The Linguist

The Linguist 55,3

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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28 The Linguist Vol/55 No/3 2016 OPINION & COMMENT Our columnist finds that pro bono work is a 'must' for the MA Translation student in the UK HANNAH EMBLETON-SMITH I admit it. A few months into the course, I'm feeling the positive impact of studying the endless theories. The functionalists Nord and Reiss, and even Vermeer's tireless (tiring?) defence of his skopos theory, have proven incredibly useful when it comes to practising translation. Consciously getting to grips with the text's function, from its target readership to its most important characteristics, can make all the difference. Theory has helped me both in practice pieces for the specialised translation module and in voluntary work for social journalism websites, such as cafébabel. Volunteering is the order of the day for building employability. At an event for new translators, we came away with one key phrase: pro bono. While I have strong views on the amount of free labour young people are expected to undertake in the UK, particularly compared to the rest of Europe, I enjoy putting my developing skills to the test; my work for cafébabel has even been selected for their print publication. To any budding newbies, I'd give the same advice I give myself: until the system changes, give an hour here and there to build your portfolio. In terms of the course itself, we're now moving towards more independent study in the run-up to the main assessment period. The tutors are active online as ever, ready to provide support where it is needed. This has been a good time to discover my interests and opinions on the reading already covered. While theory has helped me to appreciate different pragmatic approaches to translation, it has also led me to question lingering misconceptions. Since the earliest writings on translation, literature has been put on a pedestal: translators are writers, and only the most creative can tame the poetic beast. Now, I would jump as high as the next book lover at the chance to translate my favourite writer, but literature is not superior; it doesn't have to be the 'you've made it' moment of a translator's career. Take Heim and Tymowski's 2006 guide for translating social science texts. The translator is asked to stretch the target language to its limits, to demonstrate unwavering loyalty to the source text, to preserve its message almost religiously. The text in the translator's hands could change social policy and affect our collective lives. Surely that prospect is at least as exciting, and the process as creative, as bringing a novel to the masses? The translator of less celebrated genres deserves a shout out too. Master in the making Hannah Embleton-Smith is an MA Translation student at Bristol. TL The global spectrum There is a well-known proverb in Korean, kagingaksaek, meaning 'for each man a colour' (i.e. 'many people, many opinions') and it is certainly and refreshingly true that, around the world, the connection between language and colour varies considerably. We might feel that every language has a word for every colour, but this isn't so. Nine languages distinguish only between black and white. In the Dani languages of New Guinea, for example, people talk in terms of things being either mili ('darkish') or mola ('lightish'). The Bassa people of Liberia see only two colours: ziza (red/orange/yellow) and hui (green/blue/purple) in their spectrum. In the Hanunó'o language, spoken by Mangyans in the Philippines, there are just four basic colour terms: black, white, red and green. The Shona of Zimbabwe also see only four: cipsuka (red/ orange), cicena (yellow/yellow-green), citema (green-blue) and cipsuka again (the word also represents the purple end of the spectrum). Sometimes a colour has many connotations. The Welsh for 'blue' (glas) appears in a range of expressions, including yng nglas y dydd ('in the blue of the day', i.e. the early morning); gorau glas ('blue best', i.e. to do one's best); and glas wen ('blue smile', i.e. one that is insincere and mocking). In literature, glas is a colour between green, blue and grey; it also has poetic meanings of both youth and death. There are 21 languages with distinct words for black, red and white only; eight also have green; the sequence in which additional colours are brought into languages is then yellow, blue and brown. Only, perhaps, in this regard can one say that colours have any global constancy of linguistic use. Adam Jacot de Boinod is the author of The Meaning of Tingo and creator of the iPhone app Tingo. TL ADAM JACOT DE BOINOD

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