The Linguist

The Linguist 57,4 - August/September 2018

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 11 of 35

on literary translation to online publication The Quietus, which ran for two years. Then, due to the determination of the translator and all-round translation hero Danny Hahn – who had convinced the library that a residency would be an incredible opportunity for literary translators – the British Library Translator in Residence role was announced, with support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The reasons this residency is so significant to literary translators are many. Giving us credit and presence in this way increases visibility and acknowledgement of the work done by translators. This may lead to more recognition of translation as an art, and translators as skilled creative writers; nurture and encourage the next generation of linguists and translators through the sharing of experiences and expertise; and help non- translators (with and without foreign language skills) feel less intimidated by the thought of working with languages and translating. Most importantly, it might even lead to literary translators being paid fairly for their work. To announce my residency, I wrote a blog post for the British Library setting out what I 12 The Linguist Vol/57 No/4 2018 FEATURES hoped to achieve over the course of the year. I had high hopes and ambitions, because I couldn't fail to see what a statement it was for an institution such as the British Library to validate the significance of the translator, and underline the importance of languages and crosscultural communication, in such a celebratory way, especially at this moment in British history. "Throughout my residency, I hope to consistently explore translation at the intersection of the theoretical, the educational, and the practical, allowing for perspectives onto what translation has been, is, and could be within society and culture," I wrote. This was my core mission at the library, and what I referred back to while working on projects. I wanted my work to take in new developments in thinking with regard to translation, but not at the expense of alienating people; to teach non-translators and monolinguals about translation practices; and to offer hands-on experience and skill-sharing. Coming from an activist, do-it-yourself, self-taught background, I like being open with my knowledge and 'translating' it into accessible forms. I had my own desk on the third floor, alongside curators working with languages including French, German, Dutch, Spanish and Russian, and sat among the collaborative PhD students, who spend some of their time writing their theses and some assisting the curators who work with their languages and cultures. It was great to have a permanent desk at the library, leaving my flat in Brixton where I usually work, to spend the day with people working on interesting projects to do with languages. I ended up spending more than the allotted day a week at the library because it was such Jen Calleja, the British Library's inaugural Translator in Residence, reflects on the significance of this new role I n spring of last year, I found out that I was to be the first ever Translator in Residence at the British Library: a day-a-week, year- long role for a literary translator from and into any language to work on various projects, using the British Library as a base. After a whirlwind year, the residency has officially come to a close, and it seems like the perfect time to reflect on what I achieved through this incredible and unique opportunity. The moment I saw the call out for applications, I knew this was something I wanted to do – had to do. This residency would be a culmination of years of translating German literature, curating literary events, writing, reviewing and working on crosscultural projects both at large institutions and independently – all while promoting the figure of the translator and the act of translation. Back in 2012, while still a student, I founded Verfreundungseffekt, an Anglo-German arts journal exploring what people from German- language cultures cherish in English-speaking cultures, and vice versa. It includes translated literature, essays and poetry, illustrations, personal accounts, art and photography, and I am currently working on the third volume. I also translated my first book in 2012, having never translated even a sentence of German before, nor studied German or translation formally. After a two-year stint as Acting Editor of New Books in German magazine, I was invited to become a literary curator at the Austrian Cultural Forum London to make their literary events more innovative. This evolved into becoming their first Translator in Residence, putting on inventive events and exhibitions focusing on Austrian writers but also, importantly, on the literary translator. I successfully pitched a column Life at the Library

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Linguist - The Linguist 57,4 - August/September 2018