One of the best experiences I get whilst doing the Translate the World Project is the little surprises that appear along the way. That’s the case of the Finnish book I am translating: the Polish version is a rhymed text but the original book wasn’t written in verse! Yet children’s books are rich in literary devices such as rhyme. The texts include songs, chants, alternations of prose and verse, popular sayings, etc. That is why the fact that the Polish translator decided to adapt the original book into a rhymed version is not so shocking. However, it is very interesting in terms of translation methods and techniques.
Yet another book added to my beautiful collection of books from every country in the world. The translation of this book has proved a challenging one – it’s written entirely in verse! The wonderful Réka Király delights us with this philosophical story that tries to answer one of the hardest questions of all: What does “tomorrow” mean? Pieni suuri tarina huomisesta is a poetical metaphor of time and conciousness.
Humour might be one of the most complicated – yet more fun to work with – challenges to deal with when translating a text. But what happens when we translate a joke from a different language into our language? Or even better, how can we translate the humour of another culture into our own culture? Those are no easy questions.
I read them. Voraciously. Anytime. Everywhere.
I write them. Or try to do so – at least.
I translate them, I decipher their intricacies in a foreign language and convey them in a different language.
I blog about them to share my passion for their stories and characters.
I collect them, more like a hoarder than like your average hobbyist.
I proofread them; correct their style, polish their grammar, embellish their vocabulary.
I review them. I judge them not with facts, but with emotions. I describe the feelings I get from reading them.
It seems obvious to say that children’s literature exists as a genre of its own, separated from general literature or literature for adults, and yet, there are ongoing debates about the existence of children’s literature. The debate is in fact centred on the definition of “children’s literature”.
Children’s books keep alive a sense of nationality; but they also keep alive a sense of humanity. They describe their native land lovingly, but they also describe faraway lands where unknown brothers live. They understand the essential quality of their own race; but each of them is a messenger that goes beyond mountains and rivers, beyond the seas, to the very ends of the world in search of new friendships. Every country gives and every country receives – innumerable are the exchanges – and so it comes about that in our first impressionable years the universal republic of childhood is born.
HAZARD, Paul (1944): Books, Children and Men, tr. Marguerite Mitchell, Boston MA: The Horn Book.
One of the perks of being a translator is that it allows you to be a (better) reader. They say that translators are better at playing Trivial Pursuit since they need to know about many different subjects and knowledge areas. The thing about translating books is that you are bound to read many different stories, some of which you probably wouldn’t choose to read given the chance.
Yesterday, Bob Dylan has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 by the Swedish Academy. It is the first time in history that a songwriter wins the award and this situation has spurred polemical reactions with some people supporting the decision and others criticizing the fact that it’s not a novelist or a poet who won the prize.
Interestingly enough, The Nobel Prize in Literature has only been awarded once to a children’s book author since its origin. The laureate was Rudyard Kipling, famous for his novel Jungle Book. Even though he didn’t write exclusively for children, it is the closest to a children’s writer that wins the Nobel Prize.
“Childhood is the time and children’s books are the place for powerful emotions, powerful language, powerful art… There is no room for cutesy books, dull books, or books that talk down. Children are not inferior. They may be small in stature but not in what they feel, think, listen, and see.”
HEARNE, B. (2000): Choosing Books for Children: A Commonsense Guide, University of Illinois Press, Illinois.
One of my favourite things to check on the internet are the so-called “untranslatable words” (or expressions) from different languages, where you can find many different foreign sayings that don’t exist in the rest of the cultures, so they are accompanied by a description of their meaning. It’s nice to see how different countries use words for things that they experience daily that the rest of people do not experience in such a way that you need a word for it. You’re not just learning about languages, you are learning about perspectives too.