The people at this project at MIT contacted me to tell me about it: basically, they are crowd-sourcing the meanings of verbs in order to get a deeper sense of what words mean than what dictionaries offer.
Translation is generally such a solitary
business and many translators like it that way. But in July I was reminded how
useful it can sometimes be to work with others.
It was the British
Centre for Literary Translation summer school and I led the Finland
Swedish workshop (my group was fantastic, incidentally!), where we translated
work by Johanna Holmström. We spent so much time discussing the nuances of our
author’s text and debating about which word would be right and why. We researched
together and read aloud and tried out different phrases and discussed how
people of varying ages and backgrounds would speak and so on. Johanna often sat
in on our discussions and told us about her intentions and her ideas, which was
also very beneficial.
The English text we ended up with is, I
suspect, better than what any one of us would have done on our own.
Now, I know that it isn’t practical for
teams of translators to work together on every text, but the summer school was
a good reminder that sometimes it’s worth talking to other translators (and, of
course, to our authors) and sharing ideas. Translation is often solitary, but
it doesn’t always have to be, nor should it always be.
Some time back, there was an article on the BBC website about Elizabeth Tanfield Cary, a sixteenth century girl who was a writer and translator.
The article notes, “She grew up in the village [Burford Church, Oxfordshire] and wrote the piece - a translation from French of the text of the early world atlas of Ortelius - when she was aged 12 or 13.”
Dr Lesley Peterson is quoted as saying that her translatorial decisions are revealing: “For instance, she was just a little girl, but she was an only child and she was her father’s heir…She met Queen Elizabeth I when she was just a little girl, because her parents hosted the queen at her house. So she has these very strong female role models, and in her translations, every time the original text says something complimentary about a woman, little Elizabeth sneaks in an extra adjective.”
Originally from Chicago, I lived in southern Sweden for nearly 5.5 years, and moved to southern Wales in September 2006. I completed a Ph.D. translation studies in June 2009 at Swansea University, with a dissertation on the translation of children's literature.
Now I live in Norwich, England, where I am a lecturer at the University of East Anglia, and I also work as a translator, writer, and editor.
Contact me at bravenewwords (AT) gmail (DOT) com.