Showing posts with label collaborative translation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label collaborative translation. Show all posts

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Translating together, part 2.

 Nicky Harman continues the story of a co-translation project: Jia Pingwa's new novel, The Sojourn Teashop

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In my September blog, I wrote about co-translating a novel by a contemporary author, Jia Pingwa, in tandem with Jun Liu, a New Zealand-based translator who knows Jia’s work well. Since my last blog, we have been revising our translation and debating some knotty stylistic problems – and talking about the process at the Gwyl Haf Borderless Book Club, held to celebrate International Translation Day this year.

 

Jia Pingwa (1952- ) stands with Mo Yan and Yu Hua as one of the biggest names in contemporary Chinese literature. A prolific producer of novels, short stories and essays, he has a huge readership on the Chinese mainland, as well as in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Jia Pingwa's fiction focuses on the lives of common people, particularly in his home province of Shaanxi, and has hitherto been largely based in the countryside (Shaanxi Opera, forthcoming, and Broken Wings, 2019) or in the lives of workers from the countryside who have moved to the big city (Happy Dreams, 2017).

Jia’s most recent novel, The Sojourn Teashop (Sinoist, 2022) is very different: it is about a dozen women in Xijing (Jia’s fictionalised version of Xi’an, his home city) and their struggles to run their businesses, battle with bureaucracy and corruption, and find personal happiness.

In our collaboration, Jun did the first draft, I did the second draft, she commented, I commented on her comments, and we are now at the stage of going over the whole translation separately, and picking up any further problems, infelicities, or (perish the thought) mistakes.

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

More than one cook improves the broth. Nicky Harman gives a shout-out for literary team translation.

There are famous historical precedents for translators working as a team. This is especially true in religious texts. One of the greatest projects of all time, the translations of the Buddhist sutras from Sanskrit into Chinese, was carried by teams of translators working in a government department. The British Library not only has a collection of sutras in Chinese, their website also has an interesting article about the translators and the translations.

In more recent times, the Bible (notably the St James’ version) and bible commentaries have been translated by committees. So what are the challenges? I found this useful comment from one of the translators of Hermeneutics in Romans: Paul's Approach to Reading the Bible by Timo Laato. ‘Translating as a team is a difficult process. I find it to be a deeply personal endeavor and every translator I know attacks projects and translation problems differently. [On] taking over [my predecessors’] work…[t]he first thing I had to do was read the original and their translation in tandem, to see what their word and style choices had been for translation. A translation is going to suffer more than continuity if a second translator decides to use a slightly different word than the one originally used. Often a translator can choose from up to five or six words all with different shades of meaning to use for almost every word on a page.’