The Linguist

The Linguist 53,6

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

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22 The Linguist DECEMBER 2014/JANUARY 2015 FEATurES When Deborah Langton got her first full literary translation she realised she'd have to change the rules T here is a Jules Feiffer cartoon of a woman leaping excitedly around the room, almost airborne in celebration, shouting over and over, "I got the job! I got the job!", only to come to land, in a pose so apprehensive as to be almost mournful, saying in quiet awe, "And now I've got to do the job!" Being awarded the contract to translate Christoph Fromm's second novel was a joy, as it is my first book-length work after nearly four years of very varied translation experience. It is a professional, and personal, milestone. Yet moving from good, solid, bread-and-butter commercial work of a mostly non-literary nature to the different challenges of a 500-page novel means taking stock of fairly sober stuff, such as your approach and working methods. My early jottings to accompany the translation show a transition in themselves. The first day, my notebook read 'excitement, sense of responsibility to the author, feeling of awe in face of the task'; on day two it read 'methods, systems'. I had been translating literary extracts, writing reader reports and pitching suitable books to publishers in a small way since completing the DipTrans in 2011, at first while also teaching/lecturing at the LMU Munich full-time. But more than that, I had been translating commercially, learning the craft and getting established. I attended the summer 2011 Emerging Translators Programme run by Charlotte Ryland, Editor at New Books in German; the 2013 residential Summer School at the British Centre for Literary Translation (BCLT), where I was fortunate to be in Katy Derbyshire's group; and the 2013 London Review of Books (LRB) masterclasses. An ongoing support and source of information is the Emerging Translators Network (ETN), as well as individual colleagues from the ETN, Summer School and LMU. So, while my background had, by design, prepared me linguistically for the work, what I needed to review were my working methods and systems in order to manage the change. From short hop to long-haul It's a privilege to have the chance to 'do a book'. You may have heard that only 3% of published books in the UK and Ireland are translated works. Although the Literature Across Frontiers (LAF) report 1 indicates that the figure is 'consistently greater than 4%', that's still small. Knowing you've succeeded, or are starting to succeed, in literary translation therefore gives a sense of good fortune, which combines with your own enthusiasm to drive you forward – even when the novel is on a very difficult topic (in my case, events in Stalingrad 1942). My non-literary commercial work is often a five-day turnaround or faster, and comes in at short notice. If you thrive on deadlines, it is a great way of working. My new project spans six months from commission to submission; then there will be a further three months before it appears in English: March 2015. At the time of agreeing the contract, the publisher/author and I also agreed some interim submission dates. The novel is 500 pages and I am submitting in four chunks, each of more or less the same length. As I write, the first has already been submitted. As you read, I will have completed the second. This means there are four weeks for each new translation, during which I gather any queries for the author into one little 'bundle', so there is no irritating to-ing and fro-ing for him. Page, screen or multiscreens? There were all sorts of operational decisions to be made in just the first week. Some literary translators like to work from a hard copy of the source text. There's something about having the book on your desk. Rewriting the book • British Centre for Literary Translation: • Emerging Translators Network: www.emergingtranslatorsnetwork. • New Books in German: • Translate in the City: • Words Without Borders: • English PEN and the Global Translation Initiative: translation/global-translation-initiative/ • The Society of Authors: USEFUL LINKS Moving from good, solid, bread-and-butter commercial work… means taking stock of fairly sober stuff

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