on translation

thomas christensen
all your base are belong to us!


homeward bound

ballets by l-f celine

constancia by carlos fuentes

nocturnal butterflies of the russian empire

like water for chocolate

harp & shadow by carpentier



translation latin american literature

My most recent (and coherent) thoughts about translation are now expressed in the essay shown above (click through for the full article), the introduction to a book about translation coming out from the Center for the Art of Translation. It's called New World/New Words. It focuses on Spanish-to-English translation of recent literary work from Latin America. Gregory Rabassa has written a foreword. I think the book will be out in early fall 2007.

Is there a disdain for translation in the U.S.? Click here to find out.

A Couple of Translation Samples

I typed in "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." Babelfish produced these translations:

to French: l'esprit est disposé mais la chair est faible
to German: der Geist ist bereit, aber das Fleisch ist schwach
to Italian: lo spirito č disposto ma la carne č debole
to Portuguese: o espírito é disposto mas a carne é fraca
to Spanish: el alcohol está dispuesto pero la carne es débil

I then translated back to English. The results speak for themselves.

from French: the spirit is laid out but the flesh is weak
from German: the spirit is ready, but the flesh is weak
from Italian: the spirit is arranged but the meat is weak person
from Portuguese: the spirit is made use but the meat is weak
from Spanish: the alcohol is arranged but the meat is weak

It did well enough with German on this nine-word test that I gave it another four words.
For "earth girls are easy" it gave me "Masse Mädchen sind einfach," which, translated back into English, came out "Mass girl are simple."

My New Century

Ballets Without Music, Without Dancers, Without Anything by Louis Ferdinand Céline was named a finalist in the PEN Center USA West 2000 Literary Awards in the category of translation. Judges were Thomas Frick, Miranda Johnson-Haddad, and Jerome Rothenberg.

Also in 2000, I received an award from the American Literary Translators Association for "Dedication to Translation."

A Few Translation Links

translation links have been moved here

My translations

I used to list them here but, really, who cares? Why bother? If you do want to know, see my list of publications. (A few of the covers are shown at left.)




Machine translation
My new century
Translation links
My translations


The U.S. failure in the World Cup has a linguistic root.



"We felt it, but the page or the file that you look for is not here. It verifies that direction
URL is written correctly. If you have spelled correctly and used capital and very small, then the content could have moved. Probably, the member has changed archives, no longer is constructing in Tripod, or can have placed content that infringed the Terms on watch of Tripod. If you consider that you are receiving this message by error, treats again later."


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