How does the act of translation change when the text you are translating isn't just one language, but a mix of languages that include the source language, regional dialects, a sprinkle of foreign words, or an aggregation of real-life situations in a multilingual society where characters switch in and out of standard Mandarin, Chinese dialects, American English, French, and what not? How would you render this melting pot of languages into something understandable while also achieving the same effect or emotional impact the author has achieved?
In this one-day, four-hour seminar, students will explore how stories written in something akin to a potpourri of languages could be translated into English. We will look at the various possibilities of translating a multilingual text through reading closely for the author's intent, studying the voice and background of the characters and the orality of the translated text (by performing it out loud) to discover ways of translating a text peppered with multilingual elements.
This class is ideal for people from diverse or mixed cultural backgrounds with an interest in multiple languages, who want to experiment with the languages they know and to explore what they can do with heritage/linguistic knowledge they already have, drawing from their community experiences. The source texts to be worked on in class are mostly in Mandarin Chinese, but will be sprinkled with other languages. A basic understanding of Mandarin Chinese is preferred in this class, but writers with no knowledge of Mandarin are also welcome—you should speak or understand more than one language to enroll, or you come from a household where several languages are used, or you want to explore your own linguistic heritage.
Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features.
- Learn how you could use your multilingualism and multicultural background, or your grasp of various languages, to your advantage
- Explore ways to identify the intent of the writer, and the effect a piece of text has on a reader.
- Learn how your target text could have as much flavor and color as the original one without losing your target audience, by experimenting with various practices and strategies
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students will be given texts to work on during the class, where they will be broken up into teams to discuss how they would approach the text given, and then come back to the main room to share with the group. Students are also expected to share common problems they encounter with multilingual texts.
Christina Ng is a Singaporean writer, journalist and translator based in Berlin. She has written for South China Morning Post,The Calvert Journal, and Hyperallergic. She translates mostly art, travel and culture from Chinese to English and vice versa, and has translated the Chinese poetry of Singaporean poets like Liang Wern Fook and Dan Ying into English, some of which have appeared in Contour: A Lyric Cartography of Singapore and adda, as well as forthcoming ones in Pathlight Magazine. She has taught creative writing, poetry and journalistic workshops at high schools in Singapore and Berlin.
"Christina was teaching travel writing workshops within the project City Travel Review in Berlin. She supported the students in research, travel writing, editing, with their photos and getting organised for creating a travel guide book for young people. Christina not only used books and handouts from previous projects but introduced own structures, ideas and materials. We were very happy to have Christina on the project team and found her creative, reliable and friendly."
"I've never expected any translation to be so close to the meaning I want to express and yet so elegant and poetic! Especially the second version, it is so fascinating to see that the rhythm and rhymes are maintained in such a beautiful way!"
"Christina's lessons are simple, clear and well-structured, and the material is practical and useful. She always spots immediately where I'm having trouble and finds good solid methods to help me get through it quickly and easily."
"Christina is super responsive, always delivers quality work and never misses a deadline. Even in cases of emergency and last minute translations we can always count on her."