Translators Conference in Jerusalem, Feb 2016 Day Two, Academic Track

Hurray! I've finally made it to the Jericho/Masada Hall, the Academic & Other Track.
The first talk was the only one given in Hebrew on that day. It was Racheli Lavi on Rhetorical Features Translators Need to Identify So that They Don't Get Lost in Translation. Long title, but spells out exactly what it's all about. I made Racheli's acquaintance during last year's ITA conference, where she and her partner were promoting their Hebrew editing software, Ivri. We got to talking (yes, that's one of the purposes of a conference...), and she told me about her own conference, dedicated to creative writing. Being a compulsive writer, I expressed an interest, and was later invited to the conference, called Nekudat Mifneh (= "Turning Point". No, not the 1977 ballet movie... Oh, you weren't even born then? Sorry.) At the time, I couldn't go. But a year later I did attend the 2nd Nekudat Mifneh conference, in November 2015, and it was great, as you can gather from my blog post about it.

Anyway. Racheli presented eight types of rhetorical devices, whose "academic" names were not all familiar to me, which doesn't mean I didn't know what she was talking about.  The definitions below are from various online dictionaries; I'm not copying Racheli's definitions since they're in Hebrew but I'm providing a link to the English definition, so go ahead and look them up!

- anaphora the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses.
- zeugma a figure of speech in which a word applies to two others in different senses
- syllepsis - another form of zeugma
- parallel structure - of which there are two or three types
- rhyming sounds (?) - not sure of the English term. A type of alliteration: the same sound is repeated in several words in the same sentence. 
- alliteration - e.g, Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers (an old childhood fave of mine)
- a string of words connected with "and" or "or, creating a kind of list
- onomatopoeia - e.g. "Chug, chug, chug. Puff, puff, puff. Ding-dong, ding-dong" (from The Little Engine that Could, which I read to my grandkids, although its old-train culture makes it a bit difficult for them to follow. Still, the quaintness lends it a unique charm.)

The examples in the lecture were from various sources, from the Bible through recent bestsellers to the immortal Jane Austen. More about the latter in my next post. Racheli is an excellent speaker, with a very relaxed and easy manner, and manages to make complex stuff sound simple and accessible.

Next session was Temima Fructer on What's This Text Really Saying? Matrices for Disclosure Analysis of Texts and Subtexts. Though I've heard of Temima, and had the vague impression that she's worth listening to, the title of the talk made me dread it. Matrices? Disclosure analysis? Sounds awfully scientific. Not that I have anything against science, god forbid :-)

However, I needn't have worried. The main idea was that words are never arbitrary. A translator should always keep that in mind when approaching a text. Questions to consider are, for example:
- What the text omits
- How sentences are linked together
- Grammatical features that carry relational value: who is the writer "talking" to; who does he/she identify with, or who he/she is identified with.
- Does the text use jargon? slang? formal language? euphemisms? If so, why?
- Think of the different expressions used to describe the same thing: blackout; power failure; power outage; load-shedding. Who and why would prefer one of these expressions to the others?
Temima speaks fast (she did warn us), and crammed quite a bit into her talk. It was time well-spent.

Next: Lunch break, followed by Stephen Rifkind's talk, With Friends Like These... Translation Pitfalls in French-English Legal Translation. I skipped this talk because: I don't do legal translation; my French is limited to conjugating verbs and reciting a bit of poetry; and I'm well aware of the phenomenon of "false friends" (even though it was years before I discovered that this common pitfall has an "academic" name).

In December 2005 I was invited by the late Prof. Miriam Shlesinger to give a presentation to all her classes at Bar Ilan University, on the actual challenges a translator faces in his/her daily work, in contrast with the theory of translation as studied at university. Four out of my 52(!) slides dealt with what I called at the time "mokshim" in Hebrew, literally "landmines", but meaning pitfalls in this context.
Here's one example I gave, of French > English mistranslation:
 "… par des documents rediges sous forme resumée"  - cannot be translated as "… by documents prepared in a resumed form" – it doesn't make sense in English. (Perhaps "summarized", or "in the form of a summary")
"Securité does not always mean "security"; in many contexts it means "safety".
“… une facture d'acompte etablie en six exemplaires…” - six copies, not six examples

After the lecture, Prof. Shlesinger sent me a photocopy of an academic article that discusses "false friends", which is how I learnt of this term.

Gosh, I've written over 850 words, and still want to tell you about 3 more talks/presentations, plus two lectures in the plenary session. Thanks for reading so far. More in my next post: Day 2, Academic Track continued.


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