Turkish Poet and Translator Nazmi Ağıl at Bilkent

Who is a Translator?: Transmitter or Creator
The department of English Language and Literature hosted Turkish translator and poet Assistant Professor Nazmi Ağıl on Thursday, October 20. A roomful of wide variety of audience from social scientists, scholars, engineers  to students, those who share an interest in literature and translation came together to listen to Ağıl’s speech “Gelse Otursa Meclise Bir İngiliz Ozan.”
Nazmi Ağıl is the translator of many literary works such as William Wordsworth’s Prelude, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock, Aharon Appelfeld’s Iron Tracks and Badenheim 1939, and Theodore Roethke’s Open House. His speech was about his experience as a translator while translating the three distinguished figures of English literature: Geoffrey Chaucer, Alexander Pope and William Wordsworth, all of whom belong to different periods and show different characteristics in their works.
In his speech, Ağıl stressed that his translation style changes according to the literary works he translates. He was in favor of free translation rather than depending on the original text imprudently while translating Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. He confessed that he became Chaucer eventually, when he finished translating Canterbury Tales. However, he was strictly loyal to the text while translating The Rape of the Lock  by Alexander Pope and Prelude by William Wordsworth since the works do not allow the translator to be apart from reality and solemnity.
Another emphasis in the speech was about the richness of Turkish. Idioms and proverbs are the irrevocable cornerstones of Turkish language. Ağıl stated that he benefits from the affluence of Turkish in his translations, adds sentences of his own or subtracts from the original text  to provide the rhyme and rhythm and to make the text more Turkish.
Ağıl’s another assertion was to bring the endnotes and footnotes into the text as if they were vital parts of the original text. In this way, the reader’s fluency and concentration would not be disturbed and the reading would be effective.
Ağıl also did not forget to give advises about the translation process. He said that knowing Turkish and English both very well is essential for the translation to be perfect. The attendants were inspired and had new perceptions towards translation.

(Ülkem Önal, ELIT IV)

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