Carry on online, ALV
The Department of Afrikaans and Dutch will be well represented at the nineteenth conference of the Afrikaanse Letterkundevereniging (ALV) this week. Current and former students, a postdoctoral fellow, and a former colleague (Prof. Louise Viljoen) will all be reading papers. The extraordinary professor in Literature, Prof. Jerzy Koch, will be reading a paper, and the extraordinary professor in Dutch Literature, Prof. Yves T'Sjoen, will be delivering a keynote. And, obviously, Dr Amanda Lourens (paper) and Prof. Andries Visagie (keynote) will both be in attendance.
The conference should have taken place in September 2020, then in January 2021, and now, finally, it will be held online from 15 to 17 September (with all arrangements made from Gqeberha, courtesy of Nelson Mandela University's School for Language, Media and Communication). Dr Lourens and prof. Visagie both agree that the lack of discussions with colleagues over a cup of tea or coffee or during a meal (due to the online format) will be the greatest loss.
However, the exposure to new ideas and the voices of emerging academics are positive aspects of the conference that will counter the stultifying effects of lockdown. Young academics are “the future of Afrikaans literary studies", as Prof. Visagie puts it.
Prof. Visagie's keynote deals with the origin of Jan Rabie's short story “Die man met die swaar been" (from the volume Een-en-twintig). He picked up the scent of three versions of the story while rummaging around in the Jan Rabie Collection in 2019 – at the invitation of the SU Library – with a view to contributing to the SU Woordfees. Consequently, he investigates “the socio-political and literary climate within which this highly canonised narrative originated" and considers the story to be “one of the earliest anticolonial narratives in Afrikaans".
In her paper, Dr Lourens, will be focussing on Elsa Joubert's Spertyd, particularly themes such as loss, renunciation, detachment and transcendence. For her, this is definitely not morbid subject matter. Rather, it is a political issue. By examining literature, she wishes to transform society's thinking on matters related to ageing – society's obsession with “youth that has to be obtained through consumer goods", the marginalisation of older women. As subjects, aging and death should not be “buried", since they are “normal stages of life".
The conference theme is “Affects, desires, emotions" and interesting presentations will definitely not be in short supply. View the conference programme on LitNet.
Lecturers doubly lauded
Dr Willem Anker and Dr Alfred Schaffer were both the recipients of important literary prizes this past week. Willem's third novel, Skepsel, was awarded the kykNET-Rapport Prize for fiction during a virtual ceremony on Saturday 11 September (the short awards ceremony can be viewed here), and, a few days earlier, on Thursday 9 September, Alfred received the Dutch PC Hooft Prize in The Hague.
As part of the award ceremony for the PC Hooft Prize, a number of well-known Belgian, Dutch and Afrikaans poets – Tom Lanoye, Ronelda Kamfer, Ellen Deckwitz, Antjie Krog and Rodaan Al Galidi – read extracts from his and their own work and shared their thoughts on what makes his poetry so exceptional. You can view the whole ceremony here.
Both these author-lecturers are experiencing a tremendous amount of recognition for their work this year. Besides the 2021 UJ Prize and the kykNET-Rapport Prize, Skepsel has also been nominated for an ATKV Woordveertjie: the winner of the ATKV Prose Prize will be announced on 17 September. And on 22 and 23 October, the Breytenbach Centre is hosting the Tuin van Digters in Wellington. Here, Alfred will be honoured for his contribution to poetry.
Dr Lorna Morris makes dictionaries work for you
Though no-one can deny that dictionaries are extremely useful, some people are not exactly excited by them. Luckily for all of us, Dr Lorna Morris, a Consolidoc at the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch not only enjoys lexicography as an academic discipline, she is also passionate about making dictionaries as accessible and user friendly as possible.
Lorna received her PhD in Lexicography in March 2021 (under the supervision of Prof. Rufus Gouws, obviously). She says she enjoys the analytical side of the discipline – seeing how people use words, examining the word's origin and how it connects to other words (including words in other languages).
Her word sleuthing has led her to focus on school dictionaries in South Africa, investigating ways to make them more accessible, easier and more fun to use. Her intention is to help create dictionaries that people will be able to learn from. She presented a paper on an electronic school dictionary at the 25th International Conference of the African Association for Lexicography (Afrilex) held on 29 and 30 June 2021.
Her work has also drawn international attention. Although she will not be presenting a paper at Euralex – the 29th European Association for Lexicography International Congress hosted by Democritus University of Thrace in Greece, to give the conference its full name – she is one of only a few recipients of the Hornby Grant, which allows her to attend the conference free of charge. Euralex runs from 7 to 9 September and, fittingly, the conference theme is “Lexicography for Inclusion".
Lorna sees school dictionaries playing a vital role in supporting education in South Africa, helping to provide equal and valuable education to all. She believes printed dictionaries still have a job to do in South Africa, particularly in schools, but she is also investigating suitable devices and software to provide dictionary access to learners without them having to go online.
A decade from now dictionaries may all be online as a combination of freeware and subscription-based software or apps (the former with ads, the latter without), or they may be part and parcel of a particular electronic device (buy the device, get access to the dictionary). Whatever shape the dictionaries of the future will take, Lorna Morris will be doing her bit to ensure that South African dictionaries remain as accessible and usable as possible.
Translation flourishing through international networks
A South African, an Italian and a Hungarian end up together in a Belgian port. What might sound like the start of a stereotype-filled joke was actually the start of an enriching international collaboration in Translation Studies between three young academics.
Marike van der Watt (Stellenbosch University and KU Leuven), Paola Gentile (University of Trieste and University of Namur and a research fellow at SU) and Fruzsina Kovács (Pázmány Péter Catholic University) met one another in Antwerp in 2018 at the KU Leuven's Centre for Translation Studies, or CETRA.
After that CETRA contact, they convened a panel at the ninth triennial European Society for Translation Studies (EST) congress in 2019 (held in Stellenbosch). Then came another successful collaboration with a special issue of the journal Translation Spaces.
In this issue, the emphasis is on what happens when Translation Studies, Reception Studies and Imagology are linked to investigate transnational image building. Put differently, how can we use these three disciplines to examine the way in which we create and perpetuate certain images of other countries, nationalities or groups? As they put it,
“Readers' images of a country are constructed on the basis of texts that are first selected for translation, for example, and the particular ways in which translated books are subsequently promoted and packaged within their specific book covers. Cultural images thus undergo an evolution: they are constantly re-elaborated, re-shaped, re-processed, and filtered through marketing, promotion and reviewing phases."
Luckily for everyone interested in the topic, the special issue is not the end of things. Marike van der Watt is not only busy with a PhD in Translation focusing on imagology (with Prof. Ilse Feinauer, the Ton and Anet Vosloo Chair in Afrikaans Language Practice, and Prof. Luc van Doorslaer of KU Leuven as supervisors). She is also involved in a transnational research project funded by the Nederlandse Taalunie (the Dutch Language Union) and executed in collaboration with the University of Trieste and KU Leuven: “Binnenlandse vogels, buitenlandse nesten: de hedendaagse Vlaamse literatuur in vertaling en haar relatie tot het Vlaamse letterenbeleid" [“Domestic birds, foreign nests: contemporary Flemish literature in translation and its relation to Flemish literary policy"].
The first article by Prof. Luc van Doorslaer, affiliated with the University of Tartu (Estonia) and KU Leuven (Belgium) and extraordinary professor (Translation) at the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, focuses on how South Africa and South Africans are portrayed in Dutch-language newspapers – in other words, how is South Africa's image translated into Dutch.
Other international contributions are those of Prof. Anthony Pym and Prof. Myriam Vermeerbergen. Prof. Pym is extraordinary professor (Translation) in the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, but is also affiliated with Rovira i Virgili University (Spain) and the University of Melbourne (Australia). His article focuses on cosmopolitan translation and how world views might be changed. Another colleague from the KU Leuven, Prof. Vermeerbergen, is one of the research associates at the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch. She collaborated with two South African sign language interpreters, Ananda and Banie van der Walt, to produce an article on a project to translate 110 Bible stories into South African Sign Language.
Naturally, local experts are not outdone by their international counterparts. Prof. Marné Pienaar (University of Johannesburg) has a contribution involving a comparative study of Afrikaans and Zulu translations of Adam Habib's South Africa's Suspended Revolution: Hopes and Prospects. Prof. Kobus Marais (University of the Free State) links up with Prof. Feinauer's efforts to expand translation studies as an academic discipline in Africa and investigates the position of translation studies on the continent, with comparative translation as a particular focus.
From the variety of topics, the tremendous role played by Prof. Feinauer, the incumbent in the Ton and Anet Vosloo Chair in Afrikaans Language Practice, is most certainly evident. Congratulations to Prof. Feinauer and all the contributing authors!