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Poll: Do you translate literature? Would you?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 04:46
Nov 14, 2005

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you translate literature? Would you?".

This poll was originally submitted by Scriba

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Javier Herrera
Modestly Nov 14, 2005

Actually, what is literature? A slogan is literature, a pun is literature, a tourist brochure is literature. Many of us may have done something like that and are not "literary translators".
I voted for "I don't but would". I consider myself talented for crafting language to some extent, I'm happy doing any of the aforementioned. I would love to do song lyrics or any other beautifully written text.
I wouldn't do novels or poetry. I'm sure others can do it better than I.

[Edited at 2005-11-14 09:54]

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Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:46
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Actually, there was a time Nov 14, 2005

when "translation" as taught in schools meant literary translation.

I already had experience when I enrolled, so I went through the treadmill protesting. My background in the field was UNCTAD, the Red Cross, the IMF, the World Tourism Organization - and we were going through excerpts from 19th-century novels. The German combinations were ploughing through Goethe and my brain was going "get real, man!" But the faculty were literary academe and no two words about it. I remember one day they had a practising guest engineer-translator over and that was the closest we got to real life.

Still, it wasn't a bad preparation. Not when you already know what's coming. Literature has a way of working in the same broad gap as the humanities in pre-law or pre-med. You land in praxis shell-shocked, of course.

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Stephen Rifkind  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:46
Member (2004)
French to English
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Memoirs Nov 14, 2005

I have had the pleasure, if I can use that word in these cases, of translating two memoirs, one of Belorussian partisan and the other of a German Jew. I learned a lot about life and optimism and got paid for it as well. I would do it again any time.

Stephen Rifkind

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M. Anna Kańduła  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:46
English to Polish
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Yes, I do Nov 14, 2005

Apart from being translator, I'm also a writer, so literature is a kind of "logical" choice for me - of course I don't limit myself to it only.

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Anabel Martínez  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:46
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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I wish I'd do it more often! Nov 14, 2005

I had the luck of being a translator for several writers in very different genres (science fiction and children's fiction), and I enjoyed it very much. Actually, one of my dreams would be to translate a novel, even though I know literary translation doesn't pay off well. So you can imagine what my answer to this poll was!

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Sam Berner  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:46
Member (2003)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Non-fiction = literature? Nov 19, 2005

Javier Herrera wrote:

Actually, what is literature?

Yes, and kindly add copywriting, which is one hell of very interesting, but very difficult translation/adaptation/re-writing (your ideological choice, please).

I do non-ficition books: politics, philosophy, history, etc. specializing in Middle East issues. Needs a lot of crafting to get ideas and concepts across two vastly different mental sets. Is that literature, or am I a technical writer?

Being old-school, however, literature to me personally is Homer, Jane Austen and Mickiewicz. And no, I would not dare touch something like this.

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