Thursday, May 22, 2008

News in the news, and devilish fun with translation

In the self-serving-don't-mess-with-my-lifestyle department, a recent Pew poll says that over half of Americans surveyed don't feel humans are responsible for global warming.

In the interesting angle department, Raj Patel draws some interesting conclusions from a recent Lancet article and the ensuing media headlining.

And in the bee-keeping department, here's a cool manual on bee-keeping produced by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity.

Such fun with words we're having. We started off doing translation exercises, similar to this "Homophonic Translation" routine, which we did using a latin text. Last night it occurred to me that I might be able to find a way into revision work by using an online translation tool, so I've been blasting a few pieces apart by translating them into Japanese, Greek, Portuguese, Korean, Russian, French, Italian and Spanish -- and back again, sometimes more than once. It's been a fun way to take apart a dull line or sentence and see what might enliven it. Or perhaps start me off in a new poem or image.

Here are the opening lines of an old poem of mine I chose at random:

The path of disaster is so often
just beyond the window we've turned
away from for that critical
moment

and the translated version (via Japanese and Greek)(with a few tweaks to make the syntax work, more or less):

Such a certain street of destruction
a precise and often window
that exceeds our regard
with empty importance
turns because this

So, a different world and a different meaning, and a lot of nonsense, but maybe something in there presents an opening for new directions and energy.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Nancy Mattson said...

Hi Rhona
I think Doug Barbour used to call this homolinguistic translation.
John Rety was doing it last night to nursery rhymes at a special recorded Hearing Eye reading at the Barbican Library.

Anna Robinson also read; she spoke directly to the women murdered by Jack the Ripper as well as uttering a prayer to the Lamb of Lambeth. Great stuff.

And David Floyd read poems of understated wit that were by turns political, hilarious and moving.

You would have liked the evening; Leah Fritz wore an art deco brooch of her mom's on her turban.

Love, Nancy

1:40 PM  
Blogger Rhona McAdam said...

What was John Rety doing to the nursery rhymes? And does it still count as homolinguistic if it has passed through different languages on its way back to English? I remember Doug's experiments involved things like using the first words down the left hand margin, or pulling out words from the text etc. and re-assembling all within English (he defined it as translations from English into English, I think). As this method needs a measure of automation, as well as multiple languages, maybe it should be called cyberlinguistic translation?

3:18 PM  
Blogger the regina mom said...

"Cyberlinguistic translation?" I like that a lot! And I like doing it, too, just for fun.

I must get my hands on the Raj Patel book. When I heard him on CBC radio a couple months ago he blew me away. But I think I'm repeating myself.

Rhona, do you know Regina's Book Chick? She's been raving about bees. And she lives just down the hill from St. Mike's. And she writes.

11:23 PM  

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