Meet the Mentors: Marian Schwartz

The ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorship Program is designed to facilitate and establish a close working relationship between an experienced translator and an emerging translator on a project selected by the emerging translator. The mentorship duration is approximately one year. The emerging translator is expected to choose a project that can be completed in a year’s time, and they will only be advised on that particular project.

This week we are excited to feature Marian Schwartz, this year’s Russian prose mentor:

Marian Schwartz is a freelance translator of classic and contemporary Russian fiction as well as history, criticism, and fine arts. She is the principal English translator of the Marian Schwartzworks of Nina Berberova and translated the New York Times’ bestseller The Last Tsar, by Edvard Radzinsky, as well as classics by Mikhail Bulgakov, Ivan Goncharov, Yuri Olesha, Mikhail Lermontov, and Leo Tolstoy. Her most recent publication is Andrei Gelasimov’s Into the Thickening Fog (AmazonCrossing); forthcoming are Leonid Yuzefovich’s Horsemen of the Sands (Archipelago), Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Red Wheel: March 1917, Volumes 1 & 2 (University of Notre Dame Press), Polina Dashkova’s Madness Treads Lightly (AmazonCrossing), and Olga Slavnikova’s The Man Who Couldn’t Die (Russian Library, Columbia University Press). She is a past president of the American Literary Translators Association and the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts translation fellowships, as well as numerous awards, including the 2014 Read Russia Prize for Contemporary Russian Literature and the 2016 Soeurette Diehl Frasier Award from the Texas Institute of Letters. www.marianschwartz.com

If you are interested in finding out more about ALTA’s Emerging Translator Mentorship program and the other mentors, please check out our website and blog. If you are interested in applying, please see our online portal.

(Please be advised that if you wish to apply for a mentorship with a project in Russian poetry, you are encouraged to apply for the non-language-specific poetry mentorship with Steven Bradbury.)

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Meet the Mentors: Sora Kim-Russell

The ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorship Program is designed to facilitate and establish a close working relationship between an experienced translator and an emerging translator on a project selected by the emerging translator. The mentorship duration is approximately one year. The emerging translator is expected to choose a project that can be completed in a year’s time, and they will only be advised on that particular project.

This week we are excited to feature Sora Kim-Russell, this year’s Korean prose mentor:

Sora Kim-Russell has translated novels from Korean by Hwang Sok-yong, Pyun Hye-young, Bae Suah, and Shin Kyung-sook, among others. Her translation of Bae Suah’s Nowhere to be Found was longlisted for the PEN Translation Prize and the Best Sora Kim-RussellTranslated Book Award. She has also translated short fiction by a wide range of authors, including Jeon Sungtae, Park Min-gyu, and Kim Bi, and early 20th-century authors, such as Hyun Jin-geon and Kang Kyeong-ae. She launched her translation career after winning the grand prize for poetry translation in the Korea Times 36th Modern Literature Translation Awards and for fiction translation in the Literary Translation Institute of Korea’s 6th Korean Literature Translation Contest for New Translators. She has since received multiple translation grants from LTI Korea and from the Daesan Foundation. In 2016, she participated in the Banff Centre’s International Literary Translation Centre residency, and was a panelist at the ALTA conference in 2015 and 2016. She teaches literary translation at LTI Korea’s Translation Academy and at Ewha Womans University’s Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation, and has seen a number of her students go on to receive translation grants and get their work published as well. The full list of her translated works is available at www.sorakimrussell.com.

If you are interested in finding out more about ALTA’s Emerging Translator Mentorship program and the other mentors, please check out our website and blog. If you are interested in applying, please see our online portal.

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Meet the Mentors: Don Mee Choi

The ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorship Program is designed to facilitate and establish a close working relationship between an experienced translator and an emerging translator on a project selected by the emerging translator. The mentorship duration is approximately one year. The emerging translator is expected to choose a project that can be completed in a year’s time, and they will only be advised on that particular project.

This week we are excited to feature Don Mee Choi, this year’s Korean poetry mentor:

Don Mee Choi is the author of Hardly War (Wave Books, 2016), The Morning News isDon Mee Choi Exciting (Action Books, 2010), a chapbook, Petite Manifesto (Vagabond, 2014), and a pamphlet, Freely Frayed (Wave Pamphlet #9). She has received a Whiting Award, Lannan Literary Fellowship, and Lucien Stryk Translation Prize. Her most recent translation of Kim Hyesoon, a contemporary Korean woman poet, is Poor Love Machine (Action Books, 2016). She was born in Seoul and came to the U.S. via Hong Kong. She now lives and works in Seattle.

If you are interested in finding out more about ALTA’s Emerging Translator Mentorship program and the other mentors, please check out our website and blog. If you are interested in applying, please see our online portal.

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The Translation You’re Looking for is in Another Castle: Video Game Translation as Literary Translation

 

by Jaclyn Kershaw

When most people hear the words ‘literary translation’ they more than likely think of books, poems, plays, etc. The first thing that pops into my mind, though, is video games. Before you denounce my title as fellow bibliophile, hear me out. Sure, video games had a very humble beginning and didn’t have much text, if any, to translate. Most of that, if there was any at all, was dialogue. In modern video games, there is dialogue, quest and story descriptions, menus, etc. that all need to be translated professionally so that the story and its nuances come across accurately, naturally, and beautifully – after all, it is literature. For those of you who are still hesitant, let’s start at the beginning.

Even though early video games didn’t have much text, they still needed to have professional translations. Many, unfortunately, did not, and as a result have given us some hysterical quotes. While the general meaning was usually conveyed, there can still be some major problems if the translations were not done correctly:

VG3

The old man’s body language doesn’t exactly match his phrase.

While this probably sounded much better in the original language, it does make for amusing dialogue. We can get the general gist of this message, but it’s not a great translation. While it could be considered ‘correct’ English, it is doubtful that one fighter would say that to another. Especially those old man fighters; they are much more subtle than that. This is an instance where the incorrect translation doesn’t cause too much trouble because it is obvious where the game is going, but that is not always the case.

 

VG10

Noooooo, not the jam!

There are a couple other grammar mistakes other than the most obvious mistake; however, the most important mistake in this example is that it is about the law. Since it was translated poorly, the game owners may have difficulty pressing any possible charges because the suspected criminals could claim they were confused or that the charges are unenforceable in English. I’m not a lawyer, but I would suspect it would be difficult to charge people in accordance to the jam.

VG8

 Well, at least his is upfront and honest about his family problems.  

All jokes aside, this is an interesting mistake. In the original, the character’s name means ‘bug’. In English, the word ‘bug’ (especially in relation to computers) could mean a mistake or an error, hence the mistranslation.  While this may not have a huge impact on the progression of the story, it could. Depending on the dialogue that follows, it could confuse the gamer about what is going on, especially since all of the text is in capital letters. Thankfully, modern games have progressed and include proper punctuation and capitalization, but keep these errors in mind with the next couple of examples.

Skyrim quest

 

Imagine trying to figure out what to do with your Dragonborn in Skyrim if any names were mistranslated, phrases misused, or important words left out. Skyrim can be hard enough without roaming all over the province looking for “Error”, when in fact they are named something else, or, even more fun, it is a place or store and not a person.  This example also shows how video games have more than just dialogue. This short blurb of text is nestled right between drama and prose translation because it is not quite a short story, but not quite dialogue either. If that isn’t a particularly fun literary translation conundrum for you, let me just give you even more examples! In video games, Skyrim especially, there are thousands of these side quests, each with their own short story/dialogue mixes, and there could be serious problems if they aren’t translated correctly. “Now, Jackie,” some of you may say, “This could be considered dialogue. In theory, this person could be talking to his or herself and it is just written down.” I would be inclined to agree with you, but that doesn’t make it any less of a literary translation. Journal entries are also literary translation; many books have been published under the title of “Diary” or “Journal” and the author just uses their voice in that way instead of something more traditional. The nuances of the specific words used and how they are presented is the meat and potatoes of literary translation, whether it is in a more traditional literary text or journal entry.

skyrim journal better

Look at that, an actual journal entry! This was even written by a crazy NPC who liked to talk to a corpse (no, his name was not Norman; but he did always make the quests interesting with his random outbursts). These journals are common to find in Skyrim quests, whether they are related to the quest or not. Skyrim also has a variety of books…. Everywhere. While slaying bandits you can grab a couple of their books and read them for information about the quests, nifty spells, or lore about Skyrim and its people. There are also books in most houses, castles, and guilds.

skyrim book better

Look! IN-GAME TRADITIONAL LITERARY TRANSLATION!

Books, like this lore book, might not change the storyline much if mistranslated, but if the player had to read the book for information, they may be mislead or confused if the translation was poor. Books definitely fall into the literary translation field, no?

Video games occupy an ever-expanding niche in our world today that encompasses entertainment and sometimes communication for the not-so-social butterflies (at least not in the real world). But aren’t books – real and electronic – the same? Video games offer the player a space similar to which a book offers the reader: a space that whisks them off into a realistic/non-realistic fiction (depending on what you are reading or playing, of course) for them to discover. The lay American reader is reluctant, however, to accept translation in his or her literature: this is why publishers often mask books that are translations (#namethetranslator!). In a similar way, players of modern and retro video games are unlikely to appreciate or even know the games they are playing are translations, and only likely to care when something is wrong – a similar case to a literary translator’s woe after the publication of a text! Video games, however, seem to occupy a space more similar to that of drama translation: it is underappreciated, even among literary translators; it is underrepresented; it is a blending of genre and form. Video games mix together stage directions, dialogue, and storytelling in one space: this requires a skilled literary translator to transcend form and deliver a text and product to the player that allows smooth play-through and enjoyment that is similar to a reader’s enjoyment of a book. Video game translators and traditional literary translators even have similar dilemmas: domestication or foreignization. Video game translators have to make these choices as carefully as traditional literary translators do, especially if the video game isn’t based off of traditional literature. It isn’t just accuracy; it isn’t just making sure that “Bug” is not translated as “Error”; it is delivering a player into a world as seamlessly as a book delivers a reader.


20170503_083128Jaclyn Kershaw is a blog contributor for the ALTA. She earned two Bachelor’s, one in Biology and one in Spanish, at Arcadia University, and is currently earning her MS in
Translation at New York University. Her dream is to be a literary translator and translate books and video games. She lives in Philadelphia, and you can usually find her buried in a book somewhere outside.

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Meet the Mentors: Mara Faye Lethem

The ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorship Program is designed to facilitate and establish a close working relationship between an experienced translator and an emerging translator on a project selected by the emerging translator. The mentorship duration is approximately one year. The emerging translator is expected to choose a project that can be completed in a year’s time, and they will only be advised on that particular project.

This week we are excited to feature Mara Faye Lethem, this year’s Catalan mentor:

Mara Faye Lethem has translated novels from Catalan by Jaume Cabré, Albert SáncheMara Faye Lethemz Piñol, Marc Pastor, Toni Sala, and Alicia Kopf, among others. Her work has been featured as New York Times and Booklist Editors’ Picks, and among the Best Books of the Year in The Times of London, Readers’ Favourite Books in the Financial Times, and Publishers Weekly’s Picks of the Week. She has had shorter pieces (by such authors as Juan Marsé, Rodrigo Fresán, Pola Oloixarac, Teresa Colom and Alba Dedeu) published in The Guardian, Best American Non-Required Reading 2010, Granta, The Paris Review, Tin House, A Public Space, and McSweeney’s. Her translation of The Whispering City, by Sara Moliner, recently received an English PEN Award and two of her translations were nominated for the 2016 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. She writes the New Catalan Fiction catalogue for the Institut Ramon Llull, and redacted the application that earned Barcelona designation as a UNESCO City of Literature.

If you are interested in finding out more about ALTA’s Emerging Translator Mentorship program and the other mentors, please check out our website and blog. If you are interested in applying, please see our online portal.

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