18th February 2000 at 00:00
The Art of Translation

An intriguing website from the British Council's literature department and the British Centre for Literary Translation in which professional translators discuss their work and reveal some of the tricks of their little-appreciated trade.

Here, for example, you can learn how Asterix's English translators grappled with the sometimes outrageous punning and wordplay of the original, and how they came up with names such as Getafix and Vitalstatistix. Or how Trainspotting's translators attempted to convey the raw power of Irvine elsh's expletive-laden Edinburgh street argot in joual, its French-Canadian equivalent. Another workshop uses window-in-window displays to compare four different translations of the opening verses of the Book of Genesis, along with the original Hebrew.

There's already a healthy archive of these workshops, each casting a little more light on the complicated relationship of language, linguistics and literature. The site also covers some of the current theoretical debates and provides listings and contact details for those who are inspired to dig deeper.


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