Friday, August 7, 2009

The world of culture here continues to be both entertaining and, at times, shocking in what people allow themselves. On the comical side, now that singers are no longer allowed to lip synch at concerts, several have dropped from the scene, except in the world of video clips, and fewer of the “stars” are giving solo concerts. Not to be denied, however, the stars have gotten together for a gala concert in Yerevan, the list of singers so long it becomes somewhat a comedy in itself. Each singer will be presenting one or two songs before passing the microphone to the next singer. In this way, no singer is forced to actually sing more than a song or two, about the extent of their ability.

On the disgusting, almost shocking side, is a discovery we made while at the tearoom/bookstore Art Bridge. There, we discovered a book including stories by several noted Armenian-American writers, each story translated into Armenian by Writers Union member Aram Arsenyan. Happy with our discovery, we took the book home, where we began to discover just what this book was.

The book included the short story “A Lesson to Remember” by my brother, William Michaelian. The first sign of something awry was the one word translation of the title, to simply “Das,” meaning “lesson.” As we began to read the story, so well translated in the past by Yerevan translator Samvel Mkrtchyan, we saw what was a terrible translation, made worse by the simple fact that no one, the translator or otherwise, had contacted any of us, for permission to translate and/or publish the story.

The translator, in answering an initial email asking him to explain himself and what he had done, simply said, “I promise not to do this in the future without permission,” obviously hoping we’d be satisfied and let the matter go. The translator’s email, in quite poor English, made sense in that it corresponded with his poor translation.

In the preface, noted in Armenian is the word “petpatver,” meaning sponsored/funded by the government, possibly the Culture Ministry. Needless to say, follow up on this matter is in order.

1 comment:

Ara Stepan Melkonian said...

This is another example of the overt, sponsored impoverishment of our culture - this time in the field of literature.
Its bad enough that our age-old musical culture is being blocked from being broadcast on the air and done to death by the so-called "stars" of the music world with their travesties of poorly-understood western-style, discredited, culture. They are only after self-aggrandisment and money, and are worse than our traditional enemies of the past, who failed to curb our culture. The "white massacre" in one form or another continues in Armenia, the main place we in the diaspora would have looked to for inspiration when we try to sing, dance or read Armenian...