2011-01-02

A. Z. Foreman translates William Auld & other Esperanto poets

Tradukisto A. Z. Foreman kritikas la lingvon kaj propagandon de Esperanto sed tradukas originalajn Esperantajn poemojn anglalingven: ĝis nun poemojn de William Auld, Marjorie Boulton, Kalman Kaloscay, kaj Ludmila Jevsejeva. En ĉiu kazo oni povas aŭskulti lian deklamon de la originala poemo. Ĉar temas pri anglalingva legantaro, la cetero de ĉi tiu blogero estas anglalingva.

A. Z. Foreman is a polyglot, linguistics student, and poetry lover who translates from several languages including Esperanto into English, as you will see from his blog Poems Found in Translation. Some character by the name of "Ralph Ellectual" has commented on all his Esperanto blog entries, and I agree with his judgments. Foreman has some harsh but fair comments about the language itself, which he likes for reasons other than the usual propaganda. See his piece:

Meditation On Esperanto: Part 1- Internationalism

I won't quibble over his detailed remarks about the linguistic quirks of Esperanto, but I share a rejection of the type of Esperantist propaganda promulgated by Claude Piron.

But let's move on to Foreman's translations from Esperanto:

William Auld: In an Old CemeteryJulia on Pandateria 
Marjorie Boulton: Memnon 
Kalman Kalocsay: A Summer Night
Ludmila Jevsejeva: Autumn Melody

For each poem Foreman provides a sound file of him reading the Esperanto original, along with the text of the Esperanto original and his translation. These poems are meditative (on time, history, perspectives of the present vs. the past) or lyrical. The first three poets listed are famous in the Esperanto world. The last one is new to me, but Ludmila Jevsejeva (1913-1980) is not new on the scene at all; in fact, she was a victim of Stalin's purges. See also Ludmila Jevsejeva - esperantistino kaj poetino.

I shall be interested in what else Mr. Foreman has to say about Esperanto language and poetry, and of course I look forward to further translations.

6 comments:

zooplah said...

Well, to use an English pun, "He has the right to do it, but it's wrong to do it." Alivorte traduki aferojn el Esperanto detruas kulturajn pravigojn por lerni Esperanton.

PIRON havis plurajn bonajn ideojn, sed li ofte maltrafis evidentajn konkludojn.

Ralph Dumain said...

I think the opposite is true. Poetry especially loses something in translation, but if there's something interesting in it that survives translation, there's an incentive to take the original seriously, Nobody is going to bother to learn Esperanto just because they're told there's an original literature in it.

A.Z. Foreman said...

Zooplah: Mi, minimume, konigantas verkojn de iuj majstraj verkistoj Esperantistaj. Kion mi vere detruas?

Ekzemple, mi ĵus vidis sur Twitter pepadon de virino, kiu neniam konis la nuran *ekzistadon* de Esperanta literaturo, kaj surpriziĝis pro miaj tradukoj kaj ja ekinteresiĝis pri Esperanto.

Se tia koniĝo de la Esperanta literaturo ne kondukas finfine al la Esperantuja pligrandiĝo, ne mi estas kulpa.

A.Z. Foreman said...

I forgot to say thanks, Ralph, for the traffic. Krome, mi tradukintas kelkajn pliajn versaĵojn de Auld.

zooplah said...

There should be some sort of unique cultural value to it. There's no economic value to Esperanto. Its only real advantages are its ease and its utopianism (and neither are practical considerations to language learning), now that we've taken away any unique literature it's had.

A.Z. Foreman said...

Translations don't "take away" the uniqueness of a literature.

Boris Pasternak didn't "take away" anything by translating Shakespeare into Russian.

Consider how widely and repetitively translated Latin and Greek literature are, and how many people still learn them to read that literature.

Did Longfellow's translation of Dante into English suddenly mean that English speakers wanting to read Dante lost all desire to learn Italian? Of course not. In fact, for example, Borges (who was natively bilingual in Spanish and English) used Longfellow as a bridge to the Italian.

Consider that Sir William Jones' translations of Hafiz from Persian helped spark a veritable scholarly mania for the language in the 17th century- resulting in a massive amount of new Persian learners. Including Edward Fitzgerald. In turn, Edward FitzGerald's translation of the Ruba'iyat of Omar Khayyam is what got the scholar Dick Davis interested in Persian literature. And it was Dick Davis' translations, from Persian, of the Shahnameh that got me interested in learning Persian.

Assertion that somehow Esperanto loses value by having its literature translated is a grotesque under-appreciation of that literature which presumes it to be inferior to others. It assumes that that literature isn't good enough to get potential learners interested in becoming active learners- and it also suggests, falsely, that that literature makes such scant use of the language's unique properties that translation can completely supplant it.