The Linguist

The Linguist 60,3 - June/July 2021

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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30 The Linguist Vol/60 No/3 2021 OPINION & COMMENT Email with your views Tips for literary translation In response to the question: 'Can children learn to speak three languages fluently?' (TL60,2), the answer is 'Absolutely, yes!' And against all odds. We adopted Alexander when he was four. At that time he could not say a single word in Polish or Portuguese. Now, at the age of nine, he speaks three languages fluently, singing in Portuguese, doing crossword puzzles in Polish ("Dad, check if I got wielbł ąd right"). One way of acquiring language is by using familiar (previously learned) words. When reading a bedtime story, Alexander came across a new Polish word: uodporniony ('immune'). "Daddy, you mean as in wodoodporny; 'waterproof'?" he asked. It was so close, I was amazed he had worked it out. His good hearing contributes to his language skills (he plays violin by ear). Of course, linguistic errors are bound to happen. For instance, he uses the made-up word 'Konektuj ę', which sounds more English than Polish, instead of łączę ('to connect'). When saying 'to earn [money]' in Polish he uses the word 'to win' (wygrywać), because the same word is used for both in Portuguese: ganhar. But we couldn't be prouder of what our son has achieved in such a short space of time, given his early experiences. Marcin Ferreira-Rachmiel MCIL In response to Maurice Varney's 'questions of literary translation' (TL60,2): I retired early in 2015 to take the Diploma in Translation (DipTrans) and become a literary translator. My first forays into the field were translations of song lyrics by Skolot, a group I met and made friends with in Saratov in 2015. This still feels like the best start I could have made. Songs demand the preservation of the original rhyming and rhythmic schemes, but you must still 'put nothing in, leave nothing out'. The discipline of mining deep in order to rhyme, scan and stick to translation rules is just as useful training for prose and verse as it is for song itself (even if, in practice, it is often preferable, for example, to depart from the original rhyme scheme in verse translation. I'm talking here of the discipline and training). On 'speculative' translation, I think my approach is typical. I find something I like, read my way into it, do some trial translation (a poem, story, few thousand words of a novel), and when I'm convinced that this is something I want to push, I approach the author or their agent or publisher to sort out the rights. It's critical to ensure early on that the rights are available and that all relevant parties are on board. Otherwise you can waste a monumental amount of time. The rest of my work comes from new clients approaching me and existing clients offering repeat work. I should say that although I started studying and 'practising' literary translation in 2015, I did not hold myself out as a professional until 2018/2019, so I am a beginner, with only a beginner's experience. Nonetheless, I hope this is of some interest. I'm happy to share more details: contact me via or Richard Coombes MCIL 'On Beauty' (TL60,2) got me thinking about ingredients in toiletries. Manufacturers now list water as 'aqua' while leaving other English words untranslated. Is this a niche marketing ploy aimed at Latin speakers? Graham Elliott MCIL Marketing aqua On reading Graham Elliott's fascinating review of The Language of Thieves (TL60,2), my eye was caught by the slang term for bread: lechem. I would ask whether there is a linguistic connection between lechem and louchébem, a butchers' slang born in the slaughterhouses of La Villette, Paris, in the 19th century, which prevented the uninitiated from understanding what was being said. The basic mechanism is to replace the first letter of a word by the letter 'l'; shift the first letter of the word to the end; and add the suffix é, em, oque or uche. Thus boucher ('butcher') becomes louchébem. Although this slang is disappearing, two words remain in use in everyday French: loufoque meaning 'barmy' and en loucédé meaning 'on the quiet'. Michael Mould FCIL Trilingual against all odds Star Letter prize This issue's Star Letter writer wins a copy of Alex Bellos's The Language Lover's Puzzle Book. For your chance to win, share your views via STAR LETTER Louchébem: the butchers' cant IMAGES © SHUTTERSTOCK

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