Sunday, May 16, 2010

Minds Find a Way Together in the Desert

The Italian writer who is with us in El Gouna, Tizana Colusso, has a beautiful, quite poetic, children's book about a stone and footprints on the beach and their friendship. It was translated from Italian into English, but not well. Yesterday Seni, Tizana and I worked on sorting out the translation.

It was a wonderful process. It was an exploration of what a particular word means, its shades and nuances. It was so fascinating for me to discuss the meaning of each sentence and its place in the story with the other two women. To work together to get to the exact word or sentence that was needed to truly represent the Italian text.

It was also a window into another language and it reminded me of how important it is for a writer to write in their own language. I'm a pragmatic writer and I know writing in English is important from a marketing point of view, but so many wonderful images are lost when a translation is done or when a writer foregoes their local language for English, images that have no words to describe them since they only exist in that particular language. If English forces itself to be the language of the world, as it is trying to do, and languages slip away, we should know too that much, much more will be lost.


OneStonedCrow said...

Greetings from Namibia

I came upon your blog through Afrigator and the post name which caught my eye - I found this post interesting because I recently did a blog post on the book "The Sheltering Desert" which has been translated from the original German.
Although I have not (cannot) read the German version, I found that the English translation was somehow lacking and I had the impression that much of it's essence was 'lost in translation' ...

Lauri said...

Thanks for stopping by OneStonedCrow. Namibia is one of my favourite places on the planet. I keep thinking of it here in Egypt, the desert butted up against the sea seems the right environment for a writer like me. It allows my brain such freedom. Of course the sea here is far too calm for me- I love the crazy wild indisciplined Atlantic.

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