The Linguist

The Linguist 54,5

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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The Russian Nobel Prize- winning poet Joseph Brodsky is unusual in that he was able to translate his own works for an American audience, following his expulsion from the Soviet Union in 1972. It is fortunate that Alexandra Berlina can comment in detail on a remarkable set of writing, as she is equally fluent in Russian and German, as well as English. The poems appear in Russian, literal translation and then Brodsky's English version. Berlina analyses Brodsky's work in detail and provides useful insights into the eternal dilemma of translating poetry so that it has the same desired impact in a new language – if indeed such a thing is possible. The role (and fate) of poets in the Soviet Union is well documented, and Brodsky himself was sent to a camp in Archangelsk following his conviction in 1965 for 'social parasitism', his censored work having been read widely in samizdat versions for nearly a decade. His deportation in 1972 followed a diagnosis of 'paranoid reformist delusion', a condition which hardly affected his future work in American universities and his role as a leading international poet. 28 The Linguist Vol/54 No/5 2015 REVIEWS I wonder how many retired CIOL members feel that their knowledge and expertise is redundant. Though I am 78, I am 100% compos mentis. I know 11 languages but nobody asks me to use them. I cannot be involved professionally because that would deprive my younger fellow teachers, translators, interpreters and forensic linguists of work. Of course, I am not alone; hundreds of musicians, actors, artists, carpenters, electricians, healers etc have great abilities and knowledge. "Les neiges d'antan existent toujours" ['The snows of yesteryear still exist'] to misquote Villon; but who knows of them or wants them? Should not the CIOL wake up sleeping experts in some way? I am trying, with this letter, to wake people with solutions and proposals. Not enough people write to The Linguist. Are we all belles/beaux dormants? Professor Maurice Varney FCIL Email Les belles dormantes Star Letter prize Next issue, we will be giving away a BBC Active Talk Complete self-taught language learning course. For a chance to win your choice of course (French, German, Italian or Spanish), write to with your views about a recent article, The Linguist more generally, or issues of wider concern to linguists. Brodsky Translating Brodsky: Poetry in self-translation Alexandra Berlina Bloomsbury 2014, 217 pp; ISBN 978-1- 6235-6173-4 Hardback £60 The issue of the authenticity of a poem when translated into another language is discussed here in depth. W H Auden said, "To read is to translate, for no two persons' experiences are the same." This is especially true when the writer has gone through some appalling experiences (Brodsky was in the siege of Leningrad as a child), and the average reader may not pick up on particular references to some of the culture-specific elements. Footnotes may help, but they also impede the process of absorption and the comprehension of the piece. There are further challenges for the translator, particularly in view of Brodsky's taste for word- play and puns. He was a master of metre and rhyme schemes, but they depend on a sequence of masculine and feminine nouns, or particular verb endings, and so cannot be transferred into English. Brodsky's own translations tend to go into blank verse, which loses the sonorous nature of his work in the original Russian. One of Brodsky's favourite images was the centaur, underlining the dichotomy between the physical and the intellectual, language and the message. Who in fact wins the race: the horse or the rider? A detailed reading of his works might provide an answer and this book will provide access to them. Professor Tim Connell FCIL, CIOL Vice-President I just saw the film Suite Française and really enjoyed it, especially with the background of the article, 'Suite Choices', in TL54,3. An interesting twist for me was having an American in the lead role [Michelle Williams, pictured] adopting an English accent so that she would sound like all the other French characters, also speaking with English accents. Keith Moffitt MCIL Suite twist

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