Update on cuneiform
Last year there was a post
on this blog about George Smith, the first decoder and translator of cuneiform
writing. To retrieve it, enter george smith in the search box on the right. Now
the BBC has produced a video about the significance of his work; it’s elementary
but good for school use. To view it, go to
or click [HERE].
Update on fixers
Fixer is a term that came
into fashion during the Afghan war. It designated interpreters for the military
and for journalists, and whose tasks went well beyond language translation. To find
our several posts about them, enter fixers in the Search box on the right. With the demise of Western intervention in
Afghanistan the term has become less common, but it will surely persist.
Now a French documentary
film about them has come out.
"The local helpers known as fixers are vital for
journalists working in countries where there is conflict and political
instability. A documentary by a French reporter highlights the dedication of
his contacts in Afghanistan, Mexico, Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo,
and Ukraine. French reporter Charles Villa’s documentary Fixers is a tribute to
those behind the scenes. Fixers are the “bridge” between the many actors in the
field and journalists, providing anything from contacts, translation,
transport, even, sometimes, accommodation."
For more, go to
or click [HERE].
without my fixer: French documentary a shout-out to hidden colleagues.
Yahoo News, 12 June 2022.
Update on Indian literary
A bee that has been
buzzing around this blog for years is the lack of attention paid in the West to
Indian literary translation, even in academic circles, notwithstanding the
enormous amount of such translation due to the number of live Indian languages
and the persistence of English as a lingua franca. For examples of our concern, enter india in
the Search box on the right.
But now attention has
momentarily exploded because the English translation of an Indian novel has won
the coveted International Booker Prize. The novel is Geetanjali Shree’s Tomb of Sand.
The publicity for Tomb of Sand is
very welcome. Nevertheless it has some quirks. Pavan Varma’s article referenced
below discusses the reaction in India itself:
“I am proud and very happy for
Geetanjali. She fully deserves this belated recognition. But I would have been
even happier if her creativity was more befittingly recognised in her own
country before the Booker Prize.”
There is a danger that Westerners unacquainted
with India may jump to the conclusion that Hindi is the country’s most important
literary language and remain ignorant of other riches like Tamil. One surprise is that the translator, despite
the ready availability of English translators in India, is an American. This is
not to downplay the quality of the translation, which has been widely praised;
and no doubt its quality was a factor in the Booker decision. Nevertheless, it
is sometimes said that a translation should sound as if the original author
were speaking. So we may wonder whether
the work might not sound more genuine in the voice of an Indian translator
using the slightly nuanced dialect of Indian English. Just wondering.
Geetanjali Shree. Tomb of Sand. Translated from Hindi by
Daisy Rockwell. Haryana: Penguin, 2022.
K. Varma. A publishing wasteland: India needs translations. The Asian Age, 12