How Are Translators Like Illustrators?

The eight-episode Netflix documentary Abstract: The Art of Design launched on February 10, and the first episode profiles illustrator Christoph Niemann. The work of illustrators makes for better visuals than that of translators, no doubt, and, true to its subject, the show has captivating images and uses special effects and animated drawings to bring Niemann’s creative process …

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New Publication: Ethics and Cultural Heritage

I recently discovered on Nicholas O’Donnell’s Art Law Report blog that a new collection of essays has just been published by L’Harmattan in Paris on “Perspectives on Ethics and Cultural Heritage” (Ethique et Patrimoine Culturel: Regards Croisés). These are the proceedings of a conference held on October 20 and 21, 2015, at L’Ecole du Louvre …

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Thinking “Around” the Concept

I recently read a great blog post by Avi Kallenbach of Academic Language Experts on the greatest challenge facing translators. That challenge, as he sees it, is avoiding literalism. While the meaning of the source text should be expressed as accurately as possible, linguistic features such as vocabulary and sentence structure should sound absolutely natural in the …

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Taking It Literally

Keds is a classic brand known worldwide. It’s been around for exactly one hundred years, having been founded in 1916, and its original shoe design was the first mass-marketed canvas-top sneaker (see photo above). But their slogans in French could use a little work. Keds shoe boxes have these English-language phrases with corresponding French translations: Take on the …

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How Bad is Buzzfeed in Translation?

For the past four months, Buzzfeed has been using students from the language-learning site Duolingo to translate its content into French, Spanish, and Portuguese. The bottom line, naturally, is that it’s cheaper: Duolingo (which claims to teach languages better than universities — a college education is really superfluous now that we have the Internet!) translates …

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“Hot. Cool. Yours.” Really?

The Sochi Olympics begin today, with the official slogan “Hot. Cool. Yours.” Really? It sounds like those old ads for the McDLT. What were they thinking? According to the Sochi 2014 website, the word “Hot” represents “the intensity of sporting battle and the passion of the spectators, and it emphasizes the location of the Games, the …

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Normal Or Not?

Translators always need to be aware of the nature of the message they’re translating. This may seem obvious, but different kinds of statements are aiming for different relationships to their audience. For instance, we usually think of clarity as a value in writing, and translators will even “clean up” the language a bit to make …

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Garfield Translated into Russian

According to the Moscow Times, the comic strip Garfield has now been translated into Russian for the first time by Mikhail Khachaturov and is being published by Elf Comics. “Russia practically doesn’t have any of its own comics,” publisher Elena Depeille told the paper. “Apart from just translating Garfield, we want to create a culture of comics in …

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Who Translated Vladimir Putin’s Op-Ed?

Vladimir Putin‘s op-ed in the New York Times (September 12 in the print edition) inspired reader curiosity (as well as heated online discussion, with some commenters forgetting that the opinion pages are exactly that — opinions). Public editor Margaret Sullivan wrote a blog post about how the op-ed came to be, explaining that an American …

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