A note from William Rubel
Although initially delayed by COVID-19, the eight Stone Soup anthologies we sold to a Chinese publisher have finally been released! We are hopeful that other titles will follow. The English editions are available at our Amazon storefront, which you can access by clicking the button below. For those of you who don’t already have copies of these anthologies, we encourage you to browse our titles and choose your favorite subject or genre.
Our wonderful book agent for Asia, John Moore, who lives in Japan, tells us that now that the books have been released in China, it’s time for us to begin offering the titles to publishing houses in other East and Southeast Asian countries. We are preparing a presentation for a publisher in South Korea and Thailand and are looking forward to making proposals to others in Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan. Stone Soup is going global! You can browse our anthologies on our Amazon storefront.
Until next week,
William's Weekly Project
The publication of the Chinese anthologies required a translator to render the English text into clear prose or poetry that maintains the beauty and nuance of the original stories. That is no easy task! Translation is as much an art as writing. It is so much more than just swapping out the original words for ones with equivalent or similar meaning in the new language. While translation algorithms like Google Translate have become much smarter and more capable, they rarely possess the nuanced, artful eye of a human translator.
This week, your challenge is to review a text translated by an algorithm and make it better, more human. “Der Fuchs und die Katze” is a German fable collected by the Brothers Grimm, a pair of siblings who compiled a very famous anthology: Grimms’ Fairy Tales. You can download a pdf of the story by clicking the purple button below. Then copy the text (and title!) of “Der Fuchs und die Katze” into Google Translate. Does the result make sense? Where does the writing feel stilted, and which words in particular seem out of context or outdated? Are there words that didn’t translate at all?
One peculiarity of the German language is its penchant to smoosh words together to make new words. Algorithms often struggle to interpret this. For example, in the original German text, the word “Bartputzer” appears. Google translated this as “beard cleaner”, which seems nonsensical in the context of the story. The intended meaning may be different than Google's translation. Sometimes it is useful to refer to a dictionary to verify the translation of a word. Try breaking the German word in half, into “Bart” and “putzer”. The entry for “Bart” reads “beard; whiskers.” Aha! Does “whiskers-cleaner” seem more in line with the characters in "Der Fuchs und die Katze"?
Work through the translation and see if you can improve its clarity and overall feel. Every language has its own quirks, whether it is a different system of sentence order (this is called syntax) or the absence or addition of certain grammar rules. For this reason, translation is often a lot of detective work!
Stone Soup is published by Children’s Art Foundation-Stone Soup Inc., a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization registered
in the United States of America, EIN: 23-7317498.