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Notes from International Translation Day 2016

  • By Lora Christy
  • 14th October 2016
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If you missed any part of International Translation Day 2016, fear not. Help is at hand. Our team of note takers gathered key insights for you, and we also have recordings from some of the sessions.

International Translation Day is the annual event for the translation community. It is an opportunity for translators, students, publishers, booksellers, librarians, bloggers and reviewers to gather and network, debate significant issues and developments within the sector, and to discuss challenges and celebrate success. A full programme for the day is available here

Opening Plenary

From Author to Reader:
Identifying the Strengths and Weaknesses in Publishing Translations

The opening plenary of the day brought together a translator, an scout, an publisher, a publicist, a distributor, a bookseller and a member of the media on one stage to discuss the entire chain from author to reader. They asked: What does it take to successfully publish translated literature, what are the pitfalls, and what can be done to make things better?

Featuring Sarah Braybrooke (Scribe UK), Kate Gunning (Penguin Random House), Ana Pérez Galván (Hispabooks), Gary Perry (Foyles), Fiammetta Rocco (The Economist) and Rebecca Servadio (MacLehose, Servadio & Pupo-Thompson Literary Scouts).

Chaired by translator Daniel Hahn.


Seminar A: Translation Masterclass

Aimed at early-career translators

A joint masterclass by Deborah Smith, winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize with Han Kang for The Vegetarian, and Charlotte Collins, who was shortlisted with Robert Seethaler for A Whole Life. Charlotte and Deborah shared their experience, practice and advice with reference to projects past and present.

Featuring translators Deborah Smith and Charlotte Collins.

Support from the Booker Prize Foundation.

Seminar B: Alternative Routes to Publication
Aimed at mid-career translators

Is self-publishing feasible for translators? When writers choose to self-publish, their voice becomes their brand but as translators speak in many voices they need a different approach. We explored some of the options open to self-publishing translators – hybrid or alternative publishing solutions, co-operations, crowd funding and personal projects, amongst others.

Featuring Gwyneth Box (Tantamount), Steve Komarnyckyj (Kalyna Language Press), Cécile Lee (Les Fugitives) and Franca Scurti Simpson (Calisi Press).

Chaired by Stefan Tobler, founder of And Other Stories.

Seminar C: Current State of Translation in Higher Education
Aimed at experienced translators

Historically, literary translation featured in Higher Education mainly as an undergraduate language-learning method. More recently, many universities have developed master’s degrees in translation that reflect the rapid development of CAT tools and the rise of Translation Studies as an academic discipline. But the role of literary translation in this context is less clear. We examined the changing role of literary translation within academia, focusing in particular on the interface between Higher Education and the profession, in the UK and beyond.

Featuring translators and academics Peter Bush, Duncan Large, Ros Schwartz and Ton Naaijkens, from the University of Utrecht.

Support from the European Commission.

Seminar D: Translation Games and Languitecture
General interest

The creators of two fascinating translation projects presented their work and invited participants to get hands-on with their practice. Translation Games gets literary translators, artists, designers and academics exploring translation in a playful programme of activities – not only translating English to French, but film to choreography or Spanish to silk painting.

Languitecture is an investigation into the migration, translation and evolution of language, bringing together seven practitioners from different cultural and professional backgrounds to explore interconnections of their four mother-tongues.

Featuring Ricarda Vidal, developer of Translation Games and Rawan Serhan, an architect, acoustician and artist and the creator of Languitecture.


Seminar E: Publisher’s Armchair
Aimed at early-career translators

What happens after you successfully place a book with a publisher? This session aimed to give publishers the chance to explain the editorial stage and other practicalities from their point of view, providing a unique chance to learn what publishers wish translators knew about their side of the business.

Featuring publishers Katharina Bielenberg (MacLehose Press), Philip Gwyn Jones (Scribe UK) and Juliet Mabey (Oneworld).

Chaired by Antonia Lloyd-Jones (Translators Association).

Seminar F: Translating for Theatre
Aimed at mid-career translators

What are the pitfalls and practicalities of translating for the stage? London-based international theatre company [Foreign Affairs] discussed the ins and outs of translating for theatre, and presented their exciting new theatre in translation programme. This sessions included a practical, interactive workshop with the company’s actors, giving participants a taste of what translating for the stage entails.

Featuring Camila França, Paul Russell Garrett, Trine Garrett and William Gregory from [Foreign Affairs].

Seminar G: What Multilingual Creativity Means for Translators
Aimed at experienced translators

There are now over 1 million pupils in UK schools who speak English as an additional language (EAL). Languages no longer live neatly side-by-side, but rather mix and mingle. This has thrown up new hybrid ways of using language. Participants explored what this means for translators and heard about the creative opportunities this multilingualism affords.

Featuring academics Simon Coffey (King’s College London) and Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones (Aberystwyth University) in conversation with editor Ellen Jones (Queen Mary University of London) and poet Fiona Sampson (University of Roehampton).

Fiona Sampson’s talk is available to read in full here.

Seminar H: Where Are the Women in Translation?
General interest

In 2014 we raised the issue of ‘amplifying women’s voices through translation’. Two years later, has anything changed? We talked to a range of speakers from across the industry about the positive action being taken (including prizes and lists), what more can be done and whether there’s consensus on how to do it, and why it matters.

Featuring Berlin-based translator Katy Derbyshire, publisher Laura Macaulay and Spanish writer/translator Cristina Sánchez-Andrade.

Chaired by Michael Caines (Times Literary Supplement).

Closing Plenary

Translation Through the Looking Glass: Translating Affordances

Affordances – the range of possibilities particular to each language – occupy a nebulous space between the lexicon and cultural concerns. What happens when we start to think about translating at this level? Working with sign language literature, writer, artist and translator Kyra Pollitt explored some creative solutions to the challenges that lie in translating a visual, gestural, dynamic, three-dimensional literature. This session sought to stretch your concept of translation and expand your toolbox.

Featuring writer, artist and translator Kyra Pollitt.

Our partners for International Translation Day 2016 were British Centre for Literary Translation (BCLT), Emerging Translators Network (ETN), Literature Across Frontiers (LAF), Translators Association (TA), Wales Literature Exchange, Words Without Borders and Writers’ Centre Norwich.

With support from ALCS, the Booker Prize Foundation, the European Commission, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch), Jan Michalski Foundation and Arts Council England.

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