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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Page 8 of 35 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER The Linguist 9 FEATURES Kaveh Mirabbasi's translation of Memories of My Melancholy Whores, a novel by Gabriel García Márquez, was banned in its second edition because it contains scenes of sex and pornographic content. Hesse's Siddhartha, Kafka's The Metamorphosis, Brecht's The Threepenny Opera, Nabokov's Lolita, Saramago's The Notebook, Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author and Llosa's Conversation in the Cathedral are among the thousands of translated literary works that have been censored or banned. In Chekhov's short story The Lady with the Dog there is a sentence that has been translated differently by three translators due to the intensity of censorship and self-censorship over the last two decades. The English version reads: Further up, on the landing, two high-school boys were smoking and looking down, but Gurov did not care, he drew Anna Sergeevna to him and began kissing her face, her cheeks, her hands. In 1991, Sorouzh Stepanian and Behzad Barakat, two famous translators of Chekhov, rendered the sentence as '…but Gurov did not care, he drew Anna Sergeevna to him and began to kiss her.' A decade later, in 2002, Hushang Golshiri changed it to '…but Gurov stared at her for a while, then brought his hands forward and took her hands.' Physical contact, especially if there is a romantic or sexual relationship between the characters, is one of the main targets of the censors. Such apparently small alterations may seem minor, but they harm the artistic integrity of many literary masterpieces. In people; and themes related to Freud's sexual theory, sexual obsession, sadism, abortion, propinquity between a Muslim woman and a foreign man, and immoral women. If any such references are included, the work may be banned. Manoochehr Badiee, a well-known translator and writer, put a lot of work into the Persian translation of Ulysses by James Joyce, but the novel was finally prohibited because of 'pornography' in the final chapters. In many cases, the censors suggest equivalents for the censored words and sentences, for example 'coffee shop' for 'tavern'; 'friend or friendship' for 'lover or lovemaking'; 'chatting together' for 'dancing together'; 'beef' for 'pork'; 'beverage' for 'wine'; 'woman' or 'bad woman' for 'prostitute' or 'whore'; 'legs' for 'hips'; 'choreography' for 'dance'; and 'dizzy' for 'drunk'. When I start to translate a play, I am aware that if I give the exact Persian equivalents of such words and concepts, the work will be censored or banned. So I try to tackle the problem using a variety of techniques. Sometimes I give the closest possible meaning that I think will be accepted. Occasionally I try to transfer the forbidden word or concept to the actions of the play through the characters' behaviour, reactions, movements, images, set design, voices etc. This is a difficult process, which involves rewriting the play in such a way that the main concept is not lost, while staying as close and honest to the original work as possible. In the past, the censors were official employees of the government who didn't know much about literary or dramatic structure, so professional translators could preempt them more easily. However, in the last few years, the government seems to have hired experts to uncover these strategies. This makes the work of the translator much more complicated, and may be why most of my translations are heavily censored or banned. Notes 1 Woods, M (2006) Translating Milan Kundera, Multilingual Matters, 99 CENSORED: (L-r) Gabriel García Márquez, Richard Dawkins, Paulo Coelho and Salman Rushdie Forough Pooryavari's translation of The Joke, a novel by Milan Kundera, the fifth chapter is completely eliminated due to themes of sex and seduction. Other books by the Czech- born writer were also heavily censored. In order to understand the destruction caused by cutting a chapter from a novel, we should be reminded of Kundera's own words: 'Ever since Madame Bovary, the art of the novel has been considered equal to the art of poetry, and the novelist (any novelist worthy of the name) endows every word of his prose with the uniqueness of a word in a poem.' 1 Banned content According to the official suggestions of the government censors, literary translators must cut or alter written or pictorial representation of drunkenness, staggering, wine and alcoholism, sex, 'dancing, as ballet, tango and rock', unmarried people shaking hands, kissing, raping, homosexuality, masturbation, prostitution, pederasty, adultery, underwear, Western clothes, pubs, taverns, cabaret, gambling, eating pork, naked dancers, 'naked upper body, as breasts, shoulders, chest and belly'; open descriptions of sexual relationships, venereal diseases, love affairs and sexual proximity between unmarried The censors announced that 13 pages of the 60-page comedy must be entirely omitted OUT OF CONTROL: When censorship is far-reaching, the strings are pulled from above (left), and writers and translators lose the freedom of expression JOSE LARA, 'G ABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ'; MATTHIAS ASGEIRSSON 'R ICHARD DAWKINS LECTURE', 24/6/06 BOTH VIA FLICKR; ORLODRIM, 'P AULO COELHO', 20/1/08 VIA WIKIPEDIA. ALL CC BY-SA. DAVID SHINBONE, 'N EWYORK CITY, SEPTEMBER 2008', 24/9/14 VIA WIKIPEDIA (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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