24 September 12 | Chad W. Post

This year’s ALTA kicks off officially on Wednesday night with the special opening event celebrating Open Letter’s poetry series—in particular Eduardo Chirinos’s Smoke of Distant Fires, translated by Gary Racz, and Juan Gelman’s Dark Times Filled with Light, translated by Hardie St. Martin—but the real meat of the conference gets going at 9:15 Thursday morning . . . Here are a few of the highlights from those first couple sessions (remember, you can download the entire schedule here):

Thursday, October 4th
9:15 – 10:45

It’s No Pun Anymore: The Loss of Wit & Other Cultural Misunderstandings in Persian Verse Translation

Despite a rich 2,000-year literary tradition, linguistic as well as cultural elements integral to Persian poetry continue to get slighted in English renderings. This panel surveys both the classical and modern tradition of Iranian verse, foregrounding key problems that considerably limit the appreciation of style and theme in translation.

Roger Sedarat: Moderator
Mojdeh Marashi: “Saffron Paper: Rosewater Ink”
Kaveh Bassiri: “The Text Is in the Context”
Sara Khalili: “On Navigating Cultural Misunderstandings in Persian Literature”


Translating Murakami in Europe

This panel gathers three European translators of Haruki Murakami to discuss his translation into languages other than English. Focusing upon Murakami’s latest novel, 1Q84, panelists raise such problems as shifting tense, visual wordplay, and strategies for handling the English expressions and American references that appear natural in the English translation, but which stand out in other European languages, as they do in Japanese.

Mette Holm: “In Search of Lost Time in Murakami: Movement Between Past and Present”
Ika Kaminka: “Style and the Translator: Re-Exporting English Idioms out of Japanese”
Anna Zielinska-Elliott: “Visual Presence and Subjective Absence: Conjuring Japanese in European Languages”


11:00 – 12:15

Linguistics & the Culture of Humor

What makes an original text humorous and what should a translator understand about language, culture, and linguistics—both in regard to the source and target languages—to make this humor translatable? This panel also considers challenges translators may encounter.

Kaija Straumanis: “On the German Translation of George Saunders’s Pastoralia”
Konstantin Gurevich,
& Helen Anderson: “The Elephant, the Hellephant, and the Quest for Dynamic Equivalence”
Matt Rowe: “Turning The Alienist up to 11”
Emily Davis: “Hypervelocity Cloudlets: Linguistic Precision and the Importance of
Register in Damián Tabarovsky’s Medical Autobiography


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