Of my own, of course, On the Oberlin Review’s website right now you can see my #textpatois in action—A review of Oberlin’s own translation symposium.
Although the Symposium featured works in a total of 12 different languages, the majority of the poems read were translated from a foreign tongue to English. College senior Harmony Pringle, for instance, translated an anonymous Mozarabic poem to both modern Spanish and English, while College junior Olivia Combe translated the e. e. cummings poem “somewhere I have never travelled” into French. I was amazed by several poets who translated works between two languages, neither of which was the translator’s first tongue — further underscoring the cross-cultural significance of the act of translation.
I think that translation is of utmost importance and that translation will never really go away. Unlike manufacturing or even document discovery, translation as an act requires a human’s ability to reason and consider, and even though Google is trying as hard as they can to do some machine translation of poetry, we’re still far away from translating literature automatically. I think there’s a strict dichotomy governing translation. (take this with salt; I am frustratingly monolingual) There’s actual, practical translation, like what’s done at the UN every day–translation meant to serve a direct, tangible purpose. “I need to know what you’re saying so we can conduct this business transaction.” There’s also translation that’s more artistic in nature. That’s what was on display at the Translation Symposium at Oberlin. You could see it in the Classics translations–when students were tasked with translation works already deemed Classics back during Antiquity, they tried something different. They translated in a non-literal fashion. They used modern rhetorical techniques. Through translation, they added to the sum of human knowledge about these Classics.