MET workshop *

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

This exploratory workshop provides an initial space 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 issues 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 sponsored by the Anna Lindh Foundation (ALF) for Dialogue between Cultures, organized by the Spanish National Network of the ALF.

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 voice — whether we work with literature, personal narratives, institutions or groups with a message to deliver in English, or researchers and other knowledge producers. With this workshop we wish to begin taking steps in that direction and at the same time contribute to the SoW publication effort.

Developers and facilitators: Fiona Kelso, Mary Ellen Kerans

Purpose: This exploratory discussion is meant to provide a common background that supports MET’s active participation in future publications coming from the SoW contest, in which young writers in the Euro-Med region write short stories or personal narratives on a common theme.

Beyond the immediate goal of discussing our roles when working with creative texts and their authors, the post-workshop tasks we will devise, working with some of the finalists’ texts, are intended to enhance our skills in serving Mediterranean authors in general. We will share common, hands-on experience in author’s editing (making proposals to authors) and translation revision (making proposals to authors or their translators).

Though it is not our aim to steer our members into literary markets, we feel that working with this interesting, creative corpus would be a pleasant way to explore the issues that arise in many acts of editing and translation for authors, with a view to enriching our own practice.

Description and structure: Some of the issues we plan to explore through presentations, readings and practice:

  • 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: Communication — pitfalls and good practice. Expectations and ownership of the text.
  • Voice: Language issues, editorial decisions, translator creativity.

Participants in the discussion will be encouraged to sign onto a working group for further exploration and practice in small task-based meetings in the spring in which we will edit some of the most recent prize-winning narratives for the next SoW volume. We will also revise at least one translation (perhaps more, depending on participants’ language pairs.)

Who should attend? 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. Participants must be members of MET.

Outcome skills: Participants will better understand the authoring and revising process and some of the issues that come into play only as writers reach the point of publication. They will have gained some experience in dialog with authors and other translators about texts.

Pre-workshop reading: Some of the issues raised at that time can be reviewed in the article “The Centrality of a Translator’s Culture: Fernando de Rojas’s Celestina and the Creation of Style in Translation” , which is available open-access from The AALITRA Review: A Journal of Literary Translation (2010, No. 2, pp. 21-36).

We propose that participants take note of how the translator identified with the situation in the novel differently at two different stages of life (for example, see pages 23-4 vs. page 25). Then, we propose to discuss the translator’s decision to rid the new English version of its format as a humanistic comedy for the theatre (page 25) and his characterization of the style he would seek through gradual revision cycles (page 25).

Please also take note of the various examples of revision in the following pages, included as “evidence of how style is created in translation, how the interpretive art of the translator draws nearer and nearer to an intense literary language… The art is informed holistically by the translator’s history, experience, scholarship, subjectivity… to the point that [the translation] takes on an existence independent of the original and the translator has to release himself from the latter, let himself/herself go in the writing” (page 26).

About the facilitators:

Fiona Kelso is a translator and editor and has been a language consultant at the UAB since 2007. She has a particular interest in establishing within MET a group of like-minded people to discuss the translation and editing of literary works.

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

* This workshop requires no fee. However, it is assumed that most participants will be willing to continue on to work with one or two Sea of Words texts afterwards.