A gift in the post

An arc of appreciation spanning years, countries, languages and colleagues who have enriched my thought life immeasurably.

Is gratitude the right word for the gift I received in the post today? No. It is far too simplistic. The gift is from a translator I have respected and admired since even before I met him briefly in person about six years ago, Valerij Tomarenko.

The book I held in my hands, Through the Client’s Eyes: How to Make Your Translations Visible, is the product of more than two years’ careful work and, I daresay, the fruit of many years’ experience. Read the blurb at the above link to discover that the book guides you through the process of considering translation from a graphic design perspective, and much more besides.

Reading excerpts from pages at random, I can see immediately that the arc of this volume requires careful reading from beginning to end. Initial impressions are that methodical and reasoned practical advice is interspersed with thoughtful, granular explanations of what I sense is a personal philosophy regarding the many aspects underpinning translation methodology, what translation is or has the potential to be, and what it means to be a translator.

This is certainly not my review. I hope to write one once I have read the book properly. Don’t be fooled by my initial impressions above either: you’re likely to learn a few things about how to use various software programs too. The book is full of diagrams, tables and illustrations, all of which require careful examination.

An image of an image of a book on a desk surface. Through the Client’s Eyes: How to Make Your Translations Visible by Valerij Tomarenko. Copyediting: Kasia Trojanowska

While you are waiting for the copy of this book that you are going to order if you are indeed a serious translator, all that remains for me to do is urge you to read Valerij’s blog. He has a wealth of useful material in posts dating back to at least 2011. Look for the list of categories.

I shall direct you to two posts whose content is discussed in much more detail in this book. The first is on pricing, entitled Fifty Ways: One More View and the second is a translation of an interview conducted by another translator who has done much to advance the profession, Giselle Chaumien, entitled Five questions and one more.

During the translation of the latter, I had a punctuation crisis. After finding no joy in various style guides and grammar books, I e-mailed esteemed colleague Steve Dyson for advice. I should stress that at this point of the translation process, the source text has been left far behind and focus rests entirely on the target. Here is the response I got from Steve, who re-punctuated my words. I hope he won’t mind that I did not get his prior permission to quote it (emphasis mine):

At times, punctuation leaves some room for individuality. I would propose: I wonder which word would have positive connotations for them in that case. First of all, What alternatives are there if “success” is seen as offensive? ​​Saying things like “The main thing is to enjoy your work”, or “What counts is achieving the right work-life balance”, or even “At least I am my own boss and do not have to commute”? I think your misplaced commas might have been putting you off more than anything else. ​My problem is with the “Saying things like”​ … it doesn’t work for me.

Steve Dyson, e-mail 13 January 2017

Some readers might think that such feedback is dry, but that is precisely the kind of help I need. Why? Because it gives me the impetus to produce a cleaner text:

I wonder which word would have positive connotations for them, in that case. First of all, what alternatives are there, if “success” is seen as offensive? “The main thing is to enjoy your work” or “What counts is achieving the right work-life balance” or even “At least I am my own boss and do not have to commute”?

Valerij Tomarenko, 16 January 2017, https://anmerkungen-des-uebersetzers.com/2017/01/16/five-questions-one/

I use the above to illustrate the enormous amount of care, and behind-the-scenes consultation with all manner of experts, not to mention knowledge and experience, that translation demands. I suspect you will find that Valerij Tomarenko has taken just as much care in the production of his book. I am eager to discover its treasures within.

©2019 Allison Wright

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