Drawing as Translation

I’ve subtitled this blog “What a web developer does”, and most of my recent posts have been about web development, mainly in WordPress. But I do other things too. One is drawing cartoons, which I blogged about in “How to Make Pencil on Tracing Paper Look Good with Gimp”. I recently went to the Oxford Literary Festival, and to a talk by Matthew Reynolds, Professor of English and Comparative Criticism. He was introducing his book Translation: A Very Short Introduction. Inspired by this, I wrote an essay on “Drawing as Translation”.

My essay is a companion to a talk I gave to Workshop Thales in 2015 on the semantics of line drawings. It uses some of the same examples, but with a different emphasis. I argue that it isn’t wrong to omit or exaggerate; and indeed, may be unavoidable, given the constraints of the visual language we’re translating into.

I also look briefly at “blooming”, which I came across in the Language Log post “Blooming, embellishment, and bombs” by Victor Mair (17 August 2015), which refers to a comment by Judith Strauser (3 August 2015) to an earlier post also by Victor Mair (2 August 2015), “French vs. English”. Blooming is the increase in size of a translation relative to its original. There may be more than one reason for it; it’s not just because some languages are more concise than others. I discuss blooming in drawing; it would be interesting to see examples of blooming in translating one programming language to another.

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