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Sunday, January 29, 2006

My Work

Read part two here | Read part three here

Some time ago, I received an email from Toronto, Canada that held a very polite request for help.

I received another one yesterday. Instead of links to learn Turkish online, this time she was uncomfortable with the first paragraph of her translation for new singer Ertuğ Ergin's song "Bahar Gibi" (Like Spring). She asked whether I would help brush up the lyrics.

I was glad to do so, but of course I had to do this in my own way, which meant re-do the whole translation and write a whole article about my techniques and views on translating.

Below is a copy of the translation I sent her:

Bahar Gibi by Ertug Ergin

Stylish mechanics
Translating an artistic piece of work for me is a series of choices. When do you stay true to the literal meaning? When do you use artistic license? I think these questions are answered when focus is on the main intention, namely to get the message of the song across and to evoke the same feelings, as much as is possible.

Sometimes literal translations give rise to absurdity or confusion, but that doesn't mean that the translator should just make things up. Where at all possible one should give the literal meaning unless it serves the main intention and the song as a whole well to translate creatively. Plus when idioms, slang or metaphors are used, these should be where possible put into the proper English context.

For example in Turkish the expression "içim dışım bir" literally translated is "my insides and outside are as one" but the correct phrase is "I'm honest and geniune". Line 3 of the first stanza in the song lyrics above literally translated is "dying, dying coming back to life" but in English it would be generally expressed as I have translated it above or as "overcoming great suffering".

It also has to be taken into account that different people prefer to translate in different ways.

As I explained in my reply mail to the girl in Canada, I suggested that she used my translation as a template or as a guide for her own final translation.

For example translators may not want to follow the "song" format of the lines as I prefer to do, but make the sentences grammatically correct, thus:

My beautiful one to come back
Is it so very hard

can become:

Is it so very hard
my beautiful one to come back/return

It is all a matter of style.

My Work Speaks for Me
The mail from Canada made me reflect on my work and on some other emails I received recently.

Some readers may not realise how difficult translating is and the hard work it entails.

In fact I am sure a few don't, as I've been sent posts where I've read my translations freely distributed throughout the Tarkan community without even a mention to my name, while other times people have sent me mails in which a few fans have tried to make light of my insistence regarding protection of my work.

Yes, the owner will sue. My work is protected by Copyscape and a CC licence.

The owner respects those rights himself and argues for everyone to have the same rights.

It is not as easy to write these translations or my articles as it is to copy, paste and omit any credit to the author. I can appreciate that.

When people read a Tarkan song translation, most readers have commented to me that even if they don't see my name on it, they know it is mine. I appreciate that, too.

Possibly, some people mistakenly believe that everyone's translations will read the same way because they are translating the same words, so what is the difference?

Well that is a grave misconception.

Translations written incorrectly lead to chaos in understanding, whereas translations written correctly mean that the non-Turkish speaker will be as affected by the lyrics as the Turkish reader. This not only requires a strong command of both languages academically, but an understanding of them colloquially. For example there are expressions in some of Tarkan's song lyrics that cannot be found in any Turkish dictionary. The song lyrics of his A-Acayipsin album is filled with street talk, and looking in a Turkish dictionary will simply feel like you've walked up a one-way street.

I hope my work shows that the quality of translations do differ.

I hope, too, that readers will realise all the hard work I do is not done for money. I have set out my blog manifesto and I stick to it.

I hope they also realise that if something is taken with no input, sooner or later they extinguish that reserve, and they help in putting an end to good work.

So, when it comes to intellectual property rights over my translations and original works you bet I actively ask people not to take and use them without my permission.

First Judge Yourself
My copyright only extends to my hard work. I don't copyright or steal the work of other people.

I don't watermark Tarkan pictures outside of my ownership, or share out illegally obtained multimedia. I just put out words and information. My words are mine. The information I share with you, do with as you will. I leave it up to everyone's individual conscience whether they credit the original source of their writing or their ideas.

I try to work by example. If there are collaborations from other people on this blog, I try to credit them as accurately as possible. However small other people's contributions are, I always make a point of putting their names to their efforts.

I can only judge my own conscience, and it rests easy.

This blog is a place where things are given a new perspective, things are seen from different angles. Many people I hope have been inspired by some of the things I have written, because I have in turn been inspired by the continous flow of emails I still receive.

Those who subsequently email me and link to me in good faith, I say thank you. Your actions do you justice.

In a way it is the fine line between sharing and stealing that I posted about before.

All my posts can be shared freely and linked to, you can use the email icon provided or click on the time of posting, which provides a permanent link you can use at the end of each post.

If you have something negative to say regarding my views, I say no problem. If you compliment me on something expressed, it's a bonus of course.

I don't need need you to impress me, exalt me or put me up on high.

Just respect my work and my name.

Respect Links to Respect
At the end of the day, all I ask is that people follow the universal ethics of fair use and keeping good linking etiquette. Anyone who has ever written an article on the Net should know the skills required, and for those who don't know it is usually sufficient to add a credit with the name of the owner and a link back.

Ultimately people are remembered by the gifts they give to people, and my posts and my hard work are my gifts to Tarkan fans, because they put love at the top of their agenda.

These are the people I want to read my blog, but if less deserving people benefit along the way, this doesn't matter, either. I'll take the good with the bad, if it means the good prevail.

Those "less deserving" should not be confused with those readers that are willing to part with positive or negative criticism about my work. This is something I enjoy and accept readily, because critical thinking helps one to develop and grow, and it shows appreciation of something written. I have amended many posts thanks to such contributions.

Those people that bad mouth me, warn people about me and yet have all my hard work littered all over their websites or use my ideas to benefit them, how they sleep at night I do not is to these people I choose this opportunity to send a message involving my work.

If I have such a low view of someone I don't moan about them, I simply stay away from them. Of course everyone is welcome to read my blog, but I do wonder why these people that profess to have such a low view of me keep reading my blog? Surely what I have to say does not count, if I am someone people should stay away from?

Arguably, they either have no conscience or their lives are in such disrepair and self-pity they have no time to think about what is right or wrong. Or maybe they simply lie so much that the difference between truth and reality has become blurred. The only thing I can suggest is that they try to follow the rules for healthy living and escape from the prison in which they are placing themselves.

As to the moral question whether people should use and abuse my hard work at the same time, well I leave the answer to divine justice. Sadly, the state of their lives will be adequate proof for "what comes around goes around" if they do not change their lives for the better. All I can continue to do is pray for them and send out positive wishes that they will "turn a page" in this chapter of their lives.

I go my own way.

I advise those that bad mouth me publicly and privately to do the same thing.

My work will always speak for itself.

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