Monday, 28 November 2011

Nordic Research Network

Nordic Research Network
Conference for Postgraduate Students and Early-­‐‑Career Researchers
The University of Edinburgh, 23-­‐‑24 February 2012
Announcement and invitation
Scandinavian Studies at the University of Edinburgh invites participants to the Nordic Research
Network 2012. This two-­‐‑day interdisciplinary conference on 23-­‐‑24 February 2012 will bring together
postgraduate students and early-­‐‑career researchers from Edinburgh and the rest of the UK currently
researching topics relating to the Nordic area. The event will also incorporate a knowledge exchange
workshop on communicating the developing role of lesser-­‐‑taught languages in the university sector.
Following on from the successful first Nordic Research Network symposium held at University
College London in 2010, students and early-­‐‑career researchers will present the objectives or results of
their current research. Through presentations, discussions, socialising activities and workshops, the
conference will offer an ideal platform for the sharing of ideas and for dialogue with like-­‐‑minded
peers, as well as an opportunity to explore the significance of studying the Nordic area in the UK
research environment.
Call for papers
We are now inviting proposals from postgraduate students and early-­‐‑career researchers (with three
years or less of postdoctoral experience) for papers discussing their current research aims or findings.
Participation is not limited to those working within departments of Scandinavian Studies, and
proposals are welcome on Nordic research in all areas of the humanities and social sciences.
Presentations will be followed by discussion and feedback in a supportive atmosphere.
If you wish to present a paper at this conference, please send a title, abstract (up to 200 words) and a
short biographical description to by 9 December 2011. These will be
reviewed by the conference committee, and you will be notified of the outcome shortly thereafter.
Social events
In addition to the conference and knowledge exchange workshop, there will be ample opportunities
for social interaction, including an informal dinner. Further programme details will be available soon.
The organising committee
Ersev Ersoy – Dominic Hinde – Guy Puzey
Contact details
Follow us on Twitter @NordicEdinburgh

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Call for Papers

Call for Contributions for issue 20 of Norwich Papers:
“The Next Big Thing: Current Trends in Translation”

The editorial board of Norwich Papers 2012 is pleased to announce its call for contributions for issue 20, focusing on trends in translation studies. We encourage academics and practicing translators, irrespective of experience, to contribute and are looking for an interesting, innovative and international engagement with many possible interpretations of this theme. Possible questions addressed could include, but are by no means limited to:

• Trends in translation theory
• Trends in the process and practice of translation
• Market trends
• Translation and digital and new media
• From local to global – the creation of global trends
• The impact of politics on trends in translation

We are confident that many who work in the field of translation will find something within this theme that is of interest to them, and we look forward to reading your submission, which should be received no later than Friday 30 March 2012. Before sending us your submission, please refer to our style notes and practical guidelines. We are pleased to offer a free copy of issue 20 to all whose contributions we are able to publish.
You can find more information about our back issues and how to purchase them from our website and blog. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries. We hope that this issue of Norwich Papers will inspire you in some way and we look forward to receiving your contributions.

You can contact the editorial team at and visit our blog -

With best wishes,
The Editorial Team

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Gobblefunking around with words!

The intent of this is not to write my essay. Let me be clear on that.

The intent of this is to write something fun on a fun subject, which until now had remained in the backstage of existence. At least as far as my literary mind was concerned. Then it hit me.
It’s just a load of nonsense! Not only can I write on nonsense, I can actually write nonsense! I could make a living out of it!
Lewis Carroll made it, Edward Lear made it, Roald Dahl made it, Christian Morgenstern made it. Come on, the DADAists, Futurists and Surrealists made it! Ish.
Maybe I should start by looking at what they did. Maybe I should translate what they did! Yeah, that’s a good plan!

Oh, there’s already five versions of an Italian Jabberwocky out there? Do we need more vorpal swords? And what do you mean French cows don’t jump over moons; if they can laugh, they can jump. They can train, they’re disciplined. Like dancers.

Cut to week 3, we are actually assigned the Jabberwocky, as a translation exercise. O frabjous day!
Calloo! Callay! Ok, now how do I translate brillig…?

The Jabberwocky is a part of any English student’s cultural baggage, especially ones with some Drama in them too. The Jabberwocky is part of a loved children’s classic, by real people and academics alike. The Jabberwocky is a big ugly beast who never actually shows up in the story. It is as ugly as it is hard to translate (see picture).

First things first: the metre. Why did Carroll choose a three-tetrameter/one-trimeter pattern? Why is the rhyme scheme ABAB? Does it mean something? Look at other nursery rhymes. Is it a recurring feature? Not exactly. The rhymes are though. Good, let’s work on that. It must rhyme. ABAB if possible.

Next thing: read-aloud qualities. This is a brilliant excuse to watch the Disney animated version. And Johnny ‘Mad Hatter’ Depp reciting fragments of it in a creepy Scottish accent. That’s how it should be. Mocking, menacing, mischievous and mildly confusing.

Ok. What to do with the actual words? Transliterate, adapt, replace, or just write some plain Italian nonsense? Hang on, wasn’t there a chapter that explained some of them..? Re-read Humpty Dumpty.

“And ‘the wabe’ is the grass plot round a sun-dial, I suppose?” said Alice, surprised at her own ingenuity.
“Of course it is. It’s called ‘wabe’, you know, because it goes a long way before it, and a long way behind it—”
“And a long way beyond it on each side”, Alice added.
(Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass)

Now that is a brilliant word. Ok, I am going to do this translation following the egg-head’s directions. I’d like it to feel as though it belongs in its book.
So far I have: it must rhyme, the words must be explainable, albeit nonsensically, the sounds must be creepy at moments, soothing at others. Good. Tell you what, I’ll keep the names more or less as they are. A bit of familiarity with previous works, and some casual foreignisation. That’ll keep the academics at bay.

I think I’ve got it. The tenses are the same, the metre is there (with a couple of necessary slips), the rhymes work, not forced or clunky. And the Jabberwocky remains the Jabberwocky.
Now, for the real test: what does my eight-year-old brother think of it?

I guess I failed in my original mission. I might use this in an essay after all.

Alex Valente translates Italian and French into English, and English into Italian. He claims he also works with Old English and Latin. In the little spare time his MA in Literary Translation leaves him, he dumps some poetic reflections onto (where the Jabberwocky now resides, too). If you really feel the urge to talk to him, you can find him at

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Multiple Translations of One Text

One thing people who are not familiar with the field of translation often cannot understand is how people can come up with different translations of the same source text. Surely ‘table’ means ‘table’ in any language, so why is translation so hard? Surely there’s a right and a wrong answer, and how on earth could people spend time discussing translation? Just last night, my husband – and he knows more about translation than most digital analysts, by dint of being married to me! – was exasperated to hear another of my flights of translation fancy, and blurted out: ‘You should just translate what’s there!!’

How is it, then, that if you go into Amazon and type in Madame Bovary, you can choose from Geoffrey Wall’s version, Margaret Mauldon’s version, Eleanor Marx-Aveling’s version, Lydia Davis’ version, Adam Thorpe’s hot-of-the-press version etc etc …. Indeed, in researching my Translation Theory module, I came upon a website that had 23 versions of Baudelaire’s poem Le Balcon. As I grappled with the subject – often highly philosophical, and not easy for someone who still remembers re-sitting French Philosophy in the Hall of Shame back at university – I was persuaded that the notion of ‘mind style’, an idea from the field of cognitive stylistics, might be used to explain the existence of vastly different and yet equally valid translations of a single source text.

Mind style can be defined as a linguistic style that reflects a cognitive state. Clues to the mind style of a text are to be found in its implicit information, which in turn can be worked out by looking at the stylistic devices present in a text. Stylistic devices can include such things as alliteration, ambiguity, the repetition of words, complex metaphor, or the use of different registers or of specific syntactic constructions.

I find it plausible that multiple translations of a single source text can exist because translators read the mind style of an author in different ways, influenced as they are by their own individual past experiences and worldviews. In addition to this, the translation goes through a further stage when it reaches the reader, since she or he is also going to filter the translation through her or his own experiences and worldviews.

To illustrate this point: in spring 2011, I produced a (very fine!) sample of a German novel for a literature-promoting organisation. Taken out of the context of the rest of the book, I read the German text quite positively – the scene was Rome in the summer in the 1970s, and as nothing explicitly bad happens in the short section in question, my mind was instantly transported to my own (pleasant) experiences of Rome in the summer. I gave my translation to my sister to read, who said she thought the translation adequately reflected the claustrophobia of the main character … where did claustrophobia come from, I thought? Finally, when I read my sample out at a public reading event, one of the audience’s reactions was to laugh. This is a common reaction in a group setting since it releases tension and conveys approval, but it also showed the translation going through an additional stage, that of being filtered through the mind of the reader (or, in this case, the minds of the listeners).

So the next time we pick up a translated work, we might want to remember that we’re not only getting an insight into the mind of the author, but also into the mind of the translator, and indeed into the way our own minds work, as they interact with the words on the page …

Rebekah Wilson is a freelance translator working from French, German and Dutch into English: