h1

Erotica gets translated into smut. :(

February 12, 2010

FIRST, LET ME NOTE: WEDNESDAYS NOTES WERE AMAZING AND PROLIFIC AND THEN MY LAPTOP ATE THEM DURING THE SPRINT FROM LECTURE TO DISCUSSION SECTION. I WAS REALLY REALLY MAD, I PRACTICALLY TRANSCRIBED A LOT OF COOL ANECDOTES. DAMN IT.

So, okay, Friday’s notes! These were… slightly full of porn. This is Professor Godzich’s fault, not mine, I swear.

********************transl theory FRIDAY wherein Kirby is sweaty and newly revioleted. Dahlia is not here so Kirby has been instructed to take good notes for her! We have been given a handout which I shall probably scan, not retype, because my wrists hurt.

FRIDAY Q&A!
Q: can transls be considered paraliterary texts? (Paralit = genre writing, niche/specialized)
A: Nope. There is no such thing as genre of translated literature. It doesn’t have the same constraints. We teach some classes on paralit, WG taught one on Cyberpunk (AND IT WAS AWESOME); his fav that he taught in Toronto was on Harlequin romances. Harlequin’s HQ is near there. Students had to read 100 of them and then WG brought in the editor to specify the parameters, then students had to write one and get it accepted to pass the course. Seven of them did it. Four got accepted. One pair just finished their 200th novel, they live in Banf. Banf is ridiculous, by the way, I don’t know how much you’ve travelled in Canada, Dahlia. They write under the name of Diana Spencer. He never got another request there because everyone thought it was totally unreasonable. The editor said that the main love interest should not have red hair. Why? Market research wtf. The males in the class thought they would have problems with the clothes but really had a hard time with the dialog. Diana Spencer talk and record and transcribe their conversations. Unfortunately they can’t tell if they are role-playing or not, that is weirdcakes. “It is a kind of a nightmarish thing.” Harlequin will give you 10k Canadian $s for the first novel. WG will go on a tangent now about how well you can live off paralit. Translation does not pay well; $40-$60 per thousand words in US; in EU min is 120 euros per thousand words.

Q: Ortega Y Gasset: Translation is not the work but the path towards the work. So… what was the question?
A: reread that quote yo. What does “path” here mean? Man everyone has really shitty answers, I am not writing them down. Translate it into Ancient Greek, he says: methodos (I will look up that spelling in grk later). What’s a method? A mode of approach, something that is marked out as a way of approaching something. When he calls it a path, he is bringing it into criticism. Dahlia this table is so squeaky. Methodical, marked out, recognized, conscious of its boundaries. When you reflect what you do in literary criticism we engage in implicit act of translation; paraphrase, etc. Other thing litcrit and tranls have in common: force us to look at experiences from a perspective that is not our own. Cultures are designed to save us from excessive narcissism; we participate in culture to get a sense of other peoples’ lives. Almost voyeuristic element. Prevents autonormativism. I coin words like a mofo. Criticism is a way of examining/specifying the differences. Translation also does this.

Q: What languages does WG dream in?
A: How many of you dream in more than one language? (Like half the class.) [fairly rare] There are people who dream in languages they don’t know; no conscious knowledge of it but enough that they can enunciate grammatical sentences, so under hypnosis they can say things that they don’t know how to say. Studied in late 19th cent. WG mostly (doesn’t sleep much) doesn’t dream much but more than half of them are textual. “Not like your dreams,” is how he put it. Texts in front of his eyes. I have definitely done this. Also I definitely dreamed about trying to give a paper to WG personally, just last night. He dreams of texts that don’t exist, wakes up and writes them down and tries to look them up. “You should dream texts, it is a good experience.” Sometimes he dreams texts in color. Like on a teleprompter. Anxiety dream: can’t keep up/read fast enough.
>We are better at learning langs unconsciously than consciously. regarding the other dreams: there is a really weird school where they teach you a lang in 3 weeks; sensory deprivation, then unexplained jumbled immersion, abstract grammar via toys, then taught them a song (singing rearranges the muscles in your face, allows unique vocalizations OH MY GOD WE’RE ON SUCH A TANGENT now he’s talking about various Portugueses, Portugal vs Brazil and aspiration and gutteral traits and aaaah I cannot write all this down, “in Brazil, you know, vocal cords are the size of the country…”), vocab at 250 words a day (after linguistic deprivation your brain is kinda starving for it). Dubrovnik Crazy Yugoslav Method. Woo! Closest one now being formalized is the Tommasso Method focuses on similar… stuff. Most difficult language to learn is the second one: you discover that langs don’t work like your first one. The more you learn the easier it gets. WG vouches: listen to music/learn songs, all the time, every day. This explains Devin so much. “Load up your ipod,” he says, and everyone kind of audibly balks at the notion of WG owning and understanding an ipod. They seem beneath him. There’s a popular Italian singer who sings in gibberish English. If you can sing a song in gibberish in that language the rest is very easy; you understand the rhythm, transformations, phonetics, etc. WG says we teach languages the wrong way, it’s a waste of time; language is something you need to learn by immersion (of course) and it works quite well on children. Just expose them early in life, they will recall the rhythm and the sense of it, even if they remember no vocabulary. I wish I could record this, there is just no way I can keep transcribing him, too many tangents and I keep getting distracted with his, ah, spatial gestures which actually really help, I should start paying more attention to those. Switching from lang to lang is hard, not just mental but phys. Yo.

The handout! He’s saving the rest of the questions for later.

These passages are from ecriture feminine (which I LOST THE NOTES ON augh let me ctrl-s like a million times right now.)

WG’s spanish is so… straightforward. Much like his English enunciation, actually. I shall comment no further upon it.

Tusquets 1;
bipolar organization in english imposed by translator. in spanish we have more flow, it all connects and relates to each other. In Sp it’s almost a run-on sentence, lots of continuity in the rhythm and it’s supposedly characteristic of ecriture fem. Translator has eliminated that. Which moots the whole point of translating a heraldic ecri fem text.

Tusquets 2
this starts with nipples. sus pezones rosados. o why is this the week of my professors reading porn at me, I wish they wouldn’t. Translation does not refer to the sex, whereas it’s there like crazy in the original; censored. “este sexo” becomes “it/something.” Also separating sentences in engl that would destroy the flow in the spanish. 😦 Tries to make it more exotic.

Tusquets 3
Again making “mar el sexo” very ambiguous (Open sea of pleasure instead of, y’know, her vagina.) Also who is this “we.” There is no “we.” “fuerza de presente” is the intensity, the lack of distance; “too close to us” is not the same.

Bruce Whatsisface the translator has mostly translated men, made the text less ecr-fem.

Tusquets 4
More porn. I will never not be blushing. He is conspiring with JG. “The translation sounds like a textbook.” Desensualizing the porn! Also Ricardo was not there nor his dick was in the original. In sp the sexual experience was more about her, but in eng it’s about his pleasure. There is no direct object to all the verbs in the spanish. WG says this is tantamount to rape of the sentence: he is just sticking his penis into it! I really am glad I came to class today. That sentence has no penis! This is how he wants us to analyze translations because it will make us more conscious of the original vs the translation. It’s funny but at the same time it’s really damn annoying.

(The transl is 1989.)

Montero 1 (Rosa Montero, b. 1951, wrote around 79, now working as invest. journalist)
I never. Ever. Wanted to hear my professors read poorly translated sex talk. The spanish was fine, I swear, it’s just that the English is BAD. Female genital mutilation: the clitoris was taken out? The terms for the women’s sex are all eliminated. I am learning so much useful vocabulary, at least. (Harlequin has a lexicon of permissable terms; this would qualify, unfortunately.) WG just… giggled. Today is so weird I swear to god. Anyways, back to the censorship.

This is not uncommon. The first Italian translation of Ulysses, when you get to Molly’s monologue you find: no stream of consciousness. It’s all turned into direct speech. Fucking tragic. Adapted Joyce to Svevo’s (sp?) language.

Rabassa translated something beautifully, I missed what. Authors whom their translators serve well, we hear of. Ones with shitty translators, we don’t. Umberto Eco’s the Name of the Rose is lovely, so we are told. Best Polish writer of 20th cent: oh god I can never spell that but he’s unreadable in English, translator did not know Polish but cobbled it out of German and French translations. It’s good in Spanish though. New one finally commissioned. Umbrovich? Is that what it is? Ah, christ, I will ask later. When you see a translation get into the habit of asking: what have I heard about the original, look for literary aspects, be very aware of that. When evaluating the translation look for features for which the original was remarkable. We have to judge translations, be willing to judge them.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: