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Parable for the Trigger-Happy
Thread poster: Parrot

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:44
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Mar 9, 2002

Once upon a time, there was a translation class composed of thirty students. Admittedly, it wasn\'t a very ideal number, but it was the best that a state university could come up with under the circumstances. To make up for want of other resources, the teachers were rather extraordinary. One day, one of them distributed a text in French to translate into Spanish.



As was usual, the following day, the thirty students came back with thirty different translations (the Holy Spirit doesn\'t descend to enlighten people about \"the Definitive Word\" in such mundane matters). For the next two hours, the translations were read, compared, discussed, dissected and rephrased. At the end of the session, the teacher read out what had presumably been published about the French text.



Silence filled the classroom. Finally, one of the students voiced out what he felt: \"it sounds so audaciously strange!\"



\"It should,\" the teacher replied. \"It\'s the original - Cien años de soledad, by Gabriel García Márquez\".



(True story from the UCM).


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Evert DELOOF-SYS  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 05:44
Member
English to Dutch
+ ...
excellent Mar 9, 2002

Sums it up, indeed

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Giuliana Buscaglione  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 05:44
Member (2001)
German to Italian
+ ...
Where to start from? Mar 9, 2002

That is it, folks!





Thank you, Cecilia for reporting it. I think it should be the topic of the first translation class...





Giuliana


[addsig]


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:44
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Frankly, I learned more about translation that day than the whole academic year. Mar 9, 2002

We did worse. Some people said the text was a far cry from the French, others that it sounded distorted. But - talk about the multiplication of the loaves of bread - 30 guys went home that day with more humble pie than they needed for the rest of their lives!

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wrtransco
Local time: 23:44
German to English
+ ...
A little note on the side, if I may! Mar 10, 2002

Great story!



Gregory Rabasa seemed to be THE Márquez translator. Strangely enough, he did not translate any of his books after translating \"Cien años de soledad\" -- as far as I know. Márquez allegedly had said that the translaton into English was better than in original... Years ago I went to one of Rebasa\'s readings (Portuguese to English translation). I asked him, why he no longer translates Márquez. Of course, I got an evasive answer -- too busy with other projects... I am still wondering.



Thought, I should share that story with you.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:44
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
It's a very creative profession Mar 10, 2002

The novelist and translator Javier Marías used to tell us that a translation could be an independent work altogether. One example I saw was Unamuno\'s recasting of Schopenhauer, which not everyone agrees with (but he\'s Unamuno and he says something). Implicitly, George Steiner seems to be of the same opinion (After Babel). And when you do interpretation off the top of your head, it\'s never quite the same - that\'s why interpreters are not supposed to be taped without their consent. It\'s the exigency of the profession. Then there\'s the Italian \"traduttore, tradittore\", which gives the negative aspect of this. No matter how hard you try, there will be filters, and precisely when you try too hard, there\'s the tendency to INTERPRET (sine qua non, really, otherwise it\'s doubtful we\'d have a product) which can become really dialectic the harder you insist...



One of the good things about Proz is that it\'s presumed to give translators a choice out of several, or even many possibilities - and to cancel out those possibilities because you want a definitive form, I think, is the prerogative of the asker/translator, who knows his context better. Still, there are people who do NOT seem to believe in the definitive form - Juan Ramón Jiménez revised himself to the end of his days. Jazz, extemporaneous poetry, installation sculpture - all of these are open-ended forms of expression.



I told this story because I\'ve been observing cases of plain obstinacy and intolerance on the part of some colleagues, and it\'s not an attitude that I\'d like to see fostered on proz, which is otherwise so \"gemütlich\" to work with. My own home community (Sp-En/En-Sp) seems to be such a big happy family that such aggressive behaviour is practically a joke, and \"after you\" has long begun to be the rule on those pages. And when I think about this, it\'s the only way we can be consistent and not contradict ourselves.



After all, we need each other professionally, or we wouldn\'t be here.


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