BCLT Norwich Literary Translation Summer School 2009
By Nicky Harman, published
British Center of Literary Translation Summer School, Norwich, United Kingdom, 19-15 July (with Authors Xin Ran and Translator Nicky Harman)
The BCLT Literary Translation summer course was an opportunity for new entrants to refine their technical translation skills. The course turned out to be a most remarkable journey (thanks to the extraordinary stories shared by our author Xin Ran); and an opportunity to meet (and have fun) with inspiring and like-minded individuals.
What made this translation course most worthwhile for beginners was the chance to work alongside authors and their translators and see them in action. It was a chance for us to appreciate the importance of communication with authors in the process of literary translation. An author “translates” his/her perception of the world into text. A translator translates and bridges the gap between the original text and the foreign readers. Throughout the workshop, we constantly consulted our author Xin Ran on the true meaning or intention behind her words. By setting the scene, background and history for us, Xin Ran made translation into English so much easier.
Translation is usually a lonely exercise. The workshop created a unique setting that is very rare for a translator – a chance to do spontaneous group translation! The chance to discuss and debate about choice of words, language and rhythm was exhilarating - words and ideas fly across the room like flying daggers. Sometimes we get unanimous agreement on words straightaway; other times, even with six minds put together, it took over an hour to search for an appropriate single phrase. Good translation requires dedication and attention to detail – but it's all worth the effort in the end. The thrill when you’ve found the exact right phrase that is accurate in meaning, tone and register is simply magic.
As group leader, I found the whole experience extremely rewarding. BCLT will be running a similar week-long course next year.