Takeaways from Translator Made Corporeal

This photo is what got me to theTranslator Made Corporeal event at the British Library in the first place. It was taken at the London Book Fair by photographer Julia Schoenstaedt as part of a portrait series revealing the rarely-seen faces behind literary translation. The project set the tone for the event, which aimed to investigate the “human, flesh-and-blood translator in a historical and cultural context.” As keynote speaker Jeremy Munday put it, a translator leaves a “linguistic footprint” that is inherently biased toward his or her world view. Their notes scribbled in page margins and correspondence with editors allow us to “taste and smell the literary creation process”.

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Urology under the Swastika

Did you know that hormonal treatments for certain andrological conditions were available in Nazi Germany, or that long before Viagra, erectile dysfunction was treated with something called ‘Testifortan’? Neither did I until I translated “The Suppression of Sexual Science: effects on the professional development of andrology and sexual medicine” by Dirk Schultheiss from German for the European Association of Urology. My translation has been published in Urology under the Swastika...

 

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Reflections on the London Book Fair 2017

Last Wednesday, we walked to the train station in The Hague and hopped the train to London. One stopover in Brussels and a few hours later, we stepped out at St. Pancras. Picadilly line to District line and I was walking into the London Book Fair. I arrived late in the afternoon, just in time to catch a few panels before the wine came out. Afterwards, the translators among us headed to The Blackbird at Earl’s Court for a pint.

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Residency at the Vertalershuis Amsterdam

As a translator, you constantly have to make decisions on what to do about these little things. Do you just translate them as they are and preserve the Belgian-ness of the book? Or do you convert them into something more familiar for your target readership? If you translate “hostie” to “satellite wafer”, are you then obliged to explain that it is a sort of puffy sugary disk with candy beads rattling inside? Would Americans appreciate encountering a “Rubbermaid” in a book they chose specifically for its foreign-ness?…

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Translating The Chronicles

“Language is my way of getting a grip on things, of maintaining control in certain situations. Your body is bombarded with zillions of sensory impressions, and by giving them a name, you make them one-dimensional again, manageable,” wrote best-selling Belgian author Lize Spit in her second blog post for The Chronicles. Actually, this is my translation of what she wrote. What she wrote was this…

 

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Reflections: Drongo Talenfestival 2016

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Drongo Talenfestival in Utrecht. I thought to myself, well, tickets are only €10, I’ll go have a look around. But I must say that it was much more than I expected! For a festival broadly focused on the many facets of the language industry in The Netherlands (an industry that can sometimes feel overly commercialized), I was really impressed by how informative and thought-provoking it was.

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French words from a past life

What I love most about French is the loose precision of its words. How a single word can refer to something so specific, yet conjure up so many other memories. To the English tongue, a French word can sound so vaguely familiar, as if you could have known it in a past life, but lost it somewhere down the line. In translation, you meet again. In his letters from exile, Victor Hugo wrote, “In the French language, there is a great gulf between prose and poetry; in English, there is hardly any difference…

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The Intimacy of Teaching English

My students, especially those in one-on-one sessions, often come to me when they are already undergoing some kind of shift in identity; learning a new language is only one part of it. I’ve had people who are going through a mid-life career change, people who have recently graduated, and people who have just moved abroad. I also get people who are starting over – one woman who was preparing for a trip around the world after losing her husband just a few weeks prior, a pre-teenager who had just switched schools due to discipline problems, a woman who had spontaneously moved out on her boyfriend of 15 years…

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Tolk- en Vertaalcongres 2016: Hilversum

At one point, a translator took the mic and encouraged the audience not to think of each other as competition, but rather as colleagues – that we are all in this together. I really took this to heart. Not only do I find friends in the people who love languages as much as I do, but I find that I can lean on them for support. We can pass each other projects, share insight, discuss “untranslateables” and roll our eyes at all the nonsense that is bouncing around out there in the translation world.

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10 Common English Mistakes made by speakers of Dutch

You could say that the Dutch are unabashedly thrifty in all things, including language.  When it comes to English, they are quite handy at “Englishifying” Dutch words. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it just doesn’t. I’ve been teaching and editing English in the Netherlands for a little while now, and here are 10 common mistakes that I’ve noticed that Dutch speakers make when speaking and writing in English.

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