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Posts Tagged ‘translator’

Photo: via Songngutaitram,
Vietnamese poet Lê Vĩnh Tài.


Blogger Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm got a couple of us hooked on Vietnamese poetry with her translation of a long and moving epic by the poet pictured above, Lê Vĩnh Tài.

At the AJAR Press, where Lê Vĩnh Tài’s work is published, Nguyễn Trọng Tạo provides background on the poet, “Lê Vĩnh Tài was born in 1966 in Ban Me Thuot, Daklak. He graduated from Tay Nguyen Medical School but later pursued a career in business and making poetry. Le Vinh Tai’s poetry is rich in intellect but also carries much of tenderness and trembling. He is like a ‘balanced renovator.’ ”

A small sample of his more playful poetry comes from Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm’s blog, Songngutaitram:

“I want to write a poem

“because the poem will
“because the poem be

“the poem
“will throw itself upon the pages
“with the vigour of a child learning how to talk

“the poem
“the lyrics you’ve forgotten

“I want to turn us into a poem.”

Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm, herself a poet as well as a translator, reports that she was “born 1971 in Phu Nhuan, Saigon, Vietnam. The pharmacist currently lives and works in Western Sydney, Australia.”

A word on the Vietnamese press called AJAR: “AJAR is dedicated to the discovery of poetry and art in both ordinary and hidden places, providing a space for these works to be exhibited, loved, and challenged. As a bilingual journal and independent small press based in Hanoi, AJAR provides an opening for questions, imaginings, and poetic (im)possibility to be shared across borders, inhabiting language as it moves between worlds and words. In bringing fresh and critical voices of Vietnamese literature and art into English, and welcoming those voices from everywhere into Vietnamese, we focus on quality translations and envision books as artifacts of artistic collaboration. Alongside single author poetry collections, AJAR publishes a bilingual journal of poetry, short fiction, essay, and artwork that revolves around a specific word of choice for each issue. 

“While accepting donations from individuals, AJAR is self-funded and unaffiliated with any outside or inside organization. To be a part of keeping AJAR alive, please buy books or contact us at shop@ajarpress.com.”

To learn more about translation in general, check out This Little Art, by Kate Briggs. Briggs brings up many fascinating points about the decisions that translators must make — points you may never have thought about — and opines that, in fact, the translator is also the author. At least, the author in the second language.

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Rohingya-in-Bangladesh-ARC-photo

Photo: @coryt
American Refugee Committee, a nonprofit with Charity Navigator‘s highest rating, is one of a few organizations helping Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh camps.

With so many languages still in use, I have sometimes wondered how aid workers in refugee camps find people to translate languages that are rare.

Malaka Gharib reports about some of the challenges at National Public Radio (NPR).

“Imagine an aid worker in Bangladesh. Her mother tongue is Chittagonian. She’s trying to help a Rohingya refugee, whose language is similar to hers — but not 100 percent. The refugee tells her gaa-lamani biaram, ‘my body is falling apart.’ Would she know that phrase meant the refugee had diarrhea?

“That’s why a new glossary is being developed. And one of the 180 entries is that Rohingya phrase, indicating that a person is suffering from diarrhea.

“In June, a nonprofit group called Translators Without Borders, in partnership with Oxfam and UNICEF, created a special online glossary for humanitarians working in Rohingya camps in Bangladesh. The app, which aid workers can download on their mobile phones, includes terms with translations in five languages spoken in the camps: English, Bangla, Rohingya, Chittagonian and Burmese. …

“A November 2017 study from Internews, a nonprofit group that helps people in low-income settings access news and information, reported that almost two-thirds of the 570 Rohingya refugees surveyed at Cox’s Bazar [a Bangladesh camp] were unable to communicate with aid providers.

“That can be particularly dangerous when it comes to health care, says [Irene Scott, the program director for Translators Without Borders in Bangladesh]. … To create the glossary, Translators Without Borders assembled a focus group of aid workers and refugees to come up with ‘a dictionary list of terms they use at the camps every day and terms that field workers are having trouble trying to communicate,’ says Scott. Then they worked with members of the community and a staff sociolinguist to translate the words into the four languages. …

“Most of the words in this first iteration of the Bangladesh glossary focus on water, sanitation and hygiene. Over the past few months, the camps have faced acute water shortages, putting people at risk of waterborne diseases like cholera, bloody diarrhea, typhoid and hepatitis E. …

” ‘Chlorine tablet’ is an important word for aid workers to clearly translate, says Scott, because they’re asking refugees to put a foreign substance into their drinking water to make it safe to consume. ‘It’s hard to tell a traumatized community to put that tablet in water and drink it.’ …

There are a few unexpected words in the glossary — like ‘poem.’ Rohingya aid volunteers in the camps specifically asked for this word to be added.

” ‘Since Rohingya is an oral language, written communications like fliers or pamphlets [to convey important health information] may not be effective given the lack of a standardized script,’ says Krissy Welle, senior communications officer for Translators Without Borders.

“Rhyming conventions are a key way to transfer knowledge and historical facts in Rohingya culture, explains Eva Niederberger, Oxfam’s community engagement adviser in Cox’s Bazar, in a statement to NPR. So an aid worker might say something like, ‘Here’s a poem that will teach you how to protect yourself from certain diseases. …

” ‘When we talk about language with Rohingya women and men, they’re happy that someone is paying attention to something so crucially important to their cultural identity. For so long they’ve had their rights denied to them. It’s all about respect at the end of the day.’ ”

More at NPR, here.

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