martes, 14 de octubre de 2014

A translation workshop in Tarazona

I love sci-fi novels and, therefore, I am a great fan of good sci-fi translators, because it is thanks to their hard work that I was able to discover some of the books that I loved during my childhood.
Last week, Manuel de los Reyes, one of these translators, talked in Barcelona about his experience, you can still read some of the main ideas he shared on Twitter (#APTIC_CF).

Last summer, he was one of the  trainers in Tarazona. I told one of my former students about this workshop, as I know that Nina Pantelic shares my love for sci-fi and fantasy. In return for my recommendation, she has sent this great chronicle about her experience.

Reflection Upon a Translation Workshop in Tarazona

As the leaves start falling along with the temperature I often think fondly on a few days of intense translating this past July. Perhaps I should back up a bit.

It all began a few months back when I messaged my former interpretation professor via social media about something completely unrelated. She mentioned a translators’ workshop which was to be held in a couple of weeks, and which she thought I might be interested in. I indeed was-the price was right, accommodation for participants was taken into consideration, the location was Tarazona-a beautiful village I had passed through briefly a while back and which I had been meaning to visit again. Finally, one of the hosts was the Casa del Traductor, of which I had only ever heard in passing, whose name was stamped onto various publications I had gone through while studying translation, but knew precious little about, apart from the fact that it was located about an hour away from my new home in Zaragoza.


The date to sign up had just passed, but with the help of the staff at Casa del Traductor and especially the main organizers, Ace Traductores, I was ultimately able to join up as the 14th and final member in what was to become four days of frenetic translation and making friends. In the days leading up to the workshop we were in constant contact with each other and with Ana Mata, corresponding on transportation organization, as well as the division of roommates and translation groups. As participants, we were to be split evenly into two groups, each led by two professional translators. We were allowed the option between the two-Gema Rovira and Manuel de los Reyes-and as both were excellent, I chose the latter based on my former professor’s suggestion.

We all arrived on Sunday evening, with several of us meeting each other briefly, before we were dropped off to the Tarazona Seminario-a beautiful, old, enormous building still in use, and where we had three daily meals included in our board.
The following morning we officially introduced ourselves over breakfast-some had met the previous evening, others knew each other already, yet most of us were complete strangers at the beginning. We ranged from first year university students to newly-minted translators to seasoned professionals who had been working as such for a decade to those whose lives had taken them down a different path before eventually finding their passion in translation. Most were Spanish-from all over Spain-but a couple of us were from other countries, which I admit was comforting, as I knew I would not be the only one translating into a language that wasn’t my mother tongue-I’d just have to work that much harder.

Transport was arranged to pick us up and drop us off from the Seminario to the Casa del Traductor, although some of us would eventually prefer the brisk 25 minute walk, and would often stay in Tarazona proper for lunch and dinner to check out the local fare.

The next few days would be intense, with a morning and an afternoon session. The first morning we were welcomed to the beautiful new Casa del Traductor-a renovated, three-story building which includes workrooms, a library, a large hall with glass doors that open onto a long balcony with bird’s-eye views of the village, and at the very top, private residences for future translators’ workshops, which at the time were still in the final phase of construction. After an introduction of the staff and organization, we went straight to work.

Each of the two groups was given a packet of pages corresponding to the texts we would be translating over the next few days. We were then subdivided into groups of two-at times, three, as we were an uneven number, and spent the next few days with our laptops, dictionaries and brains on fire. My group in particular had six individual yet interrelated short stories, which we worked on a couple at a time. Manuel gave us the background on the writer to allow us to enter into her mindset and get a feel for her style of writing. We also analyzed the structure of the stories in their online interactive format, as this was another resource we had access to. I feel that my partner in translation and I were lucky to hit it off immediately, and spent the next few days working more or less in harmony. We continued working on those stories and having other groups edit our translations in the afternoon over the next few days until we finished. Editing each other’s translations was something else we had to learn to work on, since we were delegated a new partner, and sometimes one of us would be looking at a translation from the group, which had been assigned texts we were unfamiliar with. This way, however, we got to know other peoples’ styles, and had access to what the other group was working on in the mornings, as that is when we would often be so engrossed in our own work that we would rarely coincide with half of our fellow participants.

Our afternoons were equally busy-we were given a crash course on how the world of editing works-how to submit a suggestion for a translation, how a layout works, who all the important players are and to what extent you, as a translator, are able to influence the final cut. On two occasions we even had the privilege of listening to people who work in the publishing business speak-one Spanish, one American-and ask them questions afterward. Our final afternoon we were able to see a mock-up of what the layout of our potential translations would look like, including blurbs on the authors themselves that we had all put together.

Learning about Granta magazine

This isn’t to say that it was all work and no play. One of our fellow participants was able to arrange a guided tour of the beautiful cathedral Tarazona is famous for, and gave us a tour of the town itself. The entire group had lunch together on our third day, and most of us also met up outside the workshop setting, getting to know each other and our teachers not just as translators, but as friends. Our closing ceremony on Thursday was bittersweet, as the days had been intensive, yet fruitful. We promised to stay in touch, and indeed we mainly have.

Upon reflection, sometimes the best experiences come about as complete accidents. Had I not messaged my former professor, I never would have found out about the workshop, and I would be that much poorer in terms of contacts gained, knowledge acquired and friendships made. If someone were to ask me whether I would repeat the workshop, I would unhesitatingly say yes. And this time around, I would be the first to sign up.

[All photos belong to Elisa María Castillo]

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