Monday, September 30, 2013

... and today is International Translation Day. I learned this fact from a book by Eduardo Galeano which was translated into English by Mark Fried.
Vladimir Nabokov wrote that "The clumsiest literal translation is a thousand times more useful than the prettiest paraphrase", and he may be right. Personally, in the case of poetry in translation I like to have the literal AND the pretty paraphrase. Nabokov should have known something about translation. He did write some of his works in German originally, then took responsibility for producing the English language versions of the same works.
He also translated the Russian epic "Prince Igor" into English. I read it many years ago, and now can't remember a thing about it.
I suppose that the international auxiliary language, Esperanto, has too many powerful enemies to be considered as a solution to the problem of international communications, spoken or written. Enemies in the tradition of Hitler and Stalin who saw Esperanto is a threat to their ambitions of world domination. Today it is not necessary to imprison Esperantists and burn their books. Who reads books when there is the lobotomy box? How much Esperanto is heard on the airwaves? I can't recall when I last heard the E-word on radio or on TV.
I still think that one day, when all communication is oral, the world's population will converse in a form of pidgin English.
"... l'avenir m'épouvante", words from the tattooed bodies of French convicts in Cayenne. Somebody's going to have to translate that.

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