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.