Archive for the ‘Languages’ Category

The Burial at Thebes, CSSD 25 July

July 26, 2018

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burial1

Picture acquired from Twitter

A large audience of thin and good-looking young people followed with interest this version of Antigone, which struck me as a mainstream translation without added Heaney.  The theatre was also quite Greek, with its curved and raked rows of seats and a bare playing space.  The production alluded to Greece at the time of the War of Independence and some effective choruses were sung in a language that was not Attic or Greek or Irish.  The production concept worked rather well and effectively captured the necessary scale of the public and the communal. Our Antigone was probably mad, certainly dangerous to know and definitely her father’s daughter.  I was not sure that Heaney’s version captured the contrast between her language and that of Creon, though he did get some dead monsters of metaphors.

Our Antigone was certainly vehement, but especially at the beginning I had difficulty following her words.  The same kind of thing applied to Ismene, and it meant that Antigone tended to come off worse in her confrontations with Creon.  Creon and Eurydice were the performers who actually dominated the stage.  The Messenger for some reason had a Scottish accent that sometimes turned Irish, especially for constructions like I was after…The production was not entirely in control of time–the narrated deaths of Antigone and Haemon passed by rather quickly, then Eurydice’s death became one more thing after another.

All in all, a production that recognised the issues in staging Greek tragedy and dealt with them thoughtfully, though it did not always succeed in resolving them.

 

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An interesting shop sign in Ljubljana

June 5, 2018

DSCN0323.JPG

At first sight, this sign has two points of interest.  It turns out that trg pronounced ˈtə́rk is just square, like torv in Danish say or torg [trade] in Russian–trade happens in a square.

It does seem at first glance that GERM is an unfortunate woman’s surname though… 

On further investigation, we find that Germ is a Slovenian surname, but the less-worrying echt-Slovene form is Grm (grm being Slovene for bush), which may have arisen from somebody localising the German surname Busch: https://www.dnevnik.si/1042412578

Gosh, how exciting!

On a less happy note, the mention of Danish led a friend to point out that Sick is a surname there.  A site devoted to German surnames says that was originally the same kind of thing as Siggi, a nickname derived from the root Sieg/victory: http://www.deutsche-nachnamen.de/index.php/herkunft-a-z and it’s common in Schleswig-Holstein, which is next to DK.

Some resources for Russian translators (and other interested parties)

February 3, 2018
lubensky
Robert Chandler writes as follows:

I am sending out a message I keep on my computer and send out now and again.  

The most important [resources] are in bold!


1.  Michelle Berdy’s THE RUSSIAN WORD’S WORTH (GLAS) is brilliant.
  

Michelle is an American who has lived in Moscow for the last 25+ years.  This collection of her articles about translation problems is elegantly written and very funny.  Few people know more than her about Russian life and the difficulties many Westerners face as they try to understand it.

2. Sophia Lubensky, RUSSIAN-ENGLISH DICTIONARY OF IDIOMS REVISED EDITION (Yale Univ. Press, JAN 2014).

Truly outstanding – and a fantastic bargain given the many, many years of work that have gone into it.
An earlier version can be found here:
Idioms: http://phraseology_ru_en.academic.ru/
Большой русско-английский фразеологический словарь. — М.: ACT-ПРЕСС КНИГА. С.И. Лубенская. 2004.

3. Cardinal Points  (a literary journal which I co-edit)

http://www.stosvet.net/stosvet_eng.html
You will find my article about translating Kapitanskaya dochka here. And I esp. recommend Stanley Mitchell’s moving essay (his ONEGIN, by the way, is  superb). 

 

4.  Anna Wierzbicka, Semantics, Culture, and Cognition: Universal Human Concepts in Culture-specific Configurations (brilliant book comparing words like ‘fate’,’soul’ etc across different cultures)

5. Boris Akunin’s witty and informative lecture
on translating in theSoviet Union: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8ME1aAaEV0

6. A good resource for contemporary Russian language: 
http://www.bash.im/
http://tinyurl.com/n9s9ryh

7.  A FEW Online dictionary sites:

http://www.gramota.ru/slovari/dic/ is brilliant (Clare Kitson recommends it highly!).
http://www.lexilogos.com/english/russian_dictionary.htm
http://slovco.ru/
http://multitran.ru/c/m.exe?a=1
http://www.ruscorpora.ru/
http://www.linguee.com/
http://dic.academic.ru/  Gives results from monoling dicts & quotes from books and films

The Russian Grammatical Dictionary
http://seelrc-iis.trinity.duke.edu/russdict/

Morphological dictionary:  http://starling.rinet.ru/cgi-bin/morphque.cgi?flags=endnnnn

8. Journals interested in publishing translated work:

http://www.pen.org/journals-seeking-work-translation

9.  Two outstanding books, both by by Genevra Gerhart & Eloise M. Boyle:

The Russian’s World: Life and Language 
The Russian Context: The Culture Behind the Language


10. Most important of all – here are some excellent email forums, both open to everyone:

http://seelangs.wix.com/seelangs#!howsubscribe/cee5

If you would like to join the UK-based
russian-literary-translation-network@googlegroups.com
then you should write to Anne Marie Jackson
 
And, to join the ETN (Emerging Translators’ Network), write to Roland Glasser

11.  The translator George Butchard adds: 
dtSearch, an excellent free resource:
https://dtsearch.com/
You can create searchable indexes of all your documents, so if you’ve
got a sense that you’ve come across a word/phrase before but can’t
quite remember where, you can easily track it down.
 
12. Museum of Russian Icons iconography glossary:
 http://www.museumofrussianicons.org/pdf/JournalOfIconStudies/IconTerms2014Opt.pdf

13.   All thick Russian journals in one place:
http://magazines.russ.ru/

And a collection of fiction and nonfiction texts:
http://postnonfiction.org/narratives/
14.  THE PENGUIN BOOK OF RUSSIAN POETRY:  
this site gives the Russian texts of all poems not under copyright:

https://pbrp.wordpress.com

Byzantine Summer School, Dublin

February 2, 2018

tcd

Martine Cuypers writes:

The Department of Classics at Trinity College Dublin is delighted to welcome back the International Byzantine Greek Summer School (IBGSS) in July–August 2018. This well-established course, directed by Dr Anthony Hirst in Belfast, Birmingham and Dublin since 2002, teaches Byzantine Greek at Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced level and allows early learners to engage with original Byzantine texts from the start.

Course dates:

Level 1 – Beginners: 15–28 July

Level 2/2.5 – Intermediate: 29 July – 11 August

Level 3 – Advanced Reading: 29 July – 11 August

Further information: www.tcd.ie/Classics/byzantine/

Applications:

  • Please complete and return the form at www.tcd.ie/Classics/byzantine
  • Deadline: 6 April 2018
  • Course fee: €450/two weeks

  • Accommodation: can be booked on application to the course at €400/two weeks
  • A limited number of student bursaries are available for this course.

 

VISIT TO PERM, RUSSIA SEPTEMBER 2018

February 2, 2018

permii

Karen Hewitt writes:

At the beginning of every year I circulate everyone with details of this year’s group visit to Perm. Many of you have been on this visit aand I hope you still think it was worthwhile. 
I would be very grateful if you could publicise it among your friends who might want to apply; I’m especially eager to have people from Oxford and Oxfordshire or at least with a strong Oxford connection who do not live too far away. (Potential applicants who live in Berkshure, Bucks, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Northamptonshire can be considered as Oxford-neighbours – if, like several of you, they are in fairly regular contact with Oxford.)

The Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre together with the University’s Department for Continuing Education is arranging for a group of eight people to visit Perm as guests of the Perm State University. They will live in families with at least one English speaker and will have many opportunities to observe real Russian life. The visit is part of an exchange scheme in which the payment made by you supports the visit of a Perm teacher to Oxford.

Perm is Oxford’s twin city in Russia so the visit is open chiefly to people in Oxfordshire or with an Oxford connection such as attendance at OUDCE summer schools. Others will be considered if we do not fill all places. The programme of the fortnight can vary according to individual interests. As guests of Perm University you will be asked to talk to University students, while your activities can include: visits around the city, and to the Urals countryside; canoeing along the Silva river; professional and specialist contacts with economists, lawyers, local politicians, (and lectures if you are willing and able); visits to art galleries, concerts, ballet; studying the work of the city council and local voluntary groups; taking part in family life with your hosts and their friends. Previous visitors on this scheme have seized all sorts of opportunities to see how Russian society works. Several have returned for a second visit.

A knowledge of Russian is not necessary since interpreters will be provided, but obviously you will learn more if you know a little Russian. Participants should be physically fit and willing to walk reasonable distances. Some of our hosts do not have cars, and walking, climbing flights of stairs and public transport are normal. And you should be adaptable…

DATES: Saturday 8th September to Sunday 23rd September 2018 (Fifteen nights) The journey is by British Airways scheduled flight to Moscow. You will travel from Moscow to Perm by train – about 900 miles and the first day of the Trans-Siberian route. You will have a few hours in Moscow on the return journey.

COST: £1035 This includes air fares, train fares, other travel in Russia, accommodation with a family, breakfast and many other meals, a programme of activities including two visits to the opera or ballet, and two full day tours. It does not include visas, insurance, and some cheap meals. We will arrange your visas and inform you in June of the cost. Currently official visas are £50 plus admin and special delivery postage – in total about £85. You will need to go to London to give your fingerprints, but otherwise it should be straightforward.

Better email Karen if you are interested and sufficiently Oxonian!

The War Has Not Yet Started, Southwark Playhouse 18 January

January 20, 2018
war_one

Picture from British Theatre Guide

This £12 preview had a large and enthusiastic audience–perhaps the actors were famous or something?  They were certainly very very good, and there was at most one early-run fluff that I noted.

Someone in the audience had pointed out that the programme didn’t tell you what the play was about, though there was some suggestion it was connected with war as a metaphor for human relationships.  Then the set was specifically enough a late-Soviet flat though the action of the twelve separate scenes, all with different characters and situations, seemed to be taking more or less in the present.   References to presentations and clients seemed to fix the period, while a character in the first scene drinking vodka and then beer to get calm determined the locale closely enough.

And you could see that war was somehow present in most of the scenes, although the couple copping off at the party and then him saying she was his first and only one might be difficult to fit into that.  And also the robot with an absurdity implant waiting to see the doctor.  The scenes at the beginning did recall actors doing improvisation exercises, which was all very clever but did they need an audience?  Interest did however grow as the evening went on.

A critic on the 172 bus afterwards said she liked the way the women played men and the man played women.  I think that wherever possible Sarah Hadland played a man and Mark Quartley played a woman, while Hannah Britland was not so typecast.  But it did seem to me her T-shirt was artfully billowed to disguise pregnancy–of the woman not of a character–, and so I was frankly terrified during a scene that threatened domestic abuse.

Now then, in his local media  playwright Mikhail Durnenkov gave a very straightforward interpretation of the play–it was meant to fix the period of its writing, when preparations for war were apparent and Russians were subjected to ceaseless propaganda.  That gave rise to incomprehension, hatred and violence in ordinary life.  The play was written with love for humanity and in the hope that Russia would not fall into the waiting abyss. To me that all makes sense:  the inbreaking of war, and rumours of war, result in dislocations–violent dislocations–of everyday life.

And also of sex roles, which might well be more of a shock in Russia than here.  The original text says that the thing is meant for three actors who can play the different characters without regard to age and sex.  Personally I would have gone for masks and probably a chorus as well.  With regard to that text, the translation was more in the line of an adaptation–the original robot just had an absurdity module, while from Thursday I remember an implant, between the second and third vertebrae.  A lot of the dialogue had also been normalised from the demotic and individual to general speech of educated people as well.

Certainly a lot to think about!

Chadwick street

January 10, 2018

chadwick11

Au premiers jours de printemps, Repnine se rend effectivement à Chadwick street au service de l’emploi qui fournit du travail aux Polonais démobilisés.(…)

Toutefois, sans même tourner la tête, les passants passaient devant ces gens assis sur le chemin de l’agence d’emplois. La station Westminster n’est qu’à quelques centaines de pas de la rue Chadwick. Lorsque Repnine reprend sa route, il arrive à l’agence quelques minutes plus tard.

chadwick21

Rachel’s Hebrew classes at City Lit

November 29, 2017

 

Hebrew96-1

Rachel Montagu (email) writes to say:

I’m teaching 4 classes at City Lit, Level 1, beginners, Level 2 from about the middle of the EKS book, Level 3 reading biblical texts and learning those grammatical forms which the EKS book omits like Pual, Hophal, Polal and pause, Level 4 reading biblical texts – list of texts for this year below.

City Lit Level 4

Autumn Term Module 1 28th September 2017 to 14th December 2017

1) 28/9/2017 Ps. 96:1-13, Ps 103:1-10
 5/10 no class
12/10 no class
2) 19/10/ 2017 Ps. 103:11-22 Daniel 1:1-10
3) 26/10/2017 Daniel 1:11-21, 2:1-3, 8:1-6
4) 2/11/2017 Daniel 8:7-27
5) 9/11/2017 Daniel 9:1-20
6) 16/11/2017 Daniel 10:1-21
7) 23/11/2017 Ps.105 1-22
8) 30/11/2017 Ps.105 23-45
9) 7/12/2017 Geminate verbs – forms and verses to illustrate
10) 14/12/2017 Ezekiel 1-20

Spring Term Module 2  18th January 2018 to 22nd March 2018

1) 18/1/2018 Ezekiel 1:21-28, 2:1-9, 3:1-3
2) 25/1/2018 Ezekiel 3:4-15, 17:1-9
3) 1/2/18 Ezekiel 17:10-24, 18:1-5
4) 8/2/18 Ezekiel 18:6-25
5) 15/2/18 Ezekiel 18:26-32, 20: 1-12
6) 22/2/18 Ezekiel 20:13-26
7)1/3/18 Psalm 106:1-24
8) 8/3/18 Psalm 106:27-48
9) 15/3/18 Grammar revision
10) 22/3/18 Genesis 25:19-34, 27:1-5

Summer Term Module 3 19th April 2018 to 28th June 2018

1) 19/4/18 Genesis 27:6-25
2) 26/4/18 Genesis 27:26-46
3) 3/5/18 Genesis 28:1-4, 10-22, 29:1-3
4) 10/5/18 Genesis 29:3-23
5) 17/5/18 Genesis 29:24-35, 30:1-6, 25-28
6) 24/5/18 Genesis 30:29-42, 31:1-7
7) 31/5/18 Genesis 31:8-16, 36-50
8) 7/6/18 Genesis 31:50-54, 32:1-15
9) 14/6/18 Genesis 32:17-33, 33:1-14
10) 21/6/18 Ps.130, Ps.131, Psalms chosen by class
11 28/6/18 Psalms chosen by class

Unmet requests to be reconsidered next year: Jonah, Nehemiah, Deuteronomy

Rachel’s Hebrew class at Liberal Judaism

November 29, 2017

nahum

 

Rachel Montagu (email) writes to say:
The Wednesday evening class derived from the Birkbeck class still meets, This year’s schedule attached below, although because I’ve found more biblical texts on prayer, we recently decided to extend our prayer theme and Nachum will probably get bumped back to next year

Wednesdays 6.30-8.30 p.m., at Liberal Judaism, 21 Maple Street, London, W1T 4BE

Autumn Term

Some Biblical prayers and encounters with God

18th October               Gen.4:26, 14:18-20, 20:7&17, 22:3, 24:12-14&62-63, 25:20-23, 26:25, 28:10-22

25th October               Gen.32:10-13, 23-33 & 33:10, 35:1-3, 49:18,

1st November             Ex. 8:24-27, 9:27-29, 10:16-18, Gen.48:15-16&20,Num. 6:22-27, Num.12:1-5,

8th November              Numbers 12:6-16, Ex.32:7-14, Num.14:11-14

15th November            Numbers 14:15-24, Deut.8:6-10, Jud.15:18-19 1Sam.1:1-8

22nd November           1Sam.1:9-28,

29th November            1 Samuel 2:1-10, 7:5-6 & 8-9, 12:14-25

6th December              2 Sam. 7:18-29, 12:13-16, 15:31, 1Kings 3:4-14

13th December            1 Kings 8:22- 40

Spring Term

10th January                i Kings 8:41-53, 18:36-39, Ps.141:1-2, 5-6

The Prophet Nachum

17th January                Nachum 1:1-2:9

24th January                Nachum 2:10-3:19

The Prophet Ezekiel

31st January                Ezekiel 17:1-24

7th February                Ezekiel 18:1-25

[14th February             Half Term & Ash Wednesday ]

21st February              Ezekiel 18:26-32, 20:1-15

[28th February             Purim]

7th March                     Ezekiel 20:16-26

Wicked Queens

14th March                   1 Kings 9:1-9, 11:1-14

21st March                   1 Kings 16:29-33, 18:13, 19:1-2, 21:1-19,

 

Summer Term

Wicked Queens cont.d

18th April                      1Kings 21:23-26, 2Kings 9:30-37, 2Kings 8:16-27

25th April                      2Kings 11:1-16, 20, 1Kings:15:9-15

Is it Wicked to Worship the Queen of Heaven? Or Make Figures for the Eternal’s Shrine?

2nd May                       Jeremiah 7:16-20, 44:15-19, 24-26, Judges 17:1-12, 18:31

Queen of Solomon’s Heart?

9th May                        Song of Songs 1:17, 2:1-8

16th May                      Song of Songs 2:9-17, 3:1-11

23rd May                      Song of Songs 4:1-10, 5:1-10

[30th  May                    Half Term]

6th  June                      Song of Songs 5:11-16, 6:1-11, 7:1-5

13th  June                    Song of Songs 7:6-14, 8:1-14

Psalms

20th June                     Ps.90:1-17, 134:1-3

27th June                     Ps.130:1-8, 131:1-3

4th July                        Ps.145:1-21

Unmet requests for consideration next year; Abraham’s journey,

Are there any good Russian words in English?

October 26, 2017

Bistro

That is a question I have often asked myself over the decades.  Russian words in English tend to fall into two categories:

i)  specifically Russian/Soviet referents:  tsar, rouble, Gulag, commissar, perestroika, glasnost, vodka, cosmonaut [Russian spaceman], sputnik [Russian satellite], samovar and so on

ii) terms with a negative connotation:  Gulag, commissar, ukase, pogrom, [actually maybe this is not a separate category].

So what might there be that is neither Russian nor pejorative?

It seems hard to derive bistro from быстро on chronological grounds, whatever the sign above might say.

Sable

The sable is tenné, not sable

Sable, as well as being an animal that lives in Russia and Poland is a highfalutin term for black as used by Shakespeare among others.  There are a lot more соболь in Russia than there are soból in Polish, but Poland is nearer.  Intelligentsia with that kind of spelling looks Russian rather than Polish (inteligencja) and the concept itself is just foreign rather than specifically Russian.

I quite like the word bolshie as a candidate here.  While it is clearly derived from Bolshevik (so Russian rather than Polish) it has no trace of Russianness attached to it and indeed has a semi-affectionate diminutive quality.  While the meaning of ‘difficult, recalcitrant, uncooperative’ may not seem especially positive, to the English mind these are not necessarily bad qualities–it may be different elsewhere, of course…