Becoming Bilingual by Min Cheng

Translator’s Note by Lianbi Ji ’21

This is my first experience translating non-conversational English into Chinese, and I found the task unexpectedly challenging. I was struck by how different the logics of expression in Mandarin Chinese and English are, which made word-to-word translation completely inadequate to maintain the precise meaning and language authenticity. Idiomatic phrases like “think on your feet” and “the best… one could ever ask for” do not have their literal equivalences in Chinese, and thus different structures of expression are needed. Rules like “because” does not go with “so” are opposite in Chinese (they have to exist in pairs). Word order also differs. Beyond these, I’ve also found myself struggling with maintaining the rhythm of language (E.g. how to translate “feeling enraged, misunderstood, and powerless”, to deal with the different word types yet keep the parallel rhythm?) In this somewhat complex and ambiguous process, subjective choices are made by the translator; from this short first experience, I am starting to understand how translator’s choices affect readers’ reading experiences in significant ways—translators are active participants in the production of literature.

At the same time, this experience to me feels very similar to “the moment of realization” for the author: the fact that I could perfectly and comfortably comprehend the text but found it very difficult to transform the expressions into Chinese ones means that I can now process information without using Chinese as a mediator. As a person undergoing the transition to bilingualism just like the author’s younger self, I completely resonate with the article; I felt like all those profoundly complex feelings and concerns I experienced in the process are well articulated and vividly depicted. Min’s story inspires me, and makes me feel less alone.

译者注

这是我的第一次英文书面写作翻译经历。我发现这个任务出乎意料的充满挑战性。我惊讶地意识到中文和英文之间语言表达逻辑的巨大差异,也因此理解逐词翻译完全不能够完整和真实地保留原文想传达的讯息和语言的韵律。比如,一些在英语中的固定、惯用短语(如“think on your feet”和“the best… one could ever ask for”)在中文里没有逐词平行的表达,因此,在遇到这些情况的时候,需要译者使用不同结构的表述来传达原文的意思;一些语法在英文中的规定(如“because”不和“so”同时出现)在中文里则不同甚至相反。语序在两个语言中也差异极大。除了这些基本的语法差异之外,我在试图保留原文的韵律感、文学性的时候也感到十分挣扎。例如,在翻译“feeling enraged, misunderstood, and powerless”的时候,怎样兼顾这些词的不同词性在中文中的运用规则,同时保留原句的排比效果?在这个充满复杂性和不确定性的经历里,译者需要做出许多主观选择;在这次短短的翻译初体验中,我开始理解译者的选择可以给读者的阅读经历带来的深刻影响——译者们是文学创作的真实参与者。

与此同时,这次翻译经历本身于我就好像笔者的“顿悟时刻”一般:我可以毫不费力地理解原文,却需要不断挣扎才能将它翻译成中文——这件事告诉我,现在我已经无需母语为媒介,就可以直接理解和欣赏英文的表达。我作为一个和笔者一样经历走向精通第二语言的挣扎的人,对文中所述之事深有共鸣;我感到那些我所经历的复杂的情绪和思考被笔者精准、流畅和生动地表述了出来。敏的故事激励了我,也提醒我:在这条路上,我并不孤单。

Translator’s Note by Ho Yean Choi ’19

I had difficulties translating ‘bilingual’ and ‘bicultural’ because there is no equivalent term in Korean. Depending on the context, I sometimes explained them as ‘speaking two languages and understanding two cultures’ and sometimes used the term ‘bilingual’ without translating it. Another difficulty was whether to use honorific language(존댓말) when the writer talks about her encounter with the English professor. It is common for Korean speakers to use honorific language when they talk to / refer to teachers or elders, but I was not exactly sure about how the writer felt toward the professor – whether she felt respectful toward him or not. So I made a slight hint of honorific language but did not strictly follow its rules.
That I shared similar experiences with the writer made it easier for me to translate some parts. The most relatable parts are when she felt uncomfortable with native English speakers’ compliments on her language, and when she found herself invisible.

역자의 말, 최호연:

한국어에는 ‘bilingual’이나 ‘bicultural’과 똑같은 뜻을 가진 단어가 없어서 번역할 때 고민이 많았다. 맥락에 따라 ‘두 언어를 구사하고 두 문화를 체화한’ 등으로 풀어 설명하기도 했고, 원어의 의미를 살려 ‘바이링구얼’이라는 단어를 그대로 쓰기도 했다.
글쓴이가 영어 교수님에 대해 설명하는 부분을 번역할 때 존댓말을 쓸 것인지에 대한 고민도 있었다. 한국어 사용자들이 어른들이나 선생님에 대해 이야기할 때 존댓말을 사용하는 것이 일반적이긴 하지만, 이 글쓴이가 교수님에게 정말 존댓말을 쓰고 싶어했는지, 그러니까 애써 존댓말을 사용할 정도로 교수님을 존경하는 마음을 갖고 있었는지 확실지 않았다. 그래서 존댓말의 어투를 섞되 극존칭을 사용하진 않았다.
글쓴이와 내가 비슷한 경험을 공유하고 있다는 것이 번역할 때 도움이 되었다. 특히 영어 원어민들로부터 영어 실력에 대한 칭찬을 들을 때 느낀 불편함이나, 미국에서 스스로의 존재가 비가시화되었다고 느끼던 경험 등에 많이 공감했다.

Translator’s Note by Saad Baloch ’20

کافی مشکل تھا کیونکہ مجھے اِس چیز کا خیال بھی رکھنا تھا کے ترجمہے کے بعد بھی الفاظ اسی جذبے سے من کی کہانی سنائیں اور کوئی بات بھی اپنا أصل مطلب کھو نا دے. اسی لیے میں نے ہر لفظ کا با معنی ترجمہ کرنے کے بجائے پورے جملوں اور خیالات کا ترجمہ کیا ہے. اِس ترجمے کے ساتھ میں یہ امید کرتا ہوں کے یہ آرْٹِیکَل زیادہ سے زیادہ لوگ پڑھیں گے اور اِس کہانی اور اِس کے مصنف کی تعریف کریں گے .

It has been a privilege and pleasure to work with such a heartfelt piece written by Min. It was challenging to translate it in such a way that it does not lose its true essence and still conveys the intended story. Sometimes the correct words lack the full subtlety of meaning or significance when translated from the original language to another, especially when done literally, so I tried to translate the ideas conveyed in the paragraphs, as opposed to carrying out word to word translation. For example, translating the sentence “I hated him with a passion” was hard to translate since the Urdu words for hate and passion cannot go together in one sentence! With this translation I hope it will reach out to wider audience, and more people will be able to connect with the story presented in this piece.

Translator’s Note by Aqiil Gopee ’20

Traduire Min a été plus difficile que je ne le pensais. Même si j’ai entrepris d’autres projets de traduction dans le passé, chaque texte est un monde nouveau à retranscrire, et je pense que le travail du traducteur devrait la délicatesse d’un travail de chirurgien ; pénétrer tendrement le texte avec le scalpel d’une nouvelle langue, et, sans bouleverser le sens que charrient les mots, les modifier un à un, revirement de vaisseaux dans une même mer de sens. Le texte de Min, particulièrement, est beau et très évocateur, surtout pour moi qui suis aussi un étudiant international pour qui l’anglais, parfois, a toujours un goût de verre brisé. Je navigue, depuis mon arrivée aux Etats-Unis, les mêmes eaux qu’ont naviguées Min des années de cela, ce qui me réconforte et me rassure. Je sais que je ne suis pas seul.

J’ai eu du mal à traduire certains mots, tels que « native speaker » ou « Kunmingnese », que j’ai laissé comme tel.

Translating Min has been harder than I thought it would be. Even though I have undertaken other translation projects in the past, each new text is a new world to transcribe, and I believe that translators, in their work, should be as sensitive as surgeons, tenderly penetrating the text with the scalpel of another language, and without disturbing the meaning carried by words, change them one by one, switching vessels in the same sea of meaning. Min’s text was beautiful and relatable, particularly for me as an international student to whom English sometimes still tastes like broken glass. Ever since I came to the United States, I have been navigating the same waters Min navigated years ago, which comforts and reassures me; I know I am not alone.

I had trouble translating certain words such as ‘native speaker’, which has no equivalent in French, or ‘Kunmingnese’, that I left as is.


Fragments from a Letter by Benigno Sánchez-Eppler

Translator’s Note by Monica Elise Diaz ‘20

Translating can be challenging at times due to the inherent richness of vocabulary and expression of emotion that is present in Spanish writing, which stands in contrast to the somewhat dry emphasis on logical and succinct communication that is present in the English language. To properly convey the meaning intended by an English phrase in Spanish, it is often necessary to embellish the phrase with numerous flowery and colorful descriptors. Translating from my dominant language, English, to Spanish, the language of my family and ancestors, gives me an appreciation for the beauty and intricacy of my native language. Recognizing and celebrating the language of one’s ancestors seems crucial to true appreciation of cultural identity.

La traducción a veces se hace difícil debido a la riqueza inherente del vocabulario y la apasionado expresión de la emoción que está presente en la escritura española, que contrasta con el énfasis en la comunicación lógica y sucinta que caracteriza el inglés. Para expresar adecuadamente el significado de una frase inglés en español, muchas veces es necesario embellecer la frase con varios descriptores vibrantes y floridos. Traducir de mi idioma dominante, inglés, al español, el idioma de mi familia y mis antepasados, me permite apreciar la belleza y la complejidad de mi lengua materna. Reconocer y celebrar el lenguaje de sus antepasados es crucial para la apreciación de la identidad cultural.

Translator’s Note by Álex Filipe Santos ‘19

The first difficulty I came across when developing this translation was the fact that Portuguese—as most Romance languages—is highly inflected with respect to gender. This creates a challenge when using proper English nouns, whose genders need to be picked as sensibly as possible: “de/da/do Amherst College?” In standard Portuguese, there is no choice for a gender-neutral pronoun such as the English “they”, and adjective inflections are purely based on the noun/pronoun gender (“eles” or “elas”). In this case, I used a mixture of invariant nouns (“o/a estudante”) and inflected nouns (“o aluno” / “a aluna”) throughout the text. The second challenge was finding equivalent Portuguese renderings of English idiomatic expressions which lose their meaning when directly translated. Overall, I sense that my efforts were successful. One instance is the strength of possessive pronouns (“theirs”) and verbs related to possession (“to own”) in English, which can be slightly less pronounced in Portuguese and require additional words for a proper emphasis (“próprio a eles” or “pertence a eles e elas”). Nonetheless, it is important to keep in mind that a good portion of Portuguese native speakers, especially those resident in their home countries, do not come from a background in which concepts such as liberal arts colleges, residential college experience, and multilingualism at home are widespread. This surely has an influence on how certain references to these experiences in the text are interpreted by readers and cannot be summarized in an excerpt of this length. Many thanks to Rodrigo Heck and Hugo Bello, who helped me review this translation.

Nota do Tradutor

A primeira dificuldade que enfrentei no desenvolvimento dessa tradução é o fato de o português—assim como a maioria das línguas românicas—ser uma língua altamente flexionada em relação ao gênero. Existe, portanto, um desafio ao utilizar-se nomes próprios vindos do inglês, cujos gêneros devem ser escolhidos da maneira mais sensível possível: “de/da/do Amherst College”? Na norma padrão da língua portuguesa, não existe um pronome de gênero neutro como o they no inglês, e a flexão dos adjetivos é baseada no gênero no substantivo/pronome concordante (“eles” ou “elas”). Nesse caso, eu empreguei uma variedade de substantivos invariáveis (“o/a estudante”) e flexionados (“o aluno” / “a aluna”) no texto. O segundo desafio foi encontrar interpretações equivalentes no português de expressões idiomáticas inglesas que perdem o sentido quando traduzidas ao pé da letra. De maneira geral, considero que meus esforços foram bem-sucedidos. Um exemplo é a força dos pronomes possessivos (theirs) e verbos relacionados à possessão (to own), que podem ser levemente menos acentuados no português, e requerem palavras adicionais para uma ênfase correta (“próprio a eles” ou “pertence a eles e elas”). Entretanto, é importante ter em mente que uma boa parte dos falantes nativos do português, especialmente aqueles residentes em seus países de origem, não estão em um ambiente no qual conceitos como faculdades de artes liberais (liberal arts colleges), experiência residencial na faculdade e multilinguismo em casa são amplamente difundidos. Isso certamente tem uma influência na maneira em que certas referências à essas experiências no texto são interpretadas pelos leitores e não pode ser resumido em um excerto desse tamanho. Sou muito grato pelo apoio do Rodrigo Heck e Hugo Bello, que me ajudaram a revisar essa tradução.

Translator’s Note by Mikayla Vieira Ribeiro ’18

I was a bit apprehensive to take on this translation, because although I am fluent in Papiamentu, I have not studied it formally. Given linguistic colonial power dynamics, the Dutch Caribbean creole Papiamentu is often undervalued for its’ literary and academic value, and thus understudied in schools. So, my history with Papiamentu is not an unusual one. However, this also means that increased online, written, academic presence of Papiamentu is always pushing against the exact kind of linguistic discrimination mentioned in the article. I believe that the entire internet should be created and translated into Papiamentu so that Papiamentu speakers can more fully exist in our language on multiple platforms. In order to make sure that representation does not come at the cost of quality, I had my translation reviewed by several Papiamentu experts, in order to promote Papiamentu excellence, even while I am in a messy process of decolonizing my tongue.

Specifically about the translation process, I found the work to be far more creative than I had anticipated. Selecting similar words as representatives of concept not quite translatable put the artistry of constructing meaning in my hands. I enjoyed the excitement, and responsibility.

Translated by Ellie Thieu ’19

This is actually a collaboration between me and a friend, who works as a translator in Vietnam. I think we convey the spirit of the piece well. The writing in English is actually very academic, with many metaphors. And so at many times, I opt for translating the intended meaning instead of literal translation. I will note, though, that the challenge addressed in the excerpt is awareness about and respect of the diversity on campus. And in many cultures, and in particular in Vietnam, the focus has been: how can we modernize ourselves / shape our culture / behaviors to be more like the West / America. Therefore, while I convey the spirit of the piece well, I doubt if Vietnamese readers will understand why the piece is written, or appreciate the piece / the writer’s intentions.

Translator’s Note by Saad Baloch ’20

It has been a privilege and pleasure to work with this piece. It was challenging to translate because some of the words just do not have an accurate Urdu translation. Translation of words like multilingualism or phrases like “my own perils and triumphs as a translator and as a culture intermediary, a person straddling more than one otherness” do not do justice to the original piece. So I had to use 2-3 sentences to explain even one phrase so that it can be somewhat closer to the original. With this translation I hope it will reach out to wider audience, and more people will be able to connect with the story presented in this piece.

مترجم کے خیالات:

اِس آرْٹِیکَل پر کام کر کے مجھے بہت خوشی ہوئی. اِس کا ترجمہ کرنا کافی مشکل تھا کیونکہ کچھ الفاظ کا درست ترجمہ کرنا تقریباً نا ممکن ہے. ملٹی لینگویل اور باقی کچھ جملوں کا ترجمہ کرنا بہت مشکل تھا تو میں نے ایک لفظ کی جگہ دو تِین جملوں میں اس کا مطلب اردومیں سمجھانے کی کوشش کی ہے.

اِس ترجمے کے ساتھ میں یہ امید کرتا ہوں کے یہ آرْٹِیکَل زیادہ سے زیادہ لوگ پڑھیں گے اور اِس کہانی اور اِس کے مصنف کی تعریف کریں گے .


The Rise and Fall of Urdu Language and Literature by Harith Khawaja

Translator’s Note by Harith Khawaja ’19, author of the original Urdu text

Urdu is a hard language for any translator to work with. For one, the beauty of its script is simply incommunicable in English. Written Urdu is read from right to left, oftentimes differing adjacent characters will change the way the entire word is written, and many times words spelt identically often have differing pronunciations, making it necessary to use harakat, literally vowel markings that aid enunciation. Furthermore, the language is undivorceable from Pakistani (and subcontinental) culture. There are some words that simply cannot be rendered into English because they will make no sense, for example “Shikwa and Jawab-i-Shikwa,” which literally mean “Complaint and Resolution” are arguably the two most famous works of Iqbal. Another challenge is translating proverbs in Urdu into English. In Urdu, there is a saying which literally means “like the amount of salt in pounded dough” to indicate “scantiness” – here we see some poetry being lost in translation. In the English version of this article, it was extremely hard to make the point of how English words interject an otherwise Urdu conversation. I tried to do that here by italicizing the words that are spoken in English.


A Rose By Any Other Name by Faith Chung

Translator’s Note by Hikari Yoshida ’19

Before taking a course in Amherst last semester called, “Literature as Translation,” I thought of the translator’s work as something that bridges the gap between the two different languages. However, as I translated one of the short stories written by a Japanese author, from Japanese to English, and this piece by Faith, from English to Japanese, I realized that translation is more of bridging the cultural differences between the two countries. Translating Faith’s piece was challenging because there were a lot of Korean words that I did not know what they would actually sound like when pronounced in Korean, in English, and in Japanese. Even though I have never met the author of this piece, I felt as if I already knew her in person as I was translating this short piece! I think this experience is what I enjoy the most when I am translating.

翻訳:吉田ひかり

アマースト大学で翻訳に関する授業を履修したり、フェイスの物語を訳したりしている内に、翻訳家としての仕事はただ単に二つの言語を訳すものではなく、二つの国の文化を訳すものだということに気がつきました。今回の作品を訳すにあたって、一番難しかったことは、英語で表記されている韓国語の言葉をどのようにして日本語で、そして、日本語の音として一番忠実に訳すかということです。また、会ったこともない筆者のことを、本当の知り合いのように知ることができるということが、翻訳家としての特権だと思います。

Translator’s Note by Esther Song ’21

Faith의 회고록을 번역하는 일은 매우 특별한 경험이었습니다. 다른 누군가의 글을 나 자신의 언어로 재창조해낸다는 것은 분명 엄청난 특권이지만 동시에 상당한 책임과 부담이 따른다고 생각합니다. 특히 이처럼 개인적인 내용을 담고있는 글은 모든 단어, 표현, 그리고 문장을 번역하는데 있어 특히나 많은 주의와 생각을 필요로 한다고 느꼈습니다. 한 편의 문장에 이렇게 많은 시간과 노력을 쏟은 적은 아마 이번이 처음일 것입니다. 모든 문장 하나 하나를 단어로, 또 그 단어들을 그 속에 있는 미묘한 뉘앙스들과 의미로 분해하는 과정을 끊임없이 반복했습니다. 제 번역이 원본의 의미나 어조를 왜곡하지 않았으면 하는 마음에 Faith의 글이 가지고 있는 고유의 리듬과 특징을 전달할 언어를 찾기 위해 노력한 것 같습니다. 물론 쉽지 않은 과정이었습니다. 최종 번역본에서도 원본과 사뭇 다른 부분들이 분명 존재하는데, 이는 한글과 영문 사이의 차이, 그리고 Faith와 저의 문체 차이에서 비롯된 어쩔 수 없는 현상이라고 생각됩닌다. 하지만 한가지 확실한 것은 원본과 번역본 둘 다 각기의 언어로 Faith의 이야기를 아름답게 표현해내고 있다는 것입니다. 저는 이 사실 하나만으로 이 다사다난했던 번역 과정이 힘들기보다는 보람있었다고 느껴집니다

Translating Faith’s memoir was a truly special experience. Being able to recreate someone else’s writing in my own words is undoubtedly a privilege, but one that comes with its fair share of burdens. The very personal nature of the piece made it even more imperative that I treated each word, expression, and punctuation with utmost attention and care. I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time and effort going through a single piece of text, dissecting each and every sentence into words and then words into their specific nuances and implications. I didn’t want my translation to obscure the meaning or tone of the original text and often struggled to find the ‘right’ words to encapsulate the unique rhythm and qualities of Faith’s writing. It was a difficult task, and I know there are parts of my translation that inevitably deviate from the original, simply due to fundamental differences that exist between the two languages as well as between our writing styles. However, I can confidently say that both the original and the translation tell Faith’s experience in equally beautiful, albeit different languages- and for me, this knowledge alone makes the whole experience of translation much more rewarding than challenging.

Translated by Saad Baloch ’20

It has been a privilege and pleasure to work with this piece. It was challenging to translate because some of the words just do not have an accurate Urdu translation. Translation of words like monogrammed or phrases like “My cousins are half korean” do not do justice to the original piece. So I had to use 2-3 sentences to explain even one phrase so that it can be somewhat closer to the original. With this translation I hope it will reach out to wider audience, and more people will be able to connect with the story presented in this piece.

مترجم کے خیالات:

اِس آرْٹِیکَل پر کام کر کے مجھے بہت خوشی ہوئی. اِس کا ترجمہ کرنا کافی مشکل تھا کیونکہ کچھ الفاظ کا درست ترجمہ کرنا تقریباً نا ممکن ہے. مونوگرام اور باقی کچھ جملوں کا ترجمہ کرنا بہت مشکل تھا تو میں نے ایک لفظ کی جگہ دو تِین جملوں میں اس کا مطلب اردومیں سمجھانے کی کوشش کی ہے.
اِس ترجمے کے ساتھ میں یہ امید کرتا ہوں کے یہ آرْٹِیکَل زیادہ سے زیادہ لوگ پڑھیں گے اور اِس کہانی اور اِس کے مصنف کی تعریف کریں گے .