Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Anna Amalia: risen from the ashes

"First time round, the books escaped: the Duchess had moved them out to her new library in the Green Palace eight years before the great fire of 1774..."

Friday, November 16, 2007

Northern California Translation Award

The Center for the Art of Translation, a non-profit organization that promotes international literature and translation through programs in the arts, education, and community outreach, is co-sponsoring the Northern California Book Award in Translation for the best translation by a Northern California translator. The Center staff are gathering books that may be qualified for the translation award and ask for your assistance in identifying book-length translations from any language into English (primarily fiction and poetry, though some non-fiction will be considered) published by Northern California translators in 2007. For the purposes of this award, Northern California is defined as Fresno north to the Oregon border; the publisher does not have to be from Northern California, but the translator must currently reside there. The translation award is co-sponsored by the Northern California Book Reviewers (formerly Bay Area Book Reviewers Association/BABRA) and PEN West Translation Committee. Sponsors of the Northern California Book Awards (with categories in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children's literature, and translation) include the Northern California Book Reviewers, the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, Poetry Flash, and the San Francisco Public Library. This year's NCBA ceremony will be held at the San Francisco Main Library in April 2008.

DEADLINE FOR SUGGESTIONS: NOVEMBER 21, 2007. Even if the book is due out in December 2007, they still need the information in advance of the deadline. For all suggestions, please include the author's name, the translator's name, the publisher, and the title of the book, and send the information to Olivia Sears at osears@catranslation.org.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Literary Arts Festival

The Translation Project is organizing an Iranian Literary Arts Festival from November 13-17 at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida Street in San Francisco. In partnership with Beyond Persia, the festival program features an art exhibit, panels, a gala celebration and the world premier of ICARUS/RISE, a theatrical piece based on new Iranian poetry and voted by 7 X 7 Magazine as the HOT PICK for November. ICARUS/RISE was created by Niloufar Talebi, with original score by Bobak Salehi and choreography and video by former SF and LINES Ballet dancer, Alex Ketley. ICARUS/RISE shows on November 15, 16, and 17. The November 17th show is followed by a gala celebration benefiting The Translation Project.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The woefully inadequate English language

"English is such a limited language. Why does it not have a word for the rushing sound a grandfather clock makes before striking the hour or the act of sticking a finger up a chicken’s bottom to see if it is about to lay an egg? Others do," writes Alan Hamilton in his discussion of Adam Jacot de Boinod's "second compendium of unlikely but useful words that other languages enjoy but English does not. "

Boinod's "original compilation included such obscurities as the Japanese baku-shan (a woman who looks better from behind) and nakhur, from the Farsi, meaning a camel that won’t give milk until its nostrils are tickled."

Hamilton admits, however, that English speakers will probably have little opportunity "for an equivalent of the Finnish poronkusema, being the distance a reindeer can travel without taking a comfort break. Nor would a snappy translation of embasan, from the Maguindanaon language of the Philippines and meaning to wear clothes while taking a bath, be daily on the lips of the chattering classes."

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The right side of the tapestry

Recently Carol Rumens addressed the pleasures and frustrations of translation on the UK Guardian's book blog, partly in response to an earlier review of a translation of Paul Celan's poetry. An excerpt from the blog post:
So why translate? My first answer is that poetry in translation simply adds to the sum total of human pleasure obtainable through a single language. It opens up new language worlds within our own tongues, as every good poem does. It revitalises our daily, cliche-haunted vocabulary. It disturbs our assumptions, jolts us with rhythms flatter or stronger than we're used to. It extends us in the way real travelling does, giving us new sounds, sights and smells. Every unique poetry village sharpens us to life.
Some people would disagree, saying poetry in translation is the wrong side of the tapestry - it just can't be done. But they are talking about replication, not translation. It is perfectly true that you will never get a replica of the original - nor would you wish to. The way it works, when translator and original are in tune, is that a third poem is created. It is the child of two parents and simply couldn't exist without them.
How poor modern Anglophone poetry would be without Edwin Morgan's Mayakovsky, Anne Carson's Sappho or Mark Musa's Dante; without George Szirtes's Hungarian poets or Ian and Jarmila Milner's Czechs. What a loss to the itinerary if we didn't have the journal Modern Poetry in Translation to transport our imaginations across the globe in 80 seconds."

Friday, October 12, 2007

The irresistability of translation

Quotation from taken from Jean R. Longland's "World World Vast World of Poetic Translation", Latin American Research Review, 1977:
Literary translation is an addiction. A happy few are able to surrender their lives to it. We others sacrifice our precious free time and our social lives to this irrestistible addiction.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Shattuck on French translation, from 1959

In 1959, the Center for Translation at the University of Texas convened a symposium on translation. At the conference, the organizers invited prominent authorities in the field to look ahead and lay out an agenda for translators and publishers working in the language of their expertise. Their comments were published with the proceedings of the conference in 1961 as The Craft & Context of Translation, by the University of Texas Press. Here, Roger Shattuck on French:

French literature has been and continues to be better served than any other in English translation. For over three centuries, publishers’ hacks and the idle rich of letters, as well as a few dedicated craftsmen, have cast or coaxed into somebody’s English almost all major works in French. They have also translated enough tripe to add considerably to our nightmare vision of the future as archive. In 1960, however, this accumulated mass of translation means less to all three literatures (since ‘English’ must stand for two) than the fact that within the past fifteen years the Song of Roland and the prose masterpieces of Rabelais, Montaigne, Pas cal, Diderot, and Flaubert have appeared in fresh and generally felicitous versions. This running revival of the classics will have a more lasting effect than any publishers’ race for the latest nouveau roman or the literary reviews’ endless sightings and soundings in order to locate a new Paris avant-garde. The only great prose author that needs refurbishing in English, like that lately given de Tocqueville, is Montesquieu. The sociology of government knows few more pithy texts than L’Esprit des lois, and Nugent’s standard translation needs replacement (as Franz Neumann points out in his preface to the 1949 edition). Les Lettres persanes might well be brought back again within our horizon.

I know but a single basic statistic about French-to-English translation of contemporary works and ask for no other to demonstrate its robust ness. Two twentieth century French authors have begun to appear in English translation in complete uniform editions: Colette and Valéry. I doubt if a more sensitive and economical choice could have been made by a discriminating critic of modern letters. A committee could never have done so. All France can be found in these two authors, from music hall to Academy, from Chanticleer’s farmyard to Mallarmé’s living room. The vagaries of publishing sometimes find the mark.

What lacks today in English after these centuries of valorous service is not impossible to discern. We still need performable and faithful translations of plays of all periods and, in almost the same sense, performable translations of poetry. Few translators seem to be able to work long in the theater or in verse without becoming stilted or excessively racy. Most, in fact, start one way or the other and hold their ground. There is also the wide field of memoirs, ripe for tilling after long neglect because of changes in taste. Outside these areas, a handful of important modern authors still await suitable presentation in English.

Find this title on Google Books

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Reading: Tabatabai at BU Central

Sassan Tabatabai will be reading his original poetry and translations from Persian TODAY at BU Central at 5 PM. The performance space is in the lower level of the Boston UniversityGeorge Sherman Union, 775 Commonwealth Avenue, accessible off the BU Central stop on the B-line Green Train. Sponsored by the Iranian Student Association.

Kiji Kutani on Poetry International Web

The October issue of Poetry International Web (http://international.poetryinternationalweb.org/) is now online. Featured: the Japanese poet Kiji Kutani. Editor Yasuhiro Yotsumoto looks at the disarming and disorienting qualities of Kutani's work, evident in lines like the following:

The moment the train pulled into Koiwa,
she turned soundlessly into a translucent morsel
and came sliding towards my feet
at a snail’s pace.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Seminar on German Poetry at the Goethe Institute Tomorrow

What is "German"? Goethe to George

An Introduction: Where is Germany in its Literature? A Closer Look at Some Celebrated Poems.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007, 6:30 pm
Goethe-Institut Boston,
170 Beacon Street, Boston

Text and discussion in English

Admission free

Info: +1 617 262 6050 or info@boston.goethe.org

Texts include English excerpts from:
Goethe (Erlkönig)Heine (Lorelei)Nietzsche (excerpts)

Photocopies will be provided at the meeting

Monday, September 03, 2007

Literary Translation and Mountain Climbing

In "World World Vast World of Poetic Translation", published in Latin American Research Review, 1977, Jean R. Longland compares the challenge of literary translation to mountain climbing and puzzle-solving. Do translators get the same sense of exhilaration after completing a tough translation that mountain climbers or skydivers get?

Longland writes:

"They say it is impossible to re-create a poem in another language, and perhaps it is. It is also irresistible.
Translators may attempt the impossible because they want to share their enjoyment or because they need versions for teaching or because they like word games – translations is as much fun as Double-Crostics. My own reason is the challenge of the irresistible; I am like the mountain climber who says, “Because it’s there.” And in fact, mountain climbing and poetic translation have some points in common. The translator and the climber may find smooth stretches on their rough paths, and they both struggle upward, but at the goal the similarity disappears, for the climber may succeed absolutely. There are no absolute successes in translation, which John Cairdi calls the art of failure. On the other hand, the translator will never find himself in the anticlimactic position of having climbed Mount Everest. He always has more worlds to attempt to conquer, and his old worlds to improve."

For the full article: http://www.jstor.org/view/00238791/di000614/00p00574/0

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Combatting Stereotypes

"What is a European? Someone with the industriousness of the Spanish, the sobriety of the Irish, the palate of the English, the sense of humor of the Germans, the generosity of the Dutch, the modesty of the French and the courage of the Italians. In other words, a Belgian."
- Antoon Pardon, via Peter Van Roy

Monday, July 16, 2007

Language and influence

In his article “Dumber in English” (“Dümmer auf Englisch”), German biophysicist and author Stefan Klein discusses the implications of a scientific lingua franca. In many European countries, including Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden, English is the de facto language of academia and the sciences. Lectures and seminars are given in English, and international conferences are held in English even when it is not the language of the audience.

Klein mentions a conference on neuroscience held in Berlin where the six German and four international speakers gave presentations in English despite a primarily German audience. As Klein notes, the justification is that “[p]eople only take a conference seriously when English is the official language”. There is, of course, a pragmatic reason for the dominance of a foreign language over the local variety; Klein observes that “[f]or researchers, it’s all about influence, which is greatest when everyone uses the same Lingua franca.”

Sociolinguists, who study how social aspects affect language use, relate the preference of one language—or dialect—over another to social prestige. Within any given language, dialects or varieties are assigned prestige values linked to social class, gender and education. While all varieties of language are linguistically equivalent—Cockney is not inherently “worse” than Received Pronunciation, the Queen’s English—varieties are ascribed prestige due to correlating social factors. The same holds for languages. In a given community, different languages may serve different functions. This use of a vernacular, “low prestige” variety, alongside a “high prestige” variety is called diglossia and was seen in England, for instance, at the time of the Norman invasion when the language of the court was French and the common people spoke a Germanic variety. The use of the lingua franca, English, as the language of academia alongside vernacular languages such as German, Dutch and Swedish, can be considered a form of diglossia.

While English is accepted as international currency and publishing in international journals undoubtedly furthers a researcher’s academic reputation, the neglect of the vernacular in education can be disadvantageous to students. Klein’s observation that Dutch and Swedish students do worse on tests when taught in English is alarming. Students are less willing to ask and answer questions in a foreign language. How, then, do we achieve a balance between the accessibility of a language—how comfortable students are with a given language and how much it facilitates learning complex subject matter—with the prestige factor of a language—how much it will further a researcher’s international reputation? Klein’s answer is that “German should remain the language for seminars and lectures” in Germany. Why should students, still coming to grips with difficult material, have the added burden of doing so in a foreign language? The lingua franca is undoubtedly essential for international communication, conferences and publications, but using the vernacular at university lectures and seminars may ultimately best serve students learning the material.

Read the article in English at Sign and Sight; auf Deutsch von Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Friday, May 11, 2007

No.1 is out!

Printed copies of Pusteblume No.1 are now available!

This is the second issue, following our No.0 last spring. Languages featured include Japanese, Modern Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, German, Russian and Italian.

(This is a temporary post. We will try to get a working PDF online within the next few weeks, which we will be able to link to this page. Check back soon!)

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

2007 Shmuel Traum Prize

Vita breva
Undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at Boston University 2007 Shmuel Traum Prize in Literary Translation, for works in poetry, fiction, or drama translated into English from French, German, or Hebrew. The winner of the grand prize will receive $200.

Your submission must include s copies of the selection in the original language; s copies of your typed manuscript, including title and author and specifying language of the original (do not include your name); and a cover sheet giving the titles of the original and of the translation as well as your name and student ID number, mailing address, telephone number, and e-mail address.

Verse submissions should not exceed 100 lines of a single long poem or several shorter works by the same poet or by poets of similar style and period; prose submissions should not exceed 12 pages of a complete work or excerpt (chapter, act or section). Materials must be submitted by 5 pm, March 19, 2007, to:
Shmuel Traum Translation Prize
University Professors Program
745 Commonwealth Avenue, Room 636
Boston, Massachusetts 02215
The judges for this year’s contest are Abigail Gillman, Assistant Professor of German and Hebrew, Boston University, and Rosanna Warren, Emma Ann MacLachlan Metcalf Professor of the Humanities,
University Professor and Professor of English and French, Boston University. For more information, contact: Caroline Hartevelt, University Professors Program, 617-358-1763.

2007 Robert Fitzgerald Translation Prize

For Gold and Glorie
Undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at Boston University are invited to enter the 2007 Robert Fitzgerald Translation Prize, sponsored by the University Professors Program and the Creative Writing Program. First prize is $250, second $100. Your submission must include 3 copies of the selection in the original language; 3 copies of your typed manuscript, including title and author and specifying language of the original (do not include your name); and a cover sheet giving the titles of the original and of the translation as well as your name and student ID number, mailing address, telephone number, and e-mail address.

Verse submissions should be approximately 100 lines of a single long poem, or several shorter works by the same poet or by poets of similar style and period. Prose submissions should not exceed 12 pages of a complete work or an excerpt (chapter, act, or section). Materials must be submitted by 5 pm, March 19, 2007, to:
Fitzgerald Translation Prize
University Professors Program
745 Commonwealth Avenue, Room 636
Boston, Massachusetts 02215
The judges for this year’s contest are Professor Irit Kleiman, Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures, Boston University; Professor Patricia Larash, Department of Classical Studies, Boston University; and Professor Anita Patterson, Department of English, Boston University.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Journal: "New Translations"

A new journal affiliated with the Comparative Literature Department at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York has released a call for submissions for its first issue. New Translations invites submissions of newly translated and retranslated works of literary, historical and philosophical merit as well as reviews of recently translated texts. Inquiries may be sent to submissions@newtranslations.org.

From the Blumies: what, in the minds of the editors, constitutes merit? It's a challenging question, but one that deserves no less priority than the accuracy or elegance of the translation. That a translation is well-executed does not neccesarily mean the content of the source text is well-written or well-conceived! I look forward to seeing how the editor's emphasis on judging the value of the original is realized in publication.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Rosanna at Work

In an article from BU Today, the community news site for Boston University, Professor Rosanna Warren advances an uncontroversial but largely unheeded proposition: “You can be word-by-word accurate, but produce an absolutely horrendous translation that has no life in it." The article is a genial introduction to a writer whose poetic sensibility is central in the American writing community, and whose lyrical intelligence has had wide influence, not the least reason for which is her celebrated Literary Translation Seminar in the University Professors Program at BU.

In the seminar, students gather on Mondays for classroom sessions under Prof. Warren's able direction, discussing the challenges and techniques for depositing the gold of one language in the treasury of another. On Fridays, expert practitioners are flown in to discuss their chosen art. Already this spring, Robert Hahn has spoken on translating from English to Italian and from Italian to English, and Roger Greenwald came down from Toronto to share his expertise in editing and translating work from Norway and Denmark. Looking ahead, I'm personally excited to hear Richard Serrano's lecture titled "Translating Traditions in Chinese and Arabic Poetry: Al-Akhtal and Sun Yunfeng" on February 16. For a full list of this semester's lectures, visit the seminar webpage.

Professor Warren is given rein to say altogether more interesting things in a 2005 interview from The Kenyon Review. Interviewer Joseph Campana asks about an attitude found in her essays about Sappho and Catullus: "that poetry is, inherently, both elegy and translation." Asked to speak more about this, she responds:
... "I think of poetry as being lyric in the deep and archaic Greek sense, as song and dance. By the time it is translated to the drawing on the page that we call writing, the markers of dance and song are no longer present. Writing tries to conjure the presence. In that sense, I think of poetry as a kind of elegy for that transient intensity of experience. And translation, more specifically, sacrificial and elegiac in that it takes you to the heart of the mystery of what is poetry, which nobody can define, but we keep dancing around it. It’s an essence, which is not just engineering, which you can't just get by riveting together choriambs or dactyls, and yet which involves the engineering at some level. The image of the human body is a good one since most of us have the illusion, at least, that who we are is not merely the engineering of our bones and flesh and nervous system, though we wouldn't be here without them. So translating means teleporting a body, teleporting Sappho into another body. Inevitably in that passage, the molecules, the cells are damaged and yet we reconstitute it in something like a good translation which gives us the illusion of another dance being made, another breath being breathed, another nervous system pulsing.
Elsewhere in the interview, readers will learn about Warren's traditionalist stance on the education of poets and translators, an ethic enacted in the translation seminar's emphasis on metrics and formal verse in Greek, Latin, French, and Italian, among the many languages held up for consideration.

WBUR "World of Ideas" with readings
Translations of imaginary (!) French poet Anne Verlaine
Faculty Profile at Boston University

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Chicago Translation Symposium

Featuring an unusually interdisciplinary schedule, the 2007 Caxton Club/Newberry Library Symposium will be held on March 31, 2007, under the title "Remodeling the Tower of Babel: The Translator's Role in a Shrinking World." The program is available at the website of the Caxton Club of Chicago. Translators and others with a professional interest in translation who would like to discuss the possibility of a caravan expedition from Boston to Chicago, are encouraged to contact the Blumies by email.

Of particular interest to this Blumie is the panel discussion to explore "the future of translation and translation studies, which seem inevitably linked to the ongoing development of the Internet and of digital translation technologies. This question will also be taken up in the Fall 2007 issue of the Journal, by Chuan Summers at the University of Leeds. In his article, Summers considers the merging methodologies of machine translation, corpus tools, and the traditional exertions of the human practitioner. He advocates ultimately for the integration of these disparate elements. As the demand for translation of print and digital works continues to rise, translators can either embrace all available methods in order to provide efficient and competent versions, or can stake out differing claims on "legitimacy" that impede the collective effort to disseminate literature across linguistic and culture boundaries.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Manga and Scanlation

There’s been a lot of positive feedback on Dygo Tosa’s translation of “Snowfall” from Kazuhiro Fujita’s Ushio to Tora Gaiden. Several folks have written in to tell us more about scanlation, in which amateur translators "dub" the scanned pages of a manga with new text; the product is distributed by the same file-sharing techniques employed by music fans to download illicit tracks.

Manga publishers are not meeting the market demand for translation; fans who’d like to get their hands on a particular title are forced either to learn Korean or Japanese or turn to underground sources whose reproduction of source texts is illegal under current copyright statutes. The language barrier discourages Asian publishers from printing English-language editions; yet surely they can’t be content to watch their copyright be disregarded by eager scanlators! Readers with legal perspective are invited to share their two cents on this dynamic literary situation.

Mr. Caxton – an online persona of veteran manga translator Toren Smith – argues in his blog The Dead Zone that scanslation is not a benign form of reader enthusiasm:
I know from talking to many folks in the industry that scanslations DO have a negative effect. Many books that are on the tipping point will never be legally published because of scanslations. This is not only unfair to the honest fans, it is robbery from the very creators the otaku profess to love.

And yes, the neo-otaku (my neologism for the new generation of entitlement-minded and puritanistic manga and anime fans) have mutated into a truly awful bunch of people, which is part of the reason I dropped out of the biz. Why work twelve hours a day, seven days a week for such an audience?
Scanlation ProcedureAlthough they scanlate at their own risk, this fan community is thriving and well-organized, with devoted Spanish-language and German counterparts. The German site Eyeshield21 uses a flow-chart to illustrate their scanlation process (translated here for the convenience of monoglot readers).

The globe-spanning technology that allows the easy interchange of foreign language literature also enables piracy. Or should we consider scanlation a new form of samizdat, being fundamentally a response to the lack of access to literature? Though of course this lack is caused not by censorship but by the laggard pace of publishers in keeping up with their web-savvy readers. As with illegal music downloading, as bandwidth increases so does the tension between publishers and consumers ready to turn to alternative sources for their favorite manga. It’s my opinion that cease-and-desist orders and the threat of lawsuits are not the right way to resolve this burgeoning conflict. After all, authors and artists should be delighted to have readers so eager for the story that they to their own scan optimization, image retouching, research and translation! Let us see.

Turn to The Comics Journal for a discussion of the scanlation phenomenon from July 2005. Blumies who want to learn more can explore del.icio.us tags on the subject or can visit MangaBlog for a good introduction to all things manga.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

"Snowfall": An Original Manga Translation

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

"Snowfall" from Ushio and Tora Gaiden
A Manga Translation by Dygo Tosa
Original Manga (c-Japan) 1996-2003 Kazuhiro Fujita

I've spent the past two weeks translating one of my favorite mangas, "Ushio and Tora." I started reading the series back in middle school and I've loved it ever since; while the series ended years ago, I am still trying to collect all of the episodes. To my knowledge, none of the printed manga have ever been published/sold in the United States. Here, I've tried to put together points about translation and other notes so that reading the translation will both be more enjoyable and meaningful. Let me know if you have any further questions -- or even "worse" -- translation requests! My email for this project is tosa.dygo@gmail.com. Thanks for reading!

An Introduction to Manga
You are about to step into a dark, scary and also very cheerful world of Japanese manga, but there's always something to be gained in seeing the world through another man's (or woman's) eyes. Mangas are Japanese comics and cartoons; the different genres and characters of manga are as diverse as what you might find in the Sunday newspaper to the cult follower's comic shop. I grew up with mangas and Japanese so reading them is no difficulty for me, but it takes a lot of learning for a gaijin ("foreigner") to pick up on reading a manga to the fullest. First of all, Japanese mangas are very much like their American counterparts in that they draw upon both common and obscure references. Many translated mangas will need to either omit or explain seemingly strange facts and behaviors which would be perfectly normal for a Japanese person. One memorable scene comes from the popular children's show "Pokemon," when the Pokemon pets are chewing on onigiri riceballs. The translators adeptly called them "jelly-filled doughnuts"; a clever translation that neatly explains the red center (onigiri are filled either with salmon or pickled plum). Since Japanese culture has embraced much of American culture (and not as much of the other way around), it's difficult for me to find a good reverse analogy; perhaps American Revolutionary and Civil War references would require some level of explanation for a Japanese audience. Pokemon being an example, many Americans are more familiar with "anime" than with manga, but most if not all anime originated as manga. There are some exceptions to the rule, such as Miyazaki's feature films like Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Some differences with American comics include the fact that most manga in Japan are published as weekly collections rather than single issues. In the U.S., the imported and translated Shonen Jump Magazine is representative of a number of weekly manga publications in Japan. But like American comics, the episodes are collected by series and later published as anthologies in bookstores. More translations of manga and comics are appearing in American bookstores these days under the category of "graphic novel" which is a more correct term for the longer and more serious works. While I suggest a "try before you buy" approach (try borrowing from a friend!), since manga appeal to different tastes, if you've never read a manga series, I hope this encourages you to start.

About "Ushio and Tora"
"Ushio and Tora" by Kazuhiro Fujita is a epic series centered around an adolescent boy (about 14 years old) named Ushio who stumbles across a monster living in the storehouse basement. The monster, named Tora, happens to be a demon who had been sealed there a few hundred years ago. Did I mention Ushio lives in a temple with his dad, who's a exorcist priest? The story takes place in modern times though, and with Tora's awakening, other demons in the area start to appear and their adventures begin. Ushio must team up with Tora to protect his classmates, friends and even strangers from the paranormal. While typical of manga to be centered around high school age kids, the people they meet and the monsters they defeat are by no means ordinary. What sets "Ushio and Tora" apart from other manga is a brutal bluntness and sincerity, as well as wholesomeness, of Ushio and his allies. In the late 80's to early 90's mangas were plagued with depressing storylines and twisted perversities, and Fujita's style attempts to visually and literally destroy these perversions. The manga itself is visually R-rated for excessive violence, lots of blood and ink smears, nudity, and in translation, language.

The "Ushio and Tora Gaiden" is an epilogue written by Fujita to explain some of the untold stories in his series, exploring characters' pasts in the context of Japanese historical and literary tradition. For example, one of his tales borrows a chapter from the classical "Tale of Heike", that of the story of Tomo-e, the only female warrior remaining with the Genji warlord Yoshinaka in his final stand. I do not know from which classical story "Snowfall" was adapted but the reader should be aware it may not be entirely in keeping with the original. "Snowfall," by the way, is my own title to the story.

Opening Notes
Japanese is read top-to-bottom, right-to-left. Hence the pages in translation have been mirrored so that a reader can follow the story left-to-right as with any conventional English language comic book. I regret having whitebox lettering since it obscures some of the art, but this was easiest for me to get all the text in. Again, the following content is R-rated for graphic content and some language.

Links to pages (hosted by Photobucket):

Translated Page 01 Original
Translated Page 02 Original
Translated Page 03 Original
Translated Page 04 Original
The additional pages have been translated, but are currently unavailable pending copyright/distribution permission. I apologize for this delay.

One of the biggest challenges in bringing Japanese manga to English is translating onomatopoeias. Sounds common to Japanese readers can be alien and difficult to express in English, for example: the howling of the wind ("go!"), the murmur of the crowd ("zawa-zawa", "hiso-hiso"). In each of these cases it made more sense to write up a description rather than attempt to reproduce the sound. Explosions had to be changed; in Japanese, "don!" represents an English "bam!". And Japanese can describe footsteps ("dodododo" and "tototo") but English lettering just doesn't seem right. Even musical sounds, such as those of a lyre (which is the traditional koto for those more knowledged), I couldn't use the Japanese sounds: "jyonnn" may be closer to the actual instrument's sound, but "bing" will sound truer to the English-speaking reader for a string-based instrument. I've seen translation of Japanese Noh-genre plays that retains the phonetic spelling of the original Japanese, but for my own translation I opted for familiarity. I tried to make the manga as a comic book, since I thought that would relate best to an American reader.

Recreating the distinct voice of each character is a huge challenge in any translation. I admire Fitzgerald's Odyssey for mastering this challenge, allowing Nausicaa's pouting and gradual maturation speak as vividly about her character as does the Cyclops' bumbling care for his sheep. In my effort to carry over the unique voices of the original, the monster (who is actually Tora from the series) should have a bad-ass attitude, while Mumio retains the sincerity and wholesomeness that is found in the series' Ushio. A lot of the dialogue in the original manga is written in a slightly archaic dialect, but conveying this without caution could have laden my text with a clumsy, anachronistic tone. In several places I experimented with "thee" instead of "you" but for the most part "you" had a more correct sound without being unduly modern, and I changed them to the "you" translation.

The texts of the Japanese Buddhist religion are written in ancient Chinese, just as Christian bibles and chants are chock full of Latin. To ensure that even arcane references would be somehow accessible to my English-language reader, I have used Latin equivalents for the three spells that appear in this story. The first was the easiest; I replaced "Koku" with "Victanda," a gerundive neuter plural (for the curious, my reasons were that the neuter gender would give a sense a generalness and the gerundive is slightly substantive). The second spell, Kamo's rune, is a fictional mishmash of Chinese characters and brush strokes. Hence the Latin includes gibberish as well as some real words. The last spell, the Zodiac sign, plays on resemblance of the Chinese "gon" with the English "begone." The twelve Zodiac signs are thought to be imbued with magical powers; the character "gon" is a north-eastern direction between the sign of the bull (Ushi) and tiger (Tora). The "Ushio" and "Tora" names are probably not a coincidence!

The names have not been retained exactly by the standard of Roma-ji, that is, the conventional system for transcribing Japanese phonetics into the Roman/English alphabet. Where I use "Fuvuki," "Mumio," and "Shiba Kutime," a stricter adherence to the Roma-ji system would form "Fubuki," "Mumyou," and "Shiba Kuchime." I hope my renderings are more stylized and easier to reproduce the sound of the original. I especially thought about Mumio's, since Mum-you doesn't really sound too tough. Lady Fuvuki's name also doesn't exactly mean "snowfall" but rather "blizzard." I've compromised the exact literal meaning of the word, since in my own reading the gentle nature of the character (although she seems at times emotionally callous) would be distorted by the name "Blizzard." Mumio's name means "without light." I was tempted to change Shiba into Shiva to invoke the Hindu goddess, but decided that would be taking far too much liberty in association. Kutime means "rotten-eye." These names could be Latinized like the spells, but that's a direction that I didn't take here.

In addition to any comments you'd like to share here on Boston Translation, I invite you to send any questions and inquiries to tosa.dygo@gmail.com.

Some Further Links
Wikipedia reports an anime version that was released in the U.S. The overall reports are not very good, especially for excessive, unnecessary violence and I don't recommend it. I have not seen them myself, so I do not know how faithful they are to the manga. The Wikipedia article is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ushio_and_Tora.
Japanese Wikipedia article on Fujita Kazuhiro: http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E8%97%A4%E7%94%B0%E5%92%8C%E6%97%A5%E9%83%8E
According to the article, Fujita won the Shogakukan Manga award in 1992 for "Ushio and Tora", and later received a Seiun (Nebula) Award for the same series in 1997.
Lastly, here is a link to the Japanese publisher's profile on "Ushio and Tora" (Shonen Sunday Comics): http://websunday.net/museum/no01/no01.html.

Again, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Call for Submissions: "Translation"

Interdisciplinary Humanities Center
Translation, the new translation studies journal from the Translation Studies Research Focus Group of the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center at the University Of California, Santa Barbara, is now accepting submissions of poetry or short fiction translations into English and essays concerning literary translation. The following guidelines are taken from the journal website.
Only unpublished translations will be accepted. The journal is collaboratively run by graduate students and faculty, and welcomes translations from both new and established translators. Please email a brief bio of the translating author along with your submission to ucsbtranslation@gmail.com. All submissions should use current MLA formatting where required.

Poetry submissions should be limited to 3 per entrant. Poetry translations may be to or from English and should be submitted along with the original text for side-by-side publication. For short fiction submissions, 7-10 pages is the preferred length. Translators should obtain necessary permissions for translating texts and will be expected to assist in obtaining permission for publication of originals in the case of poetry. As a non-profit scholarly journal, Translation does not offer payment for submissions. Submissions will be accepted no later than January 10, 2007.

Farsi Kafka and Hindi Brecht

The Goethe-Institut is Germany's state cultural institution. As part of its mission to "promote the study of German abroad and encourage international cultural exchange," GI offers grants to support the work of translators who translate German literature into other languages, a program that is only one of the reasons the Institut is a model for other nations that seek to integrate their national culture into the world community. According to the information available on the organization's website, for the nearly thirty years that the subsidy program has been active GI has sponsored the publication of nearly 4,000 books in 45 languages.

In 2006 alone, GI funded the translation 236 titles including Nietzsche in Ukrainian and Polish; Goethe in Lithuanian, Indonesian, Albanian and Croatian; Kafka in Farsi; and Brecht in Hindi. Contemporary writers are support as well, e.g. the translation of W.G. Sebald into Brazilian Portuguese and Galician, and acclaimed author Ingo Schulze into Rumanian, French, Greek, Italian and Dutch.

Translators interested in investigating this funding opportunity should be advised that the program supports book-length projects only. Information about conditions, application, and contacts can be found online.

Helpfully, the Goethe-Institut has assembled a directory of links to other grant sources for translators. Readers in the Boston area can join the GI mailing list so to be notified when the Boston branch office is hosting another of its many cultural events. Of course, not all of our readers are in Boston; luckily GI has locations all over the globe.

Is there an agency of the US government which has taken up the banner of cultural diplomacy? The clearest analogue I see -- and my knowledge of the federal bureaucracy is acutely lacking -- is the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, a unit of the Department of State, specifically the Cultural Programs Division. I invite readers with greater knowledge such programs to share what they know. Is there a Henry James Haus in Berlin? Are there government-funded Twain Institutes? It's not unlikely the US government balk at the likely criticism of its ostensibly hegemonic aspirations. The Cold War era Congress for Cultural Freedomwas arguably a very successful program, but the backlash against state intervention in the arts surely still stings. I fail to think of any credible way to be similarly suspicious of the Goethe-Institut; after considering the distasteful question of the policy being GI, I conclude that it is a politically benign effort if it is at all political.