Archive for Translation

The Rhetoric Trap

Interesting Chinese translation of the title of Yale philosopher Jason Stanley's book, How Propaganda Works:

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The importance of translation for learning Literary Sinitic

After reading "Bad poetry, bad translation" (6/18/21), Zihan Guo wrote:

Thank you for sharing this post.

While reading it, its comments, and all the selected readings related to it, I could not help but feel that translating classical Chinese poetry is the way to make sure one really understands it. Back in middle school and high school in China, my teachers would teach poetry and prose through paraphrasing, making them coherent narratives. However, adding things is as detrimental as its opposite. It was not until college that I started to truly appreciate classical Chinese poetry, through producing English translations myself, struggling with its syntactic concision and lack of precision, squeezing meanings from diction and speculating moods from imagery.

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Grimms' Kinder- und Hausmärchen in Hoklo

Good news!

"German classic released in Hoklo

 FIRST IN A SERIES: The aim was to translate ‘Grimms’ Fairy Tales’ as closely as possible to the original while giving play to Hoklo’s characteristics, the translator said

    By Kayleigh Madjar / Staff writer, Taipei Times (6/21/21)

Some of our favorite things:  languages, topolects, translations, folktales.

National Cheng Kung University linguists on Wednesday released a bilingual version of Grimms’ Fairy Tales in German and Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese), complete with voice recordings accessible via QR code.

Grimms’ Fairy Tales, a German collection of about 300 stories published in the 19th century, has been translated into more than 100 languages worldwide.

Hoklo is now joining the list thanks to a project spearheaded by Tan Le-kun (陳麗君), an associate professor in the university’s Department of Taiwanese Literature.

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Good poetry, good translation

[This is a guest post by Denis Mair]

River Snow
Liu Zongyuan (773-819)

Over ranged mountains, no birds are seen in flight
On every pathway, human traces are being erased
In a solitary boat, an old man in rough-weather gear
Is out on the cold river, fishing in the snow

{Here the mountains are just a backdrop in a scene where falling snow makes things indistinct. Although precipitous mountains can "cut off" the flight of birds, I don't think this line is emphasizing the impassibility of mountains to birds. That would be a tangent. And to say that the birds are "receding in flight" would be over-particularizing the image, choosing only the birds that are flying away from the viewer. Surely, there could also be birds flying towards or lateral to the viewer. The important thing is that the snow is making it hard to see any birds flying, or they don't want to be out flying in the snow.}

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Bad poetry, bad translation

UC Santa Barbara’s Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies just held “The Worst Chinese Poetry: A Virtual Roundtable" on June 1 and 2. It followed on “The Worst Chinese Poetry: A Virtual Workshop,” held in April.  Both events were organized by Thomas Mazanec, Xiaorong Li, and Hangping Xu.

Mazanec expects the roundtable to produce an anthology, “The Worst Chinese Poetry: A Critical Anthology,” which will feature selected bad poems and commentary that explains the issues that the poems raise about literary, social and political history, he said.

Source:  "Lyrical Losers,'The Worst Chinese Poetry: A Virtual Roundtable' will take a critical look at failures of the genre", By Jim Logan, The Current (UCSB) (Friday, May 28, 2021)

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"I am Chairman Mao's Bitch"

Jeff DeMarco saw this sign in the window of a building in Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan district in 2009:


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The vocabulary of traditional Chinese thought and culture

I recently got hold of an electronic copy of this book:

Zhōngguó chuántǒng wénhuà guānjiàn cí (Hàn Yīng duìzhào) 中国传统文化关键词(汉英对照) (Key Terms of Traditional Chinese Culture / Key Concepts in Chinese Culture [original English title] [Chinese-English])

Beijing:  Wàiyǔ jiàoxué yǔ yánjiū chūbǎn shè 2019 外语教学与研究出版社 2019 (Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 2019)

Here is a one-drive link to the whole book.

It has been scanned by OCR, so the entire contents can be searched by simplified Chinese characters, but accuracy is not guaranteed.

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A Sino-Italian mistranslation morass

A jumble of soccer talk and Confucian piety, with a splash of CCP ideology

Week in China has an interesting article about a football flap that occurred recently in China:

"Lost in translation:  Cannavaro gets Confucian" (May 14, 2021; WiC 540)

The story is quite convoluted and complicated, so we need to start with the background of the key term at play:  shì 士 (not tǔ 土 ["earth; soil; dust; local; native; indigenous; uncouth; colloquial"] — it is very easy to confuse the two characters).  You will note that nowhere in this long article is there any attempt to translate 士 ("warrior; soldier; scholar; gentleman") into English, and that is a big part of the rub.

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How to “get the fuck out” in Japanese

[This is a guest post by Nathan Hopson]

The issue of profane language in Japanese has been discussed on LL at some length and with sundry examples, at least one of which I provided myself (shitshow).

Nevertheless, while recognizing the risk of flogging a dead or moribund steed, I was sufficiently taken aback by a headline in today’s news to feel it warranted a bit of exposition.

The headline, which, notably, came from Japan’s hard-right, anti-China Sankei newspaper, was:

「中国よ、消えうせやがれ」 フィリピン外相、“禁句”使って怒り爆発

“Chūgoku yo, kieuseyagare” Firipin gaishō “kinku” tsukatte ikari bakuhatsu

“Hey China, fuck off!” Philippines foreign minister uses taboo word in angry explosion

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Childrens parent-child room

This post is a follow-up to "Nordic amorous room" (5/5/21).  In the comments to that post, cliff arroyo remarked:

I feel like a dope for being the one who has to ask, but….

"Childrens parent-child room"

What?

He was referring to another part of the sign on which "Nordic amorous room" appears, which you can see by clicking on the title above.  I replied to him:

I was hoping that no one would ask the question that cliff arroyo did, because it's nettlesome, but since he did, I started working on a reply to it early this morning. Now that John Swindle has given us one idea of how to explain the conundrum, I feel all the more compelled to do so. Will post by this evening — within about nine hours.

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A revolutionary, new translation of the gospels

[This is a guest post by Mark Metcalf, who makes no claim to having any language proficiency with New Testament Greek.]

Since you're an überlinguist, thought I'd forward some thoughts on a recent translation of the Gospels by Sarah Ruden.
 
Wasn't sure if you're interested in New Testament translations, but her introduction is inspiring. As is the subsequent glossary. Just like the comments on your translation methodology in the forward to your translation of the Sunzi, understanding how & why a translator implements his or her craft.  Here's what I sent to our rector and the parishioner who recommended the translation:

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Cancel Olympics

Recently published in the Wall Street Journal:

"Tokyo’s Anti-Olympic Movement Ask: Why Haven’t the Games Been Canceled? The Japanese public remains opposed to the Tokyo Olympics as coronavirus cases surge across the country", by Alastair Gale, WSJ, April 14, 2021

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"Take off your pants and fart"

British actress "Rosamund Pike’s RUDE Mandarin lessons!" | The Graham Norton Show – BBC

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