Found in translation: Brontė visitors given new local knowledge
Japanese visitors to Haworth’s Brontë Parsonage Museum this summer will gain a better understanding of the lives and works of the Brontë family, thanks to new translations produced as part of a joint project between the University and Kobe City University of Foreign Studies in Japan.
As a result of the partnership between the two Universities, students are using new software developed by Japanese researchers to translate exhibit notes at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth and the Kobe’s Disaster Reduction Museum, which focuses on the 1995 Kobe earthquake.
“Many museums throughout the world only have exhibit notes written in their home language, which makes it difficult for foreign visitors to understand the content and context of the exhibits they’re looking at,” said Professor Tony Hartley (Centre for Translation Studies). “The aim of this project is to help the two museums produce translations of the exhibit notes which are interesting and informative, giving the Brontë story in Japanese and the experiences of the Kobe survivors in English.
“As well as providing both museums with new translations for their visitors, the project also provides students with an authentic training environment. One of our postgraduate research students Lynsey Clark, is managing the translation tasks and analysing errors and revisions in the translated texts, so the project has a host of benefits internally and externally.”
The project is supported by the Sasakawa Foundation and Japan’s National Institute for Information and Communications Technologies. NICT has provided an English version of Minna No Hon’yaku (Translation for All), which offers a virtual workspace where students can pool linguistic and cultural knowledge as they draft and re-draft their translations. Students work in mixed pairs, combining their insider knowledge of the local culture and competence in the target language to achieve a translation quality that would probably be beyond a student working individually. Both museums are due to take delivery of the first batch of translations, which will be available then be made through their websites or as leaflets.
Director of the Parsonage Museum Andrew McCarthy said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to participate in this project. We welcome many Japanese visitors to the museum each year and it will be wonderful to be able to offer them a translation of the narrative thread that runs through the museum and helps visitors place what they see within the context of the Brontë story.”
Minna No Hon’yaku (Translation for All)
Minna No Hon’yaku (MNH) was jointly developed by the National Institute for Information and Communications Technologies (NICT) and the University of Tokyo. The software lets members share translation and revision tasks and speeds up work by automatically looking words in online dictionaries provided by Sanseido and collecting background documents from the internet. Translators can also post questions and feedback to a message board. Anyone wanting to use MNH for translation between English and Japanese can sign up.
Image caption: Dr Bogdan Babych (right) with Dr Martin Thomas, who is designing the databases keeping track of translation revisions and student interactions