Fuse #8

Thursday, May 24, 2007

She Is: The Translator

Translation! How come we never talk about it? We're always jib-jabbering on about editors and authors and the like. When do translators of children's books get their due? How come there isn't an award for Best Translation of a given year? Yes yes, we all know about the Mildred L. Batchelder Award. But that goes to the book, not the translator. If you were to ask me to name my favorites, the only person to come to mind would have to be Anthea Bell, best known for her work with Cornelia Funke.

Fortunately for us all, Criticas Magazine recently published an interview entitled Yanitzia Canetti - The Silent Task of the Good Translator.

Wouldn't "The Good Translator" make a great film title? Sorry. I'm easily distracted.

Anywho, this is an interview with the aforementioned Ms. Canetti. She's considered quite the "get" as she has the ability to translate Seuss. No easy task, I'm sure.

The interview is a fabulous look at the challenges facing translators. This exchange particularly caught my ear:

I have received some translations and bilingual books that are awful: they have grammatical errors, strange syntax, and typos. Why do you think that is?

Unfortunately, many English-speaking publishers or editors who outsource translations cannot judge the quality of the final product. More times than not, they hire a Spanish proofreader, but they are not able to judge that person’s work either. They tend to go with someone who has a decent résumé. Some even think that if someone speaks Spanish, that’s good enough. This underestimation of a foreign language only results in terrible translations.

Give it a glance.

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At 6:15 PM , Anonymous elizabeth fama said...

Shameless plug: if any kids' book editors out there are looking for a phenomenal Italian-to-English or French-to-English translator, my mother-in-law, Lydia G. Cochrane is your woman.

She's the most thorough, most precise, most thoughtful translator I know, and she has an impressive adult non-fiction CV.

At 2:40 PM , Anonymous Helen Smith said...

Elizabeth -- how do I contact your mother-in-law? I've been googling frantically to try and get details for a potential commission, which is what led to this post. Apologies for hijacking the comments section with this query.


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