Photo credit: KoreAm
Language is as much common ground as it is a point of difference. I remember learning English in school and having to translate words and sentences to make conversation that made sense in my mother tongue resonate with native English speakers. It was not easy.
Having to account for sentence structure, verb conjugation, the feminine and masculine distinctions of objects, not to mention the subtle connotations of words that seemed to mean the same thing —all of these were potential obstacles in translating.
Can you then imagine having to translate a novel? Being tasked with relaying what the author wanted the reader to think, feel, how to relate to the characters would be incredibly difficult and intimidating. But this is exactly what Chi-Young Kim is doing.
Kim is an award-winning translator who made it possible for 5 Korean novels to be read in English. Living in transition between Boston and Korea, and learning from her translator mother, Kim works tirelessly to convey the subtleties of semantics in Korean novels to an English-speaking audience. Check out her full interview for insight on what it means to not lose too much in translation.
I sometimes struggle when I have to explain myself fully in my mother tongue, with English words creeping in here and there. Can you imagine having to flawlessly translate someone else’s thoughts and creative output?