Tag Archives: translation

Gysbert Japicx and the Junius collection

2016 marked the 350th anniversary of the death of the Frisian poet Gysbert Japicx (1603 – 1666). Seventeenth-century Frisia’s principal poet, Gysbert Japicx was crucial in preserving Frisian as a written language and in developing a Frisian spelling standard. His language is usually referred to as Middle Frisian (17th-18th century) although one could also call it Early Modern Frisian.

The earliest and most important items for the study of Gysbert Japicx’s oeuvre are held in the Junius Collection in the Bodleian Library. This unique collection includes the only known manuscript of his work, the poem Wobbelke and two extremely rare and fragile copies of ‘De Friessche Tjerne, ofte bortlijcke rijmlerye’: all three items are in Japicx’s own hand and were published anonymously in 1640.

Life and work

Gysbert Japicx was a school teacher and a poet in Boalsert, Fryslân (a province in the north of the Netherlands).  His first publication was the Friessche Tjerne, a rhyming text written for the entertainment of guests at a wedding. This type of publication was probably not meant to last, which may explain the poor quality of the paper and the fragile state of extant copies. His main work Friesche Rymlerye, published posthumously in 1668, contains mainly poetry and rhyming prose and also a few psalms. The oldest printed copy in Oxford is the 1821 edition held by the Taylorian.

Gysbert Japicx, Friesche Rymlerye. Taylor Institution Library VET.FRIS.6

Gysbert Japicx, Friesche Rymlerye. Taylor Institution Library VET.FRIS.6

Among Japicx’s earliest manuscripts held by the Bodleian is an early version of the touching lovesong Wobbelke, in Japicx’s own hand, presumably written for the love of his life whom he later married. This is the only poem in Gysbert Japicx’s own hand; all the other poems are copied from originals by Franciscus Junius.  Close-up images of these manuscripts can be seen in one of Omrop Fryslân’s (Frisian Television) documentaries on Gysbert Japicx. I had the honour to comment on camera. (The programme can be viewed at http://www.npo.nl/fryslan-dok/19-11-2016/POW_02993273.) The manuscripts are shown approximately five minutes into the programme. The manuscript poems in the Bodleian Library were edited and provided with an English commentary by Alistair Campbell, (Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College,1963-1974) who bequeathed his Frisian collection to the Taylor Institution Library.

Gysbert Japicx: The Oxford Text of Four Poems by Alistair Campbell Taylor Institution Library FRIS.4.D.JAP.2

Gysbert Japicx: The Oxford Text of Four Poems by Alistair Campbell. Taylor Institution Library FRIS.4.D.JAP.2

Gysbert Japicx has been hugely influential for the development of Frisian as a written language. He began writing in Frisian after a nearly one hundred year gap in which hardly any Frisian was written – the last charter in Old Frisian was written around 1550 – so head to invent a new spelling system as there was no previous one he could build on. The process of designing a new orthography was a gradual one. His earliest publication, De Friessche Tjerne, represents the first phase of development of a spelling standard of 17th century Frisian. The next phase is found in Junius’ handwritten copies of Japicx’s work, which in turn differs from the spelling used in the final publication of poems Rymlerye in 1668. The orthography developed by Japicx has been of great importance to the Frisian writing tradition and it was followed until the early 19th century.

Gysbert Japicx (1603-1666) and Franciscus Junius (1591-1677)

It is generally assumed that Junius visited Japicx to learn Frisian. This assumption is supported by the Japicx manuscripts, where we find both Japicx’s and Junius’ handwriting together.

The Japicx material consists of two manuscripts in the Junius collection, MS. Junius 115a and MS. Junius 122. MS. 115a is Junius’ glossary of Old Germanic. At the end of MS. 115a, after the glossary, some smaller pages are bound into the manuscript which contain poems by Gysbert Japicx in Junius’ hand. The big surprise is the inserted folio which has Japicx’s most well known poem Wobbelke. This piece of paper holds an early handwritten version of the poem with corrections by the author.

Wobbelke, MS. Junius 115a, f.527v

Wobbelke, MS. Junius 115a, f.527v

On the front of this page (f.527r), both Japicx’s and Junius’ hands are found, an indication that Junius did indeed visit Japicx to learn Frisian.  Japicx has written the days of the week in Frisian with Dutch translation, presumably for Junius’ benefit. Junius has written numerals in Frisian, perhaps dictated by Japicx, as might be expected of a Frisian language learner. His next task was copying Japicx’s poems. It is fortunate that he did so, since Junius’ copies are the only handwritten copies of those poems that survive.

MS. Junius 115a, f.527r

MS. Junius 115a, f.527r

The other manuscript is MS. Junius 122, containing two rare copies of his De Friessche Tjerne, glued into the manuscript above each other. Both versions were printed in 1640. On the second of these the publication details (in Dutch!) are accompanied by a translation into Frisian in Gysbert Japicx’s hand.

De Friessche Tjerne, MS. Junius 122

De Friessche Tjerne, MS. Junius 122

How did these manuscripts end up in the Junius collection in Oxford rather than in a Frisian Library? This has everything to do with Junius’ interest in Germanic languages. Born in Heidelberg, Junius was raised in the Netherlands and spent major parts of his adult life in England. He studied Frisian as a Germanic language before concentrating on Gothic and Old High German.  He began his Germanic studies by learning Frisian during his stay in Fryslan between 1646 and1648, where he visited Gysbert Japicx. Looking for a Frisian tutor, there was not a lot of choice: in the mid 1640s Japicx appeared to be the only one who was able to write Frisian. Copying texts, such as Japicx’s poems, seemed to be Junius’ method of learning a language. He took his copies with him when he returned to England, and spent the last two years of his life in Oxford. Junius knew Bodley’s Librarian, and before his death in November 1677 he gave his collection to the Bodleian Library. So the Junius collection is a donation rather than a bequest, as shown from the ‘deed of gift’ in the Bodleian archives.

Junius’ deed of gift, witnessed by Tho(mas) Marshall and Obad(iah) Walker. Library Records c. 1158, fol. 3r (detail), with thanks to Theodora Boorman, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

Junius’ deed of gift, witnessed by Tho(mas) Marshall and Obad(iah) Walker.
Library Records c. 1158, fol. 3r (detail), with thanks to Theodora Boorman, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

Dr Johanneke Sytsema, Subject Consultant for Linguistics, Dutch and Frisian

Bibliography

Munske, Horst Haider and Nils Århammar (eds). 2001. Handbuch des Friesischen= Handbook of Frisian studies. Tübingen : Max Niemeyer Verlag.

Taylor Institution Library PF1413 HAN 2001

Bremmer, Rolf H. (ed). 1998. Franciscus Junius F.F. and his circle. Amsterdam : Rodopi.

Taylor Institution Library DUTCH.146905.A.1

Sipma, P. 1932. Friessche tjerne, Gysbert Japicx ; mei ynleiding en oantekeningen fen P. Sipma. Boalsert : A.J. Osinga.

Taylor Institution Library FRIS.4.D.JAP.7

Japicx, Gysbert. 1821.  Friesche rijmlerye. 3. Druwck. op nijz trognoaze in forbettere trog E. Epkema. (3rd edition, checked again and corrected by E.Epkema). Ljeauwert : J. Proost.

Taylor Institution Library VET.FRIS.6

Japicx, Gysbert. Frieske rymlerije, yn trije delen forskaet : d’earste binne: Ljeafd en bortlike mingeldeutjes; ‘t oarde sinte: Gemiene ef Husmannepetaer en oare kalterije; ‘t efterste is Himelsk Harplud; dat is to sizzen utylike fen Davids Psalmen.

Taylor Institution Library FRIS.4.D.JAP.4

Feitsma, Antonia.1956. Frysk ut de 17de ieu : teksten en fragminten. Estrikken 15. Grins : Frysk Ynstitút oan de R.U. to Grins.

Taylor Institution Library FRIS.SER.1/11

Japicx, Gysbert. 1948. The Oxford text of four poems. Edition with a complete glossary by Alistair Campbell. Bolsward : A.J. Osinga.

Taylor Institution Library FRIS.4.D.JAP.2

Electronic Enlightenment

http://www.e-enlightenment.com/index.html

‘Von der Muttersprache zur Sprachmutter’: Yoko Tawada’s Creative Multilingualism

The Taylorian is delighted to be hosting an exhibition celebrating the work of Yoko Tawada, DAAD Writer in Residence at St Edmund Hall for two weeks from 19th February 2017. The exhibition has been curated by Masters student Sheela Mahadevan (MSt Modern Languages), with the help of DAAD-Lektor Christoph Held and Professor Henrike Lähnemann, and will run for the duration of Tawada’s visit. It is open to holders of a Bodleian Reader Card.  This blog post is an abbreviated version of the exhibition catalogue prepared by Sheela Mahadevan.

Sheela Mahadevan and Christoph Held setting up the exhibition

Sheela Mahadevan and Christoph Held setting up the exhibition

Yoko Tawada was born in 1960 in Tokyo, Japan.  From 1982, she did an MA in German literature at Hamburg University, followed by a PhD at Zurich University. Germany is now her home: after living in Hamburg for 22 years, Tawada moved to Berlin in 2006, where she still lives. She writes in both German and Japanese, with the nature of her bilingualism a prominent feature in her work.

Tawada works intensively with German dictionaries when she writes. These are two of those she uses most:

Tawada has won numerous prizes for her work, such as the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize (1996), the Förderpreis für Literatur der Stadt Hamburg (1990), the Lessingförderpreis (1994), as well as numerous Japanese prizes. She was winner of the prestigious Kleist Prize in 2016 (see this extract of the Laudatio by Günter Blamberger given on this occasion).

Tawada writes in a variety of genres and media: novels, poetry, essay collections, plays, and even audio texts. Some of her works are written in Japanese, and then translated into German. Other works are written in German. She rarely translates one language into the other herself, but sometimes writes the same text in both Japanese and German.

Some examples of Tawada’s work.

Of course Tawada is not alone in making use of multilingualism in her writing. Other multilingual writers writing in German whose works contain the presence of one or more additional languages, include Paul Celan, Franco Biondi, Franz Kafka, Elias Canetti, Galsan Tschinag, Emine Sevgi Özdamar and Tzveta Sofronieva.

Other multilingual works by authors writing in German:

When making deliberate use of several different languages, the way the languages are presented to the reader is a very important consideration. Layout, choice of typeface and clarity of presentation can all influence how the reader perceives the language and culture in relation to others. The Taylorian has examples of bilingual books over several centuries.

Schottel, Justus Georg. Ausführliche Arbeit Von der Teutschen HaubtSprache/ Worin enthalten Gemelter dieser HaubtSprache Uhrankunft/ Uhraltertuhm/ Reinlichkeit/ Eigenschaft/ Vermoͤgen/ Unvergleichlichkeit/ Grundrichtigkeit/ zumahl die SprachKunst und VersKunst Teutsch und guten theils Lateinisch völlig mit eingebracht/ wie nicht weniger die Verdoppelung/ Ableitung/ die Einleitung/ Nahmwörter/ Authores vom Teutschen Wesen und Teutscher Sprache/ von der verteutschung/ Item die Stammwoͤrter der Teutschen Sprache samt der Erklaͤrung und derogleichen viel merkwuͤrdige Sachen. Abgetheilet In Fünf Bücher. Braunschweig/ Gedrukt und verlegt durch Christoff Friederich Zilligern, 1663.

Schottel, Justus Georg. Ausführliche Arbeit Von der Teutschen HaubtSprache/ Worin enthalten Gemelter dieser HaubtSprache Uhrankunft/ Uhraltertuhm/ Reinlichkeit/ Eigenschaft/ Vermoͤgen/ Unvergleichlichkeit/ Grundrichtigkeit/ zumahl die SprachKunst und VersKunst Teutsch und guten theils Lateinisch völlig mit eingebracht/ wie nicht weniger die Verdoppelung/ Ableitung/ die Einleitung/ Nahmwörter/ Authores vom Teutschen Wesen und Teutscher Sprache/ von der verteutschung/ Item die Stammwoͤrter der Teutschen Sprache samt der Erklaͤrung und derogleichen viel merkwuͤrdige Sachen. Abgetheilet In Fünf Bücher. Braunschweig/ Gedrukt und verlegt durch Christoff Friederich Zilligern, 1663.

Opitz, Martin, and Esaias Fellgiebel. Des berühmten Schlesiers Martini Opitii von Boberfeld/Bolesl. Opera. Geist- und Weltlicher Gedichte/ nebst beygefuͤgten vielen andern Tractaten so wohl Deutsch als Lateinisch/ Mit Fleiss zusammen gebracht/ und von vielen Druckfehlern befreyet. Die neueste Edition. Breßlau: Verlegts Jesaias Fellgibel, ..., 1690.

Opitz, Martin, and Esaias Fellgiebel. Des berühmten Schlesiers Martini Opitii von Boberfeld/Bolesl. Opera. Geist- und Weltlicher Gedichte/ nebst beygefuͤgten vielen andern Tractaten so wohl Deutsch als Lateinisch/ Mit Fleiss zusammen gebracht/ und von vielen Druckfehlern befreyet. Die neueste Edition. Breßlau: Verlegts Jesaias Fellgibel, …, 1690.

Luther, Martin. Ein Wellische Lügenschrifft/ von Doctoris Martini Luthers Todt/ zů Rom außgangen. Papa quid ægroto sua fata ... perfide Papa velis. Nürnberg: [Hans Guldenmund], 1545.

Luther, Martin. Ein Wellische Lügenschrifft/ von Doctoris Martini Luthers Todt/ zů Rom außgangen. Papa quid ægroto sua fata … perfide Papa velis. Nürnberg: [Hans Guldenmund], 1545.

Clifton, E., Friedrich W. Ebeling, and Giovanni. Vitali. Manuel de la conversation et du style épistolaire : Français-anglais-allemand-italien. Nouv. éd., soigneusement revue et corrigée. ed. Paris: Garnier Frères, 1866.

Clifton, E., Friedrich W. Ebeling, and Giovanni. Vitali. Manuel de la conversation et du style épistolaire : Français-anglais-allemand-italien. Nouv. éd., soigneusement revue et corrigée. ed. Paris: Garnier Frères, 1866.

Taylor, Thomas. The Gentleman's Pocket Companion, for Travelling into Foreign Parts: : Being a Most Easy, Plain and Particular Description of the Roads from London to All the Capital Cities in Europe. With an Account of the Distances of Leagues or Miles from Place to Place, All Reduced to the English Standard. Illustrated with Maps Curiously Engraven on Copper Plates. With Three Dialogues in Six European Languages. The First Being to Ask the Way, with Other Familiar Communications. The Second Is Common Talke in an Inn. The Third Other Necessary Conversation. London: Printed and Sold by Tho: Taylor ..., 1722.

Taylor, Thomas. The Gentleman’s Pocket Companion, for Travelling into Foreign Parts: : Being a Most Easy, Plain and Particular Description of the Roads from London to All the Capital Cities in Europe. With an Account of the Distances of Leagues or Miles from Place to Place, All Reduced to the English Standard. Illustrated with Maps Curiously Engraven on Copper Plates. With Three Dialogues in Six European Languages. The First Being to Ask the Way, with Other Familiar Communications. The Second Is Common Talke in an Inn. The Third Other Necessary Conversation. London: Printed and Sold by Tho: Taylor …, 1722.

The materiality of the book is a vital aspect of Tawada’s works. She experiments with different forms of paper and other materials in her books. Although paper made from plant-based products has been available since the end of the Middle Ages, Tawada chose to have the book cover of Ein Gedicht für ein Buch made from fish skin, since fish and water are important in her works.

“When a book is translated into other languages, you can’t control the translation.”

(Yoko Tawada, Jaipur Literary Festival 2016)

Translating Tawada is undoubtedly a challenge; it often requires a knowledge of both Japanese and German. It poses many ‘problems’: how do we translate neologisms into any language? How do we translate so as to recreate the reading experience of a specific book? For example, in a book that is in German and Japanese, where both languages are to be read in different directions, how is this effect rendered in an English translation? How do we translate into English a German and a Japanese version of the same text?

In this text, Chantal Wright outlines the problems and demonstrates potential solutions when translating Tawada’s work.

Tawada, Yōko, and Chantal Wright. Portrait of a Tongue. Ottawa, 2013.

Tawada, Yōko, and Chantal Wright. Portrait of a Tongue. Ottawa, 2013.

Tawada’s works make us reconsider our own relationship with language, creating the feeling that no-one can be comfortable in any language, even our mother tongue. Is it possible to free oneself from language?

We end this post with a variety of comments by Yoko Tawada regarding language and translation, taken from Koiran, Linda, Schreiben in Fremder Sprache- Yoko Tawada und Galsan Tschinag (Munich: Iudicum Verlag, 2009) pp. 257-358:

———————–

<<Wenn man eine weitere Sprache kennt, dann ist die Distanz zwischen sich selbst und der Muttersprache spürbar. Man ist nicht so ganz unter der Macht der Sprache. Das ist eine Befreiung, und dann kann man erst mutig werden.>>

 (If you know another language, then the distance between yourself and the mother tongue can be sensed. You aren’t quite so much under the spell of the language. You are released, and only then can you become bold.)

———————–

<<Wenn ich im Denken von der einen Sprache zur anderen springe, spüre ich einen Augenblick stark, dass es ganz dunkle Bereiche gibt, ohne Sprache….Wenn man in diese Kluft einmal hineingefallen ist, dann ist die Muttersprache auch ganz fremd, ich finde Japanish dann sehr komisch und Deutsch sowieso. Dieses Gefühl ist für mich sehr wichtig: sich von der Sprache zu befreien.>>

 (If I jump from one language to another while thinking, I sense for a moment that there are quite dark areas without language…if you have fallen into this abyss once, then the mother tongue is quite foreign, I then find Japanese very strange, and German too. This feeling for me is very important: to free oneself from language.)

———————–

<< Die literarische Sprache ist sowieso nie die Muttersprache. So wie ich auf Japanisch schreibe, gleicht nicht dem Japanisch, das ich spreche oder der japanischen Sprache, die ich als Kind gelernt habe. In dem Moment, wo man einmal eine Trennung von der Alltagssprache gemacht hat, kommt die literarische Sprache- und die ist sowieso eine Fremdsprache.>> 

(Literary language is in any case never the mother tongue. The way I write in Japanese never equates to the Japanese which I speak, or the Japanese language which I learnt as a child. When one has separated from the language of daily use, this is the moment at which literary language arises, and this is in any case a foreign language.)

 ———————–

For a video introduction to the exhibition, please see the links below:

Introduction: On Yoko Tawada https://youtu.be/gVxWauXK4fE

Exhibition Case 2: Bilingual Layout in Yoko Tawada https://youtu.be/rU5Zv36k2iY

Exhibition Case 3: Exophonic Writing in German https://youtu.be/I6dd2wPT0HY

Exhibition Case 4: Bilingual Layout https://youtu.be/M0z8HMzXqSU

Exhibition Case 5: Bilingual Layout 2 https://youtu.be/CgujyiGUVgc

 ———————–

Exhibition catalogue by Sheela Mahadevan, MSt student, Oriel College

Text abbreviated for online publication by Emma Huber, German Subject Librarian

 

Shall I compare thee? Shakespeare in Translation Exhibition in the Taylorian

On 12 April, 6pm, Library Graduate Trainee Philippa Taylor pulled off the cover from the display case in the vestibule of the Voltaire Room and revealed to an admiring crowd of linguists, librarians and literature lovers four versions of Shakespeare’s ‘Tempest’: a Portuguese translation printed in Lisbon in 1977, Aimé Césaire’s adaptation pour un théâtre nègre from 1969, the typescript of the only Frisian translation with commentary extant and, as crowning piece, a wonderfully atmospheric large colour print from a French artist’s book based on the translation by A. du Couchet.

Tempest

The Tempest arrangement forms the final case in a new exhibition in the Taylor Institution dedicated to Shakespeare in translation. The idea for putting this on was sparked by the lucky coincidence of a symposium on Ulrike Draesner, Writer-in-Residence at the German Sub-Faculty in 2015-16, and the Shakespeare 2016 events going on in Oxford. A few years ago, Ulrike had published her “radical translations” of 17 Shakespeare sonnets, set in a post-modern world of reproduction not via nature as in Shakespeare’s sonnets but via cloning. This had inspired German lecturer, translator and poet Tom Cheesman to venture a back-translation in which he “Englished” her versions again. Emma Huber as German Subject Librarian and Henrike Lähnemann as Professor for Medieval German, working together on the Reformation 2017 project, were just looking for a test case to trial a new form of library booklet as print-on-demand. They both thought that this would be the perfect copy: Shakespeare – put into German – returned to English in a literature-generating movement characteristic for Modern Languages in dialogue.

The exhibition spirals out from the display cases in the centre of the Voltaire Room. Standing high, the oldest cabinet which has seen many a distinguished publication from first editions to brand new research publications shows the genesis of ‘Twin Spin’, the Shakespeare x Draesner x Cheesman sonnet version.

Central case

The largest cabinet next to it is needed to show at least a fraction of the over 180 attempts to render Shakespeare sonnets in German, starting with Dorothea Tieck’s take on it as part of the classic ‘Schlegel-Tieck-Ausgabe’ which made Shakespeare – at least in the eyes of nineteenth century Germans – a truly German author. A special focus is on the early 20th century bibliophile versions of Stefan George and Friedrich Huch, which provide an eye-catching display in contrast to the typescript aesthetics of the 1980s and 1990s, when Shakespeare was in vogue with the likes of the singer-songwriter Wolf Biermann.

Spiralling outward from the central cabinets are two cases crammed with again just a small selection of sonnet translations into other European languages, from Sorbian to Yiddish, emphasising – as an Italian dissertation on display claims – that Shakespeare speaks ‘da poeta a poeta’. The rich material on literary engagement with Shakespeare is then taken beyond the sonnets in samples of translations of his plays across the languages – and across the media to visual material and DVDs. The Tempest display case mentioned at the beginning provides a final case study of how much more could be explored.

case5-glass

The exhibition was curated by Henrike Lähnemann (Professor of Medieval German Literature and Linguistics), together with Emilia Henderson and Philippa Taylor and the help of the Taylor Institution staff. Special thanks go to Lydia Pryce-Jones who designed the cover image, to Emma Huber for master-minding the operation, and to Clare Hills-Nova for her curatorial expertise! So this is an exhibition that invites visitors on a journey to discover more of the astonishing treasures of the Taylorian while engaging with Shakespeare. The catalogue of the exhibition can be downloaded here; the full edition of ‘Twin Spin’ can be bought in the Taylorian at the Issue Desk or ordered from online retailers (ISBN 978-0-9954564-0-2). This first pamphlet from the Taylor Institution Library is published on the day of Shakespeare’s 400th death day, showing that he is very much alive – not least through the constant renewal in translation.