*This problem isn’t exclusive to perfect bilinguals, but I’ve found that perfect bilinguals are the most susceptible to it. The Perfect Bilingual Problem is when a translator is so thoroughly aware of each nuance of the source text, and is so adept in the target language that they end up carrying over every semantic unit of the source into their translation. Which may sound like … Continue reading The Perfect Bilingual Problem
“He’s unfathomable.” “Of course he is.” He made as if to light a cigarette, remembered the new anti-smoking law, and tossed his lighter back on the café table. “He’s another human being, of course he’s unfathomable.” “Is this what being in a relationship is like?” “What is it like, then?” “It’s like we’re both planets and we’re merging. Merging oceans. Slowly, not colliding into each … Continue reading The Face of Love
I’m not a native speaker of English, so as a translator I was obliged to describe my English as “native level” on my résumé and get paid less for it accordingly. I was hired because I could pass for an American, and paid as if I couldn’t. We do not talk of “native writers,” we talk of native speakers. Perhaps this is to be expected, … Continue reading The Native Speaker Problem
I like to say, guardedly, that I could define poetry this way: it is that which gets lost out of both prose and verse in translation. —Robert Frost in Conversations on the Craft of Poetry The above is often misquoted as “Poetry is what gets lost in translation,” but the substance of Robert Frost’s idea remains the same: the translation of poetry is impossible. An … Continue reading On Translating Poetry
*I once briefly tutored a thirteen year-old in creative writing. This is what I learned. 1. Learning how to finish a draft is an important skill in itself. 1.2 This skill mostly involves finding and developing a story by “writing out” of the first scenes or impressions you have of your narrative. 1.2.1 This takes a lot of deliberate, vigorously logical thinking. 18.104.22.168 Many people … Continue reading Notes for Young Writers
I was once in Cambodia on a business trip. I had never been to Cambodia before. I had lived in Bangkok for two years as a kid, and we were coming in from Singapore on that trip; Singapore seemed like the future, Bangkok the present, and Phnom Penh the past. The city, unlike its actual past, seemed quiet and peaceful. I wanted to loosen my tie but I didn’t. … Continue reading On Cambodia.