14 March 1997

Date: Fri, 14 Mar 1997 07:00:53 +0800
From: chliao@farmer.cc-sun.fcu.edu.tw (Chao-Chih Liao)
Subject: Powerful translator

As a business/technical translator for 8 years, I’d like to point out two more facts about translation in Taiwan:

1) In many cases, the word processor in a company wrote very poor Mandarin, the native language in Taiwan, they expected the translator to change THE WOMAN IN A RUG to THE QUEEN IN HER CROWN. Well, I was successful in the respect.

On the other hand, I was a failure because I was unfaithful to the source text. It seems that the kind of text you are asked to translate is one of the invisible hands too. If the text is technical or business, and by an ordinary hand or maybe this ordinary hand is expert from the viewpoint of the company, and the translator can beautify it in the target langguage, it would be much appreciated.

Under the condition that the translation agency is not willing to expose their WEALTH GOD, the customer, to the translator, I would ask the agent to act as a go-between, “Can you ask the source author if I can make the translation more beautiful than the original source text?” (By saying this, I indirectly complained that the source text is bad.) Usually the agent came back with the positive answer.

2) I did not have the experience of saving the world through translation. I did have the experience of saving a company through translation.

Then was I put in an important position actually? Well, a part-time translator is a part-time translator, nothing more. When I beautified the source business text, the WEALTH GOD was really happy about it and they came later and specified me to be their translator. I earned more money, but no actual higher position. (Perhaps I should be happy about it because more chance to earn money should mean more power already.)

Again, I like the metaphors of invisible hands (which means factors controlling the qualities of translation to me), and the women in another dresses.

Well, if the solid high position is what a translator pursues, s/he obviously failed to choose the right field to enter (the Chinese proverb). Maybe not, in Taiwan, we had Liang Shi-qiou who translated all Shakespeare’s plays into Chinese and he was deemed high in the Chinese society.

Liang was worshiped as a great WRITER, because he translated Shakespeare’s.

Laura Chao-chih Liao

Date: Fri, 14 Mar 1997 11:10:31 +1000
From: E.Valverde@mailbox.uq.oz.au (Estela Valverde)
Subject: Invisible hands and gas

Doug writes: maybe that’s because we’ve been using the term “power” differently

YES I think is a question of what we both understand for power. I am not saying that translators do not have the power of manipulating the TT to their will. We all have the potential for dissidence. But for me to have power is to be able to excert oppositional behaviour and not only be heard but contribute to change without destroying your self. If in the process of dissidence you get destroyed then your power is limited to a single act of heroism and self-sacrifice. Is that power?

He also says: “from that perspective your views look like the proverbial ostrich with its trembling head buried deep in the sand.”

I like that metaphor that reminds me of a famous song by Nacha Guevara. I do not think myself as an ostrich though, but as somebody who has experience directly the price of dissidence and would not encourage anybody to opt for that path unless they fully understand the consequences. Realistic? Yes, I have my bouts of realism but I am a romantic at heart, somebody who has learnt to control her passions in the name of self-preservation.

A/Prof. Estela Valverde
Coordinator of Spanish
Dept. of Romance Languages
The University of Queensland
St. Lucia Qld. 4072

Fax: (61-7) 3365 2798
Telephone: (61-7) 3365 2277

Date: Thu, 13 Mar 1997 19:55:18 -0500 (EST)
From: Anthony Pym <100701.3410@CompuServe.COM>
Subject: Re: Dutch

Carlo Marzocchi points out, correctly, that Dutch is an official EU language, whereas I suggested it wasn’t.

I beg forgiveness for the mistake.

I might add that the error was pointed out to me some years ago (by Andrew Chesterman and Theo Hermans, I think), well before I was at Leuven. So please don’t blame the people at Leuven!

My real mistake was thus to have sent an old version of the ‘Transaction Costs’ paper to the colloquium, without changing this important item.

Carlo’s other points are well taken, although I can’t help wondering if the language services available to the European Parliament are a measure of the extent to which its weight is symbolic rather than a question of effective power.

Anthony Pym

Date: Fri, 14 Mar 1997 16:59:23 +0000
From: sgolden@cc.uab.es (Sean Golden)
Subject: Closing Day

As the afternoon of 14 March comes to a close in Barcelona, it is obvious that the volume of messages has fallen off, and that participants are starting to go home (i.e., unsubscribe to TRANSFER-L).

I would like to thank all of those who have participated, actively or passively. Special thanks to Doug Robinson and Anthony Pym and Michael Cronin for taking on the role of “invited speakers” in this experiment, but equal thanks to everyone else who participated as well.

This has been an experiment that we should be able to learn from. I would be very interested in receiving “feedback” from participants that might help us to design future on-line activities better.

I think we have seen that the information load of many messages ran the danger of being an information overload. Perhaps we were mid-way between a “live” colloquium and an exchange of learned articles in journals, at times.

I was not able to introduce either of the two elements that might have made possible an interactive element in “real” time: “chat” or videoconferencing. Those are areas to be explored.

I think we have not resolved the problem that formed one of the bases of the colloquium itself–intercultural communication via a “lingua franca”. I suspect that there are people who were happy to “look on”, or “listen in”, without particpating actively, but I suspect that there were participants who might have participated more actively if the colloquium had been more multilingual, if we had created more of an “interculture” in this “cyberhall” where we held the colloquium.

I think that the emergent behviour we have been observing over the last two weeks does show that the TRANSFER-L messages were different from TRANSLAT messages or LANTRA-L messages.

I am particularly interested in being able to establish where that difference lies. I am interested in trying to establish what an “on-line” colloquium allows us to do that a “live” colloquium does not. This INTERNET environment should help us to improve what we already do in other communications media (including live, face-to-face interaction). To do so I think we have to discover more about the emerging nature of this medium of communication.

TRANSFER-L will not go on much longer. I will keep it open for another few days in order to allow the people who are just beginning the morning of the last “official” day to make their contributions, and also to allow all participants to offer their opinions about the experience itself, about how it could be improved, about possible topics for future on-line activities, etc.

Personally, I am pleased with the result; and I hope that all of the other participants will have enjoyed the experience and that it may have stimulated thought on the practice, teaching and theory of translation across disciplinary and experiential lines.

Thank you for being with us.

Sean Golden