Friday, August 29, 2014

LOST IN TRANSLATION?

Many readers are intimidated by works in translation.  I can admit to you that I am, regrettably, one of them.  I can also admit to you that unless the work in translation is from a familiar "Western" culture, I am very leery about picking it up at all.  Why?  Because I am not in my present mind terribly interested in reading a book set in a place and time I don't know or understand.  This is changing for me since I have had some wonderful reading experiences now with works in translation, but that doesn't change the fact that I am hesitant.

I share this with you because I am wondering if perhaps some of you feel the same way.  I want to read works in translation because it seems sophisticated and "good for me" in a literary and academic sense, but I go into the experience expecting it to be more like a root canal than a virtual vacation (as I hope my reading experiences will be).  Why do you think that is?  Why do so many people look at reading works in translation like they may look at a plate of beets or liver and onions?  (food metaphors work for me!)

We focus a lot on cultural differences in this course and in Individuals and Societies course.  Maybe we should balance that focus with one on human connectivity.  Certainly there are many things that make us different, but there are also things that make us so much the same.  Think of this as the difference between reading critically and reading aesthetically:  when we look for connections, we often surprise ourselves by finding them.  :)

Read the article by clicking on this link.  Then, I would love to hear your response to the questions I have posed here, and the material presented in the article.  Enjoy!

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/aug/24/british-readers-translations-foreign-literature-sales-boom-stieg-larsson-jo-nesbo

PS:  I personally find both beets and liver appalling.  No offense intended.  ;)

64 comments:

  1. I found the article very interesting. Especially that most publishers wont print translated novels because they think that people from certain countries don't want to read about people from other countries, when it is almost exactly the opposite. In this day and age, most people are fascinated about learning about different cultures and how others live. I think it is the fact that people have grown up turning there minds off to a certain culture that they think they know about and wont enjoy, but in all reality those are some of the best books we read. For example Americans and Iranians; People is America are literarily turned off when they hear a book is about Iraq because they have either grown up disliking the culture they know nothing about or they feel like they can't relate to those people because they are just too different. I also found it interesting that publishers wont print translated books because they still believe that people won't buy. Now I understand why they do so because you don't want to over print and then waste a bunch of money, but I don't understand that if translated novels are being to proven to be very popular then why don't they feed into the demand?
    Again to answer the question on why people go into reading a book and think it is going to be like a root canal, I believe it is all on perspective. How we have grown up and made things look out to be has fogged our minds. We have told ourselves that because this book is not going to be about something I am familiar with then it is going to be horrible. To be honest I don't even think that it is because we have trained our minds into thinking a certain way about different cultures, but I think it is the fact that us as humans don't like change and when we read a translated book it is completely new and unfamiliar and we don't like it, so we shut our brains off instead of embracing it. Just like the beets and liver analogy, people hate them at first, but once you have eaten them a couple of times and you have become familiar with them, most people will learn to enjoy them. It is the beginning of the process that you have struggle with, but I believe everyone can enjoy a translated peice of writing if they at least open themselves up to it.

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    1. Great, post, Sam! I agree that a lot of it is our resistance to change. In fact, your post gave me a great idea of something I will share with all of you in class on just this subject. ;)

      Yes, I think that a lot of it could also be fear. We learned in 7th grade Lang. and lit last year that fear + anger can equal prejudice. If we are set up to dislike a culture, for whatever reason, we pre-judge it, and may be less likely to read something from that culture or at least not allow ourselves to judge it fairly. I think for me, as a reader, it was more a disinterest. I was comfortable within my realm of interest as a reader, and didn't feel a desire to "branch out," but when I challenged myself to do that, I was so grateful! The Kite Runner and Memoirs of a Geisha, while not works in translation, per say, were written by authors of different cultural backgrounds (though they chose to write their work in English to reach a larger market). The Kite Runner, I would even go so far as to say, changed me as a person, and as a writer....in a good way.

      You are right: it is a process we may struggle with, but it is worth it (though I must tell you, I will personally never like beets and liver!) ;)

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  2. I see it as people are looking for books that are appealing to either the culture in which they grew up or the culture around them. Canonical texts are all most people look for. (vocab word FTW) As sam had mentioned about a book about Iraq, people have closed minds and are hesitant about readings something that is foreign to there own culture. An example for me is like Anime shows, most of them have subtitles in English and the characters speak in Japanese. I can NOT watch a show that has subtitles it's so weird not knowing what they are saying, so i wait until they come out with the dubbed version of the show. It's Familiarity people want to be familiar with what they are watching and it's the same exact way with books.

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    1. Totally agree with you on those anime shows and old Kung Fu and Pippi Longstocking shows with dubbed over voices. It literally makes me crazy to watch. I can watch subtitles, as long as I am familiar with the story. Definitely true that people go with what is comfortable and familiar. We just struggle with change. :)

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  3. I feel people fear that they won't have the ability to connect to a culture they're not associated with. Such as the article said that we think books that translated are good books for education purposes compared to enjoyment. Even for me, I find it hard for me to believe I could find a personal connection with a story written by a man in poverty from Indonesia compared to a woman in California who grew up with a lifestyle similar to mind. Perhaps we are naive by the fact that even though there are different languages, we still share something in common which is emotion. Stories are mean't to make us feel, no matter what the theme or back story is. A story about a girl growing up in an Indian tribe can make me feel just as much as a story written by Nicholas Sparks. The idea that we have to look between the lines to connect the lines between our culture sounds like more of a challenge than it actually is which repulses us from the idea of reading a story like that.

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    1. You make an excellent point; just because our cultures are different, we are all humans with similar wants, needs, and dreams. These are the most powerful places in which we can connect with characters and story. :)

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  4. What I got from the article was that publishing companies aren't very open-minded to publishing translated work. They feel as though translated work is important to open your mind about other cultures, but it just isn't enjoyable. I know if I don't enjoy a book, I'm not going to read it. It's a waste of time for me. I feel as though people want to learn about other cultures but won't open up their minds to actually learn about it, or at least understand it. I know for me I want to learn about Germany but I don't put any effort into learning about the culture, especially reading a book that was written in Germany. If the person who is reading a translated text doesn't understand the culture, how are they going to understand the book and it's references? I think that to understand a translated book, you need to have a basic understanding of the culture so you know how they would think and how they would react differently to situations.

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    1. I think it's important to have culture background, at least on a basic level to fully engage, but sometimes, we can connect just on the human level, too. I would guess since Germany is technically "Western Culture," you would have sufficient similarities to appreciate it. I have some AMAZING German film recommendations for you if you like historical fiction. :)

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  5. Reading this article, a particular book comes into my mind. A short and influential French novel called: The Little Prince. Though it made it's debut in France circa 1943, this classic novella was translated from a multitude of languages (becoming one of the top selling books ever published) and still managed to touch the hearts of readers all over the world. It is because of my positive experience with this translated title that I am saddened to read about the hesitation which English publishers feel in regards to the reception of translated books. While this article states that "Bookshops from Brighton to Edinburgh held breakfast openings to cope with demand [of translated books]." It is apparent that the market of translated literature is still under appreciated. I believe that the translation of a book comes in two different stages. The first stage is the physical state of modifying a text into the language spoken by the inhabitants of a specific regain. The second stage is far more important, now that a piece of literature can be read clearly in the appropriate language, it must be applied to the readers lives in order to be enjoy to it's fullest. I find that the way an individual was raised has far more to do with how works of literature are perceived rather then the simple fact that they may come from someone of a different culture. To me, the reception is completely up to the reader them self and less dependent on the simple fact that it is a translated text.

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    1. Excellent post, Riley, and I loved your example of The Little Prince. I, too loved that story. :) I also really loved Cyrano de Bergerac. That play made me weep, and I thought of it for days after seeing it. Then I read it and the process began again. Thanks for your insights!

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  6. I’m actually very intrigued at how many foreign texts have been widely popular all over the world. My dad actually watches the show, The Killing, and when I told him this his brow raised in that, “Oh really?” kind-of look, and I could see that his gears in his head were turning in thought. It really does make you think about how our country is not the only one that provides entertainment that we can relate to or are entertained by. An example that I always love to use, is the always fabulous, Audrey Hepburn.
    Not only is she a fashion icon from the early 60’s, she was also a part of movies that even now we bring up in conversation. She was from Britain, and the novella turned movie Breakfast At Tiffany’s became hugely popular in America, and even in 2012, it was announced that Breakfast At Tiffany’s would be remastered into a Broadway play. This is a great way to show how we can take something old fashioned, and make it adaptable to what people want to see.
    If we are talking on terms of different languages, then we can take Anime for a probably more commonly used example. “Attack on Titan” which in my opinion is probably one of the most challenging shows that have been recommended to me that I simply said I would watch, but kept putting off, simply because it was in Japanese. Now, of course I can always switch it to English Dub, but like you, Mrs. Caraway, I am a language snob. I really am. I can’t stand sometimes having to read the subtitles on something I am trying to get into. But I found a way, like how Sam brought up the liver and onions. I trained myself to watch things with subs, and I found myself liking the Japanese version of an anime rather than watch the English version. Attack On Titan, even though it’s in a totally different language, and trust me, I don’t know a lick of it, has still managed to give me every single emotion possible in the first episode.
    Honestly, I believed we are turned off by a different culture or language or ethnicity, not only because we are unfamiliar with it, but can we talk about the many stereotypes we give certain parts of the world, or even our community? Certain things that we see, we give a label, and we are training ourselves to keep that label, because it makes us comfortable. If we don’t further understand something, how can we truly be able to soak in whatever culture we are telling ourselves to stay away from? Maybe we’re afraid to see things in a different way because…we’re afraid of change?

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    1. I really liked your response, Tiehen! I can identify with all of the examples you used and I think it's clever that you integrated the use of television into this discussion. When you think about it, there are so many different forms of translated media. I always think back to when German rap was really popular in the states and how the Korean pop artists nowadays are being listened to on the iPods of Americans. It's funny to think of all the different translated media out there because we treat it like some kind of sacred text while in another countries, it's simply the norm. It makes me think about how vast this world actually is... :O

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    2. Yes, it is a fear of change, I believe. I am much more open to texts that are from similar Western cultures (France, Germany, Sweden, Norway) because I have it in my head their cultural values and nuances will be similar to mine, so I won't be "lost" (as I am in the dubbed over movies). Audrey Hepburn was originally from Belgium, believe it or not, but she moved to Britain (I believe?) during WW2. She has quite an amazing story.

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  7. I thought the article was very interesting. I haven't really paid too much attention to international books and I think it's really neat that translated books are starting to do better. I feel like it can really help us understand cultures that are different from our own. I find it interesting to read books from other countries and I like to learn about some of their cultures and values and what they enjoy reading. I'm curious to find out how many American books have been printed out in different languages and which languages the most have been printed out in. I would also be interested to find out where most of translated books we read come from. I always feel like translated books aren't the best since they were originally in a different language and I worry that some of its contents can be lost in translation. However, I do still feel it is good for different cultures to see literature from each other and I hope that the popularity in translated books continues to grow.

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    1. I am glad to hear this point made--yes, there is definitely the concern about meaning and literary beauty being lost in translation. This can definitely affect the overall reading experience. Thanks for bringing that up!

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  8. The article was quite interesting, I was a little surprised that the publishing companies don't like to translate some books. If anything they should be pretty happy and willing to translate books, that usually means more money from the books sold if they are sold worldwide. I personally LOVE reading books that have different cultural backgrounds than myself. But I can understand why some people do not enjoy reading translated works, sometimes the translation doesn't make sense (like spanish on google translate, it's a pain!) and sometimes the things they do or say in the text are extremely different than what most Americans find "normal". Either way though, I still love to read translated texts and find them really intriguing. I believe that others do not enjoy reading translated works because they don't like to be open minded when it comes to what they believe, whether it be in religion or the social "norms". Sometimes people just don't like change, as in the types of books they read, and therefore they decide not to read the translated texts. (I can't stress enough how sad I think that is.) I hope that as time goes on, people will learn to love all types of texts, even the translated ones.

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    1. Yes--and that change comes from being willing to branch out and try reading new texts. :) You are right. I think when we learn to embrace reading works in translation, we will learn more about each other and those fears and/or uncertainties will start to melt away.

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  10. I believe that the majority of people are leery of reading translated works because they would rather read inside of their comfort zone or prefer an easy read over more thought provoking foreign works. I think most people, at some point in their lives, entertain the idea that they could be globalized and well-rounded citizens. To do this people may often turn to translated literature as a means of gaining a more well-rounded view. However, the word "translated" is included for a reason and most people do not want to take the time and effort to understand the culture that goes behind un-westernized pieces of literature and may often experience confusion from the cultural context aspect. Also, some of the meaning behind the text may be lost in translation because of the language barriers and as a result they may turn back to easier reads. In addition, in the past people may have found other cultures customs largely foreign and in some cases appalling. But I believe that as the world becomes more globalized we begin to respect other cultures for what they are and become more open to their customs and consequently their literature. I believe that this goes hand in hand with the aesthetic approach to reading because people are beginning to appreciate other cultures and their translated works for what they are instead of rejecting them for their differences right off the bat.

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    1. I have noticed you are very insightful--you will do very well in literary criticism because you really see to the heart of the matter. All great points here; reading in translation requires not only some level of understanding or appreciation of the culture and also the realization that some meaning may be lost in translation. There is never a "perfect" translation. This is what requires the open mind. Love your last sentences!

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  11. (This is posted as two replies, because it exceeded the character limit for one. What a silly obstacle that is...)

    This article presents a concept that is fascinating to me, and manages either by chance or good fortune to make a great deal of sense.
    The first thing I want to examine in this reply is what a translation is.
    The New Oxford American Dictionary defines translation as a noun, meaning: "the process of translating words or text from one language into another" which means very little without also reading the definition for translate, which is given as a verb meaning: "express the sense of (words or text) in another language". That seems straightforward enough, but it tells so much in so few words. Precisely, it defines it as expressing the sense of words. The "sense of words" is the key part.

    The world has thousands of years of human history, and nearly innumerable cultures that have existed within that time. The Earth has seven continents, six of which are currently inhabited by human beings. Within most of these continents there are different countries (Australia gets to be its own little self), and within each of those countries there are different cultures. Within those cultures are languages, and many generations of human beings, within each generation there are many individuals. Each individual will have countless life experiences, a slightly different view of the world about them, and slightly different desires from any other individual. If the impression is not there yet, I am talking about an immense scale. We are down to so many components within components now that it could be confusing, and is indeed beyond mortal comprehension. Why does this matter? This matters because it means that we have an infinite amount of stories to be told, visions to be shared, and fantasies to embrace. We could devote entire lifetimes to the study of naught but these stories, and never come close to the total amount. As citizens of the United States of America, we have many American stories to hear, American visions to recreate in our minds, and American principles to evaluate. Yet, though we are all from the same country, and even have a large part of our culture in commonality with one another, we will all be just that little bit different. It is possible that an individual would not identify with American ideas, but would find a significant meeting of minds with ideas among some of the French in the 1800's, for example. This individual, it might be thought, would have to cry out in woe, for they are born an English speaking American, and they cannot understand the French texts. Translations allow that American individual to read the "sense of words" or meaning held in those texts.

    (Continued in the next reply...)

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    1. There are two principal fears that I propose exist in response to the idea of a translation. First is the fear that a translation is taking one language and pounding it forcefully into another language until it has lost the will to live and any meaning it once held is forever gone. This may be true with poor translations, but with good translations, it should here be noted that it is not the words themselves, but the meaning of the words that is translated. I present here a brief example that will hopefully be understood. The Chinese characters 发烧 (read as "fa shao") individually and literally changed to English (using our good old friend Google Translate) mean hair burning. What the meaning taken together is, however, as even Google Translate will tell you in this case, is a fever. A translation takes the meaning and puts that meaning into the terms of our own language.

      The second principal fear I propose exists is the fear that a translated work is painful and contrary to every fiber of our being, that to read a piece of work that is different in origin is to act against our own values as it comes from a different culture, and a different place. However, whether English or French, German or Russian, Chinese or American, Western or Eastern, we all have many common parts of our nature as human beings. While a writer from an Eastern culture might have some beliefs that are appalling to a Western reader, they are also exploring so many of the same interior mysteries that we are, trying to figure out so many of the same puzzles of the innermost self, that perhaps they have found a way to answer a question, or to explain a concept, that resonates with us as an individual, and is a way of looking at the subject that we could not have thought of ourselves, but is strangely so much a part of us once we are exposed to it. We can learn from different cultures, and we can relate to the people in them on some level.

      Now for the part of the comment where we look at the issue in terms of food.

      Let us suppose that I really enjoy chocolate ice cream, and that I have always prepared it in a certain manner for my consumption every day. Imagine that I am invited to a friend's house for desert on an occasion. They have there a dessert that is cheaper, healthier, and provides everything I enjoy in chocolate ice cream, yet it is different. It is not chocolate ice cream. Might I be hesitant to replace my daily chocolate ice cream with this new dessert? Certainly I would be. But in the long run, it would be extremely worth it for me to accept that change and not to get caught up in my traditional manner of handling dessert.

      Now concerning the article directly.

      After thinking on it for a minute, I realized that with the increasing globalization of trade and the ever shrinking borders (culturally, not politically) between nations, it makes perfect sense that translations are becoming extremely popular in this very period of time. More and more our hearts are turned to our global neighbors, and so we investigate their cultures and what values they have to share with us. Great Britain was for a long period of time THE superpower of the world. They spread the British culture all about, replacing what were supposedly inferior cultures where they could. In the last century, the British ceased to be so dominant, and now that they are adjusting to being in the order of things closer to other countries, they are more and more considerate of other cultures.

      Taking all this into consideration, the rise in sales of translated books recently in Britain makes perfect sense. The British are overcoming their geographical isolation, and letting go of their sense of cultural superiority, and increasingly sampling the numerous and varied other cultures of the Earth.

      -Duncan Robinson

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    2. Well, you have certainly explored this idea from all sides, Duncan! I loved so much how you explained the immense number of perspectives out there--even within the same neighborhoods. You offered many very profound insights, Duncan, and once again, very enjoyable to read! Thank you for sharing your gift on the blog!

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  12. I didn't really enjoy reading about this or the article, mostly because it doesn't really interest me. We have many technological advances in todays society that brings us together as a whole. We have exchange programs where we send students to other countries in exchange for one of their students! Heck, I have people from other countries that follow me on instagram! I think we should look at works in translation like we look at people from other places. We want to get to know these people, learn about where they're from and what they did. We should discover the same thing about books. Read the book that was translated. Fill your mind with the images of other places that you have never been. I think we get so caught up in what's going on and our usual routine that we don't notice all the change around us. Instead of pushing new things away, we should bring them in, encourage them, feed them and let them grow. As the last sentence in the reading that states, " the idea of a comic Swedish novel selling 500,000 copies 'would never have been dreamed of 10 years ago,'" well I'm very sure that a lot of things today wouldn't have been dreamed of 10 years ago. We are a society that is starting to embrace change, and I think that it should continue. This country was founded on change and revolt, we never stopped revolting, we kept on. We wanted rights for women, we did it; we wanted rights for the colored, we got that too; now who knows what else we'll venture out for.

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  13. i didn't really find this article interesting, because i didn't interest me as much as i thought it would've. (Then again, expectations ruin everything) It states that British readers love to read foreign fiction, yet some people for example myself font really like to read anything foreign unless, it's from my cultural decent. What i think is a great example of understanding translation would be being involved in or dealing with a multicultural relationship or family. For example, you may have a african american and a native american couple. Throughout time they get to know and learn more about each others background and what they're getting themselves into. The native american side may be more traditional and having their own spiritual rituals as for the african american side having to be more involved religious wise, and stuff like that. But, people shouldn't be discouraged by a foreign book just because they don't think they won't relate to it. The world is constantly changing and making up new things and partnering up with other foreign countries or people to better their product or education wise.

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    1. I think I follow what you are saying here, but I am not sure how your example relates to this case. Make sure also to use academic/formal register in responses, and check spelling--in the third line, were you talking about font of an article or was this "won't?"

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  14. I have to say that just the title of a "translated work" scares me. I am willing to take on a challenge, but stereotypically foreign literature seems to have a much higher academic level than that of "The Fault in Our Stars" or "Divergent" which are what I read to take my "virtual vacation." That being said, seeing a piece of literature written by an author with an unpronounceable name longer than the title, it isn't something that strikes my fancy. I would love to be one of the underestimated public mentioned in the article but I, shamefully, judge books by their covers.

    Now referring to the article, culture is developing and changing. This is causing many readers to be enlightened about the translated works. I feel that we shouldn't be afraid to try new things. The fact that the sales have been doubled in some cases is proof that many people are not afraid.

    There was mention of not understanding or relating to the foreign writing but if we had never tried something like ice cream we would have never discovered such a wonderful thing. It doesn't sound very delicious to me but if I never try a translated work I may be missing out on something wonderful.

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    1. I, too will judge a book by its cover. In fact, as a writer I am actually quite particular about how well my cover conveys the story and looks enticing to the reader! I think you touched on an important point here; maybe the key is to market the works in translation in a way that will make them appeal more to the readers of other cultures? It is true that we need to as IB scholars and readers of great literature recognize our reluctance, and challenge ourselves to be risk takers and step out of our comfort zones. Maybe we'll discover different and equally delicious versions of chocolate ice cream!

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  15. I didn't find the article too interesting but it was good. I liked that it talked about how literature has changed. Like everything else literature does change and I think we need to start learning how to embrace that. I appreciated the part that said, "The perception of translations isn't what it was perhaps 10 years ago" I appreciated this because if you think about it nothing is the same as it was 10 years ago yet we find it quite easy to embrace changes in technology for example. I think that we should embrace the changes in literature and start to read and be more open-minded towards translated literature. It may seem off putting because it comes from a different culture but no matter the differences in culture we're all still humans. Maybe it shouldn't be the fact that the literature is translated that puts us off but rather the genre because it's not something we're interested in. If we're more open-minded towards it and take a chance to read some translated literature perhaps we could be taken on a "virtual vacation" because the context is not what we're used to. I think that the publishers should stop underestimating the public and put more translated literature out there for people because you'll never know if you don't try.

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    1. Definitely agree with your last statement! I like that you mentioned that it could also be genre that comes into play. I think I enjoyed Memoirs of a Geisha (not a translation, but different cultural perspective) because I tend to be drawn to historical fiction. It might be a fun experiment to find a translated work in a genre you enjoy in your own language and compare!

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  16. This article is personally relevant to me, and is actually very interesting with respect to the content and the general concept it is attempting to portray; it challenges preconceived notions, similar but not limited to, "people are typically afraid to venture out of their comfort zones and expand their horizons" and "people are unlikely to indulge in the simplicity (and, in contrast, the intricacy) of a an area of understanding unfamiliar to them". Human beings naturally strive toward some sense of familiarity, be it through an established routine or the group of people one would associate with on a regular (or perhaps, daily) basis, because familiarity offers reassurance and stability, something most human beings take for granted and something others really don't have the opportunity to possess. Not being able to retain some sort of establishment is terrifying, regardless of who you are approaching on the matter or the circumstances in which the confrontation is being directed. As a result, humans are hesitant to take a step into something they've never seen before, which is rather unfortunate but very common. It would take lots of coaxing and reassurance just to get them to slip a little further into the labyrinth of awareness and conceptualize, analyze in accordance to comparison and establish links between previous and approaching collected knowledge. It would require a lot of practice and determination, design adamant against all unspoken objections resting well within the weary mind. Perhaps, just maybe — humans may also afraid of the meaning of a text being lost during translation. A meaning once lost is never to be recovered again if the original text cannot be applied to the current context, in this case the context being relevance towards the individual attempting to comprehend the purpose behind the unedited text, an individual that, in theory, cannot speak the language the original piece was written in — which guides the practice of translating.

    Although, as borders continue to shrink with regard to seclusion — protection from the outside world and the following medley of cultures associated with it, we grow to understand more cultures and other societies that occupy the world and become more open-minded; we become more likely to accept a translated work into our own society, into our own area of perception due to increased globalization. I’m not surprised that translated works are becoming more popular nowadays. People are more likely to spread outside of their general cocoons of isolated naivety, as a result of current situations requiring them to do so (such as work places and school environments, etc). While there will always be those select few that are hesitant to approach translated material, more people are turning towards awareness of other beliefs and values and will behave accordingly.

    - Victoria Rodriguez

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    1. -- And of course a typo had to ruin my response.

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    2. Your response is not ruined at all. BEAUTIFUL commentary, and you really know how to work with words. I especially love what you said here: "slip a little further into the labyrinth of awareness and conceptualize." Your blog actually made me feel like I really do want to step out of MY comfort zone and pick up some great work in translation. I loved Girl with the Dragon Tattoo....maybe that is just the beginning of a "to be discovered" love of Norwegian literature! ;) Thank you for your insights!!

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  17. In all honest this article intrigued me. The interest some people have for reading foreign books was absolutely amazing because they first must understand the cultural and their slang. In the article there was a quote from Chris White, "The perception of translations isn't what it was perhaps 10 years ago," and what he says I strongly agree with because I feel most readers are closed minded about opening up to reading new texts with a different cultural background. For example readers from another generation, who have never heard of foreign book tittle or even the language it was originally printed in, would never randomly decide to pick up a book that was originally in another language. Therefore I do understand why publishing firms would be hesitate to publish a book that has to be translated but times have changes the cultures are more open minded in learning about other cultures.

    Alberge, Dalya. "British Readers Lost in Translations as Foreign Literature Sales Boom." The Guardian Home The Observer Home. 23 Aug. 2014. Web. 4 Sept. 2014.

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  18. I also am personally intimidated by works in translation. The thought of reading something that is from an entire different culture is terrifying to me because I am afraid of not relating to the text or understanding it whatsoever. I'm the kind of reader that I need to be able to relate somewhat to actually like the book and this is because sometimes I like to find myself while reading (weird I know). This article was very interesting to me, but I did have to read it a couple of times to understand it and get my head around it. I really enjoyed your food metaphor; I think people look at works in translations differently because it is very rare to them. For example, it is like being an exchange student in a country that is thousands of miles from home. You don't know what to expect, the language might not be exactly the same and neither will the culture, but once you are in that country you will see how much you will/won't like it. This is just like reading a foreign book to me, because one I start reading a different kind of text that I have not yet been exposed too, I will actually see if I like they ways things are read or how the context is formated or not.

    In this article I noticed that mainstream is a word that is used a lot and that it was also said that the translated books/comics are very mainstream nowadays. Maybe these kinds of translated books are becoming a "trend". Before translated books did not have such a big impact at all.. What if in a few years people will not be interested anymore or perhaps it will be more popular than ever. This all really depends on culture in my opinion. I did not quite get when it said "Publishers, editors and booksellers have been taken aback by astonishing sales in the UK of overseas authors they had never heard of, despite their blockbuster sales elsewhere"; I think this can back up what I was trying to say because everything is changing so fast! In the article it said 10 years ago some of the translations where not even known about and not it's saying that even authors that people have not heard of are getting astonishing sales.

    Overall this article was very interesting, I enjoyed how it gave us the readers comments from what people thought or said about the works in translations and it opened my mind about how amazing these different cultural books really can be.

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  19. I know you said this is weird, but it is actually my favorite sentence: "I like to find myself while reading." A simple sentiment, but WOW is it the heart of the matter here! This is, in essence, why we are hesitant about works in translation. Will I find myself in a story from a place I have never been, and in language that may have lost something in the translation? That statement was sort of an a-HA! moment for me.

    Great point about things changing so rapidly! Technology is, as you said, making things move at break neck speed, and as a result, the world is getting smaller.

    Loved your post!

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  21. One of my favorite quotes is, "The comfort zone is the great enemy to creativity; moving beyond it necessitates intuition, which in turn configures new perspectives and conquers fears" said by Dan Stevens. Personally, if I do not relate to a piece of literature I don't read it. I enjoy reading books that I can imagine myself as a character, and in most foreign texts I can't do that. Translated texts from foreign countries makes me intimidated because I think I may be reading them too slowly. I feel that learning about other cultures is awesome because it makes human beings open-minded to other cultural perspectives. I am so happy that literature is evolving, and that individuals are starting to enjoy reading cultural pieces. I wish as I get older I will become more open to reading texts that are from foreign places.

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    1. PS: I admire what literature translators accomplish. They create the loop hole that allows us access to literature originally written in a language we cannot read. Even though I do not enjoy reading translated texts it is truly an amazing, and useful job!

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    2. I admire what they can do, too! Very much. In fact, I was thinking after reading this article that had I become fluent in a language, I would have really loved to become a literature translator. It's such an honor, I think, to take words that are a piece of someone's soul and bring them to life for other cultures. :)

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  22. I honestly don't blame authors for removing the name of the translator from the front pages. It's wrong, but I can relate. Just the word "translator" brings a whole new level of knowledge with it that may seem quite intimidating. Take this quote for example, "They really do underestimate the public, [assuming] that British people don't want to read about people in China or Iceland." Why read something that's probably going to make no sense whatsoever? Most authors want to sell mass amounts of their works, but it becomes a chore with the "translated stereotype". However, I think our society is hungry for knowledge, even though we might not show it. So, what better way to gain a new knowledge then to read the translated works of people from a totally different culture. I think that it is then that people really start to begin to realize how beautiful texts from another persons point of view are. People tend to get accustomed to thinking the way they were brought up. We grow up with a certain way we are taught to feel, think, respond, etc. Then, when we read a translated piece from a foreign point of view, it rocks our world. Our minds are boggled. Furthermore, I believe we are attracted to this sense of enlightenment. Our minds long for new knowledge and translated pieces give a new perspective based on the authors culture. It makes me happy to know that translated texts are becoming more and more popular because of this. It brings different cultures closer together because of a new found knowledge.

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    1. Yes, isn't that interesting about the translators' names! I, too understand why they remove them. Maybe it would be good to put "translator name" at the end in acknowledgments. That way, if the reader really enjoys the work, they can fully appreciate the efforts of the translator. :)

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  23. The thought of reading a work in translation does not intimidate me at all. I am more than glad to be open minded to come through with a foreign piece of work. What does worry me? Not finding the true flavor of a piece of work, because it's in a translated form. The idea and presentation of a translated piece either fascinates me, or disappoints me. Fascinating, because a translator could create and capture a, "monumental achievement", as stated in the article and really capture the original intentions and flavor, and disappointing because "The perception of translations isn't what it was perhaps 10 years ago." It is difficult for me to embrace a change in literature, for the reason that I like literature in a way I can understand it. Where it's all fine and dandy, and my emotions are stirred a little, and the complexity is moderate.

    The only reason I would draw away from a translated piece of work is the reason many scholars have posted about. For the fear of not connecting. To me, if I cannot connect or relate to a book, or article, or whatever, I am just reading words.

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    1. I think you really hit the nail on the head. It is really a fear of not connecting. Reading is so personal. You are, as a reader, willingly making yourself vulnerable to the author and his/her characters; allowing your emotions to be manipulated. Thanks for pointing out the concerns of losing meaning in translation. That is the number one concern.

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  24. (I still never know if this actually posts, so better safe then sorry, I guess, anyway...)
    I would love to say, and believe, that I am the kind of person to fully embrace the change all around me, but that's just not the truth. Like many people I find it nerve racking, scary, uncomfortable, and sometimes annoying. I like my steak and potatoes just fine, and would not like to try liver and beets, thank you very much. As humans we are creatures of habits, and i think that's why literature in translation makes so many people uneasy. I am guilty of this. I instantly stick my nose up at any book that even *remotely* seems like it is foreign. Don't get me wrong, I love other cultures, but reading about them for pleasure? Not what I think is fun.
    So while I have been proven wrong, and many others as well, I still do not turn to these books. I want to learn more, but I am so used to reading regular fiction, that I just am not prepared to make 180's all the time. And I think a lot of people would agree with this.
    As a society, and whole, we are striving to have a more accepting outlook on cultures, and we do want everyone to be able to express themselves, but also as a whole, and as a society, I don't think we know what that quite looks like, because we are the ones paving the way, to acceptance. Really, acceptance of all cultures is relatively new, and we already struggle enough with just learning to tolerate, which makes reading books in translation even harder! We cant understand enough to fully accept it on a daily basis, and to think you could read about it, and get it, just seems crazy.
    But more books getting popular in translation, only points to a better adjusted world, and in the end, a hopefully, more accepting world. But none of that cultural relativism. Because that makes me angry. Regardless, I think everyone should probably try and read more books that they aren't comfortable with, or wouldn't read right off the back. It makes you a more rounded person, and yes, I am talking to you, Geneva. *cough cough*.
    If you read all of this, and you understood what I was trying to say, and didn't get lost, props to you.

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    1. This post was just fun to read. Thanks, Geneva, for your honesty and your humor about this. I think if we can be straightforward about our hesitations in literature, we are on the path to branching out beyond them.

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  25. Reading a work of translation intrigues me very much. Being closed minded and only solely focusing on literature that is the language you speak will not help you. We must broaden our minds and look to the world around us. To fully understand what we as humans go through we can't only focus on one culture. One author from Sweden will have a completely different view of life and writing style as an author from Brazil. I believe the reason there is a huge spike in people reading works of translations is because society today is connected at our finger tips. People today can get so much knowledge of another culture in a click of a mouse. It is much easier for us to find works of translation because they're right in front of us we just have to reach for it. The only reason I think it would be difficult to read a work of translation is that meaning can and will be lost between the languages. We all have our own sayings and meanings for words that are only shared within our culture and it is unfortunate but that can also being a personal touch for the original language and culture to enjoy.

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    1. I love this post, Jessica, because it has everything I want to hear concisely stated. :) You touched on several important points from the article and inferences that are naturally drawn. I like also how you brought in the idea of how technology has made us more open to other cultures as they are now easier to access. :)

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  26. Reading translated books doesn't intimidate me it actually interests me. I think books from different cultures can be interesting even though I cant relate to them because of different cultural backgrounds. I think thats maybe why other people may feel intimidated by translated books. Most people like to be able to relate and connect to a book and with translated books I don't really think you can really make a lot of connections. I like to connect to books but I also think its a way of helping you learn more about a specific culture, which is something I enjoy. I think its good to become more accepting and more open minded towards other cultures, I mean its not a bad thing. I don't think learning about another culture could necessarily have a negative affect on us.

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    1. I love that you are open to learning, Makena! :) I think that while we may not expect to connect with works in translation, we often are surprised and find that we can connect on many human levels.

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  27. Reading translated books is always a refreshing experience as it allows you a break from your own culture and your own beliefs and allows you to step entirely into someone elses shoes. I have read quite a few translated works and every single one has given me new perspectives from which to view every problem I come across. I believe that everyone should read more translated books, if if they are a little scary or intimidating for them, as it allows you to realize that we are all just people, even if we view the world differently. Making the human connection is that crucial step in being able to understand the rest of the book, no matter how daunting. Being more accepting of other cultures in our own learning environment will allow all of the scholars an easier understanding of other nations and their cultures, which is a crucial part of I.B. so i believe we should encourage more scholars to read translated works.

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    1. I am really glad to hear you enjoy works in translation. I think you hit on an important point which is placing us in someone else's shoes in order to understand a point of view we perhaps had never considered. Perhaps we will discover we actually have quite a bit in common.

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  28. When I was reading through this article I had the idea on beets and liver stuck in my head. I don't know why exactly but that idea interests me a little bit in a way that I've never thought of books as food. As I continued to read about the translated books and how some people are actually really starting to enjoy them, it makes me wonder if any of the books I've read were translated. And after looking up one book that I have read, it was translated. Last year I read The Alchemist. I don't remember exactly if I knew that book was translated or not, but I thought the name was cool because I liked alchemists. I ended up really, really enjoying that book, and id suggest it to anyone. It's pretty powerful in itself and anyone wanting a new book to read should read that one. Going back to the beets and liver idea, I can see where us wanting a change can be difficult. Likewise, us wanting to try a new food can be difficult. We are like children when it comes to change and now that I think about it, books. Why should we have to try these other worlds books that are translated and all about their culture? Why can't I just read the books already in English? Well, maybe a change is better. You could try the "vegetables" or the translated books, over the "candy or cakes" or the already English books. Its intriguing though that not many people want to try out books from another country or language. Obviously its happening a bit more now, which is amazing, but why be scared of something like this when it could be an adventure for you? You may not have the cultural ties, but you are human, and you would be able to connect on a human level with the characters in the book. That is good enough for me, and i'm someone who hates change with a passion. But i do think reading more books from a variety of places can be good, and it could help you also understand a little about the many cultures we live around in this world today and also in the past.

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    1. I loved that you contemplated the idea of books and food. ;) I have always thought of books as a form of "nourishment." I am so happy to hear that you read The Alchemist. That book is on my to read list, so I thank you very much for that review! :) I like at the end of your post how you also added both "many cultures living around the world today and in the past." Great point!
      PS- I also liked your metaphor of reading books in our comfort zone as "candy and cakes." Well played! ;)

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  29. Reading a translated book can be very intimidating for a lot of readers. I can admit that reading a work of translation doesn't intrigue me. I like to read books that I am used to reading. Just like with food, I'm not a person who likes to try new food. (seafood) I like to stick with what I am used to and what I like. But I do admire translated books. The idea of translating and making sure the reader gets the same feel like the reader in the original language is absolutely amazing. This allows the reader to be more open-minded and see how their culture is different than ours. A reason why a piece of translated literature doesn't catch my attention very much is because I won't be able to connect with the book. Yes, I do want to learn more about their culture, but sometimes it can be difficult. I want to enjoy the book I'm reading and really get involved with the characters. Like how you said you want to read the book like if you were on vacation. Instead of just reading words on a paper and getting nothing from what you just read. Something I am working on this school year is to be more open-minded and try reading translated books. I am willing to get out of my comfort zone and try reading translated literature. (But I still won't eat seafood.) I know that I will learn more about the different cultures. In the article it talks about how translated books are becoming more popular, and I think it's really great that more people are getting out of their comfort zones. So that they can be more understanding of the different cultures around us that we aren't familiar with.

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  30. For me I can honestly say I’ve never read a book that has been translated. Overall I’m very picky at what I read and if I cannot connect with a book then I don’t want to read it. Books that have been translated are mostly from different cultures and for me reading a book that is so different from the way I live makes it hard for me to keep interest in. I can also connect with people who also look at theses books like a plate of liver, trying something new is hard. Sometimes I can be stubborn on what I read and just stick to that type of style. After reading the article I noticed Liz Foley says “they are actually wonderful books”, I’m interested in seeing if I would like this style of reading. Since I’ve never really read a foreign translated book I won’t totally discard the idea of trying it, maybe I’ll end up finding one I actually like.

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    1. I actually read Girl with the Dragon Tattoo before realizing it was a work in translation. I think that was key for me remaining open minded. Perhaps you could ask the clerk at a book store (one with clerks who actually KNOW the books!) what translated works they could recommend to you in a genre you enjoy? I was in the mood for a mystery/thriller, so Dragon Tattoo fit that bill. Then I saw the movie, and realized it didn't seem at all to be "different." :) You are right--you may surprise yourself!

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  31. Reading a translated book can be challenging for many reasons. Personally, I have never read a translated book, because they don't look interesting to me. I think people don't want to get into translated books, because they look weird or boring to them. I am a huge basketball fan, which is very popular in the United States. But in Mexico, basketball isn't as popular, whereas soccer is. What I'm trying to say is I will play basketball everyday, but if I was asked if I wanted to play soccer I would pass it up. The same goes with translated books. People that think British culture is weird are very unlikely to pick up and read a British book. Or if someone thinks Indian culture is boring they probably aren't going to go and read Life of Pi, or watch the movie. This topic is completely based on wether or not you like the culture of the translated text, and if you are willing to try new things.

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    1. That may very well be an issue in this case. I think where we find connections is genre. Soccer and basketball are two different sports, but maybe a mystery/thriller book written by an American author and a mystery thriller by a German author have more in common than we think.

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  32. So I am a judge a book by the cover kind of girl, and anytime I see the word translated I have to admit...I put it back. I love to read. It is my passion, but only books I can connect with. Also I am picky, I stick to my fantasy and the occasional teen romance book I like. It's not very shocking to me that maybe people aren't drawn to translated works. But, one of the things that kept popping into my mind was the bible. They're are so many translations of it! So obviously people do by translated works, so why not other books? I am going to go read a translated book right now..

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  33. Ooooh! Good! You'll have to let me know which one! ;)

    I would suggest trying out a fantasy book from another culture. Maybe the fact that it is a genre you like would increase your chances of loving it....and finding a new favorite author!

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  34. I personally don't read translated books, but only because they never seem to catch my attention. I would actually enjoy reading a translated book, because not knowing all about the culture would be a roadblock in the reading, but looking it up would make the book a great read and also give me insight and a better understanding of other cultures, and with translated literature rising I might start to read them often. I believe that many people don't like or won't read translated literature, because they want it to be easily relatable and easy to understand, and don't want to go through the hassle of finding out what parts of the text mean for the other culture

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  35. I think translated works are great. They present a different cultural background than what one would usually read in the US. That being said, I personally don't read them very often. It bothers me that I'm not getting the full meaning of the text, from the culture to the original language used. It's almost like getting cheated; the original text is the only one that could compare to itself. Translations are like knock-offs, while not necessarily cheap.

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  36. The article makes an interesting point about how the novels still sell much better in the non-english speaking countries. I think that despite the original language, a text has the ability to be a great novel in any language. If done correctly, one can get the entirety of the story without having to know any of the language that the novel was originally written in. This definitely holds true when one looks at the example of anime that so many people have been keen to mention prior to myself. I like to look at the Japanese and English versions as two sides to the same story. Although your story is going the same place in the end, with the same major details happening, a lot of the smaller dialogue and the little details can change in translation. It can be much the same with the translation of novels, I think. The story is going to be similar, but not the same. It's a great way to get novels and stories from country to country, language to language, but it does have the cost of the original wording and some of the intents of the author.

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