Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Business of Writing: Introduction to Book Translations by @OlgaNM, and EL RETO is #FREE today!

Today I am pleased to welcome author-friend Olga Núñez Miret to talk about translating your books from English to Spanish and vice-versa. 

Olga Author Translator (mailto:mmxrynz at hotmail dot com)

Olga translated one of my novellas, The Challenge, into Spanish as EL RETO, which is free worldwide on Kindle today! 

In Olga's words...

First of all thanks to Kim Headlee for inviting me to be a guest of her blog. I know Kim is very keen on exploring new markets for her books and she asked me to talk a bit about translations. So, here it comes.


What does the word ‘translation’ bring to your mind?

In my case, it always makes me think of a scene in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. Bill Murray plays an actor filming a spirits’ advert in Japan (I think it was brandy) and the director is giving him instructions. As he doesn’t understand Japanese, there is an interpreter. The director talks for several minutes, gesticulating, quite intensely. He eventually stops talking and the interpreter just tells him that he wants him to say the lines looking at the camera. ‘Is that all he said?’ Yes, we’re never quite sure.

Of course, that’s interpreting (rendering live and orally a conversation, conference, speech…) whilst translation implies a written piece of work, but there are connections.

It also makes me think of the risks of mistranslating texts. In the case of the Bible mistranslating a Hebrew word and instead of rendering it as ‘beam of light’ it ended up becoming ‘horn’ and we have poor Moses depicted with horns (and not only in Michelangelo’s famous sculpture, that judging by the small size of the horns, makes me think that he wasn’t that convinced about the translation). Oh yes, if you’ve used Google Translate (that seems to be improving, to be fair) you know all about that.

According to Wikipedia: "Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. While interpreting—the facilitating of oral or sign-language communication between users of different languages—antedates writing; translation began only after the appearance of written literature." The word comes from the Latin translatio ("carrying across" or "bringing across").

Translation results in a great cross-fertilization between languages and new words being incorporated into languages.

These days we have machine translations (like the aforementioned Google Translate; other internet translation services are available) and CAT translations (computer-assisted translations, that involve a human translator aided by a machine that incorporates glossaries, analyses the style of writing and terms favoured by the translator and adapt them to facilitate their task).

Why am I talking about translation?

I’m from Barcelona, in Spain, and moved to the UK in 1992. I trained and worked as a psychiatrist for quite a few years, with gaps to do other things, like studying American Literature (a BA and a PhD). I’d always written in Spain, mostly in Spanish, but the year before I started my American Literature degree (in 1996) I took a creative writing course and started writing fiction in English (I’d written reports, essays, letters before, but mostly to do with my studies in psychiatry), short-stories at first and then longer stuff.

From then on I mostly wrote in English, although that depended on when and where I was writing. One day I rediscovered a story I had written when I was seventeen or eighteen and thought it wasn’t bad but it was a bit too short. I proceeded to translate it to English and then expanded it. Once I finished, I thought it was not right that the story started life in Spanish and now it would only be available in English so I translated it back to Spanish. A few years later, that ended up being the first novel I published, The Man Who Never Was. And once set on my way, I kept translating all my novels and publishing them in both Spanish and English.

A couple of years ago I decided to try something different and part of it involved offering my services translating (from English to Spanish and vice-versa) the works of other authors. It is a very interesting job—an art, some would say—that involves getting to know the texts very closely. I personally find it a very good way to edit and proofread my own books, as I can pick up issues of continuity, consistency, and simple proofreading mistakes I miss whilst reading repeatedly, when I translate.

What skills do translators require? According again to Wikipedia:
  • a very good knowledge of the language, written and spoken, from which they are translating (the source language);
  • an excellent command of the language into which they are translating (the target language);
  • familiarity with the subject matter of the text being translated;
  • a profound understanding of the etymological and idiomatic correlates between the two languages; and
  • a finely tuned sense of when to metaphrase ("translate literally") and when to paraphrase, so as to assure true rather than spurious equivalents between the source- and target-language texts.
A competent translator is not only bilingual but bicultural. A language is not merely a collection of words and of rules of grammar and syntax for generating sentences, but also a vast interconnecting system of connotations and cultural references whose mastery, writes linguist Mario Pei, "comes close to being a lifetime job."

Olga has so much more to offer on the subject of translations that I plan to publish the rest of her thoughts at a later date!

Meantime, follow Olga via:

Newsletter | Website | Blog | Twitter @OlgaNM7 | Facebook | LinkedIn | Goodreads | G+ | Pinterest | Wattpad | Tumblr |

You may buy her featured novel, Escaping Psychiatry: Beginnings,
the three-story prequel to Escaping Psychiatry via:

Amazon | Kobo | Apple | Nook | Page Foundry | Scribd |

And don't forget to snag your copy of El Reto!


All this month, you are invited to…

— Follow Kim on Twitter
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— Subscribe to Kim's YouTube channel
— Leave a comment on any page of The Maze, especially if you have done the Twitter, Pinterest, and/or YouTube follow<

… and each action this month is good for one chance to win a copy of any of Kim's e-books.

Please enter often, and good luck!

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