Intercultural Competence

Martin Boyd

Lorde_Another victim of ethnocentric violence

Lorde: another victim of ethnocentric violence

Last October, Feministing blogger Verónica Bayetti Flores launched a scathing attack on the song “Royals”, one of the biggest hits on US radio in 2013, for lyrics that Bayetti claimed are “deeply racist”. Bayetti’s argument was based on the assertion that the song’s critique of extreme wealth draws specifically on images associated with African-American hip hop stars (“gold teeth”, “Cristal”, “Maybachs”), with no specific references that might conjure up images of white American wealth (why, for example, does the song make no reference to “golf”, “polo” or “Central Park East”?). Bayetti’s argument might have had some validity if it weren’t for one very important fact that she completely elides in her analysis of the song: Lorde, the 16 year-old singer-songwriter responsible for “Royals”, is from New Zealand.

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A Crash Course in Proofreading Translations

Martin Boyd

ProofreadingAs with all forms of professional writing, proofreading is an essential element in translation, as a second pair of eyes is often able to pick up minor (or sometimes major!) errors in the translated text that translators can miss in their own work, even when they’ve carefully proofread their work themselves. Unfortunately, most translator training programs dedicate very little time to instructing translators in how to handle proofreading tasks, which may end up involving a large proportion of their work as freelancers. With this in mind, based on my own experience as a translator, proofreader and translation project manager, I have developed a kind of “crash course” in proofreading translations, which basically consists of the following four simple rules:

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Reviewing Translations

Martin Boyd

Why Translation MattersEdith Grossman, the English translator of many of the works of Gabriel García Márquez and author of the book Why Translation Matters, an examination of the low profile of translation in the English-speaking world, remarks that in book reviews of translated works, “most critics assiduously ignore the fact that they are reviewing a translation. If they do refer to the translation, they usually dismiss it with a phrase like ‘ably translated by’.” (qtd. in Salisbury).

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Silencing the Source Text: The Curious Case of Artemio Cruz

Martin Boyd

La muerte de Artemio CruzIn an article published in 1987, prominent literary translator Margaret Sayers Peden took issue with Hileman’s translation of Carlos Fuentes’ classic novel La muerte de Artemio Cruz, accusing him of “total, and incredibly insensitive, restructuring” of the source text, completely undermining Fuentes’s original intention (“Translating the Boom” 170). Indeed, Hileman does appear to show an almost cavalier disregard for the punctuation and paragraphing of the original text, eliminating points of ellipsis, periods and commas and inserting paragraph breaks and lexical connectors in an apparent effort to ‘regularize’ Fuentes’s deliberately irregular style. But there is another apparently systematic omission in Hileman’s translation that Sayers Peden does not identify. That she overlooks it is not surprising, because her analysis is exclusively concerned with aesthetic questions and the omission to which I refer has implications that are more ideological than poetological.

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The Problem of “Performability” in Theatre Translation

Martin Boyd

Ignacio-López-Tarso-en-La-Tempestad

Ignacio López Tarso in a Mexican adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”.

In her article, “Performability versus Readability”, Greek-Canadian translator and translation scholar Ekaterini Nikolarea offers a historical overview of the development of what she calls a “theoretical polarization” in theatre translation, between the notions of “performability” and “readability”. In doing so, she places two authors – theatre theorist Patrice Pavis and translation studies scholar Susan Bassnett – in opposition against one another, as spokespeople for the two conflicting perspectives.

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ALTA Annual Conference: A Rookie’s View

Liam Walke

alta_logo

Click here to visit the ALTA website

As I sat in the Indianapolis International Airport on my way home from the annual ALTA  conference in Bloomington Indiana, I tried to think of an angle I could take for this article.  Having attended a dozen lectures, met many people, and made a good number of personal and professional connections, how would I shape this into a coherent reflection?

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Translating Latin America, Part 4: Magical Realism

Martin Boyd

Juan Rulfo, the legendary Mexican author whose English translators have been unable to do him justice.

In Part 3 of my series of articles on translating Latin America, I explored the phenomenon of the so-called Latin American literary boom that began in the 1960s. This “boom” has been closely associated with the genre of “magical realism”, characterized in the English-speaking world as the Latin American literary mode par excellence. According to Sylvia Molloy, althoug it is not so much a Latin American invention as a “transculturation” of French symbolism, magical realism was singled out by US readers to signify, “as surely as Carmen Miranda’s fruity cornucopias, ‘Latin America’”, thereby becoming a “regional, ethnicized commodity”, a form of “essentialized primitivism” (374) that reinforces preexisting stereotypes of Latin America as a magical territory, beyond the reaches of civilization, where the laws of science and reason do not apply. Molloy suggests that “[m]agic realism is refulgent, amusing, and kitschy,” but the reality it describes “doesn’t happen, couldn’t happen, here [in the United States]” (375). Unfortunately, the author adds, the fact that only a small number of Latin American authors comfortably fit the magical realist mould has condemned much Latin American literature to the “ever-expanding purgatory of the untranslatable” (375)… unless the work can be “rewritten” to fit into the genre, as seems to be the case of Mexican author Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo, a novel which is surely one of the greatest literary works of the twentieth century, but whose two English translations have failed to convey the simultaneously Gothic and realist tone of the original.

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“Traitors”

Patricio Pon

In spite of the minor literary tradition that denigrates translators, based around the Italian adage “traduttore, traditore” [translator, traitor], the truth is that there are readers who owe everything to them. I was one of these, and I know many others like me: we were as poor as rats but we loved a few books that we couldn’t read in the original because we didn’t have the money to learn a foreign language.

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Finding Translation

Martin Boyd

“Giants” (Gary Willis, 1992)

In 1992, a friend gave me a copy of Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. It was the first work of Hispanic literature I ever read, and it opened me up to a world that appeared more vital and powerful than anything I had ever encountered before. At the time, I was sharing a house in London with an artist who was working on a series of paintings featuring Don Quixote, and thus the tragicomic exploits of Spain’s mythical knight errant were combined in my imagination with the singular history of Macondo, both narratives inviting me into the vast, labyrinthine dominions of the Spanish-speaking world.

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