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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

RICHARD FREEMAN: THE TRANSLATION GAME

Time for Richard Freeman again. It almost seems silly introducing Richard to you all once again when he makes an appearance as guest blogger several times a week. However, our viewing audience/ readers (whatever you like to call yourselves) is growing so fast that it is certain that some of you missed the last time I introduced him.

Marie-Jeanne Koffmann, a Franco-Russian scientist, now in her late 80s spent her whole adult life studying the almasty, the relic hominid said to lurk in the Caucasus, western Mongolia the Pamirs and the Tien Shen and areas of the Asian/ European border. In a career that spanned decades this redoubtable woman took expedition after expedition into these unforgiving and dangerous places to gather information, interview witnesses and search for the creature. She has built up a lifetime’s work in the form of notes that fill volumes.

No one has ever published Koffman’s works and no one has translated them. Ms Koffmann is very old now. What will happen when she passes on? Will all her life’s work be merely tossed aside? Therein lies a great problem in cryptozoology. There are masses of information locked away from us because it has never been translated. The problem goes both ways of course; cryptozoological books printed in English seldom get translated into other languages.

Whilst on our 2008 almasty hunting expedition Grigory Panchenko told us of a book written by pioneering almasty researcher Boris Porshnev. The book only had a print run of around 200. The public library in Moscow apparently has a copy. It would be relatively easy to get the book photocopied and sent over to England for translation. Corinna’s youngest daughter Olivia has a Ukrainian boyfriend Ivan who may well be able to do this. Imagine the value of years of Porhnev’s work being made available to an English reading audience, particularly as the book had such a tiny run on its first publication.

Grigory himself has written books on cryptozoology. We offered to translate them but he was reluctant, wanting to improve them first. He took a couple of our books to see if he could interest Russian or Ukrainian publishers in doing their own translations of them. No one was interested.

We have made tentative steps to contacting Ms Koffman and spoke with her elderly sister in Paris but this ground to a halt when we failed to contact the great lady herself.

We have in our possession Dr Bernard Heuvelman’s book on African dragons in French. It looks fascinating but remains untranslated. Heuvelmans wrote many other books, including one on relic hominids but most are available only in French and are long out of print.

Recently Kegan Paul has published some of Heuvalman’s works such as The Kraken and the Colossal Octopus but the prices they charge for them are absurd. Another of his books they published was The Natural History of Hidden Animals. It was an interesting book but was only £145 and cost a truly outlandish amount.

From e-bay I bought a book on newspaper reports on monsters from 19th century Japan. I have inquired into the cost of a translation and it was around £800-£1000!

What we need is a dedicated network of international translators freeing up these works and allowing free passage of information to flow from country to country. CFZ press would be interested in publishing works like these, if only we could get translations.

One person who is trying to get Boris Porshnev’s work translated into English and French is Oleg Vite; his website can be found here http://www.porshnev.ru/en/index.html
And he may be e-mailed here info@porshnev.ru

Come on cryptozoologists and forteans worldwide, there is a mountain of data out there just waiting for us!

8 comments:

Rosel said...

I can do German into English, if there is anything specific you want.

Chris Clark said...

What we need is good mechanical translation software. I have "L'Homme de Neanderthal est toujours vivant" by Heuvelmans and Porchnev, but scanning a couple of pages and putting them through Babelfish produced nonsense.
I would tackle an article in Italian if it is not too long.
The problem is easier for English books : inter-library loan + scanner = PDF.

Bigfoot73 said...

I can remember seeing Ms Koffman on BHM documentaries way back, and if I remember correctly she was inspired by having seen some neanderthal-type people in the Caucasus mountains.It would be tragic if she were to pass away with her life's work unpublished.

The problem with non-commercial translation is that,as you say, there is a mountain of data out there and not that many people willing or able to do it.This is going to need a sustained campaign involving other Fortean organizations, possibly relying on dozens of amateur translators each doing a few pages of a particular text.Rather like the charities that have thousands of computer owners letting cancer research programmes use their PCs to crunch data accumulated from research projects.
Of course there would be all sorts of intellectual property issues, and a dozen Forteans with net connections could accidentally reproduce the works of Shakespeare just as easily as a dozen chimps with typewriters (allegedly) might, but this has to start somewhere.What is commercially unviable to a publisher is gold dust to forteans:- the answers to our questions aren't so much "out there" as out of print.
I for one would be prepared to get hold of some dictionaries and work through a few pages of non-English text,and I expect many others would be too.People with more expertise could moderate and proof-read the output,resulting in publishable translations.
It could help start the ball rolling if people with a second (or more) language blogged on non-English websites to drum up interest.It's always possible that overseas publishers with no domestic interest in their old titles might realise the potential of translation into other languages.Here's hoping.

Bigfoot73 said...

"Neanderthal Man is Alive Today" sounds like EXACTLY the sort of tome we'd all like to know more of!Does it have anything about the alleged existence of socialized neanderthals-next-door in Brittany and northern France?

Chris Clark said...

Not that I can find. The first half, by Porchnev,is on Soviet studies. The second part, by Heuvelmans, seems to be partly about the famous Iceman.

Bigfoot73 said...

Thanks for the reply. Wonder why Heuvalmans thinks the Iceman was a neanderthal?

alan said...

I think the porchnev's book has been translated in french and is the first part of Heuvelmans' "l'homme de néanderthal est toujours vivant". This part is not too long, it could be easy to translate it in english...!

alan said...

by the way, the book (second hand) can be found on Amazon.fr but it is expensive.(99Euros)