For the literary prose unit, I translated a short story, entitled Herr Erwig, by the German author Christopher Kloeble. It is from a collection of short stories entitled, Radiogeschichten, published in 2010. Christopher Kloeble is an up and coming author who has served as an author in residence in many institutions most recently at Goethe Institute Bangalore, India (2013). He has also won awards such as Juergen Ponto-Stiftung for best debut author in 2008.
The story I translated is about a former actor Max Erwig, who is reflecting on his life, mainly his wife Andrea. He is imagining their future reunion after he dies. He is bed bound and attended to by a nurse. My translation excerpt is the very last section of the story in my ePortfolio.
Biographical information and photo from http://www.christopherkloeble.de/
Meeting the Learning Goals:
I learned about how language functions and is received by really pay attention to all the literary choices I made in this translation. Each word had a special importance in this text and it was important to keep in mind the exact connotation of a word, not just its definition, like I often did in the business translation. For example, Zeigefinger, can be translated as either "index finger" or "pointer finger" and both have the same defination, the second digit. But to me "index finger" sounds too clinical or scientific and implies a short of distance or distachment. It was not appropriate for this very emotional moment between Max and Andrea. "Pointer finger" sounds softer, implies a non medical understanding of the names of fingers. I had to pay attention to the different literary devices employed by the author such as repetition, diction, syntax, punctuation, imagery, and illusion.
What I learned most from this translation was how much more enjoyable a text can be, and how much more I can see its unique and often beautiful details, by translating it. I was able to fully appreciate the choices made by the author: the repetition, the imagery, the way certain things one character said in the past was reflected by another character in the present (showing how much a loved one affects our speech patterns), and my favorite, the last part. Without having done this translation, I would have never seen the parallels between the places Max and Andrea visited and the order and choice of language in the seemingly random string of "I love you"s. Doing this translation made me want to read more by this author and to pay particular attention to every decision an author makes, either while translating or just reading for fun.
The hardest part to translate for me was sprich kein Wort. I was torn between wanting to keep faithful to the German and choosing a more idiomatic English expression. I originally had decided to stray from the German and use what I would consider a more idiomatic English expression "say no more." But the more that I though about it and the more that I thought about what was important to me in a literary translation, the more convinced I became that I should say "speak no words" which is what I ended up using. For me, fidelity to the German, in a literary text, comes before being overtly idiomatic in one's English. I did have to change Wort which is singular into the plural words for it to make sense in English. I think "speak no words" words still works in English. It works well in the context of the larger text works. Previously Max had been thinking about how there was not enough sound or words and about how his words were muffled by the curtains. I did not choose to use any dictionaries, as the vocabulary was simple. I did take into consideration what the class had decided on but eventually choose to use something else.
The overall experience:
In this translation, I learned about how the translation process works by for the first time truly working in a translation team. The class made one translation for when the author came to Hunter to visit. Although I know translation teams are rare, the ability to work in a group and to make decisions (including to agree to disagree for the sake of meeting a deadline), are skills that I acquired through this experience. Although I was unable to attend the reading by Christopher Kloeble, I knew that a translation I in part created, was being read in public. I had mixed feelings about this. I was proud of the translation the class created and I was very happy with certain parts and my contributions. But I also disagreed with certain choices that were made.