention to the construction of narratives and the practices of reading and translating. ‘I am interested in cataloguing, classifying, appropriating and reinterpreting texts’, he has said. Through different conceptual strategies and a range of media, including prints, books, videos and installations, he explores the various meanings of words and images in relation to context, experience and subjectivity.

Present Memory, a newly commissioned video, features an intimate portrait of the artist’s father, a doctor recently diagnosed with cancer. Using a 16mm camera, Cesarco filmed him in his medical practice in Montevideo with a series of close-ups and medium shots. He later projected this footage onto the same room and recorded the film screening with a video camera. The resulting video is now being shown at three different sites across the museum. Conceived as a projection of a projection, its repetition creates a visual echo and activates a sense of déjà vu every time the viewer re-encounters it.

The work documents both a constructed and anticipated memory of the father, through which the artist also explores the writing of his personal narrative amidst the museum’s writing of its own history and memory."

[Interview: http://bombsite.com/issues/1000/articles/5057 ]

[Program: http://felipsiswoof.tumblr.com/post/29389136081 ]

[See also: http://www.cesarco.info/ ]
2010  alejandrocesarco  memory  reading  translating  uruguay  artists  nostalgia  narrative  narratives  translation  meaning  words  context  experience  subjectivity  pauldeman  classification  reinterpretation  belatedness  meaningmaking  assemblage  appropriation  art 
december 2013 by robertogreco
OUTWARD FROM NOTHINGNESS » Interview: Felipe W.Martinez On Translating Joao Guimarães Rosa
"Translation is a utopian concept. In truth, all translation is impossible. This is even the case with translations that are generally accepted as “definitive” (for the time). Chapman’s 17th century translation of Homer’s Iliad was once the definitive English translation, but was replaced a hundred years later by Alexander Pope’s translation. Of course, this provisional nature of the product of translation is no reason to throw our hands up and say enough! –Which is what’s seemed to happen with the work of Guimarães Rosa in many cases, it’s been largely absent from the English language for decades now.

When I said just now that Translation is impossible, I mean the utopian concept of translation is impossible. Just as determining an ideal reader is impossible, and, essentially, communication, in many ways, is impossible. Walter Benjamin asks: “what does a work of Literature really say? A work of literature tells very little to those who understand it–even they must grapple to “understand” the work. Ultimately it is the work of effort that matters, the willingness of the translator to approach Guimarães Rosa. The process. The toil, the struggle, the attempt to point in the direction of art."



"I learned Portuguese for a year before I began the translation, not because I thought I could translate Grande Sertão: Veredas, but just because I wanted to be able to read Grande Sertão: Veredas. As I learned the language, I inched closer and closer to being able to read the original. Once I could, I realized I could record what I was reading, and that, with research and the right dictionaries, I could even translate. What are translators after all but readers who write what they read? The renowned translator, Gregory Rabassa, translated One Hundred Years of Solitude as he read the work for the first time. I’m following his lead in this translation. I’m discovering the work and translating it at the same time."



"I think Guimarães Rosa once said something to the effect of You can tell a man by the way he tells his stories, the words he uses. I’m paraphrasing. So, man creates himself through his language, and that language gives shape to his world. The only way to change himself and the world, is to change his language. Essentially: the words make the man. But Guimarães Rosa’s neologisms were not invented merely to complicate the work. True, a single neologism might be made up of three similar words, from three different languages, with two or three possible meanings–but, he knew what he was doing. He was drawing life out of every language he could touch upon, modern and ancient, present and lost, new and, sometimes, invented, all in attempt to more fully translate the world around and inside of him. This does complicate the translation process, but only to the extent that we can’t ever be certain we’ve grasped the author’s complete intention. I consult an array of dictionaries when translating. To translate a fragment of the author’s intention, I think, can be just as amazing as anything we might expect from a perfect/complete translation. The Brazilian poet, Haroldo de Campos, quotes Goethe in an epigram to one of his poem: “Every entelechy is, namely, a fragment of eternity.” I always think about this."
felipemartinez  2013  guimarãesrosa  joãoguimarãesrosa  brasil  brazil  translation  portuguese  walterbenjamin  goethe  haroldodecampos  neologisms 
december 2013 by robertogreco
HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MODERNIST?: JOÃO GUIMARÃES ROSA | HTMLGIANT
"This is the story: in 1956, in Brazil, a forty-eight year old Brazilian diplomat published a singular novel entitled Grande Sertão: Veredas, a 500-page monologue, set in the North-Eastern Backlands of Brazil (a stark contrast to the stereotypical and often sought after clear-watered beaches of Rio de Janeiro, home to Carnival). The novel follows the exploits of a bandit for hire, Riobaldo, as he questions the existence of the devil and his love for a fellow bandit. Deemed one of the most important works of modernist literature in Brazil shortly after being published there, Guimarães Rosa was elevated to stand beside Clarice Lispector as one of the two most important Brazilian writers since Machado de Assis. With the onset of the Latin American Boom in the U.S. in the early 1960s, and with the success of another Brazilian writer, Jorge Amado, in translation in the U.S., publisher Alfred A. Knopf set its sights on Guimarães Rosa and Grande Sertão: Veredas. In 1963 an English translation of Grande Sertão: Veredas was published in the U.S. It’s English title: The Devil to Pay in the Backlands. The translator: Harriet de Onís, a very reputable translator of Spanish and Portuguese, but no match for Guimarães Rosa. The Devil to Pay in the Backlands was deemed a sham for its strategic attempt to achieve readability over anything else—which meant eliminating Guimarães Rosa’s linguistic innovations, one of the most significant marks of the novel. You see, Guimarães Rosa had a working knowledge of something like twelve languages, and was as erudite as Jorge Luis Borges. He spun the Portuguese language like Joyce did English, and incorporated everything from the archaic to the invented… So, in the beginning-end, The Devil to Pay in the Backlands didn’t sell well. And since the point of literature for big publishers is the translation of literature into dollars, The Devil to Pay in the Backlands was never reprinted as such. What happened after that? It’s hard to say. The short of it: Guimarães Rosa and his work was relegated to American universities and rarely mentioned outside again. Now, in Brazil, for the last fifty years, Guimarães Rosa has been a pillar of modernist literature. In other parts of the world too, they know it. But in the U.S., us, we’re just now learning…this isn’t the whole story of course. Just pieces of it. Real stories don’t come clean."
felipemartinez  2012  guimarãesrosa  joãoguimarãesrosa  brasil  brazil  translation  language 
december 2013 by robertogreco
REAR VIEW MIRROR #1 | REAR VIEW MIRROR
"We can argue that an English translation is possible, only the decision to take up the task has not yet been made. And it is in the light of this brilliant idea that I revisit the history, life and afterlife of Joao Guimarães Rosa’s work, with the hope that new generations of readers will expand their reading, thoughts and work beyond the political, geographical, cultural, and linguistic borders set by the narrow belief that we can learn only from that which falls within the scope of our own language.

I submit to the English reader that we should read João Guimarães Rosa now, especially now, when we live during a time in which we tout such words as globalization, hybridization, hyperconnectivity, and experimentalism . . . our goal: to ensure these terms are deeply reflected, through translation, in our new culture, which is, just as was Rosa’s world, constantly changing."
felipemartinez  2012  guimarãesrosa  joãoguimarãesrosa  brasil  brazil  translation  language 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Grande Sertão: Veredas by João Guimarães Rosa | W.Martinez | continent.
"What is a translation that stalls comprehension? That, when read, parsed, obfuscates comprehension through any language – English, Portuguese.

It is inevitable that readers expect fidelity from translations. That language mirror with a sort of precision that enables the reader to become of another location, condition, to grasp in English in a similar vein as readers of Portuguese might from João Guimarães Rosa’s GRANDE SERTÃO: VEREDAS.

There is the expectation that translations enable mobility. That what was written in one language be accessible in another. And that a translator is to serve as a mediator, acting ultimately in service to ideas within the source text. To disperse them.

However, this notion of translation is partly antithetical to the ideas in Rosa’s work. Or, alternately, to convey the despair of terrain slipping beneath one’s feet, and to encounter the heightened suspense of magic, the translation, as part of its strategy, cannot devotedly rely on its original language, not as its source text.

The work undertaken by Felipe W.Martinez is a new form of translation that risks everything in order to encounter the same treacherous knowing Rosa had traversed. And it takes its risks by not taking risks: by being, almost word for word, a literal translation. This is an approach that reductively converts, as opposed to translates. The idiomatic differences between English and Portuguese are not accented. The syntax is not finessed.

Liberties are not assumed on account of improving readability. What stands, resoundingly amid such absences, is the awakened challenge of reading. The genuine peril of not knowing.

That is, this translation, one that purports to know nothing, creates access into the guileful world Rosa had created in Portuguese. But not by translating.

If anything, GRANDE SERTÃO: VEREDAS is speaking a cosmic language through a linguistic one. And W.Martinez does us the service of recognizing this, as what configures the shapes of words and sentences is not as simple as neologisms, portmanteaus, and digressions, but as terrifying as the path the fool traverses: all paths.

As such, this translation doesn’t speak English, just as the original does not speak Portuguese. It is the assemblage of paradox as a new logic that can be navigated, if only one could suspend the comfort of readability, of expectation. If one could descend a mountain in the pitch dark of night, each step shocking the body, unable to acclimate to the unleveled heights.

Without a doubt, the translation is incongruous to the Portuguese. Taking a small excerpt to compare:
Eh, well, thereafter, the rest the Sir provide: comes the bread, comes the hand, comes the god, comes the dog.


What is striking is the interplay between “god” and “dog”. To most English speakers, this anagram is a familiar one. But in Portuguese the words god (“deus”) and dog (“cão”) are not so closely linked. In fact, there is no direct mention of “deus” in Rosa’s text:
Eh, pois, empós, o resto o senhor prove: vem o pão, vem a mão, vem o são, vem o cão.


Both are fascinating. In Rosa’s excerpt, the rhythm is unmistakable and precise, despite, of course, the indices of hesitation: the commas, the Eh, the uncomfortable way of searching through prolongation and wait. This is the sort of paradox Rosa can engage within a sentence. W.Martinez’s does this as well, at a scale that reverberates beyond the sentence, and with one noticeable addition: deus.

What may appear to be an overstep, to add such a weighted word that draws out wordplay but is, nevertheless, not in the source text, is exemplary of risk. The translation buzzes because of it. This is because throughout the text we encounter dogs frequently, as some primal beast on par with humans. The dog is one that masters and can be mastered. A creature that is at times its face, and at others a mask. It is a powerful presence. For the translator to be attuned to the reverent undercurrent attributed to this animal, and create within the translation such charged play in English from what was only an implication in Portuguese, is in tribute to the grand beauty within dissonance.

What aberrant modes of writing and translation can teach us most assuredly, is that things, words, are not in states of rightness or wrongness, but of oscillation. This isn’t so different from what Rosa says himself:

The Sir look…see: the most important and beautiful, of the world, is this: that the people are not always same, still were not completed — but that they go always shifting. They tune or detune.

We find this so readily in W.Martinez’s translation, this tuning and detuning."

[Long sample of the translation with original Portuguese]

"INTERVIEW: FELIPE W.MARTINEZ (Interviewed by Ben Segal)


1) How did you come to be interested in João Guimarães Rosa?

While I was studying Literature & Writing at UC San Diego, a friend produced and surprised me with a wonderful and mysterious xerox copy of The Devil to Pay in the Backlands, the so-called failed, 1963 English translation of Grande Sertão: Veredas. The book, as a book and not a translation, to me was outstanding, and struck me as magnificently as had other works I was encountering at the time, by writers like James Joyce, Juan Rulfo, Samuel Beckett, and William Faulkner, among others.

When I finished reading the Devil to Pay in the Backlands, I took to the business of seeking out more work from the author. It was then that I learned that Guimarães Rosa was not like the other authors I mentioned, insofar as no one I knew had read anything by him, and very few people (outside of

University departments of Spanish & Portuguese) were talking about him. This led to the realization that none of his books were for sale, and hadn't been in decades.


2) Can you talk about the history of the book's reception in 1963 and its bizarre history of failed English translations?

In 1963 the North American publisher, Alfred A. Knopf--after rejecting publishing deals with many other soon-to-be rising stars of the Latin American Boom (including Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar)--decided to undertake what is today considered by many to be the most complex, Post-World War II novel in all of Latin America: João Guimarães Rosa’s Grande Sertão: Veredas. The English translator, Harriet De Onís, was no match for Rosa’s linguistic ingenuity and vast erudition. Her experience was in translation from Spanish, and while her willingness to undertake the task was commendable, it was flawed from the outset. She opted to make the text approachable to English readers, whereas it was nowhere near approachable for Brazilians in the original Portuguese. Imagine: Finnegans Wake translated into plain English for the general reader. Well, no one would like it, and so was the case with The Devil to Pay in the Backlands. Brazilianist scholars called it a sham, a completely deficient simplification of a masterpiece. General readers were either unimpressed or not reached. Sales of the translation declined continuously after the initial launch, and after that, the text was never published again. Some amazingly qualified translators have tried to retranslate Grande Sertão: Veredas since 1963 to no avail. Subsequently, Knopf translated two more works by Guimarães Rosa, two collections of short stories. Neither was published beyond the initial run.


3) To a reader unfamiliar with GR's work, the original English translation appears much more fluid than your version. You've explained why that fluidity is in fact a problem in the HDO translation. Can you talk a little bit about how difficult this is even for readers of Portuguese and the ways in which this is a highly disrupted and jarring text.

The novel in the original Portuguese is so disjointed, fragmented and seemingly desultory, both on a narrative and linguistic level, that both practiced and unpracticed readers alike initially struggle to gain, and then are rarely able to maintain their footing on first read. In this sense the common analogy drawn between GS: V and Ulysses by James Joyce is justifiable: it's a masterpiece of its language, though relatively few native speakers are able to understand it. This is in large part due to the fact that Guimarães Rosa was not only extremely erudite, but he had travelled much, and, from as early as the age of six, studied languages. He spoke six and read in fourteen others. His work is artfully overrun by neologisms, portmanteaus, words colloquial and archaic, many altogether invented, rearranged syntaxes, digressions, meanderings, illusions, recollections, etc. Another novel one might think of is Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. On several planes, Pynchon is the closest thing to a North American Guimarães Rosa.


3b) Can you talk about some of the strategies you've employed in order to create awkwardness and difficulty, and how that difficulty might be different in the English version from in the original Portuguese?

Guimarães Rosa said of his work that he didn’t wish to let the reader rely on clichés, that he wished to shock the reader at every moment, just like life. He considered this in every sense. No cliché words, phrases, grammars, or plots. This was not to be difficult, but to create at every word and turn of phrase, something the reader had not read or experienced before, yet could comprehend or intuit.
I tried to follow in this lead and before I began, I established these rules for myself:

● translate all neologisms into English (in the De Onís translation, neologisms were in many cases omitted; invented words replaced with standard words they signified)

● syntax remains faithful to the original (this in an attempt to see that the English language and its readers adapt to the Portuguese structures of signification rather than the other way around)

● punctuation remains unchanged

… [more]
translation  joãoguimarãesrosa  brasil  brazil  literature  nancyfumero  2013  portuguese  bensegal  grandesertão  guimarãesrosa  felipemartinez  flow  fluidity  grandesertãoveredas 
december 2013 by robertogreco
BOMBLOG: Dilated Heart: Alison Entrekin and Clarice Lispector by Sarah Gerard
"Alison Entrekin: Clarice was a native speaker of Portuguese, but her writing style definitely isn’t run-of-the-mill. Her turns of phrase are often peculiar, her word choices unconventional, and her syntax can be rather odd at times. Not always, but a lot of the time. There are places in her books where she is entirely idiomatic and makes perfect sense and places where every reader understands something different, because her sentences are open-ended, with words that contain a range of nuances, allowing for several different readings.

SG: Different challenges arise translating a work from any one language into another. What are some of the challenges you face translating a work from Portuguese into English?

AE: The answer to this question varies with each book and author, but with Clarice the big challenge any translator faces is allowing her to be herself. This is easier said than done. With unconventional writers, there is always a little niggling voice in the back of your mind telling you that readers of the translation are going to attribute any difficulties they have to the translator, not to the original, and I think that this—consciously or unconsciously—leads some translators to over-interpret what the author actually said and serve up a more domesticated version of the writing. I think some past translations of Clarice have tried too hard to “tidy her up” and have her make perfect sense where she was deliberately open-ended. I tried not to do this. There is almost always a more natural way to say the things she says, but it wouldn’t necessarily be a faithful translation.



SG: How does your translation of Near to the Wild Heart differ from Giovanni Pontiero’s? Do you feel you approached it differently? Was his translation useful to you in making decisions about your own?

AE: I deliberately avoided reading Pontiero’s translation until after I was done with my own. And even then, I didn’t read it all. I looked at the first few chapters and then just peeked at what he had done in some particularly difficult places to see his take on things, but I think we are completely different translators and tackled things in very different ways. I don’t want to run the man down, as he isn’t here to defend himself, but I feel that he took a few too many liberties with his translation, filling in a lot of Clarice’s little ellipses and making her sound more conventional than she was.

SG: Pontiero’s translation ended famously with, “I shall arise as strong and comely as a young colt,” whereas you’ve translated this as, “I shall arise as strong and beautiful as a young horse.” Can you explain this subtle difference?

AE: In her original text Clarice used bela, which is “beautiful.” I don’t see any justification for using a synonym for “beautiful” in this case, as it is a direct match for bela. “Comely” is a less likely choice, with subtleties of its own that are not present in bela. Clarice could have used a synonym for bela, but didn’t. Likewise, she used cavalo novo in the original, which is literally “young horse.” She could have used poldro or potro, the Portuguese for “colt,” but didn’t. My translation is simpler and perhaps less elegant, but I feel it is closer to the original.



SG: Even more than most writers, themes stretch across and seem to morph through Lispector’s books. In translating her first novel, was it difficult not to let your familiarity with her later works inform your choices too much, or was it actually an advantage to have access to those later works?

AE: I’m not a specialist in Clarice Lispector, nor have I read all of her books. But I do believe that a work of literature has to be approached as is; that is, as I said before, you have to translate the book that is in front of you. Of course, the better you know a writer, the better equipped you will be to identify their quirks, favorite words, themes, etc. but it probably won’t change the way you translate them.

Ultimately, I think one’s knowledge of the language and culture is still more important than expertise in a particular author (though obviously knowing the author’s oeuvre is better than not knowing it). For example, Clarice often said that so-and-so “dilated” their eyes in Portuguese, meaning “opened them wide.” I came across it a few times in Near to the Wild Heart, and have seen it in other stories of hers, too. As far as I have been able to ascertain, it is a quirk of Clarice’s. It’s nice to know, but it didn’t change my approach to it. It is just as odd a word choice in Portuguese as it is in English—pupils dilate, but we don’t usually say that eyes dilate—which is why I rendered it literally in my translation. On the other hand, I discovered quite by accident—while talking to a woman of Clarice’s generation in a doctor’s waiting room—that her use of another word, which I had found quite peculiar on first reading, was actually the current usage back when she was writing, though it isn’t so usual today. Needless to say, I rushed home and changed my translation of that word to something more conventional.

SG: Is there anything that you feel didn’t translate well from the Portuguese into the English in Near to the Wild Heart, and if so, what were the obstacles?

AE: I don’t really remember anything specific that I was terribly distraught about, but I do feel that, despite my best efforts to preserve her idiosyncrasies, the translation suffered certain losses. To some extent, this is all in a translator’s day’s work, as no language is a mirror copy of another, but with Clarice it is exacerbated by the fact that she frequently used words that could be interpreted in a number of ways. That’s fine when you’re reading her—a discerning reader will register several of those nuances and move on. When you have to translate her, it’s a different story. Often there isn’t a corresponding word or phrase that offers all of the possibilities contained in the original. So you have to choose—which is a very subjective process in itself—and, in so doing, you automatically narrow her down, pin her to what you think is most important.
claricelispector  translation  sarahherard  alisonentrekin  2012  interviews  portuguese  portugués  brasil  literature  brazil 
november 2013 by robertogreco
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