Thursday, December 18, 2008

How to Start As a Literary Translator?

Linkedin [] has a number of groups of which I am a member. So, there is the American Translators Association (ATA) group too. Now, I'm a member of ATA too. A translator colleague posted a question about 'how to get involved as a literary translator'. My response was as follows:

I have been a published literary translator and I have also won a national award for translating a short story. I'm in India, so, my languages and my settings are different. However, you should start looking at important literary journals in your languages and you should also start looking at established authors in your languages. The next thing you need to do is to find out where your true expertise lies--it could be poetry or fiction. Usually, I have observed that there are some people who are good at translating poetry, while there are others who are good at fiction. I haven't seen someone who was excellent in both genres. Drama can be a different ball game.

You might like to look at American Literary Translators Association, ALTA. For inspiration, you might like to look at the CV of Gregory Rabassa. It seems that Gregory Rabassa is the literary translator of our generation like Constance Garnett was with the Russian classics few decades ago. I could you details of various literary journals which might like to publish translations.

It might be very interesting to learn about two important people [theorists as well as translators] in this field--Lawrence Venuti and Tim Parks. You might like to take up an MLA membership
[ ]. I'm a member there.

You might also like to check out the University of East Anglia because they have a very reputed literary translation center there and they give out the Charles Wallace Trust Scholarship as Translator in Residence there, which is administered by the British Council in India.

I am sure this isn't bad for a start. Best wishes.

Roomy Naqvy

Currently, editor of Language Tech News, ATA's LTD newsletter.
Assistant Professor, translator, blogger.

I am sure I could add few more details now. So, if anyone is interested in starting out as a literary translator, I could mentor them.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Further Notes on Translation

So, most people who grow up speaking two languages tend to feel that they are experts in both. In fact, they are experts neither in their 'native' tongue nor in their 'acquired' one. But as translation tends to be an individualistic enterprise, there is nothing which really checks people or stops them from making outlandish claims. Also, there is nothing that stops people from practicing as translators. So, they bite the dust only when they enter the professional sphere, where the grain is separated from the chaff. This is a problem which is acute in countries such as India, which are also plagued by the problem of cheap labor and where people out to make a fast buck look at translation as a lucrative alternative.

Undoubtedly, translation is a lucrative alternative but then so are many other employment opportunities pretty lucrative. One might as well become a movie star, which is a lot more lucrative than being a translator but people don't try their luck there because there is too much competition, whereas, anyone could claim to be a translator.

Notes on Translation

This is one of the most difficult questions that will plague the beginner. The primary thing is to know any two languages, which are known as source language and target language pretty well. However, the simple fact of knowing two languages may not be sufficient or enough.

There are some people who are born in monolingual conditions or nations and they find it really difficult to learn a second language. However, there are many others who are born in families or linguistic conditions or nations where people normally speak more than one language. One could find such situations in nations such as India or for that matter, the entire South Asia, which includes Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh as well as the Philippines in Asia. It is quite 'normal' for citizens of these countries to have learned English at school and known their native tongue.

Usually, most people that you meet in these countries tend to possess some kind or sort of bilingualism. But what degree and competence they possess is indeed a matter of conjecture.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Translation: definition

From the Merriam Websters Dictionary online
Main Entry:
\tran(t)s-ˈlā-shən, tranz-\
14th century
1: an act, process, or instance of translating: as a: a rendering from one language into another; also : the product of such a rendering b: a change to a different substance, form, or appearance : conversion c (1): a transformation of coordinates in which the new axes are parallel to the old ones (2): uniform motion of a body in a straight line 2: the process of forming a protein molecule at a ribosomal site of protein synthesis from information contained in messenger RNA — compare transcription 3
trans·la·tion·al \-shnəl, -shə-nəl\ adjective

Welcome to the World of Translation

I welcome all of you to the world of translation. As this blog states, it is called Learning Translation and I plan to make it into an online learning portal that will focus on how to study and learn translation as also to improve and strengthen one's linguistic skills.

Best wishes and enjoy.