Translating a blog on the bus

I don’t often translate on a bus, which says more about how infrequently I travel on public transport than it does about my translation habits.

These days, I seldom print out the source text. In the days before the information explosion, however, I used to receive hard copies of everything I worked on. I would read those bunches of paper everywhere: in doctors’ and dentists’ waiting rooms, while queueing at the bank, during my lunch break at the park…

I always yielded willingly to the urge to scribble translations of the odd sentence or paragraph here and there in the margins, above the line, or on the facing page. We never think the same thought twice in precisely the same way, and sometimes my best inspirations could be found there later.

So it was comforting in a nostalgic sort of way to print out the interview translator and interpreter Valerij Tomarenko gave to fellow translator and prolific blogger, Giselle Chaumien, so that I would have something to translate in my spare moments as I travelled to Barcelona by bus and plane last year.

I wanted to translate this piece as soon as I read it because I agree with so many of the views it contains on adopting the client’s perspective when translating—and Valerij says it better than I could have. I wanted the message to have a wider audience. What better way to achieve that than by translating? He kindly agreed to my request.

Translating the blog on the floor at Barcelona airport, while leaning against a pillar with plug points, waiting for my iPhone to charge.
Translating the blog while sitting on the floor at Barcelona airport; I was leaning against a pillar with plug points, waiting for my iPhone to charge.

There is something strangely intense about focusing on a text as a moving vehicle speeds its way through unfamiliar countryside, or sitting in unusual spaces where crowds gather and disperse incessantly; where all you are is a stranger passing through. It might be fanciful to think that translating thus brings a wider perspective to the text at hand, but you won’t know unless you’ve tried it. Of course, the real work happened in my favourite place: at my desk.

The translated interview is on Valerij Tomarenko’s blog, Anmerkungen des Übersetzers | TRANSLATOR’S NOTES, under the title Five questions and one more.  Valerij has material well worth reading in his archives too.

©2017 Allison Wright

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