The Linguist

The Linguist 54,5

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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20 The Linguist Vol/54 No/5 2015 FEATURES Beatrice Murail visits the Ecole de Traduction Littéraire, three years after it opened in Paris, to find out what impact it is having on literary translation in France H ave you ever felt like discarding a book because it sounded like an obvious translation? Then spare a thought for readers in France, where 30- 40% of published novels are translations. Standards in France have improved a lot over the past 30 years, but to raise them further, the Centre national du livre (CNL) set up the Ecole de Traduction Littéraire (ETL) in Paris three years ago. "Its raison d'être is to train translators to produce good work and remain faithful to the source language when it comes to wording and rhythm, while also being creative," says its Director Olivier Mannoni. The school is the only one of its kind in Europe. Its unique selling point? "Trainees are already professional translators. They are required to have published at least one translation but most have published three or four," he says. Trainees may work together on the translation of a text, with many in the group not knowing the source language. "The premise is that translation is not about language but about literature in another language," explains ETL trainer Patrick Maurus. "One of the school's major achievements is the way we come up with real finds as a group. We may be working on the translation of a text in Italian into German, Polish or Uzbek with a group of 15 translators, and only one, two or three of them – sometimes none – will know the source language," adds trainer Christophe Mileschi. "My feeling is that students are more creative, more daring even, when they do not know the language. They free themselves from the fear of not knowing, of not doing the right thing." This unusual method is the brainchild of Mannoni, a biographer, journalist and translator of about 200 books from German into French. He was the Chair of the Association des Traducteurs Littéraires de France (ATLF) when the CNL, a public body supporting authors, editors, bookshops and libraries, contacted him to ask if he would be interested in developing a training concept. "The CNL had been in talks with publishers between 2007 and 2012, and realised that publishers were keen for translators to be trained better and to know more about the publishing process," says Mannoni. Translation standards had already improved, he adds, thanks to the professionalisation of translators, and the work of universities and institutions (such as the École Supérieure d'Interprètes et de Traducteurs), but also because publishers had become more demanding. French universities have offered Master's degrees in literary translation for at least 25 years but according to Elisabeth Lavault-Olléon, a lecturer at Grenoble University, such courses have not always been relevant to the actual work done by literary translators. "That being said, universities now play a key role in the training of technical, specialised and even literary translators," she adds. "For the past 40 years, literary translators have struggled for their profession to be recognised, their competence to be acknowledged and their pay to reflect their know-how. The same struggle has led them Back to school REACHING OUT Olivier Mannoni and other representatives of the Ecole de Traduction Littéraire and the Centre national du livre at the 2015 Paris Book Fair in Porte de Versailles (below)

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