Literary Translation and Cultural Mediators in ‘Peripheral’ Cultures

Last year, I translated a piece from French to English for Literary Translation and Cultural Mediators in 'Peripheral' Cultures by Diana Roig-Sanz and Reine Meylaerts published by Springer. It's wonderful to see the translation in print along with the contributions from other authors.

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Residency at the Vertalershuis Amsterdam

As a translator, you constantly have to make decisions on what to do about these little things. Do you just translate them as they are and preserve the Belgian-ness of the book? Or do you convert them into something more familiar for your target readership? If you translate "hostie" to "satellite wafer", are you then obliged to explain that it is a sort of puffy sugary disk with candy beads rattling inside? Would Americans appreciate encountering a "Rubbermaid" in a book they chose specifically for its foreign-ness?...

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Translating The Chronicles

Other than translating, the best part about the festival for me was spending time with the authors and other translators. Meeting young writers who have been so successful, talking about their process, all of the risks they take, discovering that they too have a "little dictator" marching around in their head (see Blog 4) - it made the whole literary world feel within reach. We translators also got to involve them in what we do, discussing the challenges we face in not just translating, but actually re-writing their texts.

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Tolk- en Vertaalcongres 2016: Hilversum

At one point, a translator took the mic and encouraged the audience not to think of each other as competition, but rather as colleagues - that we are all in this together. I really took this to heart. Not only do I find friends in the people who love languages as much as I do, but I find that I can lean on them for support. We can pass each other projects, share insight, discuss "untranslateables" and roll our eyes at all the nonsense that is bouncing around out there in the translation world.

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Notes from International Translation Day 2015 at The British Library

Oh what a day Friday was! What a day. I hopped a 45 minute flight across the Channel from Amsterdam for the annual International Translation Day conference at The British Library hosted by FreeWord, English Pen and my new favorite online circle, the Emerging Translator's Network.  All about translating literature, the conference brought together a small crowd of literary translators, booksellers, publishers, editors and writers to talk frankly about translating books: what it means, how it happens and why it matters. I can only comment on the panels that I was able to attend, so any feedback from the other ones would be greatly appreciated in the comments!

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