Translating poetry / Das Übersetzen von Gedichten

This is the second time I’ve read this kind of thing in the TLS in recent weeks. This time it’ll be online for a few days more, in a review of Ted Hughes, Selected Translations, edited by Daniel Weissbort:

Daniel Weissbort, who edited this selection, tells the story of Hughes taking another poet’s translation of a work by the Hungarian Ferenc Juhasz and, without any knowledge of the original language and no Hungarian speaker to advise him, turning that version into a thrilling poem that drives the existing versions off the map. It is as if there were, as the race has often dreamed, an ur-language, some fundamental human speech predating the Tower of Babel, to which true poets have visionary access.

I must remember to work on this. Just imagine: you need no dictionaries, no trips abroad to brush up the language.

(The reviewer, Clive Wilmer, does very much qualify this statement in the rest of the review, to be fair)

13 thoughts on “Translating poetry / Das Übersetzen von Gedichten

  1. “who believe the point of going to the Continent is to get drunk”

    Oh, is that not the point? Erm, oops! ;-)

    (You’d better tell that to President Bush, too – have you seen the footage of him pouring himself a beer last night? And then reporters asking Sarkozy this morning why Bush hadn’t yet turned up to the meeting with him? Hmm…)

  2. LOL – depends on who’s leering at me! ;-) I see, so it’s the specific behaviour rather than the state of drunkenness itself – although I can see how the two tend to go hand-in-hand.

    A lot of my female students here wear low-cut tops, and I only need to glance in their direction and they start fidgeting with them. And I’m not even looking there! I can’t work out what that’s all about.

  3. Just had to look that up on LEO! ‘Observation’ in this case, right?

    (I think they’re just at a self-conscious age, by the way. They probably spend half the day fiddling with their straps.)

  4. >>She wanted 9.05 euros an hour as an interpreter, not 7.78 euros an hour outside the turnstiles.

  5. Well, as I said, it isn’t usually regarded as real interpreting. Someone on another forum pointed out that she may be a full-time housewife and mother who occasionally earns some pocket money this way. Some people enjoy chatting to potential customers at trade fairs.

  6. I just would like to correct something: I’m not the author of that blog. I rather am the owner of, the hosting plattform.

    As far as I can see, the “real” author did not tell anything about him/her.

  7. 9.05 Euro/hour (before tax!) is crap money. You get more than that stacking shelves. I knew I did the right thing, doing that apprenticeship in shelf stacking at Aldi after dropping out of that translation degree.

  8. Yes, well it isn’t translation and it isn’t even interpreting. If you speak two languages you can get a temporary job like that without any qualifications. At Nuremberg they often give them to translation students, though. It is quite useful for them to encounter a large number of people who really don’t speak any German and communicating with them. The students enjoy it. That’s why this woman was the oldest there by far. It’s very odd that she would be doing this job. (I should add that I’m not clear exactly what she did – registering visitors in several languages, it sounds like).

  9. The opinion of the US Court of Appeal for the 2nd Circuit in the Fox v FCC case is already published; it’s available here:

    Unfortunately, the video of the court hearing seems not to be available any more; it was fun to watch; the “TV-Barn”-blog described it like this:
    “You, too, can enjoy the spectacle of an outmatched FCC lawyer perspiring his way through hostile questioning by two of the three judges. Also, it’s just fun to hear the F-word on basic cable. Even the judges, at times, seemed kind of giddy about it. And if that’s not enough, the Fox lawyer will actually make you feel good about Rupert Murdoch again.”

    see my posts on that issue here:

  10. Thanks. I wrote this a few days ago and decided to post it now, so I missed the fact that the text was online. I think Conrad Black has taken my mind off Rupert Murdoch, though.

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