Thursday, 12 September 2013

Multiples: A Book of Compounded Translations

Normally we translators strive to make our end product as near to the sense of the original as possible. However, in this case, editor Adam Thirlwell has turned that principle on its head. 12 stories, in 18 languages, by 61 authors; each story is passed through the languages from one translator to another like a massive game of Chinese whispers.
Part of the pleasure of the translations being undertaken serially, rather than in parallel, comes from watching a little distortion or imprecision being compounded, or amplified, as the series progresses. A Lebanese story by Youssef Habchi El-Achkar features a setting rendered by Rawi Hage as a "coffee shop". Tristan Garcia's French translation calls it "le café" – not quite the same thing. In English, under Joe Dunthorne, this becomes a "cafe-bar". In Francesco Pacifico's Italian, next, "il bar". So we're now, apparently, in a bar. And it's in London. Which is absolutely not where we started.
Intriguing! I may have to take a look at this, even though I can't hope to read most of it!
Check out the whole article here.
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