I recently had my first meeting with my new mentor, Liza Child. We got along very well and didn’t particularly disagree on any subjects. However, she did find that my plan to learn three completely different scripts was a little too ambitious and needed some editing. I stayed very open minded during this discussion because I recognized that she knows a person’s learning speed for calligraphy much better than I do because she is an expert in calligraphy and because she has led several different workshops in calligraphy before. However, I made sure to comment on the fact that I would be open to a more frequent learning schedule to learn more about calligraphy and to maintain a challenge. From this, we have designed a more attainable and practical learning process that relates directly to her expertise and to my goals.
First, I will start by trying out the first two basic scripts on which all modern and traditional calligraphy is based on: Spencerian and Copperplate. After I have tried both, I will pick one that I will study more in-depth, to a point that I thoroughly know and understand all the letter forms and rules of that script. With this knowledge, I will have a base from which to start exploring modern calligraphy. Modern calligraphy allows more room for personal preference and creativity and doesn’t have to strictly follow the unmoving rules of traditional scripts; however, it is based off traditional scripts and therefore requires the knowledge of a traditional script to learn. I will start learning modern calligraphy by learning the modern script that my mentor has developed and uses for her own projects. This will help me understand the difference between a traditional script and modern calligraphy and will help me start designing my own style and script of modern calligraphy towards the end of the project.
Due to the time I lost during my search for a mentor, I have not had any advances with learning calligraphy. However, Liza and I have planned a more rigorous and frequent meeting arrangement to make up for the time I lost. This will also greatly aid me with the catch-up blog post that I aim to have finished by next Sunday. After the first meeting and a lot of planning, I am very excited and looking forward to my next meeting to learn more about traditional scripts and modern calligraphy.
- My inquiry question for this project was “What obstacles does a person face when translating poetry from Russian to English?”. My question did not change throughout the project, because I became more and more familiarized with the obstacles and challenges a translator faces by translating, which gave me the opportunity to have a good first-hand answer to this question.
- The main skill that I learned during this project is how to translate poetry from Russian to English. I think this helped me with forming poetry in English and helped me appreciate how there are no boundaries or restrictions set when writing poetry, whereas, with translating, there are a lot of guidelines and rules that you must follow to make sure that you translate correctly. Through translating, I have improved greatly in finding rhyming synonyms, shuffling around in sentences to find the best rhyme, fit and flow for the poem, and rhyming in general. This will help me write better poetry in everyday English class.
- From this project, I have learned that translating poetry from Russian to English is very difficult and many obstacles arise when trying to translate. First of all, Russian and English are very different languages, with different grammatical structures, which makes translating sentences and sentence structure difficult. Secondly, the rhyming scheme is hard to keep in another language, because sometimes a different rhyming scheme would work much better with the translation. Thirdly, the content was hard to retain in the translation. Sometimes, some content would have to be added or taken away just to have the translation rhyme. Most importantly, it was difficult to retain the mood of the poem. Even if the content of the translation was a little different from the original poem, if it retains the same mood and idea that the author was originally trying to convey, then the poem sounds and flows the same. Throughout my research, I found that many translations of Russian poems failed to convey the correct mood that the original poem easily gave off. I also struggled with this, because through the process of translating, rhyming and double-checking content, it is very easy to lose the original mood of the poem, which would call for more editing and comparison with the original poem until the translation fully conveyed the mood of the poem.
- My final learning artifacts connected to my inquiry question because, as English translations of Russian poems, they provided me a perfect, first-person experience on the difficulties that a person faces when translating a Russian poem into English. I demonstrated my learning of how to overcome these obstacles by creating a process to follow while translating to ensure that my translation stays as accurate as possible. This shows that I have a good understanding of what obstacles I must overcome to create a good translation. For one of my curricular competencies I chose “Recognize how language constructs personal, social, and cultural ” I mentioned in my notes a couple of times that the mood or idea that the author was conveying in Russian will never sound or be perceived the same since, firstly, they are being read in different languages, and secondly, that they will be read in different cultural settings and to people with different identities. I tried to convey the Russian cultural literature as best as I could in the translation, but I recognize that I cannot perfectly translate a poem because I cannot control how a person perceives or receives the poem. Another curricular competency that I chose for my assessment was “Assess and refine texts to improve their clarity, effectiveness, and impact according to purpose, audience, and message.” I think my final learning artifact connects to this because I had to refine a text from one language to another to improve its clarity. If I did not ‘refine’, or translate, the text/poem, it would still be in Russian, and would not be clear, would have no effect, would give no impact, no purpose and no message to my audience: English speaking people. I also had to assess the Russian text before translating to make sure that I would translate it accurately and correctly. My last curricular competency was “Recognize and identify the role of personal, social, and cultural contexts, values, and perspectives in texts.” This connects to my final artifact because the general point of translation is that you can change a text so a person from another culture, with different values and cultural contexts, can understand that text the same way someone from the original culture of the text can understand it. This is what I tried to accomplish throughout my translating because I think this is the essence and overall goal of all translations.
This site was valuable to me because it has many different Russian poets and poems, all of which are translated into English. The original poems and the translations were always side by side which made comparisons and notes easy to do.
This site proved valuable because it contained a lot of translated poems by Alexander Pushkin, the main Russian author I was interested in translating. This helped me with taking notes on translating this one specific poet.
This is a Russian website that was valuable because it has a staggeringly large number of Russian poems and poets (not translated) that I could refer to when comparing a translation.
А. С. Пушкин, Избранные Сочинения
This is a Russian book that is a collection of many of Alexander Pushkin’s poems. I used this book when comparing translations to original poems, and for general research and observations on Russian poetry.
- I am now interested in how I can make my translations as clear and concise as possible. I am interested in this because I noticed that my translation lines were usually 1.5 times as long and heavily worded compared to the original Russian poem. I understand that this is because I was trying to convey the content as accurately as possible from Russian to English, which requires more wording due to the grammatical and structural difference between the languages, but I am still curious as to how I can retain the same simplicity and flow that these Russian poems have, in English.
For In-Depth this year, I have decided to learn calligraphy. Calligraphy is writing, but done as aesthetically as possible, to the point that it is considered an art form. This type of writing was used for very important documents in the past but is now mostly used for pure aesthetics. Due to this, calligraphy is dropping in popularity with the population, because there isn’t much use for it. However, science has contradicted this, showing that there is a lot of self-benefit that a person can gain from partaking in calligraphy. Calligraphy is a very calming art form, as it is known to slow down heart rate and raise skin temperature, which is also how meditation commonly affects individuals. It has also been proven that it increases cognitive function and concentration, due to the large amounts of concentration needed for a perfect outcome.
I was very excited about these health benefits when I heard of them because I have always been very interested in trying calligraphy. I realized this just as In-Depth was coming up, and thought it was the perfect fit for this project. It would be the perfect opportunity to have some relaxing time in the day to unwind and create something I would like. After handing in my In-Depth proposal, I immediately got to researching the different materials needed for the project. I have learned that there are different types of pen ink, each has different properties and qualities. I learned about different pieces of paper, which have different amounts of ink tolerance: on some, the ink soaks into the paper and spreads causing unpleasant smudges, but on higher quality paper the ink does not bleed through or soak as much. Lastly, and most importantly, I have learned about the most important tool, the pen. There are different types of pens, but most are comprised of a nib and a nib holder. The nib is the part that is dipped into the ink, usually made from metal. Some are called wedge or italic nibs, which are designed for gothic fonts, and some are called flex nibs, which are made more for handwriting, with a wider line created when more pressure is applied. The nib holder, made of wood or plastic, holds the nib and is the part that you hold when writing, kind of like the body of a pen.
I have not had much luck finding a mentor yet. However, I have sent many emails to different calligraphy studios in Vancouver, introducing who I am, what I am seeking to accomplish in my project and asking for a mentorship position. Hopefully I will get a response soon.
Related to your learning evidence, what have you done to make retrieving information easier or more effective in class?
To make my research and work more effective in class, I have mainly been focused on reading poems, poems comparison, and notes in class. I do this because this is easier to do and takes less time. The classroom can also be a little loud at times, which could be very distracting when trying to translate and look for synonyms. Due to this, I like to leave the translation and the harder bits of the project for home, where I can really concentrate and focus on translation and finding the correct, rhyming synonyms that correctly translate what the word means in that scenario. When researching, I have made it a requirement to use translation websites that use both Russian and English versions of the poem side by side, so I can make my comparisons as accurate and articulate as possible. I hope that this will provide quality notes that I can rely on later when translating my poems.
Describe the ups and downs you have encountered to date in your inquiry. Specifically, when you were frustrated or struggling in your inquiry, what did you do to address the situation?
One of the biggest obstacles that I have faced so far is the limited amount of Russian poetry translation accessible on the internet. It is especially rare that a site has both the Russian and English version together. This makes poetry comparison inefficient and slows down my note-taking. However, through the site I referenced I mentioned in my first blog post, I had a huge speedup in analyzing, as the site has both Russian and English versions side by side. This came with another struggle, all of the poems on the website were translated by one person, which is not enough of a source to base all of my notes from. I solved this by using other sources that use other authors and have both Russian and English versions of poems side by side. This helped me compare translating styles and confirm some patterns that occur from translator to translator.
Reflect on your inquiry question and ow your understanding is changing, becoming more focused, or is perhaps being reaffirmed by your research. What do you now know that you didn’t know when you started this inquiry?
During my inquiry project so far, my view of translations has changed completely. At the beginning of the project, I knew that there are very little translated Russian poems. I thought this was just because translating Russian poems is hard and done rarely, which I why I wanted to find the difficulties that translators face when translating these poems. Now that I have read a lot of these translated poems, I now understand that it is not only rare for translations of poems to occur, it is also very rare that a translation really conveys the true meaning and emotion that an author originally meant it to have. Due to this, I am now more committed to translating two or three poems exactly the way the author meant it to be read, than translating a series of poems to a mediocre level.
What is a specific source of information that you have found valuable in answering your inquiry question? How has it proved valuable? Explain.
The website above has been an incredibly valuable source because it provides me with a variety of translated poems, from many different noted Russian poets. The most important thing about this website is that it includes both the original poem and the translated version on the same webpage, allowing me to instantly compare and contrast the two poems and find the differences in style, structure, and content. This has allowed me to realize that a lot of Russian to English poem translations sacrifice certain necessary descriptions and meaningful words to complete a rhyming scheme. I personally think that the idea, descriptions, and mood that the original author was trying to give the poem are very important and should be worked into the translation without fail and have noted this for my own translations.
For the ZIP project this year, I chose the question ‘What challenges does one face when translating poetry from Russian to English?’. I chose this question because I have read a lot of Russian poetry but have rarely seen it translated into English. I have always wondered why there is little Russian poetry translated to English, so now I want to try translating poetry for myself to find the challenges and understand why there is so little translated poetry. I am also excited to merge my Russian and English skills into one project. Currently, I am proficient in both English and Russian, which will help me in translating the poetry. I have also read a lot of Russian poetry, so I know good and simple poems to start for translation, and some complex ones to challenge myself. I hope to effectively learn how to translate poetry while retaining the rhyming scheme, general idea of author and story of the poem. I can approach my parents or my former Russian School teacher for advice on picking Russian poems and for translating. I can also use the internet and books from my parent’s library to access Russian poems and translated poems as examples for my own translations. I will present my learning through a written document with explanations and analysis of an original Russian poem, and then the translation for that poem. Here is a schedule for how I will complete this project.
Jan. 7 – Jan. 11: Reading and analyzing Russian poetry and translations.
Jan. 14 – Jan. 18: Start translating poetry.
Jan. 21 – Jan. 25: Edit poetry and compile the final written document.
Ursula Le Guin’s writing style is like one I have never seen before. Most of the fantasy writers that I know take pages upon pages to pour as much detail as possible into every single scene and moment in the book. Most of the time, this results in the book being over six hundred pages long, even if they only cover a few months’ worth of content. Ursula Le Guin, on the other hand, was tasked with cramming many years of content into a much slimmer book. Just in the first chapter, she managed to tell the reader everything from how Duny “was born in a lonely village called Ten Alders, high on the mountain at the head of the northward vale,” to how, now dubbed Ged, “he set off with his new master through the steep slanting forests of the mountain isle, through the leaves and shadows of bright autumn,” at the age of thirteen (pg. 1, pg. 17). From this I can say that Le Guin’s writing style is very speedy, however not rushed. She is very good at skipping over unnecessary details and skimming over the ones that are needed. She gives the reader just enough content so that they remain interested but continue to speed through the timeline at a great pace. Due to this, whenever she slows down even a bit, to explain an important moment or scene, it seems like a beautiful expanded moment. Even a short sentence where Le Guin slows down and tells us how Duny “looked down at his thin arms, wet with cold fog-dew, and raged at his weakness, for he knew his strength,” builds greatly on an important theme that is seen in whole book (pg. 10). In conclusion, Le Guin’s writing style is genius in the way that she speeds up the pace of the novel to a point where everything is happening much faster than it does in other books, but still, she retains the same amount of detail and importance on every page.
People lost their identities when they pretend to be something they’re not.
People pretending to be something they’re not is a usual occurrence. People do this to fit in with society and to better their standing in life. However, you can’t lose your current identity when pretending to be something you’re not. Pretending to be something you are not means that you adopt another identity temporarily. People are good at this, but they also stay true to their real identity during their pretending, through their actions and in their morals. For example, a person who thinks stealing is immoral could pretend that they like something that they don’t like to fit in better in society, but they won’t steal because their morals say that stealing is wrong. However, if that same person does steal, then their morals changed. This means that their identity changed, or maybe that they adopted a new identity. Either way, it does not mean that they have lost their identity.