Sunday, September 27, 2015

"BEARING ACROSS:" The Art of Translation

“The word 'translation' comes, etymologically, from the Latin for 'bearing across'. Having been borne across the world, we are translated men. It is normally supposed that something always gets lost in translation; I cling, obstinately to the notion that something can also be gained.” ~Salman Rushdie

Walt Disney tells us that it's a small world after all.  Well, it still costs over $1,200 to cross the Atlantic to Europe,  and going through customs can feel like an eternity, but the fact that we can go halfway across the world in a matter of nine hours is nothing short of miraculous.  The fact that a journey that used to take months now takes about five hours on an airplane is also pretty amazing.  Maybe Walt Disney has a valid point.

Now consider that in a few hours, at a well lit desk, a literary translator can open up a whole new world for the reader--a world that may previously have been a cultural mystery.  

So, as we are deeply involved in the study of human language, I thought perhaps it might be interesting to look at some of the occupations that specifically fall within the area of language and communication.  One of those occupations is a literary translator; a job that is projected to grow 46% over the next seven years!  So, what are the requirements of the job?  Well, for starters,  you need to be fluent in two languages, and familiar with the cultures (including the values, norms, idioms & expressions) of which those languages are a part.  As of 2013, the median salary was $42,420 annually on average, but with experience and the right literary connections, the salary can triple, making it quite lucrative!

So, what are the duties of a translator?  Well, to start, many book translators choose novels they admire to translate. Therefore, they must develop a knack for choosing exceptional novels and authors that publishers will want to publish. 

Book translators are constantly sharpening their writing and translating skills by practicing translation using various literary works. When translating a book, book translators may read through the text several times to ensure they grasp the book's concept, plot and theme, identify and preserve the author's voice, ponder any problematical translation areas and solutions and ensure complete accuracy. They may work directly with the book's author, if possible.

Translation references such as foreign language dictionaries, lexicons, encyclopedias, and digital vocabulary banks are part of the book translator's toolbox. These resources are especially useful during the multiple revisions that book translators perform to ensure absolute accuracy. To make future translations easier, book translators may compile lists of common terminology, colloquialisms and other useful information.

Book translators continually learn about the cultural affairs of the people speaking the languages from which they translate. In addition to staying up-to-date on the countries' current events, book translators stay abreast on which new books are being published and are constantly reading books from native authors in countries where the translated language is spoken.

In order to obtain familiarity with the society where each language is spoken, book translators may engross themselves in the culture by traveling to the country, reading foreign newspapers and magazines, partaking in daily life activities, watching foreign films and listening to foreign music (, Glossary of Career Education programs).

I have here attached two videos for you to watch about becoming a translator, and on how translations are selected by publishers.  Watch both and share your thoughts!  Anyone interested?  Could there be some future literary translators out there?  Might be fun to get lost in the and profitable!

Friday, September 11, 2015


Communication break-down can occur at any time and in many different settings.  There's Group Project Anxiety: everyone has great ideas at discussion meetings, but you feel like the only one with a sense of urgency to get any actual work done.  There's Discussion Frustration:  whenever you engage in a discussion with your group, you feel as if your thoughts and ideas are not valued or brushed aside with no regard to your feelings.  And finally, there is just sheer information overload: why is it that after a full day of school, you feel completely zapped of energy, consumed by an overwhelming need to be where people are not?

We all realize that we are social creatures.  We seek out and thrive within interpersonal relationships. We long to be heard and appreciated, to create and explore.  This is probably not new information.  Rewarding as they may be, however, relationships of every type are complex and not without their
difficulties.  People are different.  Where we come from, our experiences, our beliefs, and our DNA all go into who we are, how we see and interpret the world, and how we communicate.

Many corporations have invested large sums of money on consultants with one goal in mind:  to improve inter-office communication and efficiency.  Where do you begin?  The communicators, themselves!  Knowing who you are helps you to better understand how and why you communicate the way that you do.  Knowing who your co-workers are can help you better understand how to communicate with them more effectively and efficiently.

So, as Aristotle taught centuries ago, we will begin by seeking the wisdom that comes from knowing ourselves.  Here is a link to a personality inventory:  Once you complete the test, you can have your results emailed to yourself and you can read all about your personality type: how you relate to others, how others see you, how you work, etc.

The test takes about 20 minutes, but it provides a wealth of information as it analyzes four distinct areas of personality and then adds a fifth area that analyzes overall identity.  It is created from a combination of the infamous Myers/Briggs and Carl Jung's Theory of Psychological Types.  The four areas are explained as follows:

1.  Introversion vs Extroversion: (I vs. E) This is more than just "shy" vs. "outgoing."  In fact, according to Jung, it is really not about that at all.  It has to do more with where you get your energy.  Do you find yourself getting energized when you are around others, or do you find that you need to be away from people to re-energize?
2.  Intuitive vs. Sensing: (N vs. S) Intuitives are creative, imaginative and curious individuals who are open-minded.  They tend to go with novelty over stability and see/feel possibilities.  They tend to have strong discernment in new situations.  Sensing or Observant individuals are practical, pragmatic and down to earth.  They tend to have strong habits and rather than going with their gut, they are more focused on what has happened or what is happening.

3.  Feeling vs. Thinking: (F vs. T) Feeling individuals are sensitive and emotionally expressive.  They are more empathetic and tend to be less competitive than T's.  They tend to focus on social harmony and cooperation.   Thinkers focus on objectivity and rationality, prioritizing logic over emotion.  They tend to hide their feelings and value efficiency over cooperation.

4.  Judging vs. Perceiving or Prospecting: (J vs. P)  Judging personalities are decisive, thorough and highly organized.  They value clarity, predictability and closure preferring structure and planning to spontaneity.  Perceiving individuals are good at improvising and spotting opportunities.  They are flexible, relaxed, non-conformists who prefer to keep their options open.

Identity Variables of Assertive vs. Turbulent: (A vs. T)  Assertive types are confident, self-assured and pretty resistant to stress.  They do not push themselves too hard.  The turbulent types are self-conscious and sensitive to stress.  They are perfectionistic types who experience a wide array of emotions.

So, test away, and then comment by revealing assessed personality type and reflection on how knowing this information can help you communicate more effectively and understand how others communicate, as well.   I am an INFJ - T.  Your turn!