Hope Sabanpan-Yu and Ralph Semino Galán (Photos from University of San Carlos, UST websites)

Translation of literature is important in the archival of works and giving them an “afterlife,” poets said in an online lecture about translation mounted by the Mindanao Creative and Cultural Workers Group on March 4.

Hope Sabanpan-Yu, chair of the humanities division of the National Research Council of the Philippines, said that through translation, literary texts are given new meaning and purpose to readers.

“The afterlife of this text is determined by how it lives on from its first publication and lives all throughout history,” she said,

Researchers must also pay attention to how translators and interpreters of original texts impose their presence in their translation works.

“It is important to look at this translator-author relationship as the translator’s motivations and self-awareness, and the tensions caused by the power asymmetries at play in the translating encounter,” Sabanpan-Yu said.

“There are misunderstandings, silences, interruptions and refusals to understand, and there are distortions and voices that impose themselves over one another,” she added.

UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies Asst. Director Ralph Semino Galán said the translation of literature is important in preserving written history.

“For us translators who are doing translation of the local languages, the translation task is usually, partly also a work of excavation; it is archival work,”  he said.

“You go to the libraries, to the archives, to pore over magazines published decades ago to retrieve the work. And by retrieving them, resuscitating them, giving them new life, iyon [ang nagbibigay] ng afterlife sa text.”

Sabanpan-Yu emphasized the role of translators in the propagation of ideas.

“[Translators are] agents involved in the writing and circulation of the narratives that construct culture in very concrete ways,” she said.

The lecture, titled “The Complex Responsibility of Translation,” is part of a series of online lectures hosted by Mindanao Creative and Cultural Workers Group in celebration of the 2021 National Arts Month.


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