The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain. But not where the gate opens in the beautiful Poblet of Tarragona. Warm weather kept with us all the way through METM13, the ninth (my first) annual meeting of Mediterranean Editors and Translators that offered top-professional perspectives on language, culture and identity.
Nearly everything in the METM13 program was really interesting.
Since I still haven’t learned to clone myself, I was forced to choose a couple of tracks.
Grammar is an issue that evokes passionate reactions in many people, and if there is ever a chance to hunt some whiches, bust some myths, and make more reasoned decisions while writing and editing, I am all for it. Many thanks to the excellent presenters for their enlightened insight on relative clauses, subject-verb agreement, dangling participles, adverbial disjuncts, and other “hangers-on”. I’m working on a summary presentation of the lessons learned, so you may hear more about this soon in a meeting room near you.
Another topic that I found particularly fascinating and useful were the “rich points,” challenging elements that a literary translator must identify and work on when translating a novel situated in another culture.
Translators are said to be the best readers because they have to notice and understand every detail and nuance in order to make the story work in the target culture. According to the METM presenters, these rich points compose a kind of map of the narrative terrain. Some translators may be able to read a novel for the first time as “normal” readers, without starting to immediately identify and map the culturally challenging elements as they follow the story. I cannot. If I know I am to translate what I am reading, mapping starts right there and then during the first round. A great help and support to the translator in this situation is the author if available to contact and ask for further context. In my current assignment I have this luxury and I wish the same for all translators of contemporary works.
Living and working in Finland, instead of going all the way to Spain, I guess I could have just joined the Nordic Editors and Translators’ conference. If there was one. Currently there is no active organization in Finland that would welcome both editors and translators as members and provide them with training and networking in English. After having witnessed the outstanding activities of our Mediterranean-based colleagues, I see things from a wider perspective and hope to take a step further to improve the situation for Scandinavia or at least for Finland.