Last month I attended the Warwick Translates Summer School at the University of Warwick, a series of literary translation workshops and talks led by leading professional translators and publishers. As I hadn’t been to a translation event in quite some time and this one was especially geared towards literary translation, I was quite excited. My enthusiasm clearly showed as I tried to cram in three modules over the 5 days: French translation, Spanish translation, and Theatre translation.
Last week, I watched Les Misérables on stage for the first time ever. I know – I worked in a theatre for 9 years, but this particular show had passed me by. Partly because I live over 200 miles away from the West End so I mostly rely on shows touring to my part of the world, but also because my existing knowledge of the show painted it as a depressing tragedy, so I wasn’t exactly in a rush to see it.
But there’s a reason why it’s one of the longest-running musicals in the world: despite the sad events throughout, I found the performances incredible and it was hard not to get swept up with those iconic songs. Ever the linguaphile, the next day I looked up the original French soundtrack on YouTube to see how it compared with the English.
Getting a certified translation of a personal document such as a birth or marriage certificate can seem like a minefield – and if you’re applying for a UK visa or passport, you want to get it right first time to avoid wasting time or money.
But there is surprisingly little information online about what your translated document should include, how it should look, and what kinds of things are acceptable. You may receive some information with your application, but the most helpful official information can only be found on thesetwo web pages.
Humanity has been translating words from one language into another for thousands of years – from inscriptions in stone to religious texts, from books to films, and even songs.
But as any translator will tell you, sometimes it’s just impossible to copy everything into another language and expect it to have the same effect; some real creativity and ingenuity is needed to adapt the text to the new audience. Occasionally, the best solution is to leave some aspects behind in the original language, omitting certain parts in order for it to make sense – and be well received – in the new language. This is called translation loss.
On my blog, I like to talk about how to get the best possible translation for your money and reach the happiest ending for either you or your business – but unfortunately, sometimes things may not go as planned, either for the translator or for the person requesting the translation. I’d be lying if I said that I’ve never received questions about a translation I’ve done – although thankfully, these have never been full-on complaints, just clarifications 😉
Still, if you’ve hired a translator to translate your website or business documents, but something feels a bit off…how do you fix it?
In my previous job, there was a Dutch guy and a French woman (and me) and we were always called upon to do quick translations for our teams. The company we worked for was in that funny position where there wasn’t enough demand for there to be a full-time in-house translator, but the need for small or urgent translations still arose from time to time – for things like invoice queries, training materials, and certain emails.
On 7th March, I was invited to a translation round table at the University of Exeter, where I, along with two other translation professionals, took questions from the final-year Modern Languages students, who are currently in the middle of a translation business project.
Translators are often the unsung heroes of many business sectors – after all, it’s said that you know that a text has been well translated when you can’t even tell that it’s a translation. So what ARE translators working on behind the scenes – and how are they benefitting millions of businesses and individuals?
Whenever someone asks me if I’m a sworn translator, or I get a request asking if I can do a certified translation, I find myself launching into a long-winded explanation about what this actually means – which is probably a bit alarming for those who were expecting a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.
I decided to write a bit more about this, because the idea of sworn translators is a misconception that continues to circulate around the UK. They sound cool, and they definitely sound like a legitimate example of a translator – after all, swearing is as official as you can get!
One thing I’ve learnt since starting my business is that the South West of England is not the quiet little rural region that I once thought it was. Well, it is, in a way – but it’s also got heaps of business and tourism potential.