On 4 October, the London Review of Books published an article by Adam Phillips on the new Penguin translation of Freud. It can be purchased online here (showing first few lines).
It may be as well that I haven’t read it, though, judging from this letter to the LRB in response:
From Michael Robertson
As a professional German-English translator, I have found myself increasingly perplexed each time I read Adam Phillips’s essay on the new Penguin translation of Freud (LRB, 4 October).
As a consultant for Penguin, he suggested to the publishers that ‘each of the books should be translated by a different person, and that there should be no consensus about technical terms.’ He suggested that the ‘general editor should not read German,’ and that there should be ‘as little scholarly apparatus as possible . . . and no indexes, given what indexes imply about a book and its genre’.
It says a great deal about the current management at Penguin that following these suggestions, they appointed Phillips himself as the general editor. If he was not supposed to know any German and the individual translators were forbidden to co-ordinate terminology, why was there any need for the translators themselves to know German? The project would have been completed much more quickly and less expensively by employing a troupe of Chinese monkeys with keyboards. So much more open to unexpected combinations and possibilities, so unconstricted and free, so life-affirming. And those terrible anal-retentive indexes, which might enable readers to locate information they were looking for: so 20th-century, so superego.
More on Michael Robertson here
Some vendors of Denglish at the Christmas market:
On the side of the van it says Konferenztechnik. Curiously, they do have the term event technology on their website, but they vary it in strange ways.
Gabi Zöttl gives a number of useful links on her translation weblog (German), including one to an article in the Münchner Merkur on the increasingly unprofitable business of interpreting for the police.
Using the example of Hans-Joachim Lanksch, the article describes the stresses of the job (working at night, in a noisy environment, interpreting the words of people who are themselves stressed and sometimes threatening) and the difficulties, and finally, of course, the payment.
Mit all diesen Schwierigkeiten hätte der Münchner Dolmetscher Hans-Joachim Lanksch leben können. Ausschlaggebend für seinen Rückzug aus der Branche war die Bezahlung. “Hundsmiserabel schlecht“ bezahle die Münchner Polizei. “Die treffen eigene Vereinbarungen und nehmen immer die Billigsten.“ Während der gesetzlich geregelte Stundensatz eines Dolmetschers bei 55 Euro liegt, bezahle die Polizei 25 Euro und weniger. “Die Qualität des Dolmetschens leidet darunter erheblich.“ Die Münchner Polizei weist die Vorwürfe zurück. “Die Dolmetscher werden zunächst nach ihrer Qualifikation ausgesucht, aber haushalterische Aspekte müssen natürlich mit berücksichtigt werden“, so Dieter Gröbner, Sprecher der Münchner Polizei. Sechs fest angestellte Dolmetscher hat das Polizeipräsidium München, bei Bedarf werden zusätzliche Freie hinzugezogen. “Die einzelnen Dolmetscher bieten ihre Dienste und den Preis, den sie verlangen, dann selbst bei uns an.“
The talk at the BDÜ Stammtisch in Nuremberg also brings stories of bad pay, or of police authorities that request interpreters to enter into contracts to be paid 25 or 30 euros an hour, with the result that qualified and experienced interpreters have a choice between giving up police work or underselling themselves and at the same time being regarded as unprofessional by other interpreters.
Meanwhile, in England and Wales (or the whole of the UK?), I gather that the Home Office has decided to outsource almost all government translation work to two private agencies.
As Christmas approaches, or at least the shops start selling Lebkuchen in larger quantities (the Lebkuchen season actually starts with a little procession towards the end of August), thoughts of translators drift to how to say Merry Christmas in several hundred languages (Google will reveal all, and so will Youtube), or how not to say Merry Christmas at all for fear of giving offence, or perhaps how best to translate Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer (that’s caribou to those of you in the USA) into Latin, or German. Laura Gibbs presents five versions.
Rufe, nasute cerve,
nasus tuus ruber stat.
Immo, si vera dicam,
nasus tuus conflagrat.
Three German versions can be found here.
Rudolph, das kleine Rentier,
Jeder bei den Lappen kennt,
Denn seine rote Nase
Weit und breit wie Feuer brennt.
Original English text by Robert L. May and Johnny Marks, melody by Johnny Marks (no relation)
Listen to many English versions at Songza.
LATER NOTE: see the Google video of the manual version referred to in the comments. I can’t seem to manage that myself.
Thanks to kalebeul.
It is said to be a regional German custom to hide a gherkin / pickled cucumber (these are large, Zeppelin-like objects) in the Christmas tree, rather like the silver threepenny bit in the Christmas pudding.
This one is so regional, however, that it probably isn’t true. Nevertheless, some Germans have come to believe in it. You can buy the one above at Gartenschätze.
See The German Christmas Pickle Tradition: Myth or Reality?
Mind you, Father Christmas doesn’t exist either.
From the French employment agency:
Numéro d’offre 595453L Offre actualisée le 22/11/07
TRADUCTEUR/TRADUCTRICE LITTERAIRE H/F
(Code Métier ROME 32241)
VOUS AUREZ EN CHARGE LA DACTYLOGRA- -PHIE D’UN ROMAN ET LE TRADUIRE DU
FRANCAIS EN ARABE, VOUS VIVREZ AU DOMICILE DE L’EMPLOYEUR ET ASSUREREZ
QUELQUES HEURES DE MENAGE ET DE REPASSAGE, COURSES ET CUISINE
Consultez les compétences spécifiques demandées
Lieu de travail 75 – PARIS 13E ARRONDISSEMENT
Type de contrat CONTRAT A DUREE INDETERMINEE
Nature d’offre CONTRAT DE TRAVAIL
Expérience EXIGEE DE 1 A 2 ANS DANS LA TRADUCTION DE ROMAN
Formation et connaissances DIPL. NIV. BAC LITTERA.ETRANGERE EXIGE(E)
Autres connaissances ARABE BILINGUE+TECH EXIGE(E) PRATIQ. TRAIT.TEXTES EXIGE(E)
Qualification Employé qualifié
Salaire indicatif HORAIRE 13 Euros (85,27 F)
de travail 10H00 HEBDO VIVRE AU DOMICILE DE L’EMPLOYEUR
Taille de l’entreprise 0 SALARIE
Secteur d’activité SERVICES DOMESTIQUES
Experience needed: one to two years’ experience of translating novels (also typing and cleaning). It’s a live-in job.
You would have had to do quite a few hours’ cleaning to get that amount of novel translation practice at that rate.
Thanks to Samy at pt, who offers this German version:
Gesucht wird ein Literaturübersetzer, der ein Roman abtippen und vom
FR ins AR übersetzen soll. Sie sollen beim Arbeitgeber leben und
werden einige Stunden Putzarbeit, Einkaufen und Küche verrichten.
Erfahrung 1/2 Jahre als Romanübersetzer
Stundenlohn: 13 E
Die Kosten für Unterkunft/Verpflegung werden abgezogen.
Arbeitsvolumen: 10 Stunden beim Arbeitgeber
It’s been widely reported that Laura Saperstein, who grew up in Australia and was a lawyer in Australia and later at Freshfields in London, has become a professional boxer. She was unbeaten in her ten amateur fights and won her first professional bout recently. The Law Society Gazette has an article on her.
Ms Saperstein grew up near Byron Bay in Australia, but a lack of money and sponsorship killed her youthful dreams of becoming a professional surfer, so instead she eventually began studying law, finishing university with a first-class honours degree.
‘That gave me the chance to work pretty much where I wanted. I worked in criminal law for a while but did not enjoy it much. In 2001, I realised I could triple my earnings if I did corporate law in London and thought I might as well get paid as much as I could. I worked as a mergers and acquisitions solicitor at Freshfields for three years. It was a good salary but long hours – 14-hour days – and a lot of pressure.
‘It was a real prestige job, flying business class around Europe to lead negotiations and the firm paying for everything, but I didn’t like being stuck in an office working for other people. I was a long way from family and friends back home and did not have a support network.’
However, you don’t have to give up the law. Sara Davies (who grew up in Canada) is a partner in a family law firm and boxes in her spare time.
From John Mesirow’s Legal Juice