What are some examples of protest literature

"World literature is made by translators" - International Translators' Day 2017

1. What is translation?

To translate means to grapple with a source text in order to bring it into the target language with art and interpretation. It is always about the transfer of culture and the question of how much the language images of the original should shine through in the translation. This has been discussed since Friedrich Schleiermacher, who translated Plato at the beginning of the 19th century and is considered the founder of German hermeneutics, the teacher of the interpretation and explanation of a text or a work of art or music. So how literally should a text be transmitted if, for example, in English one "kills two birds with one stone"? Today we speak of "faithfulness to effect", which means: Instead of literal translation, the focus is on the intended effect. In this simple example you can "kill two birds with one stone" in German. But the whole subject is much more difficult with poetry.

2. Can poetry be translated?

Not really. The sound, the rhythm, the alliterations, the associations, the fields of meaning - none of these can be transferred from one language to the other without loss. And yet there are countless translations, for example of the Chinese Daodejing (Taoteking), the lyrical collection of sayings attributed to the philosopher Laotse. The interpretations range from the war classic to the "Book of Meaning and Life". And the best were created by poets like Klabund in the 1920s, who couldn't speak Chinese themselves! So curiosity and creativity can create a new frame of reference that makes up for the losses.

3. Is it worth translating?

From a material point of view, there are more profitable activities. Translators of practical texts may still be able to make a living: instructions for use, company correspondence, documents, court records. But things get tricky even with academic texts and non-fiction books: the enormous amount of time required for terminological and factual research is often offset by page fees of less than 30 euros. And the wages for literary translators are very meager. The average fee is just over 18 euros per standard page, net. This has been determined by the Association of Translators. Karin Krieger, for example, the translator of Elena Ferrante's novels, creates 100 pages a month. Although she is certainly one of the few translators who can benefit from a bestseller. Speaking of which: would you have known who brought the Naples saga into German? In addition to the low wages, there is also little fame ...

From an intangible point of view: Of course it's worth it! "Language extensions are world extensions", says the translator Ulrich Blumenbach. Translating can be infinitely difficult, operating at the limits of language when it comes to poetry, philosophical or complex literary texts. But what world has Hans Wollschl├Ąger opened up to German-speaking readers with his congenial translation of James Joyce's novel "Ulysses"!

Do you know these translators? Bernhard Robben, Frank Heibert, Harry Rowohlt, August Wilhelm Schlegel, Mirjam Pressler, Burkhart Kroeber, Swetlana Geier, Erika Fuchs, Hans Wollschl├Ąger, Johann Heinrich Voss

4. Can machines translate?

Google Translate has half a billion monthly users. The Google competitor Apple offers the iTranslate app, which translates from ninety languages. Other automated language services such as Linguatec or Babylon are available for professional users, and they are all getting better all the time. The market for translation services and dictionaries in Germany alone is around one billion euros. Applying artificial intelligence to language translations is therefore worthwhile. The problem is no longer just the terminology, the recognition of words. It's about images, connotations, entire texts. The technical possibilities of getting translations at lightning speed are becoming more and more precise thanks to pattern recognition through artificial intelligence. But slang, poetry, and creative use of language are likely to cause even the most clever computers to fail. The trial confirms this suspicion: We had Bertolt Brecht's famous Laotse poem back-translated from the English version by John Willett. Google's translation service yields some nonsense and little Brecht:

Once he was seventy and got brittle
quiet retirement, the teacher seemed due.
In his country the goodness was a little weakened,
and wickedness regained ground.
So he leaned on the shoe.

With a lot of instinct you can perhaps recognize the original of the "Legend of the origin of the book Tao Te King on Laotse's path into emigration":

When he was seventy and was frail
The teacher was pressed for rest
For once again the kindness was weak in the country
And the malice increased in strength once again.
And he girdled the shoe.

The quality of John Willet's English translation was far from the computer in German:

once he was seventy and getting brittle
quiet retirement seemed the teacher's due.
in his country goodness had been weakening a little
and the wickedness was gaining ground anew.
so he buckled on his shoe.

5. Are there famous translators?

Yes, but few, in view of the many silent desk slaves who are little appreciated for their creative work. Johann Heinrich Voss is still known today for his translations of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, August Wilhelm Schlegel for his early Dante, Calderon and Shakespeare translations. Nowadays, translators like Burkart Kroeber, Frank Heibert or Bernhard Robben are often known in connection with the writers who translate them into German - when they moderate and sit on the podium with them. Frank Heibert, for example, with the French star author Yasmina Reza. In any case, just doing an excellent translation is usually not enough to achieve fame and honor. Your own creative performance has to be so great that - as with Erika Fuchs' Disney re-creations - a new original and something defining is created.

There are also a number of well-known authors such as Peter Handke, who also rendered services as translators that perhaps made them a little better known. Handke, for example, translated Aeschylus, Marguerite Duras, Jean Genet and many other authors from French. After all, there is a separate list of the best-known translators on the internet.

Not only Schlegel, Handke and Murakami - many well-known writers have translated foreign-language literature

6. What and how much is translated into German?

In 2016, 12.3 percent of all first and new editions published by publishers came from other languages. That was almost 10,000 translated book premieres. With well over half of all translated publications, literature is proportionally the largest subject group (in 2016 there were exactly 5737 publications). As you might guess, most of the transmissions came from English. In second place is French. But who would have thought that the third most important source language is Japanese and has been for eight years? Most of these titles can be assigned to the comic genre, especially the manga.

A quarter of all new fiction publications are translations. More and more children's and young people's literature is also being translated, with publishers relying on stories from abroad for around 20 percent of their new publications. When it comes to picture stories, the market is clearly internationally oriented, with around three-quarters being translated from a foreign language.

7. And what is translated from German?

The German publishing houses can report a lively trade in licenses. 7,310 plants left the German language border in 2016. However, the trend is declining, in 2007 it was 10,000. Sales are increasing only in children's and young people's books, the most important product group for licensed sales. Even if the numbers are falling, the largest trading partner for the German publishing industry has been China for many years. Almost 20 percent of all license deals are concluded with the Middle Kingdom. And books for children and young people were particularly popular with the Chinese-speaking partners last year.

8. Why a "Translators Day"?

Translating can satisfy the joy of discovery, it can be a Sisyphean task, and for publishers it can be profitable or sometimes ruinous. The nearly insolvent publishing house Two Thousand and One, for example, paid a large sum for a translation from Chinese that never appeared. Translation can be exciting and mysterious like deciphering strange linguistic codes, unsatisfactory like many synchronized translations, world- and life-changing like the Bible translation. And it can bring people and peoples closer to one another and bring about peace. In May 2017, the United Nations announced the 30th September recognized as "International Translation Day". On Jerome's Day, the day of the translators, one should pay tribute to the great contribution that they make to culture in all countries. The Association of German Translators points out on its website: "World literature", according to the Portuguese writer and Nobel Prize winner Saramago, "is made by translators".