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New Publications:   The New York based publisher Contra Mundum is bringing out some interesting new books, notably a bi-lingual (French/English) edition of Self-Shadowing Prey by the surrealist Romanian poet Ghérasim Luca (to be reviewed in these pages), a new translation fo Gilgamesh, also a “long out of print study on Keats Negative Capability :the Intuitive Approach in Keats by W. J. Bate.  See

Internet and Language :  Debate rages as to whether the Internet will have or has already had a net good or bad effect on the English language.  Alexa Russel who writes for an English website has sent in the following article: .

The Profound Effect the Internet Has Had on the English Language   by Alexa Russell

Spelling errors abound on the Internet, where individuals can publish any amount of content without using an editor or spell-check software. This concerns many who feel that we already have too much difficulty discerning “too,” “two” and “to” or “their” from “they’re.” For others, however, the Internet is proving that the rules of the English language are almost secondary to its usage and can be simplified for effective communication. This debate will only intensify as shortened forms of communication through digital means become more ubiquitous.
Some have found that the development of Internet-based communication has only served to cause greater confusion when trying to communicate through those avenues. A personal piece printed by the Hamilton Spectator in June 2012 discusses the author’s attempts to follow the seemingly ever-changing rules of Internet communication. “Now,” Jeff Mahoney writes, “for the first time in my experience, I’m getting corrected on my emoticons.”
One of the problems with looser grammatical rules for Internet communication is the lack of a formal set of rules. Without realizing it, an individual can look unhip by adding a nose to her emoticon or using the wrong acronym to indicate a personal state. This can add to the anxiety of trying to draft a message to others.
Others argue that lax spelling standards should be embraced as they don’t hinder actual communication; rather, they make communication more efficient. In January 2012, Wired Magazine announced that it was “Tyme to Let Luce” in a feature article on the effects of autocorrect on texting. The piece argues that attempts to improve writing with autocorrect software hampers the ability to communicate more than improper spelling.
“Autocorrect and spellcheckers are wrongheaded because they reinforce a traditional spelling standard,” writes Anne Trubeck for Wired. Although consistent spelling was necessary in the traditional print era, where publishing was consolidated to a small amount of companies and individuals, spelling rules today get in the way of digital communication between any two parties.
Advocates of lax restrictions on spelling believe that letting individuals figure out how to spell certain words while in active communication is a much more organic form of language development than commitment to archaic grammar rules. Instead of autocorrect, language-recognition software programs like Siri are the future of clarity in communication to them.
Still, the development of casual forms of communication has created a gap between the technically illiterate and chronic texters. In some cases, special classes are used to close this communication gap, which is most prevalent between young adults and the elderly. In 2010 the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand sponsored a texting workshop aimed at informing elderly individuals about the different rules of communication used in texting and other digital forms. The workshop was exalted for promoting improvement of mental health and wellbeing for entire communities by improving communication.
Language rules which were impenetrable for centuries are now different from generation to generation. This often requires more work to communicate across different age groups, which may respect entirely different sets of grammatical rules. However, the efficiencies created when both parties are familiar with the spelling rules used can make casual communication a highly efficient method of sharing information.

(Alexa Russell writes for an English website that discusses how these and other issues are being taught at English colleges and universities around the globe.)

Queries for a Practising Translator :   John Dewey and Graham Mummery have already sent in completed ‘questionnaires’ for which many thanks (see previous posts). But maybe I ought to add to this by answering my own questions :

Q1. Do you only ever translate from a language you  know well? (If “No” Do you get help from a native speaker? )  Yes. Even for this language (French) I consult native speakers as well.  

Q2.  Do you prefer to read other translations of the piece you are translating?  (a) Before starting  (b) After making a first draft (c) Never  ?      (b) Only to check what someone else has made of an obscure passage.

 Q3.  Do you use a dictionary?  If “Yes”, do you use a foreign language/English dictionary or a dictionary in the source language itself?  Both. I recently resolved only to use the Robert French/French dictionary but I soon found I had to compromise on this.

 Q4. Do you show your translation to anyone before sending it off?  Prose, yes; poetry, no, as a rule.

 Q5. Do you ever translate books or poems you don’t like?  If “Yes”, does this bother you when translating? Only time I did this was a disaster : the publisher to be got a lousy translation and I was lucky to get paid anything at all.  

Q6.  Do you work regular hours or in spurts ‘when you feel like it’?  Regular spurts aided by Bacchus.

Q7. Do you use stimulants (e.g. coffee, alcohol, drugs) to ‘get started’?   Red wine is essential for lyric poetry and poetic prose. When my doctor banned alcohol completely I stopped translating or writing poetry and have not gone back to it (transalting poetry I mean).  A study conducted by the New Scientist came to the conclusion that alcohol “does not make you more creative but can make you feel more creative”. But ‘feeling’ more creative is often what you need : it unlocks the word-hoard.

Q8. Could you give examples of particular difficulties in translating poems or prose from a specific language ? Have you any tips about how to get round these difficulties? Chief difficulty with French is when you have a highly stylized author such as Jouhandeau whom I am currently translating : does one imitate the somewhat old-fashioned diction or modernize for comprehensibility? Scott Moncrieff’s (already ancient) translation of Proust is much less stylized than the original mainly because Proust makes copious use of the subjunctive, though Scott does imitate Proust’s rec0rd-breaking long sentences.

Q9.  Do you see yourself as a ‘literal’ translator or a ‘free’ one?  Free. Prefer to ‘get the spirit’.

Q10. When translating rhymed poetry, do you try to imitate the rhyme scheme and metre?  (a) always; (b) sometimes; (c) never ?  (b) If the rhyme/stamza form seems important as in the case, say, of a sonnet, I always try to keep to the form though I allow myself to make slight changes in the rhyme scheme if necessary. Also, curiously, I find a twelve syllable line comes more naturally to me than the usual English ten-syllable line so this helps when translating French poetry in (twelve syllable) alexandrines.

Sebastian Hayes is the author of Rimbaud Revisited & Une Saison en Enfer A New Translation (Brimstone 2010) and of The Trace I Wish to Leave translations from the French of Anna de Naoilles and Six Poems from the French of Catherine Pozzi (Hague Press Limited Edition).  S.H. 11/08/12


Le front comme un drapeau perdu
Je te traine quand je suis seul
Dans des rues froides
Dans les chambres noires
En criant misère

Je ne veux pas les lâcher
Tes mains claires et compliquées
Nées dans le miroir clos des miennes

Tout le reste est parfait
Tour le reste est encore plus inutile
Que la vie

Une nappe d’eau près des seins
Où se noyer
Comme une pierre

Paul Éluard


Brow as a lost flag
I pull you with me when I am alone
In the cold streets
In the dark rooms
Crying poverty

I’ll not let go of them
Your light intricate hands
Born in the closed mirror of mine

All the rest is perfect
All the rest is even more futile
Than life

A sheet of water near your breasts
Where I’ll let myself drown
Like a stone

(translation Graham Mummery)