Stories from Quick Reads and Arts & Culture
Below is an edited version of “The Translation Detail Everyone Missed in the China Internet's Incredibly Surreal Anthem“ by Jason Li, originally published on the blog 88 Bar and republished here as part of a content-sharing agreement.
In case you missed it, the New York Times, ProPublica, the Guardian and the Atlantic all wrote about this incredibly surreal but voted best of event anthem celebrating China’s glorious Internet. Thanks to ProPublica, we have a subtitled YouTube video above.
As James Fallows at the Atlantic pointed out, one of the most stirring phrases in the song that is repeated eight times during the chorus is 网络强国. The New York Times and ProPublica both translated this as “Internet power,” while Fallows points out that:
English speakers might think of “Internet power” as comparable to “soft power” or “girl power” or “people power.” But to my amateur eye there is a more explicit connotation of China’s becoming a national power in cyberspace. I’m sure Chinese speakers will tell me if I’m wrong to read 强国 as meaning a powerful country, as in “rise and fall of the great powers” etc. Thus the refrain would emphasize “a powerful Internet country.” The impression I got from this was of a strongly nationalistic message about a supposedly borderless medium.
I wanted to add to the translation and confirm Fallows’ viewpoint by examining one of the lines from the chorus:
Both the New York Times (Paul Mozur) and ProPublica (Sisi Wei and Yue Qiu) translate this to some variant of: “An Internet power: Tell the world that the Chinese Dream is uplifting China.” (Emphasis mine.)
Actually, the line in Chinese does not end with the phrase “China” (中国) but “the greater Chinese” (大中华). Not only does “the greater Chinese” sometimes mean Greater China, but it also hints at overseas Chinese people (华人 or 华侨) and, as Fallows put it, the “borderless” greater Chinese culture/civilization.
I am sure you have heard of Nigeria before now. Boko Haram, right? The slaughter and blood cuddling rampage. But I doubt if you have heard about this ‘story’ of Nigeria – nature's master piece.
Oluwakemi Ojo curates “100 Instagram Photos That Will Make You Fall In Love With Nigeria“:
Nigeria is one African country that everyone raves about, a very beautiful nation and it is when you visit the country that you will really appreciate its beauty. From its captivating cities, towns and villages, amazing attractions, stunning hotels and resorts, endless restaurants and clubs, unique cuisine, arts and culture; Nigeria has a lot to offer.
Freetown Fashpack is a fashion blog by an Australian living in Freetown, Sierra Leone who intends to show a different side of a country commonly associated with civil war and blood diamonds:
My name is Jo Dunlop and I’m an Australian living in Freetown, Sierra Leone. After moving here in 2011, it soon became apparent that what Freetown lacks in high street shopping, it makes up for in style. The streets are teeming with some of the most resourceful, brave and outrageous fashion decisions ever made. In a country so commonly associated with civil war and blood diamonds I felt inspired to show a different side to Sierra Leone and reveal an unlikely fashion hotspot.
In early December 2014, the shortlist for a competition of the desing of the new Guggenheim museum in Helsinki was announced. The bulk of the building of the new Finnish venue of the famed museum of modern and contemporary art will be financed by the government of Finland and the project is already causing controversy and disagreements in public opinion.
The main sponsor of this promising project will be Finnish taxpayers, with the government willing to spend as much as 130 million Euro on the museum, which will carry the world-renowned Guggenheim name. In fact, the Finnish government will spend 30 million euros of this budget specifically on paying for the use of the Guggenheim brand. These expenses are already the cause of open outrage among local residents. For many locals, it seems particularly unfair to invest taxpayers’ money in a non-Finnish museum and brand. Many see it as sponsoring “someone else's trademark”.
Local and national media have been critical of the entire contest for the design of the museum and have called the entire project “a vanity project”.
The number of participants in the contest for the design of the new Helsinki Guggenheim was incredibly high, with more then 1700 proposals received from professional architects from more then 77 countries.
Authorities in the city have taken this and other elements as good signs and have explained that they expect the new museum to become the main tourist attraction in Helsinki, boosting tourism and the city's economy in general. Some representatives of the municipality have referenced the so-called “Bilbao effect”, describing the effect that the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain had on bringing in almost 4 million tourists to Bilbao in the first 3 years and boosting the local economy. Locals in Helsinki, however, fail to see the parallel between the two cities, as the Bilbao Guggenheim was part of a larger economic and cultural revitalization in the Spanish city.
In Finland, in response to the government's decision to collaborate with Guggenheim, an alternative competition was created for another project dubbed “The Next Helsinki”, where Finnish architects will be offering their own urban design solution for the city. On the project's official website the organizers of this effort call participants to:
“Help us seize this opportunity to highlight the city's singularity, and its residents’ appetite for social, environmental and cultural justice.”
Submissions for the “New Helsinki” contest will be open until March 2, 2015.
On his blog Blucasendel, Argentinian journalist Wenceslao Bottaro explores new ways of linking with tourism and other ways for communication and promotion of touristic attractions. This time, he graphically shows what you can find in front of the Main Square of the colonial Ciudad de los Reyes (City of Kings), as Peruvian capital city Lima was originally known.
Apenas entrar, la primera impresión es deslumbrante. Hay mucho para ver y asombrarse: los muebles, las colecciones de objetos, las escaleras, las lámparas, el patio. Todo lo que es madera está trabajado obsesivamente en los detalles.
De las paredes cuelgan pinturas, en las vitrinas se exhiben piezas de vajilla, documentos genealógicos y de la época de la Independencia. Lámparas de todo tipo se combinan con la luz del sol generando una extraña atmósfera en las habitaciones.
The minute you get in, the first impression is dazzling. There is a lot to see and to be astonished: the furniture, the collections, the stairways, the lamps, the courtyard. Every wooden article is obsessively carved in every single detail.
Paintings hang from the walls, glass cabinets showcase dishes, genealogic documents and from Independence period. All kinds of lamps are combined with sunlight, generating a rare atmospohere in the rooms.
Bottaro has also written about other place that's worth to visit in Lima's historic downtown. For instance, “the guard change at Presidential Palace; the Inquisition Museum; the historic Bar Cordano, and, especially if you are with children, to have fun with the Magic Circuit of Water“.
Late last year Ghana-based pan-African literary organization Golden Baobab introduced us to a shortlist of talented illustrators, whose work ranged from 3-D Ashanti folktales to intricately drawn Moroccan cityscapes and African barbershop-inspired murals in Durban. Awarded in November, the inaugural Golden Baobab Prize for African Illustrators was one of the foundation’s six prizes recognizing the year’s best African writers and illustrators of children’s stories.
Christmas isn't quite over yet, but Trinidad and Tobago is already in the throes of its Carnival season – that frenetic period of masquerade, soca, celebration, creativity and revelry that some say is unmatched by any other carnival in the world.
One blogger is thrilled to bits that the much-anticipated Carnival is here again – Trinidad Carnival Diary, who takes her moniker from the festival itself. Over the years, her posts has evolved from a small mas'-lover's blog to a full-fledged website that is regarded as one of the authorities on all things Trinidad and Tobago Carnival. She's done a delightful post outlining 10 reasons people love the festival so much. It's worth a read, but to whet your appetite, it involves infectious music, an incomparable sense of freedom, lots of partying with kindred spirits, incredible costumes and a real sense of togetherness.
Although the focus was translation and interpretation of classic Chinese books, the necessity of learning a new language when studying a culture or being able to use the language in politics were also addressed. Two lecturers caught the interest of Ruiz, Alicia Relinque and Eduardo Daniel Oviedo. About their talks, Ruiz notes:
Relinque, nos explicó muy brevemente su experiencia personal como traductora y cómo a lo largo del tiempo ha ido cambiando su metodología en función de la obra a traducir e incluso a veces por los requisitos impuestos desde la editorial. Seguidamente expuso varios ejemplos de traducciones de otros autores
(Oviedo) trataba del papel que juega actualmente el chino como elemento integrador de la sociedad china, así como la lucha que tiene con otros idiomas para ser la lengua hegemónica a medida que crece el poder político y económico de la República Popular China, mientras expande su influencia a otras regiones del mundo de cara a la formación de una lengua global.
Relinque briefly explained us her personal experience as translator and how as time went by she has been changing her methodology according to the text to be translated and sometimes even according to the requirements by the publisher. She then talked about several translations by other authors
(Oviedo) addressed the role currently played by Chinese language as unifying element in Chinese society, as well as the struggle it has with other languages to be the hegemonic language as Popular Republic of China's political and economic power grows, as it expands its influence to other regions of the world in regards to the formation of a global language.
Now it's time to wait for the second edition on 2016 and the possibility for the Autonomous University of Barcelona to organize it. That hasn't been decided yet.
Korean Air Lines vice president has made numerous headlines, both locally and internationally, for her arrogant behavior on a recent flight out. She randomly accused a crew member of serving macadamia nuts ‘incorrectly’ and even she ordered a plane back to the gate to remove the crew member out of the plane. No wonder this sensational story has become one of the trending topics in social media. Among numerous internet jokes, parody photos and even a cartoon by Japanese users, one stood out most would be a game mocking the Airplane nuts fiasco. A Korean web developer, Tai-hwan Hah (@duecorda) made a simple game entitlted ‘Crew Members’ Tycoon’ [ko]. However you play, you get the same result of the crew member being yelled at and hearing the sentence ‘You! Get out of the plane!’ — the very word the vice president allegedly said to the crew.
Raúl Morales, blogging on El Blog de Don Ush, brings us a review of recently launched science fiction movie “Interstellar,” where director Christopher Nolan creates a non-encouraging future for the planet that can only be overcame if human beings defeat the prevailing ignorance. Although Morales is critic of box-office earnings and the action plot of the movie, he highlights that this is how the world will be if we go on just as we are:
Me gustan los mundos distópicos, en particular los que tratan de mostrar cómo sería el nuestro si seguimos como vamos. No lo dicen con claridad en la película, pero es obvio que hubo algún tipo de cataclismo que jodió a la Tierra, sin duda el calentamiento global. En segundo lugar, la película da un ejemplo claro de uno de los elementos más graves que nos orillan a ese nivel de autodestrucción: la ignorancia científica.
I like dystopian worlds, particularly those who try to show how would ours be if we go on as we are going. The movie isn't clear about it, but it's obvious there was some kind of natural catastrophe that screwed the Earth, undoubtedly the global warming. In second place, the film is a clear example of one of the most serious that pushes us to that level of self-destruction: scientific ignorance.
Ahí algunas de las razones por las que me gustó Interstellar. Un día los viajes espaciales a otros planetas podrían ser tan cotidianos como viajar en avión a otros continentes. Ese futuro solo será posible si no nos matamos entre nosotros y, por tanto, si superamos la ignorancia que conduce tantas de nuestras acciones.
There are some of the reasons why I liked Interstellar. Some day, travelling to other planets could be so frequent as taking a plane to other continents. That future will be possible only if we don't kill each other and, therefore, if we overcome the ignorance that leads so many of our actions.
According to Morales, Nolan uses science fiction as a lens to view different possible worlds.
You can follow Raúl Morales on Twitter.