Review: Translation and Globalization – by Michael Cronin

Translation and Globalization
Translation and Globalization by Michael Cronin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book, by Irish author Michael Cronin, explores translation studies from a globalization perspective with specific attention paid to the situation in Ireland. Globalization is a trend which is ever-increasing in our world and it is an undeniable fact. How do translators fit into this movement of culture? They are involved whether they support globalization or not and very often they must remain unbiased in their views. As contact increases between different cultures and language groups across the planet the translator is finding himself ever more involved. Technology issues and localisation are covered and this is particularly relevant to Ireland which has set itself up as a hub for the international technological revolution. The book analyses the different cultural conflicts which arise in translation as a result of globalization. What are the relationships between powerful global languages and more minor ones? I found the final chapter on minor languages, looking in detail at Irish Gaelic, most interesting. When one is a native speaker of English it is difficult to overlook the factors affecting translators of minor languages whose working lives and structure and thinking are markedly different to the bulk of translators. The book is very well written and gives a comprehensive outlook on Translation Studies, never veering too far from the underlying topic of globalization. I found it easy to follow and rich in its definitions and examples. I will be using the specific content on Translation History for my next essay.

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Review: Translation-mediated Communication in a Digital World

Translation-mediated Communication in a Digital World
Translation-mediated Communication in a Digital World by Minako O’Hagan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was published in 2002 and obviously a lot has changed in twelve years in the filed of technology. Bearing in mind that it is outdated, there are, however, some very good valid points which are raised about translation-mediated communication in the computer age. Translators need a new set of skills in order to function in the modern age. There is a movement towards machine translation and the way in which it integrates into traditional styles of translation is a new subject for translation studies. The whole internet and the increasing need for webpage translation means that translators need to be aware of web languages and also about the varied nature of websites. The whole language of websites is different. People do not read websites like they do books or traditional forms of media and this the language to be translated is different. I found the whole approach of the book to the translator’s role in globalisation to bring some good far-reaching ideas into my mind about the future of translation. I left this book wondering more about the subject and the possibilities of technology. To be critical of the book, there was an overuse of acronyms. TMC was easy enough to adapt to but I found that the steady introduction of new acronyms in the text just became overbearing and confusing so that I couldn’t remember what was being referred to. There was a fair bit of repetition of ideas and sometimes the language became too over-technical and unnecessarily complicated and was very difficult to follow. I think the authors are obviously talented people in this field and have critical knowledge. I would like to see the book brought up to date for today’s situation. The ideas identified in this work were very prophetic and this indicates the high level of competence in the study.

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Review: Derrida: A Very Short Introduction

Derrida: A Very Short Introduction
Derrida: A Very Short Introduction by Simon Glendinning
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The philosophy of Jacques Derrida keeps cropping up on my reading in Translation Studies. I’m getting a vague idea of deconstruction but really need to tackle the works of the man himself to truly understand his philosophy. I thought I’d try this short introduction as a taster to better familiarise myself with his ideas. I think that Derrida is slightly more complex and difficult to understand than more traditional philosophers. He gathers poles of thought within the philosophical movement. It seems that either you love or hate Derrida. I think the fundamental precept of Deconstruction is to reevaluate one’s ideals, to tear apart more traditional modes of thinking and to analyse a subject from a completely different, new perspective. This introduction left me, at times, feeling as though I was beginning to understand Derrida, yet at other times things went flying over my head and removed what knowledge I thought I had gained. I think the Derrida work on language is more accessible and I look forward to tackling ‘On Grammatology’. His work with words and language seems more logical and accurate and easier to digest than some of the less direct musings on philosophy or the nature of animals. From reading this book I can see why some people could easily dismiss Derrida. His ideas do provoke strong reactions and nowhere more so can this be seen than the reaction to his honorary degree at Cambridge University. think that what is certain about Derrida was that he was a true intellectual, a clever man with original ideas, who wasn’t afraid of ruffling the feathers of the established ways. The twentieth century was an era of vast change and there is no reason why new ways of dissecting the world should not arise. I anticipate building a deeper relationship with Derridean philosophy once I enter into his actual works. This introduction was enlightening in a sense but can be deconstructed into equally maintaining an illusion of confusion about this complicated man.

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Review: Translation, History, & Culture

Translation, History, & Culture
Translation, History, & Culture by Susan Bassnett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book comprises of a selection of 12 essays illustrating elements of translation studies. Each chapter usually covers an analysis of a detailed example and to what context this example illustrates an element of the emerging discipline that is Translation Studies. There is a global reach of contributors with perhaps an overemphatic balance of Eastern European academics. Some of the chapters are more appropriate for entry level students although I feel that some of the papers go into deep complicated ideas on translation that will require further examination. There is a broad range of topics. I found the chapters which focussed on the history of translation to be enlightening. The establishment of ideas within the discipline usually arise in a historical perspective. The introduction looks at the exciting example of 1001 Nights and the intricacies of transmitting an ancient oral tradition into foreign cultures. It is clear that translation is very much a cultural exercise that widens the view of the world and throughout this book the cultural implications of translations are assessed in detail. Translators have a deep responsibility to remain faithful to the author and source culture, yet to transmit in line with the target culture without subverting too much the original content or the culture into which the translation is entering. The final example in the book, of the difficulties and challenges Milan Kundera’s ‘The Joke’ presented, illustrates how difficult it is for a translator to fully grasp the source language culture and to not betray the original author’s intentions. There is more to translation than a simple metaphrasing, especially where deeply cultural challenging literary works are the subject. Paraphrasing in line with cultural values of both source and target culture is critical. This book introduces some very good examples of translation theory at action in the field. I am sure that I will refer back to it in my ongoing studies of Translation.

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Review: For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Farewell to Arms is said to be Hemingway’s best book. Set in the Spanish Civil War, Robert Jordan is an American fighting in the International Brigades for the Republicans. He is tasked with blowing a bridge behind enemy lines and joins a band of guerrillas based in a cave, nor far from the chosen target. He falls in love with a rescued young girl and for three days enjoys true love. The book is feted as the best fictional account of the Spanish Civil War. I feel that Hemingway truly captures the feelings of this conflict. He worked as a war correspondent during the actual war and For Whom The Bell Tolls contains his accurate observations from the field. From the Madrid luxuries of the (primarily Russian) General staff, to the isolation, bonding, disputes and emotions of the guerrilla band, Hemingway weaves a splendid tale of loyalty, betrayal, fear, elation, romance and the horrors of war. I really enjoyed the Spanish language being used in conversation and it really helped to set the scene to hear the people cursing with real Spanish phrases. This work could be used in Translation Studies. It demonstrates the spirit of the Spanish people during their civil war. There is a sense of reality that these people were dealing with many foreigners and it is interesting to see how Robert Jordan, an American or ‘Ingles’, who spoke perfect Spanish, was so well-received and respected by the close-knit band of warriors. For me the ultimate conclusion was disappointing. The tragic twist was quite not as stomach-churning as in that of Farewell to Arms, for example, yet was perhaps the pessimistic outcome that Robert Jordan had envisaged as events conspired against him. Perhaps the book is an accurate description of the desperation of the Republicans as they on the whole unsuccessfully dealt with the formidable fascist foe with all their superior military equipment and force. Farewell to Arms is a great book but I am sure that in the Hemingway archives there is better work still to discover.

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Review: Translation and Identity in the Americas

Translation and Identity in the Americas
Translation and Identity in the Americas by Gentzler Edwin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was the first book I have borrowed and read from Cardiff University library’s Translation section. As a Translation student focussing on the Spanish language, I felt that this book would offer plenty of interest to me, considering that the Americas has the largest hispanic population in the world. The book is subdivided into five main chapters, each directed towards a certain geographic region in the Americas. The monolingualism of the USA, with its vast multicultural population, displays problems in the cultural struggles created by the way it forces minorities to adapt to English, the arrogance of this coming to light very much in the post September 11th world where military action has often been plagued with troubles of mistranslation and at official levels, an overwhelming dependence upon the force majeure of the official tongue. Quebec offers a unique zone in the Americas and its struggles with linguistic identity and its isolation are clearly demonstrated by Edwin. I found the history of Quebec to be enlightening and was new knowledge to me. The way that its patois language, joual, struggles to define itself in a society dominated by colonial English and French, formed a major role in the Quebecois independence movement and has manifested itself in local theatre and the adaptation of translation as a device for the feminist movement. This feminist translation in Quebec has transcended to borders and come to the forefront of translation studies worldwide. The chapter on Brazilian Cannibalism was, for me, the most interesting of the whole book. It truly indicates a unique way of looking at the post-colonial world. How cannibalism itself can be viewed from within Brazil as a positive force yet to the external viewer it is seen as a negative connotation of savagery, demonstrates the Derridaean deconstruction at play in translation to a relatively understandable level for the novice initiate into translation studies. The cannibalist school of thought shows how translation redefines boundaries and how there is a struggle between cultures in the process. The works of Latin American fiction authors and their relationships to Translation was particularly relevant to me, as a student of Spanish. I discovered some new authors here and have bookmarked their work. I also, as a result of this chapter, plan to reread Garcia Marquez’ 100 Years of Solitude, to view it from the perspective of the Translation theme which is not so obvious on a first read of the great novel. The last chapter of the five focusses on border areas and the identity struggle that cultures face there. Mexico and the Caribbean have their own issues with border areas. Criollism in the Caribbean is now on the rise as a fashion and old concepts and prejudices are being redefined by the local linguists. I think the whole frontera issues on the Mexican – US border were very intriguing and analysing the history of the area plus the effects of bilingualism and the culture that arises from it, could be an area in which I would maybe consider focussing an eventual dissertation for my degree.
Each chapter concludes with a deeper analysis by the author and there is a thoroughly wholesome introduction and conclusion. If there was any criticism, then perhaps there is a repetition and over-reliance on the analytical deconstruction models of Jaques Derrida. However, I feel that this book was useful in that it successfully drew me to the attention of this man’s ideas and that had been something that prior to reading this work, I had only skirted over and had not adequately understood.
I found this book to be very readable and interesting. It broadened my mind to some of the wider issues that Translation Studies scholars have to consider. I’m sure that I’ll be returning to the library to reborrow it for reference purposes in my later studies.

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Review: Becoming a Translator: An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Translation

Becoming a Translator: An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Translation
Becoming a Translator: An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Translation by Douglas Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is another book I’ve read in preparation for the Translation (BA) at Cardiff University on which I’m about to embark. This book aims not so much at the theories of Translation Studies as in other textbooks I have read but focuses more on life as a professional translator. It is preparation for the world of work and discusses many of the issues which one might encounter if one is successful in this career choice. The book has its own ideas and it does perhaps over-apply its terminologies of pattern-building and intuitive leaps. I found it a bit wishy-washy in places as I am still very new to the ideas of Translation. It is easy enough to understand as a basic concept yet the actual science of translation can be quite complicated. There are some nice, practical exercises at the end of each chapter which are good food for thought. I think that this book was a good introduction to translation and I can see it being a useful source of reference for me in years to come.

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