EPA discusses linguistic challenges at Sao Paulo International Book Fair

SAO PAULO, The Emirates Publishers’ Association, EPA, has delivered a panel discussion themed, “Preserving Culture in The Era of Mass Translation and E-Publishing,” at the 25th edition of the Sao Paulo International Book Fair.

Speakers Tamer Saeed, Managing Director of Kalimat Group; Dr. Alyazia Khalifa, Founder of Al Fulk Translation and Publishing; and Iman Ben Chaibah, Founder of Sail Publishing, highlighted the key role of translation in the exchange of cultures with a focus on the challenges the Arabic language faces in the translation space.

The session also shed light on the strong role played by the UAE to boost the Arabic library with publications in various languages.

Substantiating the positive impact and value of translations in furthering cross-cultural understanding and communication, Dr. Khalifa cited the example of how the Europeans came out of the dark ages transferring Arab knowledge and science into their languages.

She also pointed out that the translation industry in the Arab world focuses heavily on English, which is the world’s first most spoken language due to several economic and demographic factors the same factors that make Arabic the world’s third most spoken language.

In response to a question about the value of classic literature, Dr. Alyazia said, “When we transfer children’s literature into Arabic, we resort to classic literature due to impact and presence in human memory, in addition to its contents and methods that make classics readable in different times because they are not linked to one period or one place.

Tamer remarked, “When talking about translation into Arabic, we talk about several kinds, most notably scientific and literary translations. In the former, translators face almost no challenges, especially when translating scientific texts from English, but translating a literary works is a whole different game, especially when it comes to staying true to the spirit of the original text, maintaining accuracy of meaning and the ability to build a clear picture of the source culture of the work.”

Referring to translation as a complex skill that is honed over several years, he added, “To produce a near-perfect translation, the translator must be fluent in both the source and the target language. They must also have a fair bit of understanding of the two cultures in question and the ability to transfer the meanings from one cultural context to another.”

Regarding the UAE’s role in supporting the Arabic translations industry, Tamer said, “The UAE spares no effort in this regard. For example, the Sharjah International Book Fair’s ‘Translations Grant’ launched in 2011 with the support of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, has been funding several important translation projects. The value of the grant is US$4,000 for general titles and $1,500 for children’s books.”

Highlighting her experience in Sail Publishing, Iman Ben Chaibah said, “The idea of establishing the publishing house came in response to feedback from readers of Sail’s e-magazine who started enquiring about the possibility of publishing their works in English.

“This made us realise that the UAE’s publishing market needs more avenues for Arabic works to be translated into English, which would introduce readers who prefer to read in the English language, and usually read works of European and American publishing houses, the option of reading works from another culture.”

Chaibah also highlighted the benefits of print-on-demand, especially to support the translations industry, saying, “Print-on-demand is a solution developed by the global publishing industry to avoid the losses incurred from arbitrary print runs. Matching supply of copies of books to their demand is indeed a successful solution, which can be further enhanced with the option to publish electronically.”

Source: Emirates News Agency