Translation stories making headlines this week seemed to include a great spectrum of stories from current, exciting technologies that spring us into the future and remind us of the types of things we might have seen in sci-fi futuristic films in our younger years, to translations of or from the the past that affect our understanding of history and culture.
Perhaps the most controversial story making waves came courtesy of the Irish Times. A timely and detailed piece about and Irish man who translated Mein Kampf, the copyright of which is due to expire, meaning Bavaria’s regional government will now no longer be able to suppress the work as it has done for the last 70 years. A programme also ran on the BBC entitled ‘Mein Kampf: Publish or Burn?’, produced by John Murphy, the translator’s grandson. Translation and suppression or release of such a work is sure to bring about many questions. Read the article here.
Also coming from the past by way of translation and in the news this week, is something we can all agree is much more beautiful, translated works of Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud, a French poet born who influenced modern literature and arts, inspired various musicians including Bob Dylan, and prefigured surrealism.
“Arthur Rimbaud – Selected Poems and Letters (translated – with introduction and notes – by Jeremy Harding and John Sturrock) is a handy 450-page paperback which provides the core writings of this extraordinarily fearless character who effectively gave up writing poetry after a few firecracker years of intense production. At 20, he signed up [as] a mercenary in the Dutch East Indies, a clerk in a travelling circus and later as a quarry foreman in Cyprus.” writes the reviewer.
When it comes to technology, last week we saw Google’s image to translate app introduced and this week saw further developments from Twitter, Bing and Skype written about.
Twitter, in conjunction with Bing, have introduced Twitter translations in forty language pairings for those on Apple and Android phones, as well as Twitters own web platform – TweetDeck. Twitter of course took the careful time to note that translations can be of low quality, but I would wonder whether in the fast paced realm of Twitter, this note will be taken on by those reading and reacting often at such high speed and frequency! You’d be surprised how much mis-translation can fit into a 140 character message!
Also in technology, Time decided to put Skype’s instant translation feature to the test.
“…the translations fell somewhere between awkward and comprehensible. I know Novak was eager to visit New York City — that much was clear when she said, “I want to meet all of New York City and I want to attach it with a concert of a group I like.” From that, I also gathered she probably wants to see a concert during her visit,” the writer noted after a conversation with a friend using the new translation feature. Read more here.