MET workshops and working groups — Barcelona, 12 March and 18 May 2012*

Exploring key issues in editing or translating for authors: the Sea of Words project

These workshops and working groups continue the tradition started in 2011 of providing a setting in which MET members can discuss language, psychological, ethical and cultural issues related to helping authors achieve the English texts they and their translator or editor wish to publish. While keeping English language issues as our prime focus, we will explore the creative, social and ethical notions that affect how we produce English versions of manuscripts for and with authors who require help, using some of the creative work of national winners (finalists) and final prize winners in the Sea of Words (SoW) writing contest for young authors. SoW is sponsored by the Anna Lindh Foundation (ALF) for Dialogue between Cultures and organized by the Spanish National Network of the ALF, of which MET is a member.

Individual authors – and in some fields, author groups – are an important part of Mediterranean markets for English language service providers. To work effectively with and for authors, we need to understand their practices and motivations as well as our own varied roles in giving them voices — whether we work with literature, personal narratives, institutions or groups, or researchers and other knowledge producers. With this workshop and in the working groups that emerge from it, MET has developed a way to discuss those issues and at the same time contribute to the SoW publication effort.

Developers and facilitators

Kelly Dickeson, Mary Fons, Fiona Kelso, Mary Ellen Kerans, Barnaby Noone, Aisha Prigann, Ron Puppo


The tasks and the discussions they trigger are meant to provide a common background to help MET members develop a picture of how writing, translating and editing overlap. A second purpose is to actively contribute to the SoW project.

Description and structure

  1. The opening workshop allows us to discuss the goals and procedures together. Participants will gain a glimpse of the type of tasks the working groups undertake and the discussions they have. At the end of the workshop, we hope to form three or four working groups to take responsibility for preparing specific stories for publication in a multilingual volume. All of the candidate narratives have won prizes at least at a national level.

  2. The working groups offer a peer training ground where we can enhance the scope of the skills we use in serving Mediterranean authors in general. We will share common, hands-on experience in author editing (making proposals to authors, where heavy or light editing is required) and translation editing (making proposals to authors and their translators, in cases where light editing is required).

  3. Theoretical considerations will emerge as the working groups make progress and will be addressed more systematically in the second spring workshop (18 May). Some of the theoretical issues we expect to explore through presentations, readings and practice:

    • Translation theory: Issues of cultural domestication and foreignization in decision-making during translation.
    • Writing process: Different ways in which English plays a role in an author’s writing process. What happens when translators or editors become involved at different stages?
    • Face and communication — pitfalls and good practice. Expectations and ownership of the text.
    • Voice: Language issues, editorial decisions, translator creativity.

Who should attend?

MET members* interested in literature, who will find that this project works with an interesting corpus of creative texts and young authors, although we warn that the project is not ‘about literary translation’ per se. Non-literary translators and editors should find that the texts, and the type of contact we foster between editors, translators and authors, bring to light interesting issues that arise in many other contexts. Translators, revisers and English language instructors who are interested in helping authors bring their work to publication level, or who are interested in becoming involved with non-technical/literary texts are welcome.

Outcome skills

1) Confident consideration of issues related to authoring and editing (as opposed to translation revising) of the type that come into play only as texts reach the point of publication. 2) Ease in considering and explaining how wording affects readers’ responses to texts. 3) Greater agility and confidence in dialog with authors and other translators about textual alternatives.

Pre-workshop reading

  1. To set the mood for working with literary texts and break the ice at the beginning of the first session, we’ve prepared two short pre-session tasks.
  2. Before the second session (translation theory discussion, led by Ron Puppo), participants will receive three very short translation problems to consider. We will also discuss how editing and translating processes can merge with ongoing authoring processes.
  3. We invite participants to consider two other workshops MET has organized for this spring because they share a concern for the complex decisions editors make when working for authors (3 May) or that translators make when revising their own or colleagues’ work (26 May).

About the facilitators

Kelly Dickeson, MET’s current secretary, is a translator and editor based in Tarragona. She participated in last year’s Sea of Words project.

Mary Fons is a Barcelona-born conference interpreter and translator with significant experience dealing with biomedical, financial and urban planning texts and speeches as well as political discourse. Experience editing others' translations and being edited herself has led her to seek practical and workable collaborative approaches.

Fiona Kelso is a translator and editor and has been a language consultant at the UAB since 2007. Fiona helped organize the 2011 SoW workshop project.

Mary Ellen Kerans is currently MET’s continuing professional development chair on the association’s council. She’s mainly a medical translator and author’s editor who also occasionally teaches academic writing. She’s lived in Barcelona since the late 1970s.

Barnaby Noone is a translator at the Universitat de Barcelona and was active in last year’s Sea of Words pr project.

Aisha Prigann is a freelance writer and translator based in Barcelona. She specializes in art translations and participated in the Sea of Words project last year.

Ronald Puppo has taught translation and English studies at Universitat de Vic, near Barcelona, since 1994. His published translations of Catalan- and Spanish-language poets include works by Joan Salvat-Papasseit, Josep Carner, Tomàs Garcés, St. John of the Cross, and Miguel Hernández. His Selected Poems of Jacint Verdaguer: A Bilingual Edition (University of Chicago Press, 2007) is the first English-language anthology of poems by Verdaguer. He is currently preparing a volume of selected poetry and prose of Joan Maragall and a full-length, annotated English edition of Verdaguer’s epic ‘Canigó’.

* These workshops and working groups require no fee but are open only to MET members or individuals registered by one of MET’s institutional members. If a member who doesn’t live in the Barcelona or Tarragona areas would like to participate, write to Mary Ellen to discuss possible online participation systems. Working groups will progress at their own comfortable pace; most work should be finished in July, in time to put finishing touches to the stories and prepare for the METM12 reports.