Translating Italian into music

Translations are made of visual signs on the page or screen. But they are also made of patterns of sound, with vowels clipped or sonorous and consonants plosive or sibilant, sewn into a linear tapestry of timbres and stresses that we can feel through our sense of rhythm. And we can use to great effect. […]

Editing translations – a response to an ACES webinar

Dear ACES and Sarah Grey Many thanks for your webcast on editing translations. It contains much of value. (I also enjoyed Sarah’s excellent online course on inclusive language, not least the lavish resources list; I now feel I have a very good grounding in that subject.) I am an editor and a translator (from Italian […]

The pen is mightier than the coronavirus

What strange days we find ourselves living in. What unprecedented days. Days of concern and apprehension, of great threats and radical countermeasures. How are you managing? Staying healthy, I trust? Getting used to life indoors? It’s not so new for those of us who work from home, but plenty of folk are feeling the strain, […]

Conference report – SATT19, Milan

If a speaker programme’s success can be measured by how many notes you make, then SATT19 was something of a triumph. Nine pages of scrawl was a hefty haul for your correspondent, who had been reduced to a crabbed, jaded figure by sitting through years of talks on valuing yourself, work-life balance, and pricing for […]

Honing your craft with a literary maestro

“‘If I began to think about these things, I was stopped, because so much came back to me, so many desires, so many old affronts’ – OK, let’s look at that first sentence. ‘If I began to think’? The original says ‘Se mi mettevo a pensare’: that’s not exactly began to think, is it? It’s […]

A matter of taste

I had a rude awakening the other week. (No, not the neighbour’s daughter’s Sunday morning trombone practice again, or at least I hope that’s what that noise is.) After my first half-dozen marketing translations for a new client won a warm reception, the seventh came back with an irate-sounding note. “Wrong tone of voice”. My […]

A tale of two slams

What’s in a name? Would a translation “slam” by any other name sound as puerile and pseudo-confrontational? A tad harsh, perhaps, but I’m not a great fan of the “duel” rhetoric. Or maybe I was just hoping for a gentle ride, as I girded my verbal loins for my debut slam. My opposite number and […]

Nailing it

When is it done? I’ve wondered out loud more than once in recent months about when we consider our work fit to ship. My broad conclusion, on reflection, is that a translation is done when it meets an acceptable standard. But what does that mean, exactly? The whole notion of “acceptable quality” is highly subjective.

When is a translation done? (ITI Day 2018)

[This is the text of a 5-minute talk with a difference that I presented at the ITI One Day in … event on 16 June 2018 at Gray’s Inn in London. The presentation took the form of a “recital” of a pre-recorded text using my smartphone, but the experiment wasn’t a complete success, partly because […]

Writing – when it simply has to be right

What’s the most important thing you’ve ever written? A couple of weeks ago, I had to craft what for me is probably the most momentous collection of words since I started, at my mother’s knee, to put crayon, pencil or pen to paper. Or loops and whorls to keyboard, now. In recent months, I’ve been […]