02 February 2014

On the equality of languages


I have always been of the persuasion that languages, like men, are born equal. They just grow up differently, in different households, so to speak, in different economies and cultures. Like people and countries, they grow up and grow rich, they fall into poverty, they engage in commerce (they import and export), they dominate others, they stagnate or thrive. I insist that they are never inferior, they are only sometimes afflicted with an inferiority complex in regarding themselves against others. The only way to guard against such feeling is to use any language constantly, in every manner, in all human activity—commerce, industry, science, art, love, understanding others. It is only in exercise (by being spoken and written) that language can stay alive, assert itself and become capable and robust. Otherwise, language withers and dies. Or becomes a ritual remnant like Latin (though ritual as a literary property of language is another story).

It is from this standpoint of equality (without trying to resolve the issues) that I translate. Thus, as in sport, languages can play in the arena of translation. But it is a sport wherefrom only language itself comes out the winner.

...

How does one read, enjoy translation? Perhaps as one would a wrestling match. It is a game of strength that requires style, a game of roughness that demands finesse. For the premise is that both languages are equal in strength, style, and refinement. It is only by these measures that they can meaningfully engage. And it is only through these that the reader becomes not a mere spectator but more or less a pleased participant in the game.


– Marne Kilates, translator's introduction to Dust Devils:
A Bilingual Selection of Poems on Youth
by Rio Alma,
edited and translated by Marne Kilates

24 October 2013

Winners of 32nd (Philippine) National Book Award


JUAN C. LAYA PRIZE FOR BEST NOVEL IN A PHILIPPINE LANGUAGE

Sa Kasunod ng 909, by Edgar Calabia Samar, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House
 
JUAN C. LAYA PRIZE FOR BEST NOVEL IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE
Margosatubig: The Story of Salagunting, by Ma. Cecilia Locsin-Nava, translated from Margosatubig (1946), by Ramon L. Muzones, Ateneo de Manila University Press
 
CIRILO F. BAUTISTA PRIZE FOR BEST BOOK OF SHORT FICTION IN ENGLISH 
 
After the Body Displaces Water, by Daryll Delgado, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House
 
BEST BOOK OF NONFICTION PROSE IN ENGLISH
 
Hour Before Dawn: The Fall and Uncertain Rise of the Philippine Supreme Court, by Marites Dañguilan Vitug, Cleverheads Publishing
 
BEST BOOK OF NONFICTION PROSE IN FILIPINO
 
Mga Angst ng Isang Di-mahapayang Gatang, by Resty Mendoza Ceña, Visprint

BEST ANTHOLOGY IN ENGLISH
 
Hoard of Thunder: Philippine Short Stories in English, 1990 to 2008, 2 volumes, edited by Gémino H. Abad, University of the Philippines Press
 
PHILIPPINE LITERARY ARTS COUNCIL PRIZE FOR BEST BOOK OF POETRY IN ENGLISH
 
Pictures as Poems & Other (Re)Visions, by Marne Kilates, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House
 
BEST BOOK OF POETRY IN FILIPINO
 
Isa Lang ang Pangalan: Mga Tula, by Rebecca T. Añonuevo, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House 

ISAGANI R. CRUZ PRIZE FOR BEST BOOK OF LITERARY CRITICISM OR LITERARY HISTORY IN A PHILIPPINE LANGUAGE 
 
Halos Isang Buhay: Ang Manananggal sa Pagsusulat ng Nobela, by Edgar Calabia Samar, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House

BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL IN ENGLISH
 
Trese 5: Midnight Tribunal, by Ferdinand Benedict G. Tan and Jonathan A. Baldisimo,  Visprint

BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL IN FILIPINO
 
Zsazsa Zaturnnah sa Kalakhang Maynila #1, by Carlo Vergara, Visprint

ALFONSO T. ONGPIN PRIZE FOR BEST BOOK ON ART
 
Sacrificial Bodies: The Oblation and the Political Aesthetics of Masculine Representations in Philippine Visual Cultures, by Reuben Ramas Cañete, University of the Philippines Press

Walking through Philippine Theater, 3 volumes, by Basilio Esteban S. Villaruz, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House


Complete list of winners here. The list of finalists are here.

I've read four titles from this list: Margosatubig (review), Halos Isang Buhay, Trese 5, and Zsazsa Zaturnnah sa Kalakhang Maynila #1.

28 June 2013

Nobel Prize for Lit nominees


Who were ever considered for the big literary prize in the first place?

The nomination database (link) for Nobel Prize for Lit, up to 1950 only, throws some light on the "insularity" of the award. (Warning: database NOT user-friendly.)

The nominees per country here.

The winners.




06 June 2013

Sebald's ideal translator


Admittedly, he did not say too much. He was not always listening, often dozing during the papers and discussions that were so revealing to a greenhorn like me. Sebald’s appreciation of literary translation was, it has to be said, rather grudging. The highest praise I heard all weekend from Sebald was in a discussion of – what else? – the challenge of translating long German sentences into English. Sebald was adamant that these long sentences can be translated. What really annoyed him was when the beginnings of clauses used ‘that’ rather than ‘which’ as a conjunction, a failing he found in the new collected translations of Borges. Yet as proof that translators can find the right mechanisms to delay the end of the sentence’s flow he cited the translations of Heinrich von Kleist into English, saying they were “sehr ordentlich” (“as they should be”).

– "Among Translators: W.G. Sebald and Translation" by Anthony Vivis, Christine Wilson and Stefan Tobler, introduced by Jo Catling, in In Other Words, Issue 38 [download link (pdf), via]