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  #11  
Unread 09-14-2021, 02:27 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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"In short, I'm being asked to do a translation as a crib and then deviate from it, as if deviating from the original were a virtue. I can't go for that."

That's not at all what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that your responsibility as a translator of poetry is not the same as your responsibility would be as a translator working for the United Nations, whose sole responsibility is to convey the exact content of what has been said. You also have to try to make it sound as good as it does in the original, or at least give us a taste of the music and tone of the original.

To do that doesn't mean you should "deviate from the original," but actually means you should try to honor the essential music, texture and tone of the original. If the original sings, so should the translation. A translator has to translate both the music and the lyrics, so to speak. By doing so, you not only don't "deviate from the original" but you move more closely into the original. By failing to do so, you deviate from the original.

Also, I never suggested changing the "flavor" of the original. Again, I suggested keeping it by not ignoring a major ingredient.

Taking "liberties" is perhaps an unfortunate term for what every decent translator, without exception, must do from time to time. It's unfortunate since it sounds worse than it is. Actually, it's just that translators have to accept that a translation is not the original, no matter what, and that some things will inevitably be lost in translation. Once they realize the translation will be imperfect no matter what, they have to choose where to locate the inevitable imperfections. Some of those choices will appear to be "liberties," but if the translation is successful they will be liberties that result in a translation that is more faithful than if they had made different choices.

Last edited by Roger Slater; 09-14-2021 at 02:34 PM.
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  #12  
Unread 09-14-2021, 02:35 PM
mignon ledgard mignon ledgard is offline
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Default I'm back from Google translator

I had inserted the English version from Roger's quote. I imagine this is why 'crammed' showed up instead of 'squeezed', but it doesn't apply for "Nerd" which still showed as such.

Now, my English version and below, Google's. It's not as close as I understood it to be, Annie, from your impression.
It uses 'conspiracy' where I use 'conjuring' and other differences. But the one that marks the 'real' difference is the part where mine says, "which do not broadcast the agonies," while Google has "that agonies do not radiate" -- This is notable enough difference that I feel much better now, even though I haven't checked anything besides this passage.

Thanks again, to those who have already commented. I think this one goes down now, and I'm okay with it.

Mine:

No, no; I denounce,
I denounce the conjuring
of these deserted offices
which do not broadcast the agonies,
which erase the programs of the jungle,
and I offer myself to be eaten by the crammed cows
when their cries fill the valley
where the Hudson gets drunk on oil.


Google Translator:

Nerd; I denounce,
I denounce the conspiracy
of these deserted offices
that agonies do not radiate,
that erase the programs of the jungle,
and I offer myself to be eaten by the squeezed cows when their screams fill the valley
Where the Hudson gets drunk on oil

Last edited by mignon ledgard; 09-14-2021 at 02:37 PM. Reason: deleted repetition
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  #13  
Unread 09-14-2021, 03:47 PM
mignon ledgard mignon ledgard is offline
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Roger,

I just lost a long reply to your last post. Thanks for coming back. I think you have less flexibility of opinion than the experts still discussing translations and not having reached absolutes. To say "every decent translator" is to place the endeavor in a box where it won't fit. It's a case where each translator makes their own decision about approach.

The example you have posted is, precisely, why I try to stick as close as possible to the original meaning. I find your quote unrecognizable as representative of the poem from which it derives, and I cannot like this. It's a great choice for the purpose of a discussion.

The issue of 'retranslation' is very interesting. Had I found Google's version, I might have chosen to call it that. Why? As I understand it, a translator is to present the version up for retranslation and point to the changes and give the reasons why a retranslation is necessary. In short, the preoccupation about how close one version may be to another would also be taken care of this way. I had been wondering how it is that the same words could bring forth such different translations, when the translator, like myself, chooses to stick as closely as possible to the original--how is it that more translations of the same poem are not as close as they might be. I only came up with the notion of 'liberties,' which are notorious in some cases and not so in others. Choices. Individual choices.

When there are other translations of the same poem available, it may well be that yet another translation would be, by definition, a 'retranslation.' This would give the opposite flexibility than do liberties taken. I have yet to read more about this, until I feel a bit more certain of what it entails and when and why it applies or should be applied.

Thanks again,
~mignon

Last edited by mignon ledgard; 09-14-2021 at 03:50 PM. Reason: would for could
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  #14  
Unread 09-14-2021, 04:08 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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I suppose one needs to consider the function a translation is being asked to take on. If the translation is meant, say, to be on facing pages with the original, and the reader is using the translation as a tool to allow her to ultimately be able to read the poem in its original, then a translation as "literal" as possible makes sense. But if the translation is to substitute for the original, then it needs to stand up on its own merits as a poem in English, and preferably as a poem that gives the reader in English an experience that is roughly equivalent to the experience of reading the original, which would include the musical and sonic experience. If the original poet, say, decided to employ rhyme and meter, a prose translation of the literal meaning would obviously fall short, even if it met your standard of giving us a literal translation of the words of the original. If the original is free verse, it presumably still has a music and a rhythm and a tone as well as a literal meaning, and anyone who purports to be a literary translator would be remiss in not trying to convey that.

I won't try to assemble examples for you in this context, but there are numerous translations of poems from the Spanish that have been done by distinguished professors of literature who are perfectly fluent in both Spanish and English, yet their translations are ridiculously horrible. It's not because they get the literal meanings wrong, but because they lack the craft and ability to translate more than the literal meanings. (If you don't believe me, check out this site of Golden Age poetry).

Last edited by Roger Slater; 09-14-2021 at 04:11 PM.
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  #15  
Unread 09-14-2021, 04:43 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Mignon, I wasn't really proposing "falsified" as preferable to "fibbed" as a translation. I don't know the overtones of "mentida" in Spanish. I was just suggesting that "fib" is usually used in English to describe a harmless minor lie, and it seemed to me from the context that that was probably not what Lorca was implying. I value accuracy in translation, and I think it is odd that in translating free verse, some translators are even looser than they would be in translating in rhyme and meter. There is room for all kinds of translations, but I tend to like best the ones that add and change the least. I think that is what you are trying to do.

Susan
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  #16  
Unread 09-15-2021, 02:56 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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There's some disagreement over which is the definitive version of the poem (more uncertainly here than here). That said, I think Simms wanders a little too far from the actual variant text about St. Ignatius slaughtering the rabbit.

The title of this poem should definitely be "New York (Oficina y denuncia)" rather than simply "New York," though.

The bit about drilling and the Hudson valley drowning in oil is still startlingly relevant today.

I'm not sure if he poet means that the dawn is mentida because it's formed by artificial light, or because, as he says in "La aurora" in the same collection, it promises a hopeful future that the pessimistic poet sees no reason to believe in. Regardless, the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy seems to indicate that it's okay to translate this verbally-derived adjective merely as "false" or "not true," rather than feeling obliged to stick to the formation of a past participle.
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  #17  
Unread 09-15-2021, 04:38 AM
Sarah-Jane Crowson's Avatar
Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
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Hi,

I can't help with translations, I know nothing about them. But I can perhaps help with this:

Quote:
Mostly, I have translated Peruvian poets, but they haven't been dead long enough and I don't know how to get permissions;
Basically, I'd suggest you ask. If you're reading their work in a book, contact the publisher and explain what you'd like to do. I would suggest including:


Who you are and your professional identity
(With this, be honest. If you're a student, say so, if you're an educator, say so. If whatever you're doing is a hobby, say so.)

Why you want to translate this work.
(For example: 'I am a visual poet and collagist, and I'd like to use this work as part of a series of visual poems that will present contemporary re-imaginings of mythological figures (or whatever it is). This is important because...

What you will be doing with the work and whether you will change the meanings of the work.

Where you will be sharing the work
(for example, will you be sending it out for publication or sharing on an online writers workshop)

Whether you will gain financially from using the work.

What you will do if you unexpectedly find financial gain from the work
(for example, you'll contact them).

What they will gain potentially from letting you use the work

Whether you are prepared to pay a fee (or not).

How you'll credit them if you are allowed to use the work

Whether you are prepared to share the translation (or whatever it is) with them before you share it with other people.

That might not be quite everything, as things vary in context - but I've not had a problem getting permissions in the past - I've had colleagues who have been told 'no', but at least that way you'll find out.

I may have missed something out or be off-the-mark for translations, but if I have I'm sure there's enough expertise in the room to let you know.


Sarah-Jane

Last edited by Sarah-Jane Crowson; 09-15-2021 at 04:44 AM. Reason: formatting
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  #18  
Unread 09-15-2021, 05:06 AM
mignon ledgard mignon ledgard is offline
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Roger,

Yes, there are many poor translations, some of which have even won prizes, but I'd rather not get into that, except to say that this is one of the reasons why I felt compelled to try my own. It started out of curiosity and then I realized how different it is to read with this purpose and how much deeper the understanding is required to be, not that it opens up 100 percent, anyway. It is a sad thing for the original authors that they aren't, at large, not better represented. But this is how I feel and I have no say on the matter.

You seem to feel very confident about your thoughts on this, while my awareness of the many convolutions in this area of literature, more specifically in regards to poetry, doesn't permit me to be as assertive as you seem to be. I could, in my own defense, say that I have shared translations with success I never expected, including a very long poem accepted for publication in a quality venue--the permission didn't come through. I was told it required following, which I didn't do.

I will touch on the issue of permissions on my reply to Sarah-Jayne.

I hope you will understand that I can't engage in a circular discussion on this issue, merely to attempt to clarify what is meant, to see where there is agreement, where there is not, so it could be endless. I appreciate your effort to get your thoughts through. I understand what you are saying; I am of a different mind.

Many thanks,
~mignon
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  #19  
Unread 09-15-2021, 05:21 AM
mignon ledgard mignon ledgard is offline
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Susan,

The 'mentida New York' language usage is new to me, but maybe using 'false' or 'fake' or 'untrue' would be fitting--not 'falsified,' though, which seems to enter another realm, and yes, I am aware that it is a suggestion. I know you offer suggestions and I am very priviliged to count with your thoughts on any of my posts.

Also, yes, you are correct about what I'm trying to accomplish. My interest in your translations was sparked by how hard you work to stick to the original meaning, while balancing everything else you set out for yourself to accomplish. This is more important to me in regards to Rilke's work because I'm fond of how he reveals his thoughts, impressions, philosophy, and I, hugely, appreciate a translator that stays in the background and places the work of the original author in the most accurate possible way. You do this, which denotes respect for the material you are using and it's a privilege and a lovely thing to see you at work.

Immense thanks to you!
~mignon
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  #20  
Unread 09-15-2021, 05:31 AM
mignon ledgard mignon ledgard is offline
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Dear Julie,

You've presented me with a very thoughtful array of related issues and I will endeavor to read the links and then try to respond to you.

The 'mentida' mention, I think, more and more, may be as you notice, more about the artificial lighting, but I think it's both because his view of life in New York was very harsh and I'll have to find those thoughts of his to read again.

Excellent points, Julie!
Thank you,
~mignon
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