I am a translator and subtitler (French-German-English). My favorite jobs require a creative mind. That’s why I gladly accept to translate fiction, films, advertizement, books dealing with art, art history etc… if both parties can agree on a rate. Let’s not forget, a creative translation requires skills that can’t be measured by a CAT-tool or only by a word-count program and it deserves a rate that allows the translator to be creative. It’s not just about accuracy. It’s about submerging yourself in another culture and offering a text that immediately talks to the reader or viewer.
The author, Ivo Kircheis has a very interesting blog here: Paralleluniversum
Here are a few other examples:
The only solution in this case is of course to keep the word “bumbye”. What helps here is that the word is explained. Otherwise you would have to use some “tricks”, like using the original word + an explanation based on the context in your translation : “she said “bumbye” (never ? sometimes ? later ?)“. Another option I don’t like in fiction is the footnote : “she said “bumbye” * ” (footnote : * “bumbye” is a very common word in pidgin and means according to the context, blah, blah). I prefer reading Lee A. Tonouchi or Lois-Ann Yamanaka in Pidgin or in English-Pidgin (if you know English, it’s not that difficult, is it ?), in the same way I prefer reading German writers in German, but to translate them confronts you with a language, a culture, a history, a struggle and that’s fascinating !
What makes Lee A Tonouchi,one of my favorite Hawaïan writers,different from most other Hawaiian writers is his systematic and exclusive use of Pidgin in his writing. His vision of the cultural and social tomorrow of the island is nevertheless very similar to the one reflected in Lois-Ann Yamanaka‘s work. In his collection of short stories, da word, utopia seems forever out of reach, as if the characters had come to terms with a complete assimilation to the American continent:
And den at da screen.Dey wen arrive. “We are Borg. You will be assimilated into the Borg kollective. Resistance is fu-tile ”. All uncertain, I wen jus stare at da TV and I found my lips mountin’ their catch phrase, word fo’ word – like I had known ‘um all along. (1)
In the worlwide successfull series Star Trek The Next Generation or Star Trek Voyager, the Borg are the worst ennemies of Earth. Their society reminds one of a society of bees: only the queen has a personality, since the “worker’s” memory has been erased at the moment of their assimilation. The Borg assimilate all intelligent species they encouter. The famous line is the only one the Borg seem to know. This metaphore, Lee A Tonouchi borrowed from American science-fiction, shows that Hollywood directors dream for Hawaiians. As a consequence, his characters see themselves through the eyes of Star Trek or Star Wars (“distant galaxies”) heroes, forgetting their islands. These morph into Australia (The Thorn Birds, TV, Daryl Duke, Warner Bros, 1983), Africa (Outbreak, feature film, Wolfgang Petersen, Warner Bros, 1995), South America (Indiana Jones : Raiders of the Lost Ark, feature film, Steven Spielberg, Paramount Pictures, 1981), or they appear to be in the middle of nowhere (Jurassic Parc 3, feature film, Joe Johnston, Amblin/Universal Pictures, 2001 or Fantasy Island, TV, series, Michael Dinner, Columbia Tristar Television, 1998) (2).
The part literature plays here is to allow the reader to see the present detached from the image of a tropical paradise or a luxury retreat for exhausted Hollywood stars:
Ofcourse, tourists and readers want something authentic to take back from a culture. In the fifties and sixties, you could get monkeypod and koa bowls, the “Made in Hawaii” burned into the bottom in a tiny elegant script. Now they’re all made in the Philippines(except for a few high-end items carved from local rainforests). It begs the authenticity question : When does a souvenir become literature and not a sitcom ? (3)
This explains why Tonouchi focuses in his book on the power of the media to shape any place’s image. If Hollywood succeeded in colonizing distant galaxies and in describing the customs of their inhabitants with elaborate detail, the studios will have no difficulty rewriting History or even the future of the archipelago. The Star Trek encyclopedias of extra-terrestrial species, the 24th century History books dealing with Terra or other planets, the collections of legends and trade rules of the Ferengis, the absurdly detailed blue prints of Romulan, Clingon or other villain’s vessels, or even the lost recipes of Talax create a reality totally in the hands of the Creator.(4)
(1)Tonouchi, Lee A. “ my girlfriend’s one star trek geek ”, da word, Honolulu, Bamboo Ridge Press, 2001, p.87
(2) Pour une liste plus détaillée des séries TV et longs métrages tournés à Hawaii , consulter le site de la Kauai Film Commission :http://www.kauaifilm.com/based.html
(3) Pennybacker, Mindy “What Boddah You ? : The Authenticity Debate” The Nation, 1 Mars 1999, http://www.thenation.com/doc/19990301/pennybacker
- Behr, Ira Steven The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, New York, Pocket Books, 1995
- Behr, Ira Steven & Wolfe, Robert Hewitt The Legends of the Ferengi, New York, Pocket Books, 1997.
- Okuda, Michael/Okuda, Denise/Drexler, Doug The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future, New York, Pocket Books, 1999
-Phillips, Ethan & Birnes,William J. Star Trek Cookbook,,New York, Pocket Books, 1999.
- Sternbach, Rick Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual,New York, Pocket Books, 1991.