#CurrentlyReading in Translation

This post is part of a regular series where I share what I’m currently reading and engage in discussion about the field of translation and interpreting.

How To Read Like A Translator

By Joshua Sperling (9/17/21)

This read is a bit dense but I appreciate the perspective that translation is a practical-critical activity. That is, it is not a passive transference of meaning. It is an active exercise, both theoretical and practical, in which the translator is shaped by the text and, in turn, re-shapes it. Here is a gem from the article:

“A translator does not simply perform an abstract operation. Instead, they move around and inside a text, attending to its different parts, slowly gaining a working familiarity with the text’s own orientation to a surrounding literary tradition and linguistic community.”

And later on, quoting Damion Searls, we read the following:

“The process and art of translation isn’t primarily about words[.] It’s about doing in your language, as a whole, what the original writer is doing in his or her language as a whole—and sometimes about reconsidering, or reimagining, what that language is.”

Audio Transcription: What It Is, What It Is Not, And Why It Is in High Demand

By Rafa Lombardino

This article is a good overview of what audio transcription is, for language professionals who might be considering adding it to the services they offer. While I was living in Spain I did some freelance transcription work and found it much more challenging than I had anticipated — and therefore much harder to make any money doing it! I did find the work interesting, so I am taking further steps to improve my skills as well as acquire computer software/hardware to aid in the work.

How To Become A Translator

By Rachel Kramer Bussel (9/27/21)

“Being a translator requires a particular sensitivity not only to language, but also to people. I think you have to really be interested in other authors’ voices, in their obsessions and desires, and you have to want to dedicate a lot of time and energy to inhabiting their worlds…”

While this article is a conversation with three literary translators, I would say that this point applies to all translation work. A translator has to inhabit two roles at the same time: that of author and that of audience. We prepare for translation by actively reading a text to comprehend its deeper meanings, messages, contexts, cultural influences, etc. We need a strong sense of the author’s motivations and the experience they intend for their audience to have. Then we have to decide how best to produce that same experience using an entirely different language system and (possibly) cultural context.

A translation that is high-quality and true to the source text cannot be achieved without this dedication to “inhabiting” the world of the source text and its author(s).


What are you reading this week? Feel free to share in the comment section or email me links to content you’re enjoying!

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