2014: a Year of Translation

I began to study literature translation in 2012, but it wasn’t until spring 2014 that it invaded my life completely. Most of my achievements in the past year have been to do with the translation of Korean into English, and most of these have been translations of poetry and prose.

I hope it won’t seem like bragging, but I want to make a list of these accomplishments, as I am ever forgetful and whether this is the start of something, or my most fruitful year, I think each part deserves to be remembered a few years down the line.

In the springtime I began work on translating poems for the anthology Let me Linger as a Flower in Your Heart, I finished translating in the summer and edited and proofread until mid-September with the book coming out around October time.

This anthology also became the focus of a Chosun Ilbo interview which came out on Christmas Day and caused quite a stir among my acquaintances. Unfortunately it was only released in Korean, but in another way it might be fortunate as some things I had said in the interview were a little…exaggerated or simplified when they came out in print.

In the summer time I decided to submit a co-translation of a short story I had translated with Sollee Bae in 2012 while studying at the LTI Korea for publication in the journal Acta Koreana. After rigorous editing by the amazing Kevin O’Rourke, and back-and-forth emails with the author on how to spell his name in English, our translation of ‘Arpan’ was published in the winter issue which came out in December.

In September I met with the English Editor in Chief and Head of Design at Koreana magazine and was tasked with translating a short story for the winter edition of the magazine. In one way it was very easy to translate – short sentences and simple language – but in another this simplicity made it more difficult to carry over the feelings behind words in English. Anyway, the strength of the story, and the way it penetrated to the heart of what it means to be human and how we interact with our bodies meant that, in my humble opinion, ‘Your Metamorphosis’(p82~99) shined through even in translation.

Another cool thing that happened in 2014 was that, if only briefly, I got to be a writer for a change. In the Winter 2014 edition of _list magazine, the publication on books from Korea produced by the LTI Korea, there were two articles written by me. One about my time at the Translation Academy, and one about the ‘Forest of Wisdom’ in Paju Book City. Earlier in the year I also wrote a small article about a day tour of Seoul for visiting translations, which (fingers crossed) should come out online sooner or later.

Oddly enough, the biggest things that happened to me in 2014 all happened on the same day, and all relate more to the year ahead than the year in which the ‘day of reckoning’ took place. On the 28th of November I found out that I had been accepted to study Korean Literature at Ewha Womans University, that I had been chosen as a recipient of the ICF scholarship for budding translators, and that I had been awarded a translation grant by the LTI Korea to translate ‘The Goat Herding Woman’ (tentative). Needless to say, though I was extremely grateful and excited about all these things, the fact that all the news came at once was completely overwhelming and I spent a few days wandering around in shock.

2015 will no doubt be a very busy year. I hope I am ready, and I hope I can stay healthy to meet the challenges of studying for an MA in a foreign language, juggling university work with my first translation of an entire book and having some semblance of a private life and hobbies at the same time. I will do my best anyway.

Happy New Year everyone ^^

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One comment

  1. Sarah · January 1, 2015

    Brag away Soph, we’re all so proud of you! If you get chance, run the article through Google Translate, the results are hilarious and utterly incomprehensible. See you in the summer xx

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