Greatest Women in Translation: Robin Myers

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Welcome back to our Greatest Women in Translation interview series!

This month, I talk to Robin Myers, US-born, Mexico City-based literary translator and poet, nominated by Charlotte Whittle.

Robin Myers

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1. Could you start by telling us about your beginning in translation?

I first became fascinated with translation in my late teens. At the time, it felt like the natural amalgam of several other interests: poetry, the Spanish language, and Mexico. I was born and raised in the US, but part of my father’s family came from Mexico; I visited a couple times as a child and always wanted to spend more time here. So I studied Spanish as the means to this very specific end. I lived in the city of Oaxaca for a few months after high school, then again halfway through college. It was during those early experiences of real immersion—in the language, in a place I loved, in my first Spanish-speaking friendships, in my first forays into reading contemporary Mexican literature—that I started experimenting with translation. There was something very simple and earnest about those initial explorations: I just wanted to share what I was reading (whether in English or Spanish) with people I cared about. As innocent as this may sound to me now—or at least as far removed as it can feel from certain parts of the day-to-day grind—I still believe that the desire to translate springs from the desire to connect, period. Of course we want that! Of course we want to bring disparate words, disparate worlds together.

In any case, it wasn’t too long before my translatorly hopes and expectations came into contact with more technical realities. In college, I spent a semester studying in Buenos Aires and took a workshop with Ezequiel Zaidenwerg, a remarkable Argentine poet and translator. Ezequiel’s approach emphasized the metrical building blocks of the Spanish-language poetic tradition, and at first I railed against this focus on syllable-counting and form. But I came around, and I started to genuinely enjoy the search for poetic “solutions” within a set of formal parameters. Ezequiel’s mentorship was very important to me as I started translating in a more professional way, and we’ve both gone on to translate each other’s work over the years, which has been a great gift.

2. Besides being a translator you are also a poet. Does being a poet help as translator and vice-versa? If so, how?

It absolutely helps. Both poetry and translation (and by this I mean the translation of anything, not just poetry) are practices rooted in the materiality of language. If you write poetry or translate anything, you are in the business of dealing with words as stuff, as resources, as concrete elements you shape and combine to form certain structures and spark particular effects in the reader. Of course, in translation, you’re using language in response to—in relation to—language that already exists in the world. You’re writing (because translating is also writing) in the service of and in complicity with that language. In this sense, too, translation demands both that you saturate yourself with the original text and that you distance yourself from it. That doubleness has helped me write my own poetry, I think, at least in the sense that it’s made the experience of writing poetry much more interesting. For one thing, it’s made me more conscious of the artifice of whatever I’m doing (and I mean “artifice” not as an insult but as a fact). For the same reason, it’s also made me feel freer to experiment: to think with more curiosity and more gratitude about language as “tools” and how I might try them out. I do feel that writing poetry affects my translations as well, or my approach to translating. For example, I care a great deal about sound when I write poetry, about what happens to words when we string them together and speak them aloud, and I feel a similar need to “hear” what language does in translating both poetry and prose. That said, I don’t mean to talk about this obsession with sound as if it were strictly the domain of poetry, much less of poets, because that’s not the case at all! I’m just musing about what it feels like for me in going about things as I go about them.

3. Could you please kindly share one of your (short) poems with us?

Here’s an untitled poem (they’re all untitled) from a collection called Having, which was translated into Spanish by Ezequiel Zaidenwerg and published as Tener in Argentina, Mexico, and (soon) Spain:

You can have it.

You can have the mad dash
and the mist,
the burned tongue
and honey-slick,
the cup
intact.

The night rage, the gray dawn
forgiving you.

The train,
the track.

The soft hairs
at the nape of the neck,
the thrilled plunge
and the cast.

You can have the rest of it.

You can rest.

It will drive you mad.

You will scald your way through
the days, trying
to have all of it,

having it.

4. In this interview you gave for the Los Angeles Review of Books, you said “translation is a weird, lovely, mysterious, largely invisible relationship, both for the translator and for the translated.” Why is that?

I mean, it’s so intimate! Even if the author and translator never meet, even if the author can’t read the language she’s been translated into, even if the author’s been dead for hundreds of years. No matter what, the translator gets to—has to—inhabit the text, figure out what makes it run, spend an unholy amount of time studying how the author thinks and what she cares about.

The translator invariably has to make tradeoffs, has to figure out what can or should or under no circumstances ought to be sacrificed. It feels like a serious responsibility!

The translator is entrusted with something. With any luck, if she and the author exist on the same mortal plane and can talk to each other and choose to do so, they’ll both view the translation process as something that links them together. And they’ll both register this as an honor: the translator, honored at the invitation to engage with the text, attend to it, and deliver it somewhere new; the translated, honored to have her work—which she, too, once produced in a solitary act of faith—engaged with, attended to, and delivered in this way. But even if the translator and the author walk the earth at different moments in history, or are never in personal contact, or don’t even personally like each other very much, this relationship still exists. The devotion, the attention, the responsibility, the anxiety, the fact that the translator ultimately creates a second work of art that is both inseparable from and necessarily independent of the first: it’s all there, all the time. I find it so strange! Thrillingly strange, though.

5. Your poems are translated into other languages, including Portuguese, right? How is it like being in both sides, as translator and translated author?

It’s been very joyful and moving. Yes, poems of mine have been translated mostly into Spanish, with shorter selections into Galician, Arabic, and Portuguese. Many of these translations have emerged from long-term dialogues and friendships; several of the translators are themselves poets I’ve translated from Spanish into English. So it’s hard to be objective about it; it’s all felt like a series of long, warm conversations, marked by a sense both of deep connection and of distance. Distance in the sense that I always hope a translator will feel that the poems also belong to her, you know? In all her particularities, all her personal styles and tastes and approaches.

If I write a poem and someone else translates it—or the other way around—it’s ours.

Part of what I still find uniquely powerful about the experience of being translated into Spanish, though, is that my books have only been published in Spanish translation. Not in English, and not in my own country of origin. And since I’m based in Mexico, when I take part in poetry readings, for example, I mostly read in Spanish. Which means I’m directly and constantly identifying myself with someone else’s work as my primary form of participation. Which means I’m inhabiting and sharing theirs as much as my own.

6. Are you currently translating any books? If so, could you tell us a bit about them?

I currently have three prose projects in the works: by Mónica Ramón Ríos (Chile), there’s Cars on Fire, a wild, free-wheeling, darkly funny collection of short stories set between Chile and New York, forthcoming from Open Letter Books in 2020; Animals at the End of the World, a novel by Gloria Susana Esquivel (Colombia) about a young girl growing up in her grandparents’ house in Bogotá, forthcoming from the University of Texas Press in 2020; and The Restless Dead, a book of critical essays by Cristina Rivera Garza (Mexico) about disappropriation, “necropolitics,” and contemporary literature. I’m also working on various poetry projects in hopes of eventually finding homes for them in English. These include work by Javier Peñalosa, Maricela Guerrero, and Isabel Zapata (three Mexican poets whose recent books take beautifully and radically different approaches to the natural world and its relationship with contemporary humans); Daniel Lipara, Claudia Masin, and Alejandro Crotto (all from Argentina); and Adalber Salas Hernández (from Venezuela).

7. Now it’s your turn to nominate our next Great Woman in Translation.

I’d like to nominate Juana Adcock, a Mexican-born, Scotland-based poet and translator. Juana translates between Spanish and English in both directions (a superpower that never ceases to amaze me!). Into English, she is the translator of Sexographies by Gabriela Wiener (with Lucy Greaves) and An Orphan World by Giuseppe Caputo (with Sophie Hughes). I met Juana in person only recently, although we’d been in touch for months before that, because I had the privilege of translating her poetry collection Manca into English. By the end of the process—which involved great openness, engagement, and creativity on her part—I really felt that Juana and I had become co-translators. I feel lucky to know her and learn from her in both languages!

Guest post: The power of introversion

Welcome back to our guest post series, dear readers!

This month, I’d like you to welcome Greek translator and interpreter Vasiliki Prestidge, from Greek to Me Translations.

Welcome, Vasiliki!

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Translators and the secret power of introversion

“Not enough classroom participation.”
“She has the answers to the questions, but she never puts her hand up. The other children are not benefiting.”
“She’s excellent, but she has to try harder to share.”

My parents always received the same feedback from my teachers.

The thing is, there was nothing wrong with me. I was simply an introvert.

There’s so much negativity attached to introversion. So many misunderstandings. Decades later, I am still an introvert. I am also a translator, interpreter, blogger, consultant and founder of Greek to Me Translations. Did my introversion stop me from becoming who I am today? No, to the contrary. It has pushed me in the right direction.

But let’s take it from the start. Reading this, you are probably a translator too. And you may consider yourself an introvert too. Do you feel like not going out, talking to people, or picking up the phone? Are you terrified of conferences, and making contacts during events? Welcome to the world of introversion. Hey, it’s really not that bad.

I want to clarify that I use the word ‘introversion’ within the context of MBTI, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. Many of you might be familiar with it, some not. In this framework, introversion is not about shyness. It’s about energy. Some people take their energy from others (extroverts) and some from within themselves (introverts). Think of the sunflower; it always turns to the sun. Now think of a cactus; it conserves its energy within it and requires few external stimuli.

Extroversion doesn’t make you better and neither does introversion. However, what makes you the best is a balance of both traits. Naturally, you are more comfortable with one of the two personality preferences. But perhaps, your job or culture has pushed you toward adopting features of the opposite side. These are your coping mechanisms and they are great. They turn you into a fully-grown personality.

But these definitions are not about putting people in boxes and locking them there. They constitute a common language offering you the opportunity to understand yourself, accept your gaps and find ways to develop. Isn’t that liberating?

There are two tools that can help you identify your preferences. MBTI Step I gives you a first taste of your preferences. MBTI Step II allows your palate to discover the full range of tastes. Maybe you know you like fish in general, but you might not like salmon or maybe you cannot eat scallops.

Similarly, there are different facets to introversion. Maybe you are an introvert who enjoys running their business from home, on their own, but you don’t mind initiating conversation with potential clients at events. Maybe you feel uncomfortable getting to events by yourself, but once you are there, you’re fine. Or, you find it difficult to initiate conversation, but once someone starts speaking with you, you cannot stop talking.

Introversion is far more complex than we think, and it certainly doesn’t put you in an inferior position. Did you know that introverts make the perfect freelance entrepreneurs and great leaders? Introverts thrive in solitude. They read others and they can listen. I mean they can properly listen.

Then thinking of marketing ‒ an important side of running a business ‒ social media has empowered introverted entrepreneurs to share without feeling exhausted. And did you know introverts are better with social media? That’s because they focus on the internal ideas and feelings which means they are more likely to process before publishing. And that sometimes is truly valuable.

But of course, having the best of both worlds requires effort. The first step to achieving balance is acceptance. Accept you are an introvert and that that’s OK. Then, you invest in understanding your introversion. Everyone is different. We all come from different backgrounds and cultures. Sometimes, a temporary life event could be impacting your core personality preferences. So, self-awareness is key.

Then, you can start learning. And you can learn from extroverts. Think of those instances where being an extrovert could benefit you. Do you have gaps? Identify your goals and keep them in a notebook. This can become your extroversion workbook. The important thing to remember is that you can’t do too much too soon. And by that, I mean take it one step at a time.

For example, if your biggest challenge in running your business is networking with potential clients at conferences or trade fairs, then start small. Go to a local meet-up. Find an event with fewer people. Then, you scale up. Find your “event-buddy”; someone you go to events with. But be careful as this is dangerous. You may end up talking only to your “event-buddy” and that’s not helpful.

And remember, you are definitely not alone in this. I have a secret suspicion that most translators are introverts. So, give yourself a pat on the back. Don’t forget your natural preferences. Allow yourself quiet, me-time. It’s how you thrive.

Do you feel exhausted after a 2-day conference? I’ll let you into a secret: most people do. Don’t beat yourself up. You have the secret power of introversion. Own it.

About the author
VasilikiVasiliki Prestidge is a Greek into English and English into Greek translator and interpreter. She specialises in legal, marketing and psychometrics. She is an MBTI Step I and Step II qualified practitioner. She is the founder of Greek to Me Translations and blogs on www.grtome.com/blog. She often gives webinars and talks in conferences and she enjoys networking. (Believe it or not, she is an introvert). You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Inscreva-se no Congresso da Abrates e concorra a dois sorteios!

E aí, galerinha, já fizeram a inscrição para o próximo Congresso da Abrates? Eu já garanti a minha no early bird, mas não se preocupe! Tenho ótimas notícias!

Fiz uma parceira com os organizadores do congresso e com meus parceiros de divulgação de conteúdo, a Translators 101 e o Descomplicando o Inglês Jurídico. Veja o que temos a oferecer a vocês, seguidores de todos os meus canais:

– Valor do segundo lote garantido até o dia 30 deste mês (o segundo lote normal vai até o dia 12 apenas).
– Participação em dois sorteios:

  • e-Book Peças processuais em inglês e sua tradução, do Descomplicando o Inglês Jurídico, de R$ 199,00 por apenas R$ 1,99.
  • Acesso gratuito ao evento online imperdível de dublagem que será realizado pela Translators 101 no dia 29 de junho, com Mabel Cezar e Rayani Immediato, e a uma palestra gravada de eventos passados a ser escolhida pelo sorteado.

O sorteio e a entrega dos prêmios serão realizados durante o Congresso da Abrates por mim e pelos meus respectivos parceiros, Bruna Marchi e William Cassemiro, que tão gentilmente aceitaram oferecer esses presentes especialmente para vocês!

O 10º Congresso da Abrates será realizado de 31 de maio a 2 de junho no Bourbon Convention Ibirapuera Hotel em São Paulo. Alguns palestrantes já confirmaram presença, inclusive internacionais! Dá uma espiadinha aqui.

Para concorrer aos dois sorteios e aproveitar o valor de segundo lote, faça sua inscrição pelos links abaixo (respectivo à sua categoria):

Associado da Abrates: https://pag.ae/7UMShv1-m
Não associado da Abrates: https://pag.ae/7UMShX3zm
Estudante/Idoso: https://pag.ae/7UMSis82G

Para validar sua inscrição e participar do sorteio, envie o comprovante de pagamento do PagSeguro e seus dados (nome completo, CPF, RG, data de nascimento e endereço completo) para o e-mail congresso2019@abrates.com.br com o assunto PROMOÇÃO ALBERONI. Informe também se participará da escala de intérpretes e se tem alguma necessidade especial.

Dia 21 embarco para a Europa de férias e para participar de dois congressos (apresentarei palestra em um deles), mas reorganizei toda a minha viagem para que eu conseguisse voltar a tempo para o Congresso da Abrates. Portanto, espero ver você lá, hein?

Espero que tenham gostado do presentinho especial que eu e meus queridíssimos parceiros oferecemos a vocês. Aproveitem! E nos vemos no congresso!

Greatest Women in Translation: Charlotte Whittle

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Welcome back to our Greatest Women in Translation interview series, dearest readers!

This month, our Great Woman in Translation is the British-American literary translator Charlotte Whittle, nominated by Julia Sanches.

Charlotte Whittle

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1. I always love to learn about translators’ beginnings in translation. How about starting by telling us yours?

My path into translation wasn’t exactly a linear one. I grew up in a monolingual family, learned Spanish in Mexico when I was 18, studied Spanish and literature in college in the UK, and lived in Peru and Chile. The first translations I remember doing were of César Vallejo, when I was still an undergraduate. I was living in Peru and became obsessed with his work. Translating poems seemed to me like the best way to engage with them, to get inside them and see how they worked, and there was something really thrilling about making them breathe in another language. A couple of years later, I did a diploma in translation studies in Santiago de Chile, but this was an experience that closed doors as well as opening them. My final project was a translation of a story by the great Peruvian writer José María Arguedas. I was so happy thinking about and doing translation, but I remember the instructor saying in very clear terms that it was impossible to make a living from literary translation. Being young and inexperienced, I took his word for it, and I didn’t pursue translation seriously for a long time after that. I took the academic route, and translated poems for fun. I discovered that I loved teaching, but after a few years, I found it didn’t leave me enough time for creative projects. I finally realized that translation was the activity that brought my skills, experience, and interests together under one umbrella, and that was when I decided to make it my focus, despite the dire warnings of penury.

2. Could you tell us why your translation of Norah Lange’s People in the Room can be considered important for the gender imbalance in literature?

The data collected on this subject – for instance, by the Three Percent Translation Database, now housed by Publishers Weekly – tells us that of all the books translated into English, as many as three fourths are by men. Why is this? Partly because of the implicit bias that male writers are somehow more “important,” partly because of the lack of gender parity in publishing in other countries as well as our own, and partly because, while women translators translate both men and women nearly to equal degrees, male translators seem to be more disposed towards translating men.

 People in the Room was published in English 68 years after it first appeared in Spanish; during that lapse, Lange received significantly less critical attention in her home country than her male peers (who were also more often translated), despite the importance of her writing. It’s so easy for women writers who weren’t sufficiently lauded in their time to pass under the radar, and translators can play a role in rectifying this. Obviously, I’m not claiming to be able to shift the canon with a single translation, but the fact that I was able to find a publisher for this novel and that Lange’s work has been well received in English, demonstrates that there has been a small change in the tide, at least in the world of literary fiction in translation. I think there is more interest than there’s been in the past in projects that draw attention to women writers who’ve been overlooked. Recent books such as The Houseguest by Amparo Dávila, translated by Audrey Harris and Matt Gleeson, and The Naked Woman by Armonía Somers, translated by Kit Maude, are further evidence that there is now an audience for this kind of work. All these projects are significant because they go some way towards rebalancing the gender inequality in translation. Of course, there’s a lot more to be done and there are multiple forces at play, but things are slowly evolving in a positive direction.

3. You are currently working on the translation of Jorge Comensal’s The Mutations. Do you feel there are any particularities between translating men x women?

Norah Lange and Jorge Comensal could hardly be more different: People in the Room is somber and full of mystery, while The Mutations is satirical and hilarious, but I would trace differences between authors to geographic region, time period, and individual authors’ concerns and idiosyncrasies before making sweeping statements about gender differences. In the cases of both these books, their style captivated me, I felt a deep, personal draw to their subject matter, and an urgent need to share them with English-language readers. In terms of the practicalities of the two translations, perhaps the biggest difference was that one author was dead and the other alive. Sometimes, when translating Lange, I wished I could hold a séance, or a table-tapping session like the one described in her book, just to be able to ask her if she thought I was on the right track. In contrast, I talk to Jorge often, and think our conversations have enriched the translation process. But to go back to the question of gender, the concerns and idiosyncrasies that make writers unique may result from their experience, and gender can certainly be a factor in that. A woman writing in the mid-C20th is working under a different set of constraints than a man writing in the present. As a translator, I think about gender less in terms of the characteristics of the writing, and more in relation to the conditions that determine how writing by men and women is read and received, and the conditions that allow them to write in the first place.

4. Could you also talk a bit about your translation of Agus Morales’ We are not Refugees?

Morales is a Spanish journalist who has spent most of a decade gathering the stories of members of displaced populations in different parts of the world. We Are Not Refugees is the result of his intensive exploration of the factors that cause mass migration, and the real-life experiences of those who are forced to flee. The book describes the situation of multiple displaced communities: Central Americans fleeing northwards from violence, Afghan and Syrian refugees in Turkey, internal displacement in the Central African Republic and South Sudan. Few writers have such breadth of experience when it comes to mass migration, and Morales identifies the specifics of a range of cases, while also finding commonalities between them. He writes movingly of his subjects, while letting those he encounters tell their own stories, so readers can get to know some of the faces behind the headlines to which we are often numb. I came away from this project with so much admiration for writers and journalists who have the emotional stamina to tell these stories in a clear-eyed manner.

5. What have you learned so far about being a (literary) translator that you could pass on to newbies?

I’m still learning! But here are a few things that come to mind: I’ve learned that it’s difficult, but not impossible, to pay your bills as a translator; that there are many different ways a book can happen; that there’s no limit to how much a translation can change during the first few drafts; and that the editor is not the enemy.

But the most important thing I’ve learned so far is that as translators, we have to create our own community.

Translating books requires hour after hour of solitary work, week after week, month after month. Without an office to go to or a cohort of colleagues you see every day, it can get lonely. That’s why I’m so incredibly grateful for my translation colleagues, both in New York and further afield. I have regular workshops with translator friends where we discuss everything from tricky sentences to how to collectively improve working conditions for translators. It’s important to see your colleagues as allies rather than competitors, and the brilliant and fascinating people I’ve met through this work are one of the things I most treasure about it.

6. Now it’s your turn to nominate our next Great Woman in Translation.

I’m nominating Robin Myers, a translator from Spanish based in Mexico City. Robin is a tireless translator of poetry and prose, and an extraordinary poet in her own right. I recently devoured her translation of Empty Pool, a collection of gorgeous, luminous essays by Isabel Zapata. I also had the pleasure of editing her translation of Ezequiel Zaidenwerg’s Lyric Poetry Is Dead for Cardboard House Press, where we publish bilingual editions of Latin American Poetry. Robin’s handling of rhythm and meter in that collection is a masterclass – I’ll leave it to her to tell you more about it!

Robin’s interview will be published on June 3, as I’ll be on vacation from April 20 to May 19.

Guest post: Tradução do português para o espanhol

Sejam bem-vindos de volta a mais uma publicação de convidado!

Hoje, recebo a Sonia Rodríguez Mella, do blog Traducir Portugués e tradutora de espanhol e português.

10 erros comuns de tradução do português para o espanhol

Antes de mais nada, muito obrigada por ter me convidado para participar do seu blog. Para mim, é realmente uma honra.

Como você sabe, sou uma apaixonada pela língua “brasileira”.

Na Argentina, trabalho muito como tradutora e revisora dos pares espanhol <> português e gostaria de compartilhar com você e seus seguidores minha experiência, o que eu aprendi como revisora de espanhol.

Ninguém deseja enganar na hora de fazer uma tradução, mas o tradutor é um ser humano, portanto, não é perfeito. Sempre pode haver algum errinho em seu trabalho e, por isso, as traduções devem ser revisadas, sempre.

Os erros que eu vejo com frequência quando reviso traduções do português para o espanhol são de diferentes tipos. Realizei aqui, em decorrência disso, uma pequena seleção:

1) USO DA PREPOSIÇÃO A

O uso de preposições é difícil tanto em espanhol quanto em português. Sempre é bom ter por perto uma boa gramática e ler muitos textos de bons autores para consolidar de forma consistente o conhecimento.

O mundo das preposições, por si só, levaria à escrita de, pelo menos, um artigo, ou inclusive um livro dedicado ao tema. É por isso que aqui vou dar apenas alguns exemplos:

Encontrei Alicia na porta do cinema.
Incorreto: Encontré Alicia en la puerta del shopping.
Correto: Encontré a Alicia en la puerta del shopping.

Vou estudar português.
Incorreto: Voy estudiar portugués.
Correto: Voy a estudiar portugués.

Ela tem um filho doente.
Incorreto: Ella tiene un hijo enfermo.
Correto: Ella tiene a un hijo enfermo. (Doenças são consideradas passageiras.)

Ela tem um filho cego.
Incorreto: Ella tiene a un hijo ciego.
Correto: Ella tiene un hijo ciego. (A cegueira é permanente.)

2) PRONOME RELATIVO E CONJUNÇÃO QUE

Estes são erros que os nativos também cometem.

No primeiro caso, na verdade, o gerúndio não está bem usado e, portanto, a escrita certa exige o uso do pronome relativo que. No segundo caso, trata-se da conjunção que.

Neste caso, o uso do gerúndio não é correto:

Ele devolveu uma carteira contendo todos os documentos.
Incorreto: Él devolvió una billetera conteniendo todos los documentos.
Correto: Él devolvió una billetera que contenía todos los documentos.

Ela tinha certeza de que não passaria na prova.
Incorreto: Ella estaba segura que no aprobaría el examen.
Correto: Ella estaba segura de que no aprobaría el examen.

3) TRADUZIR “MUITO” POR MUCHO (SEMPRE)

Em espanhol, a palavra “muito(a)” pode ser traduzida como muy ou como mucho(a), dependendo da construção da frase.

Muy: antes de adjetivos e advérbios.
Mucho(a): antes de substantivo singular e depois de verbo.

Atenção! Há exceções…

Mucho é usado:

  • antes dos advérbios: antes, después, más e menos.
  • antes dos adjetivos: mejor, peor, menor e mayor.

Exemplos:

Ella es muy linda.
Él llegó muy tarde.
La traductora sabe mucho.
El traductor llegó mucho antes.
Este diccionario es mucho mejor que el anterior.

4) USO INCORRETO DO HÍFEN

Em português, o hífen é muito usado, mas, no espanhol, as regras de uso do hífen são muito diferentes.

América Latina para os latino-americanos.
Incorreto: América Latina para los latino-americanos.
Correto: América Latina para los latinoamericanos.

Conclusão de uma metanálise publicada em janeiro.
Incorreto: Conclusión de un meta-análisis publicado en enero.
Correto: Conclusión de un metaanálisis/metanálisis publicado en enero.

Nesse último caso, por exemplo, trata-se de uma palavra que o DRAE não registra. Porém, o dicionário de Fernando Navarro inclui apenas “metanálise”, mas a Fundéu aceita as duas formas.

5) ACENTUAÇÃO DE MONOSSÍLABOS

Em português, os monossílabos tônicos são sempre acentuados, mas, no espanhol, de modo   geral, os tônicos e os átonos não são acentuados, exceto nos casos de acento diferencial:

Termo Classificação Termo Classificação
De Preposição (de) Verbo (dê)
El Artigo (o) Él Pronome (ele)
Mas Conjunção (mas) Más Advérbio, adjetivo ou pronome; conjunção (mais)
Mi Adjetivo possessivo (meu) Pronome pessoal (mim)
Se Pronome (se) Verbo (sei)
Si Conjunção (se) Advérbio (sim)
Te Pronome (te, lhe) Substantivo (chá)
Tu Possessivo (teu, seu) Pronome pessoal (tu)

Também são acentuados os monossílabos posicionados entre sinais de interrogação e admiração.

Exemplos:

¿Qué hora es?
¿Cuál quiere?
¿Cuán grande era?
¿Quién era?

6) USO DO SINAL DE PORCENTAGEM

Em português, o sinal de porcentagem vem depois do número, sem espaço. Em espanhol, entre o número e o sinal de porcentagem deve ter um espaço: 20 %. Só não tem espaço se for o caso do espanhol dos EUA.

7) ABUSO DA VOZ PASSIVA

Em português, usa-se muito a voz passiva, mas, em espanhol, ela deve ser evitada.

Nessa loja, são vendidos os bolos mais gostosos de SP.
Incorreto: En esa tienda son vendidas las tortas más ricas de São Paulo.
Correto: En esa tienda se venden las tortas más ricas de São Paulo.

8) FORMATO DAS HORAS

Em espanhol, as horas são escritas de diferente forma, dependendo do local.

Espanhol da América Latina (LA), da Espanha, internacional (XL) e da Argentina:

10:00 h – 22:00 h

Espanhol do México (MX) e dos EUA:

10 a. m. – 10 p. m. (com espaço)

9) FORMATO DOS NÚMEROS

Em espanhol, os números são escritos de diferente forma, dependendo do local.

Espanhol da América Latina (LA), da Espanha, internacional (XL) e da Argentina:

  • Quatro dígitos: sem vírgula, por exemplo, 1000
  • Mais de quatro dígitos: com espaço, por exemplo, 10 000
  • Uso de decimais: com vírgula, por exemplo, 0,75

Espanhol do México (MX) e dos EUA:

  • Quatro dígitos: sem vírgula, por exemplo, 1,000
  • Mais de quatro dígitos: com espaço, por exemplo, 10,000
  • Uso de decimais: com vírgula, por exemplo, 0.75

10) ARTIGO ANTES DE NOMES DE EMPRESAS

Em português, é habitual o uso do artigo antes do nome de uma empresa. Isso não ocorre em espanhol.

A Odebrecht foi responsável pela construção do edifício.
Incorreto: La Odebrecht fue responsable de la construcción del edificio.
Correto: Odebrecht fue responsable de la construcción del edificio.

Tudo tem um limite; por isso, registrei apenas dez tipos de erros, mas a lista é muito maior.

Espero que você tenha gostado e que seja útil para os tradutores que seguem você nas redes.

Mais uma vez, muito obrigada por ter me dado esta oportunidade.

Sobre a autora
foto soniaSonia Rodríguez Mella é contadora, tradutora de português e autora do Diccionario ACME Español-Portugués/Portugués-Español, publicado pela Editorial Acme Agency, da Argentina, e supervisionado pela Editora Nova Fronteira, do Brasil. Trabalha de forma autônoma desde 1993. Antes dividia seu tempo entre as duas profissões, mas, em 2005, decidiu dedicar todos os seus esforços à área de tradução. Em 2010, criou o blog www.traducirportugues.com.ar e mantém uma página no Facebook, Traducciones de Portugués, que está atingindo os 9.000 seguidores. No blog e nas redes, ela transmite regularmente suas experiências relacionadas com os idiomas espanhol e português. Em 2017 e 2018, participou do Congresso Internacional da Abrates, associação da qual é membro.

Greatest Women in Translation: Julia Sanches

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Image created by Érick Tonin

Welcome back to our Greatest Women in Translation interview series, dearest followers! After a long hiatus of setbacks, we’re finally back!

Please welcome this month’s interviewee, Julia Sanches, Brazilian-born literary translator from Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Catalan into English.

Julia Sanches

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1. You’re Brazilian-born (São Paulo), but work into English (from Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan and French). How is that so, considering we usually translate into our mother tongue?

I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot, lately; not about how it is I translate into English – it’s obvious to me – but about the idea of mother tongues. This rethinking was in part prompted by Esther Kim and Frances McNeill’s essays in the latest issue of In Other Words. In “We May Have All Come on Different Ships, But We’re in the Same Boat Now: Why We Should Not Label Translators as ‘L2’ or ‘Non-Native,’” McNeill interrogates the validity of the L1/L2 designations (L1 being “the language you think in, you feel in, you know best, whereas L2 is the language you aspire to speak fluently”), while in “Inheritance from Mother,” Kim points to the troubling lack of heritage speakers in the professional world of literary translation, and offers ways to address this.

In her essay, McNeill offers three examples that belie the L1/L2 dichotomy and interrogates whether or not one should consider the person in question an L2 speaker. Here’s my example: A person born in Brazil to Brazilian parents moves to the United States with her parents when she is three-months old. She is dropped into English-only education and quickly comes to speak English fluently. She speaks Portuguese at home and with her extended family in Brazil; they call her gringa. Eight years later, she moves with her parents to Mexico City and enters a bilingual school, where classes are imparted both in Spanish and English. She becomes fluent in Spanish – they call her güera – retains her English and continues to speak Portuguese at home. Five years later, she moves back to the United States with her family, where she attends a monolingual (English) public school. One year later, she moves with her family to Switzerland, where she attends an international school (read: where students’ common language is English). She later completes her higher education in Scotland (English) and Spain (Spanish). What is this person’s (you got it, it’s me) L1/L2?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘mother tongue’ as ‘one’s native language; a first language.’ So, in that respect, Portuguese is my mother tongue – it is the first language I picked up at home, from my mother, who always insisted that I should never lose it – although the notion of languages being native (i.e. inherent to, innate, naturally becoming, again according to the OED) to anyone baffles me a little; our capacity for language may be innate, but its execution has, in my experience, been very much learned.

What’s more: I’m a citizen of Brazil and of no other country. Although I lived in Europe for fifteen years, it was never anywhere that made citizenship an easy path for me. After about thirteen years in the United States, I can finally apply for citizenship, though I’m not sure I’ll ever feel American. I could uncomplicate my identity as a translator by obviating the fact that I’m Brazilian, but what’s the fun in that?

2. On your website, you say you are soon-to-be chair of the Translators Group of the Authors Guild. Could you tell us more about it?

We’re in the process of creating a Translators Group within the Authors Guild, following the model of the Society of Authors’ Translators Association in the UK. Generally speaking, there’s an industry standard for author contracts and terms here in the U.S. This standard wasn’t arrived at out of the kindness of publishers’ hearts, but was fought for. The idea behind creating a Translators Group is to support work to establish similar industry standards for translators. Alex Zucker and Jessica Cohen have been working with the Authors Guild on a model contract that would spell out certain contractual terms that might seem impenetrable to some translators, among other things.

Another thing we’re exploring is establishing translator communities within the Authors Guild’s regional chapters around the country, to help better share information about contracts and other working conditions. The Authors Guild is the only organization in the U.S. with in-house lawyers providing legal services to authors and translators, and they’re already huge advocates for translation and translators. The idea is to focus this effort.

3. Last year, the Brazilian publishing house Companhia das Letras invited five Brazilian literary translators to talk about their professional trajectory in their blog in celebration of the International Translation Day, and you were among them. You wrote about your experience translating The Sun on My Head, Geovani Martins’ first book. On Twitter, you said you wrote the blog post in English and then translated it into Portuguese, but didn’t like the self-translation process. Do you remember why?

I sound completely unlike myself in Portuguese. It was like giving voice to a stilted and awkward-sounding stranger who happened to also be called Julia Sanches.

4. You retweeted a quote by Javier Cercas at the Edinburgh Book Festival, “Translators are like psychoanalysts. They know you really, really, really well. I’m really scared of them.” On your post for Companhia das Letras (above), you said the relationship between translators and “their” authors is disturbing, unbalanced, partial and voyeuristic (curiosity: were these the words you originally used in your English version?). Could you elaborate more on the relationship between the author and their translator?

First off: in English, it was “lopsided, unreciprocated, and often hair-raisingly voyeuristic.” Interesting…

What can I say but that: when I translate – especially when the book in question is such an engrossing challenge as Martins’ collection, something so distant from my lived experience – I get a tad obsessive. If you were to decontextualize my behavior, it might seem stalkerish, even. I read everything I can about the book, the author, I read the book itself a gazillion times, both in English and in Portuguese (and I’d probably read them in other languages, if it were available to me). I follow the author on Twitter if I can, and Instagram (yikes). I draw connections between what they post about music (etc) and the musical (and other) references in the book. Often, I go to bed with a translation problem at the back of my mind – sometimes even at the forefront – and wake up fretting about it, too. On good days, I’ll have a solution by the time I’m at my computer.

It’s a bit like crawling into and living in another person’s skin for a long stretch of time. Or spying on a neighbor from across the street. You know near everything about them and often they don’t know the first thing about you. It’s a little bit creepy – in a totally harmless way.

5. You are one of the organizers of the And Other Stories’ Portuguese Reading Group. The 2018 group had, for the first ever, an all-Brazilian reading list (including one translated by yourself). Could you tell us a bit more about how it works? Are there any plans for another edition in the near future?

And Other Stories’ Reading Groups are a rather innovative and ingenious way for the publisher (AOS) to find overlooked gems from other languages to publish in English. The idea is to put in the hands of readers some of the sleuthing, reading, and evaluating that goes into figuring out what to publish. On my side: I email a bunch of Portuguese readers and ask if they’d like to participate; then reach out to agents and ask for materials (hard copies usually, no one really likes reading on screens); we meet, in person, if possible, but usually over Skype, to discuss our impressions, which I then memorialize and share with the publishers. Rinse and repeat. It’s quite fun. Victor Meadowcroft, who will be heading the UK group, and I are currently choosing which titles to read and discuss in the fall. You should join us!

6. You write really well! I’m truly impressed and in love with your writings. Haven’t you ever thought of venturing into being an author yourself?

Oh, gosh. Thank you! Writing fills me with a very particular and acute anxiety, so I tend to avoid it. Translating ticks that box for me, whatever that means. It’s thrilling, plus, I get to hang out in and between various languages, which is where I feel most at home.

7. I will take advantage of your inside view into Brazilian literature and ask for recommendations. What books do you personally recommend, translated or not?

I’ve recently finished reading Emilio Fraia’s Sebastopol, which I deeply enjoyed. The prose is just my style, limpid and charged. He’s also quite masterful at creating suspense, at leaving things unsaid, at giving voice and weight to silences.

8. I could keep asking you a ton of questions, but I’ll leave you for now. So now it’s your turn to nominate our next Great Woman in Translation.

I’d like to nominate Charlotte Whittle, an acrobatic translator from Spanish whose recent projects include Norah Lange’s People in the Room and Jorge Comensal’s The Mutations. She is also one of the editors of Cardboard House Press and periodically holds cartonera workshops. Aside from all this, Charlotte is an amazing storyteller; she’s got an eye for the most off-kilter and delightful details and remembers them, too. We keep each other sane and safe from bouts of imposter syndrome. I think of her as a co-conspirator.

Learning from customer experience

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

As translators/interpreters, we are service providers. All companies/brands that sell services/products also provide an experience to their customers, and this experience starts from the very beginning, even before prospects contact us, when they try to find us or someone who can provide what they need. And it ends way after the product/service is delivered, but it doesn’t necessarily need to, that’s also the point.

As a customer, I love great experiences! I easily become loyal to brands that go beyond and provide me the best service possible. Likewise, I easily let go of brands who let me down somehow. And when there is reasonable competition, even the smallest detail can make a difference. As customers, we have a lot to learn also as entrepreneurs. After all, learning from mistakes (and successes) of others is better than making our own, right?

When we need something, a service or a product, we are vulnerable (or at least control freaks like me are). Leaving our comfort zones is not easy. We have to look for someone who can provide us something we need with quality, a reasonable price, reliability, and, most of the times, we do not have a clue as to what this means. If the service provider makes us feel at ease, comfortable and happy with their service, then we can easily trust them. If, on the other hand, they make our lives even more difficult than they already are, the entire experience becomes a nightmare.

Here are three real-life scenarios that I’ve been through and from which I learned a lot!

Scenario 1: Post office

Important fact: here in Brazil, mailmen usually don’t work on Sundays.

Another important fact: as you might all be aware, Brazil is not exactly a safe country. And I live by myself at a house, as opposed to an apartment, that is usually safer.

At 9 a.m. on a Sunday, the doorbell rings. I was still sleeping, because I had gone out the night before and arrived really late. I answer the intercom. A man on the other side identifies himself as the mailman. Still sleepy, I think, “The mailman, on a Sunday?” I ask him whom the package is for (something I always do, to check the person is indeed the mailman and the package is indeed intended for me, since other people have lived in my house before and their mail still keep coming). He confirms my name, in a rather impatient voice, probably noticing I’m reluctant. I think, “Ok, that is information people can easily get ahold of. This is still weird.” I tell him I find that strange, “I’m sorry, sir, but what guarantee do I have you are indeed the mailman, on a Sunday morning?” He becomes quite mad, goes away and leaves me speaking to myself over the intercom.

Later on, I find out they had been working on Sundays because they were late on deliveries. But I learned this from someone else, because the mailman himself didn’t even care to try to explain that to me.

I tried to track the package and see where it had been taken to, with no success. I got yelled at over the phone and hung up on a couple of times, so I just gave up.

Of course mailmen know they don’t usually work on Sundays. The guy was probably so pissed he had to work on a Sunday morning that he simply didn’t care. No empathy at all, no trying to understand my position, no respect, just plain rudeness.

Takeaway: We often complain that clients say “translator,” when they mean “interpreter,” or that they want everything for yesterday, and so on. And many of us are even rude or have no patience at all with people that are not from our area and that have misleading ideas about it. How would they know? It’s our role to be patient and try to explain, in a way they understand, how things work. Whining, complaining and having lack of patience with people are not the solution.

Scenario 2: Landline technical support

My landline was silent. I had no signal to make calls, but I ran some quick and simple tests and found out it was probably the device itself, not the connection. I took it to a place specialized in technical phone support. The girl ran not one, but several tests, in different power supplies, using different wires, until she found what the problem was.

This is it, plain and simple, right? You are probably thinking, “C’mon, that’s her job.” Yes, it is, I agree. However, unfortunately, people simply don’t do their jobs anymore. They simply don’t care. What I expected: her trying once or twice, at the most, and giving up, saying it was broken and that I needed to buy a new device. Instead, I was really impressed at how much she cared and tried to find what the problem was.

Takeaway: Are we doing our jobs? My clients are frequently ecstatic with me for just doing my job: delivering on time, sometimes, if possible, even earlier, doing a good job, etc. Basic things we are expected to do, but that, apparently, most translators don’t. Is the competition fierce? Are there a lot of translators out there? Yes and yes. However, what’s the quality of the service they provide? Delivering on time is Translation 101, Lesson 1. If, apart from that, you go a bit beyond and try to deliver earlier whenever you can, believe me, you win the client. Go the extra mile. Be the solution your client needs and, if you can’t solve their problem yourself, be proactive and try to find someone who can. Clients usually don’t have a clue about the translation world. We do.

Scenario 3: Nike store

I love Nike products. In my opinion, they are high-quality and worth every penny. I still wear clothes that are more than five years old and that are still in good shape. Ok, so I am already a fan of the brand, fine.

They have a cool store in São Paulo (I live in a town about two hours from the big city). The last time I went there I was amazed! As I was taking a look at the store and choosing what I would try on, the salesperson was preparing the dressing room with other suggestions of things I could like based on my choices. When I arrived in the dressing room, they had even written my name one the door! Maybe you wouldn’t care less about it, but I do. Who doesn’t like to feel special?

Takeaway: Each client is special in their own way and should be treated accordingly. We should make our clients feel they are unique, because they are. Pamper them whenever and however you can. I send personalized handwritten Christmas cards with a branded little something every end of the year to all my clients. I also send branded handwritten Thank You notes to clients and partners or whomever I feel like thanking. Whatever you do, make sure all your clients feel that you care about each of them and that they are special to you. This simple attitude may be what differentiates you from other equally great translators and what makes your clients not even think twice before requesting your services.

A key aspect to a successful customer experience (and to everything in life, let’s face it) is empathy. Wearing our customers’ shoes is essential to understanding their needs and providing the best service possible. It’s like that old saying by Confucius goes, “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.” And vice-versa. It’s as simple as that. No need to overcomplicate or overthink things. No secret formula. No million-dollar strategy.

What have you learned from your own customer experiences?

Guest post: Tradutor de português no exterior

Sejam bem-vindos de volta a mais uma publicação de convidado!

Hoje, recebo o Fabio Said, tradutor de português e alemão residente na Alemanha, que contará como foi conquistar o mercado alemão e como é trabalhar com português morando fora do país.

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Fonte: Pixabay

Trajetória como tradutor de português na Alemanha

Quando saí do Brasil e transferi minha atividade profissional de tradutor para a Alemanha, eu já tinha 14 anos de experiência no mercado, trabalhando sobretudo para clientes diretos, inclusive alemães. Além disso, já tinha uma noção clara da mentalidade cultural do meu novo país, pois a mudança não foi repentina. Porém, devido a circunstâncias de mercado e a uma vontade constante de me aperfeiçoar, meu perfil como tradutor de português é, hoje, bem diferente daquele que eu tinha no Brasil. Abaixo contarei um pouco sobre como foi essa trajetória.

Primeira fase: retenção de clientes no Brasil

Nos primeiros anos de minha nova vida na Alemanha, continuei trabalhando para clientes localizados no Brasil. Seria um grande erro descartar os bons contatos e o fluxo de renda conquistado a duras penas no Brasil. A tradução editorial me pareceu ser a área de atuação ideal para essa continuidade, pois o tradutor de livros não precisa estar no mesmo país da editora. Morar na Alemanha e traduzir para editoras brasileiras só foi possível porque mantive conta bancária no Brasil, além de meu CPF brasileiro.

Outro grupo de clientes que possibilitaram minha sobrevivência profissional no novo país foram as agências. Na época, eu trabalhava com algumas agências dos Estados Unidos e Áustria, que não tinham a mesma burocracia das agências brasileiras, além de pagarem tarifas bem melhores.

Segunda fase: foco internacional

As coisas começaram a mudar por volta da segunda metade de 2008, quando a crise financeira estava assumindo proporções mundiais e, aparentemente, os grandes bancos da área de gestão de ativos estavam procurando incrementar sua comunicação com clientes de alto poder aquisitivo investindo mais pesadamente na tradução de materiais de marketing financeiro. Notei que diversas agências internacionais com foco em tradução financeira e corporativa estavam em busca de tradutores e fui aceito por algumas delas. Também fazia muitas traduções de Engenharia Industrial e Gestão da Qualidade, que, na época, ainda estavam entre minhas áreas de especialização. Em pouco tempo, o fluxo de trabalho já era tão bom que me permitiu encerrar os negócios com clientes do Brasil, a começar pelas editoras.

É bom lembrar que o real ainda não estava tão desvalorizado, mas eu definitivamente não tinha a intenção de continuar ganhando em reais para gastar em euros – pagando taxas de câmbio exorbitantes toda vez que sacava dinheiro da minha conta brasileira. Esse é, a meu ver, um dos grandes problemas de profissionais que mudam de país mantendo vínculos financeiros com o país de origem. Além da diferença cambial, há ainda o fator tributário, pois quanto mais vínculos financeiros o profissional mantém com o país de origem, mais complicada se torna a burocracia com a declaração do imposto de renda no novo país.

Nessa minha fase “internacional”, também me dediquei bastante à construção de relacionamentos com o mercado de tradução global, por meio de associações de tradutores, mídias sociais e congressos. Meu antigo blog trilíngue de tradução, o “Fidus Interpres”, foi criado nessa época, dando origem a um livro de mesmo nome. Foi um período de muito aprendizado e troca de experiências. É sempre bom ampliar os horizontes e conhecer perspectivas diferentes – e isso só é possível quando você investe em networking.

Terceira fase: “local is the new global

Com o tempo, trabalhar para agências de tradução internacionais e cada vez menos para clientes diretos já não me trazia tanta satisfação em termos pessoais e intelectuais. O fluxo de renda era bom, mas o ritmo era intenso demais, com condições de trabalho cada vez mais desinteressantes, e eu quase não tinha contato com as pessoas que realmente usariam minhas traduções (afinal, agências são intermediários). Estava na hora de mudar de foco.

O caminho natural foi voltar a atuar na tradução juramentada. Nessa área, na qual eu havia trabalhado durante vários anos no Brasil, como assistente de um tradutor juramentado e depois como juramentado ad hoc, é possível ter um contato maior com os usuários das traduções, aprendendo sobre suas histórias de vida e percebendo imediatamente o benefício que meu trabalho traz para eles. Além disso, minha segunda principal área de trabalho na época era a tradução jurídica, além da financeira, e eu ainda tinha meu grande banco de dados de traduções juramentadas e de terminologia jurídica construído no Brasil, de modo que poderia tirar um bom proveito desse material como tradutor juramentado na Alemanha.

Para cumprir os requisitos legais e obter o título de Tradutor Público e Juramentado em três estados na Alemanha, tive de fazer um curso e prova de linguagem jurídica alemã e obter uma qualificação adicional como tradutor de acordo com o sistema educacional alemão. O título em si não garante nada, pois os tradutores juramentados da Alemanha não têm uma “reserva de mercado” e precisam lutar muito, em razão da concorrência brutal, para conquistar cada cliente. Felizmente, fui bem aceito pelo mercado alemão de tradução juramentada, sobretudo pela comunidade de imigrantes brasileiros, e em 6 anos conquistei mais de 1.200 clientes, sendo que muitos deles retornam com novos trabalhos.

Minha intenção era traduzir sobretudo do alemão para o português, minha língua materna. Porém, devido à burocracia brasileira, traduções juramentadas para o português feitas em outros países geralmente não são aceitas no Brasil. Dessa forma, passei a traduzir mais e mais do português para o alemão. E gostei. Gostei tanto que passei a investir mais em seminários e cursos de aperfeiçoamento em linguagem jurídica alemã, organizados pela associação alemã de tradutores BDÜ, da qual sou associado. Hoje, cerca de 85% dos meus rendimentos são com tradução juramentada; destas, 90% são em alemão (jurídico), para uso exclusivamente no território da Alemanha. Além disso, somente aceito pagamentos na moeda do meu país (euros). Minha empresa não tem mais conta bancária no Brasil e trabalha quase sempre para clientes locais. Meus vínculos com o Brasil e com a língua portuguesa são mantidos, claro, pelas vias de sempre (viagens, leituras), mas no plano profissional faz mais sentido investir 100% no novo país do que manter “um pé aqui e outro lá”.

Para alguns, esse foco local pode parecer temerário. Por outro lado, para citar um bordão muito frequente entre analistas da globalização, “local is the new global”. De qualquer forma, saber se adaptar às circunstâncias e aproveitar oportunidades é uma questão de sobrevivência profissional.

Sobre o autor
fabiosaid

Fabio Said é tradutor de inglês desde 1993 e de alemão desde 1999, especializado em linguagem jurídica e financeira. Vive na Alemanha desde 2007, onde é Tradutor Público e Juramentado de português-alemão e mantém a empresa de tradução “Lingua Brasilis Übersetzungsbüro Fabio Said”. É autor do livro “Guia do tradutor: melhores práticas” (2013). Twitter: @fabiomsaid

Living and learning, as always

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Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Happy New Year, dearest followers!

I know I’m late to the party, but I wanted to share with you what I’ve been up to.

After more than a half year later (seven months, to be more precise), here I am, writing on my own blog. We did have guest posts and the Greatest Women in Translation interviews (though not with the normal frequency either), but I, myself, haven’t written on the blog since June last year. Time flies, huh?

Although I didn’t feel inspired to write an end-of-the-year post with a review of the past year and resolutions to the year to come (hello, 2019!), I gave it a lot of thought.

Professionally, 2018 was a great year!

  • I earned a dream direct client.
  • I received some amazing and rewarding feedback on my work (as a translator, as a blogger and as a conference speaker).
  • I let go of tasks and clients that were not doing me good.
  • I increased my workflow with a dear overseas translation agency I work for.
  • I worked closely with a dear colleague and friend on two joint projects.
  • I was invited and presented a webinar for the members of PEM (Panhellenic Association of Translators).
  • I curated the TranslationTalk rotation curation Twitter account.

However, as I always say, our work is not everything in life. And even though I am a strong advocate of a work-life balance, even I learned a few things this past year.

  • I need two vacations a year; one is not enough. Apart from taking a month-long vacation in April/May (European trip, attending the BP and the ITI conferences), I will spend a week at the beach with my family next month and plan on taking some time off in the second semester as well.
  • Working from home being single and living by myself silently took its toll this year and I learned that living a balanced life is not enough; we also need to go an extra mile and care for our mental health. Working and living alone is great, but socializing is necessary. Anyone up for a chat or a coffee? For those who live in Europe, I’ll be in the UK, Bologna and Stockolm in April/May. Let’s meet!
  • We should never wait for Monday or a new year to start something. I finally started yoga in December and will start taking Italian classes again next month.
  • We need to reduce our online time. Scrolling social media is not a way of relaxing; on the contrary, it is not doing us any good. I’m trying very hard to avoid scrolling social media for no reason and I keep on turning my mobile off to read a book every night in bed.
  • No matter what people say we should or should not do, either personally or professionally, essentially, we have to be true to ourselves first and foremost. We are the only ones who truly know what works and doesn’t work for us, and we should respect that.
  • Even when we think we have a perfect life, there is always room for improvement.

Since I am still trying to truly get to know myself and identify what can be improved and what needs to be changed, I do not have any resolutions this year. I am going with the flow and changing as I go.

I still believe the New Year is great to revitalize, but even more importantly is constantly living and learning and changing as we go, truly getting to know and deeply understanding ourselves and identifying what is good and bad for us. As a one-man/woman business, we owe it to our professional life, but most importantly to ourselves.

What have you learned in 2018? What would you like to change in 2019?

Guest post: TA First Translation Prize shortlists

Happy 2018, dearest readers!

Thanks for the patience in waiting for new posts! Posts will resume as usual starting from today. And to make up to your patient and kind waiting, here are some words on the fresh announcement of the Society of Authors’ TA First Translation Prize, from Daniel Hahn himself.

Welcome, Daniel!

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Source: Society of Authors

Today my fellow judges and I announce the four shortlisted books for this year’s TA First Translation Prize, a prize launched in 2017 and run by the Society of Authors, to reward the best book-length debut prose translation published in the UK. The translation profession is pretty rude health, I think, but the relative shortage of work means it’s still highly competitive, which means it’s hard for a newcomer to break into; so this prize is designed to give those starting out a little friendly encouragement…

The judges for the inaugural prize last year selected Bela Shayevich’s translation of Second-Hand Time (by the Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich), published by Jacques Testard at Fitzcarraldo Books. Testard himself shared in the win, as this £2000 prize unusually rewards not only the translator but also her/his editor – in grateful recognition of that invaluable but mostly invisible contribution editors make to our profession.

This year, translator Margaret Jull Costa, publisher Philip Gwyn Jones and I read through all the eligible books – fiction long and short, assorted non-fiction, work for children, illustrated books – and narrowed them down to just four titles. A slightly shorter shortlist than last year, but we took the decision that we didn’t merely want to settle with a fixed number that a majority of us were more or less keen on, rather we wanted a list of books – however many that may be – of which we all felt that genuinely any one could win. Which is certainly the case for the selection we ended up with: very different books, but all of us felt that any one of them would be a worthy winner of the prize. We three judges were delighted at what we discovered. (And we – two translators and a publisher, all very experienced – are a pretty demanding bunch…)

The books we’ve chosen are as follows:

I Am the Brother of XXGini Alhadeff’s translation of a collection of Fleur Jaeggy’s short stories (publ. And Other Stories). This isn’t just a superb collection from Jaeggy herself, it’s also a masterpiece of translatory control. Gini Alhadeff follows every beat of Jaeggy’s prose, matching its subtle modulations and its sharp turns to truly impressive effect. This is writing that’s often restrained, often cool, and yet really gets under your skin, and stays there. I learned after reading this that Alhadeff has some experience translating poetry, which comes as no surprise.

The Impossible Fairy-TaleJanet Hong’s translation of the beautiful and disturbing novel by Han Yujoo (pub. Tilted Axis Press). Any book that needs to grip its reader so tightly for over 300 pages demands great precision from a translator. But a novel that seems to have language as one of its subjects must of course present a particular additional challenge, and Janet Hong has met this challenge brilliantly – with energy, style and often great imaginativeness.

FirefliesFionn Petch’s translation of the book by Luis Sagasti (publ. Charco Press). An unusual book, and – I think for all of us on the panel – one of the real discoveries of our reading. It’s an ambitious novel (is it really a novel?), deeply and cleverly intriguing but structurally fleet-footed (-winged?). Translator Fionn Petch gives us Sagasti in a voice that is just as erudite, meditative and beautifully poetic as it needs to be but conveyed in absolutely readable clarity, too – a lot harder to do than it looks.

Can You Hear Me?Alex Valente’s translation of Elena Varvello’s unputdownable piece of noir (publ. Two Roads). In some ways, this is the most understated piece of translation on the list, which is its own challenge; the particular voice and atmosphere and pacing require something very clear, very clean, very unshowy – a kind of prose with no room for any wrong notes. Which can be as hard, and certainly as unforgiving, as the more virtuosic work – but Valente’s work is impeccable.

It’s quite a quartet, I think. I’d strongly recommend you check out the work of these four brilliant translators – who may just be starting out, but, rather depressingly, can already teach the rest of us a thing or two…

We announce the winning translator and editor at an event at the British Library in London, on the evening of February 13th.

Official announcement: The Translation Prizes 2018 shortlists

About the author

Daniel Hahn

Credit: John Lawrence

Daniel Hahn is a writer, editor and translator with some sixty books to his name. He is a past chair of the Translators Association and the Society of Authors, and currently on the judging panel for the TA First Translation Prize.