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School of Modern Languages

and Cultures

Research Postgraduate Newsletter

December 2009
Dear All,

A new year of research has already started and we hope that both beginners and returners have enjoyed the first semester of 2009
at Leeds University! Here is the first edition of the newsletter 2009/2010, which comes back thanks to your numerous contributions!
We also would like to welcome the new director of the SMLC Research Training Programme for PGR Students, Christopher Dent
and his assistant Hanem El-Farahaty.
We are looking forward receiving more stories for the May newsletter! Until then, we and all the SMLC team wish you a really good
Christmas break!
Editor: Rebecca Ferreboeuf, Co-editor: Anastasia Malama, Proof-Reader: Ruth Chester

Prof Christopher Dent (Director, PGR students are researching in the Language / Literature /
Research Training Programme) Culture disciplinary field and 44% in the Humanities /
Social Science / Culture area. With this in mind, I
This is my first thought it best to move more towards a generic research
year as Director of the training model but with a future view to developing
PGR Research Training parallel sessions running in certain weeks that would
Programme, and I would address more specific disciplinary (e.g. language, social
first like to thank both science, humanities) research training issues.
David Looseley and At the same time, I have approached my
Rachel Haworth (the counterpart directors from 15 other Schools across four
previous Programme Faculties (Arts, ESSL, PVAC and LUBS) to explore the
Director and Assistant potential for inter-School co-operation on PGR research
respectively) for their training matters. I have just started this network-building
fantastic support and process but am working on two initial ideas. The first is
excellent work on to explore what links may exist between the research
developing the studies of our own School’s PGR students and those
programme over the from other Schools, then providing the opportunity for
years. My recent students to meet up if they wish to discuss their research
investigations into connections. The second idea is to put in place certain
School-level PGR research training across the ‘exchange arrangements’ between Schools whereby
University (more on this later) has confirmed what David PGR students may attend any research training seminar
told me previously that the SMLC has one of the best they find particularly relevant to their research. I am still
and most established of such programmes on the working on developing this network and will be in touch
campus. with more details later this semester.
In preparation for my new role as Director, I
looked carefully at our PGR profile and found that the Looking forward to getting to know you all this year!
School had a cohort of well over 100 students working
on a wide multi-disciplinary range of research studies. Best wishes,
By way of broad classification, around 56% of our
Prof Christopher Dent

Research Postgraduate Newsletter School of Modern Languages and Cultures
December 2009 University of

accomplishes the nearest effect of that English saying

Murdering the Source Language (SL) which would be the phrase, Man kathura hammuhu,
Text Words kasura ajaluhu. By his approach, Nida broke the
By Othman Othman boarders of SL words and resorted to finding the
intended meaning behind the surface of a given text. In
Translation is as old as language itself. The term conclusion, translators should be aware of such
translation in Arabic is Tarjama. It comes from the root sentences, and that they cannot be translated by a
ra ja ma which means katala, that is, to murder. This bilingual dictionary alone, but that words of the SL text
suggests when you translate from English into Arabic, should rather be ‘murdered’ and recreated as other
you then ‘murder’ the source language (SL) text and words in the TL to keep the intended meaning alive.
recreate it into another language, the target language
Othman Othman, PhD student in the Translation
(TL). Centre, School of Modern Languages, University of Leeds
However, talking about murdering the SL text
can be further explored through ‘Dynamic Equivalence‘.
This approach has been dominated by Nida, the
professional linguist and Bible translator. He argues that: An Interview with Richard Zenith
‘Translating consists in reproducing in the receptor By Rhian Atkin
language the closest natural equivalent of the source
language message (1969:12)’. Richard Zenith is a
By this approach, you can ‘murder’ the SL words freelance literary translator
and create other words to maintain the ‘intended who is probably best known
meaning‘. The TL recipient should receive the same outside Portugal for his
effect that the SL recipient was deemed to receive. In English editions of the prose
this approach, you are faithful not in rendering surface and poetry of Portuguese
words in a given text, but in rendering the ‘intended author, Fernando Pessoa.
meaning’. As a translator, this approach is very Richard lives and works in
important to me when I face difficulties in rendering the Portugal, and he is involved in
meaning of some cultural signs. e.g proverbs. This really translation and other projects
helps me in the translation process and saves time globally. In this interview,
instead of explaining the source language idiom or Rhian Atkin asks Richard
proverb. Therefore, giving a dynamic translation can Zenith about his career.
serve two purposes: save time for a translator, and
convey the exact meaning to the Target Reader. i.e the Why did you decide to
native speakers of the target language (TL). become a translator?
This approach is particularly useful in translating I love to write, and world geography was one of
proverbs. For example, when translating the Arabic my favourite subjects in school. From a young age I
sentence Fulan katheeru ramadi, I faced real difficulty was fascinated by people who could speak foreign
when I tried to convey it to the target readers as it languages, which for me represented alternate realities.
contains cultural value which is different from the target I never made a conscious decision to become a
readers’ culture. I found that it was impossible to render translator, but it made sense.
it satisfactory unless I provided either an explanation or
its dynamic equivalent in the target language, if there is What route did you take to become a translator?
one. In the above sentence, I would fail to produce the I was 24, living in New York City, and flat broke.
intended meaning by looking in a bilingual dictionary and I drafted a résumé that slightly exaggerated my
translating each word separately; this would give me the language skills (Portuguese and Spanish [...]) and
phrase ‘that person is full of ash’ !!!. In this case, I experience (this was the part I exaggerated), and began
resorted to applying dynamic translation; I "murdered" doing some commercial translation and interpretation to
the SL words, and recreated other words to achieve the make money. I also sat in - completely unofficially - on a
‘intended meaning’ which is ‘That person is very literary translation seminar at Columbia University. I
generous’. looked for good but unknown Brazilian writers of fiction,
Alternatively, by applying this approach to the then of poetry. I sent translations around to magazines,
English saying ‘Care killed the cat’ which means ‘anxiety which paid nothing or almost nothing. That's how I got
makes age shorter’, and rendering it in Arabic word for started. Then I applied, with some success, for
word it makes no sense to the Arabic reader. So, I grants. I've always worked as a freelance.
suggest providing the available equivalent that

Research Postgraduate Newsletter School of Modern Languages and Cultures
December 2009 University of

What is your favourite type of text to translate? to get in the mode for writing, and become confident
Poetry, because it's more challenging. But you enough to show his or her writing to others.
have to write poetry yourself - or at least be an avid As it is one of the troublesome concerns that
reader of poetry - to have any chance of doing a decent worries students in academia, postgraduates - especially
job. non-English students - do strive to make their writing
appealing to others by trying to make it read as naturally
Which piece of work are you most proud of? as possible as if it were written by a native speaker. Yet
Hmmm. Can't name just one piece. In the lacking the required experience and knowledge could
fiction department I'm pleased with 3 works from 3 make their writing seem rather colourless.
different continents: "Those Lopes", a short story by Personally speaking, I think that one of the most
João Guimarães Rosa (in the Oxford Anthology of the important aspects that needs attention is the use of
Brazilian Short Story); The Loves of João Vêncio, a vocabulary. This may involve correct usage of fixed
novel by José Luandino Vieira [an Angolan author], and expressions and catch phrases, collocations, formality
The Inquisitors' Manual, by [the Portuguese novelist] vs. informality, etc. Such units, if used properly in writing,
António Lobo Antunes. In poetry: Education by Stone: would help one say more with fewer words. Moreover,
Selected Poems of João Cabral de Melo Neto and they would garnish writing (so to speak) and make it flow
Sonnets and Other Poems, by Luís de Camões. If I don't to the reader very easily. Therefore, I would suggest a
mention Pessoa, it's because I'm so steeped in his work few tools which I use constantly:
(which I love), and I've translated so much of it, that it's
hard to single out one title. 1. The university of Manchester offers some useful
material regarding academic writing.
Can you tell us more about the other aspects of your http://www.phrasebank.manchester.ac.uk/introd
career, such as your involvement in films and uctions.htm
exhibitions? The site attempts to list all possible phrases one
[...] It was never my specific ambition to get could use for introducing his/her project,
involved in things such as films, exhibitions and referring to the literature, describing methods of
producing editions, but I also was not interested in only the research, discussing findings, and writing
translating. I studied the authors I translated and wrote conclusions.
magazine articles, conference papers and book prefaces 2. A software dictionary called Easy Lingo. In
about them and their work. To use a trendy term, I took addition to word definition or translation, Easy
a "holistic" approach. And this led to things I never Lingo provides lots of idioms and useful
imagined or aspired to. expressions that linked to the entry word.
3. Search Engines: One can check usage of a
If you were not a translator, what would you be certain phrase by looking it up on the web.
doing now? There are also some specialised search engines
Working as a bartender in New York and writing novels which one can use to search for phrases in
that no one wants to publish. Or -- who knows? -- specific formats such as: http://www.pdf-search-
maybe they would get published. engine.com
4. Thesaurus dictionaries: Those dictionaries
Rhian Atkin, PhD Student in the Department of provide lists of synonyms and antonyms of a
Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies. given item. I would suggest the following online
dictionaries in this regard:
Writing Tools to Consider www.wordwebonline.com/
By Mohammed Al Barakati
As I mentioned earlier, these are the tools which
Having managed to get I have used, and benefited from greatly. I am sure that
through the prerequisites to study an everyone has got his/her own tools for writing which can
MA or a PhD at the SMLC, does not be helpful for other fellow postgraduates.
necessarily mean your road is going
Mohammed Al Barakati, PhD Student in the Arabic
to be furnished with flowers. Maybe, Department, University of Leeds.
one of the first obstacles one could
stumble on is academic writing. It
takes quite some time for a fresher

Research Postgraduate Newsletter School of Modern Languages and Cultures
December 2009 University of

My Parisien experience in a nutshell Bubble Bursting

By Ashley Beedaysee By Ruth Chester

The decision to study for a doctorate is a weird

and wonderful process. As an arts student with a
conscience, it is difficult to decide to do something which
seems at once so selfish and yet so pressingly
necessary. I remember the feeling of being torn between
the inescapable need to pursue my topic and an instinct
to be useful; the desire to keep my mind open to the
world and not enclose myself in the beautiful bubble of
academia. So as soon as I succumbed to the inevitable
and entered my own personal bubble, I began looking
for ways to stretch its surface.
The obvious and most enjoyable way (at least
for me) is to teach. It’s all very well to sit communing
alone with books, but to me the test of knowledge has
always been to communicate it. My first year of teaching
at university was a good mix – one of my main thesis
texts in one class and a book I’d never even heard of in
the other. Although it’s a joy to teach one’s ‘own subject’,
it was equally fun to learn along with the students, and
hopefully put me closer again to their experience. It also
reminded me that there are many interesting things
outside my own bubble.
The second way that has come to me this year
to ‘step outside’ of my usual creative output, has been
my involvement in a project to create podcasts. After
initially recoiling from the idea that anyone would choose
to listen to a computer rather than read a book, I put my
prejudices behind me and began to see the excitements
of the project. Briefly, the podcast project is to create
seven groups of podcasts in the form of interviews with
Leeds academics covering various areas of special
research which are going on in the university. Being
close to my topic, I was entrusted with the care of
‘Medieval’ podcasts (what a clash), but also with
Postcolonial Studies and World Cinema. In doing this
I’ve been lucky enough to meet and hear some leaders
in their respective fields talking about what fascinates
them, their up to date research, while at the same time
expanding my own knowledge of everything from
Hollywood to Elves, from postcolonial London to
Taiwanese cinema. At the same time I’ve got involved
with some technology that I never imagined my
technophobe brain would be able to cope with!
I suppose finally what I want to advocate in this
The university barricade at Paris 12 during the strikes article is a willingness to look around oneself. It will
over university reform in 2008. probably be nothing new to most of you, but personally
speaking, despite being deeply attached to my thesis,
Ashley Beedaysee, MA Student in the French Department. there is always space for trying something new at the
same time.
Ruth Chester, PhD student in the Italian Department.

The next issue of the Newsletter is due in May 2009. If you have an article, story or picture for the next
edition, please email Rebecca Ferreboeuf at mlrf@leeds.ac.uk