Tag Archives: technical translation

Broadway Director Takes on a Play’s Translation Herself

When it comes to true artists, maybe passion and vision are all they need to make a satisfactory translation of a work in another language. Former Broadway star Liv Ullman will be putting that sentiment to the test when she directs her own language interpretation translation of the Norwegian play, A Doll’s House. Instead of using a professional translator or a translated version to develop her script, she will be doing it on her own to apply her own personal thoughts and beliefs about the production. She has a special understanding of the script as it is, because she starred in the show in 1975 on Broadway.

The Play is No Stranger to Translation

A Doll’s House was originally written in Norwegian when it was written by Henrik Ibsen. It premiered in Copenhagen in 1879, and has gone through countless translations and productions around the world since then. When it underwent a German translation, Ibsen’s agent actually made him change the ending so that it would suit German audiences at the time. The show has also been on Broadway in New York City thirteen times, and it even won a Tony award in 1997. In each of these thirteen productions, the play was translated to English in its entirety.

Artistic Translations Have Room for Error

Ullman probably wouldn’t take on the technical translation of a government document or a business translation for an important decision. She is not a professional, and such translations should be left to the professionals. However, a play is a work of art, and it’s always up to the interpretation of the director and actors. Therefore, even if her translation of A Doll’s House is not exactly correct word-for-word, she will still be applying her own style to the piece and the audience will still gain the intended insight by watching it. Luckily, Ullman also has many examples to refer to if she gets stuck since the play has been translated into English so many times.

Artistic translations certainly don’t require as much expertise as legal translations or technical translations, but there’s a good chance Ullman might need help with a word or two along the way. Even if she does seek out professional help on parts of the play where the translation is more difficult because of idioms and context, it will still prove to be an artistic extension of herself after she translates the bulk of it.

Children’s Literature Themes Come Across in Any Language

Adults are picky about the books they read. Often, translations of popular books in other countries don’t become popular in the United States because readers find it difficult to connect with the characters. The English translation of a story about a woman’s strife in Africa to keep her family healthy is interesting to many people, but it is not going to fly off the shelves. Those themes are difficult for a busy professional woman to relate to between picking her kids up from school and making steak for dinner. Children on the other hand can relate to each other easily from anywhere across the globe. Whether a kid is reading the German translation of a Spanish children’s book or the Chinese translation of a book from Portugal, he or she will likely understand the themes and relate to them well.

“Scaredy Squirrel” to be Released in Iran

Though the United States and Iran certainly have their differences, there will be a professional translation of a children’s book from English to Iranian. The book is called “Scaredy Squirrel,” and it’s the first in a series of books about a squirrel seeking courage to take on events in his daily life. Though adults from the two countries disagree on many points, children in both places can all innocently relate to the universal themes of courage and friendship.  So far, only the first book has been translated, but other books in the series have been released in the United States. These include, “Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend” and “Scaredy Squirrel at Night.” The books were written by Melanie Watt and have received numerous awards.

Translator Known for Her Children’s Books

The translator responsible for the release of “Scaredy Squirrel” is known in Iran for the many translations of children’s books that she’s completed. Her name is Mahboubeh Najaf-Khani and she was born in Tehran in 1956. She studied at the Supreme Translation School and is now a professional translator of English.

It’s easy to forget about children’s literature when examining the importance of translation from a global perspective, but in many ways it’s just as important as business, legal or technical translation. It gives children the opportunity to connect with each other from across oceans through books. Kids can learn that, even though they are miles away, people in other countries are just like them and sometimes they struggle with the same problems but in different ways.

Journal Translation Gives Unmatched Insight into American History

Many of the earliest accounts of North America are not in English because explorers from around the globe documented them. Back then, these explorers had very few resources with which to record their findings, so the chances of even uncovering these journals is highly unlikely. However, The North American Journals of Prince Maximillian of Wied, from Germany have been discovered and the final volume has just been translated. Professional translators have been meticulously chipping away at the third and final volume for years now. The other two volumes have already been released, and in 2008 the first was named the Outstanding Nonfiction Book of the Year.

Journal is One of the Most Comprehensive Depictions of Native Americans

Prince Alexander Phillip Maximillian was an explorer, an ethnologist, and a naturalist. Therefore, he knew exactly what to look for in his exploration of Native American culture. He traveled deep into the interior of North America, which at the time was largely unexplored. In the journal, he described the Native peoples, the topography of the country, the natural history he saw at the time and the inner workings of the fur trade in the High Plains. The technical translation of the series of journals into English is invaluable to North American historians. They provide a clear window into what North America was like in 1832 from an outsiders’ perspective.

Original Illustrations Accompany the Translations

The translations of Prince Alexander Phillip Maximillian’s journals also contain all of the original notes, annotations and asides that he included in his own writing. In addition to these notes, the translation service also took the time to   redo the illustrations by Maximillian’s travel companion, Karl Bodmer. During the journey, Bodmer made more than 350 watercolor illustrations of what the pair was seeing. The images are compelling, and the translated volumes of the journals contain enhanced depictions of these drawings, which make them even more valuable to history.

Sometimes, the importance of translation goes beyond a general understanding of someone from another culture. Business, literary and legal translations are all certainly important in the modern world, but translations such as that of these journals give anthropologist an entirely new set of information to work with. Knowing the history of the world gives us a better understand of the future. The translation goes beyond modern convenience and is more a cultural necessity to understanding the foundations and history of North America.