Thursday, October 19, 2006

ALTA conference report: Spanish Workshop

As always, ALTA had a very welcoming, friendly spirit. Around 200-300 translators are converging on the Hilton in Bellevue. Right away I ran into Adriana Tatum and Karen Philips, and many more friends from past conferences.

From 8:30-9:30 I was at the welcome to newcomers. The ALTA board members introduced themselves, and then everyone with a green dot on their badge (indicating it was their first time at ALTA) stood up to describe their work. Everyone was fascinating... Afterwards I traded emails with John Balcom and Andrea Bell, who translate science fiction.

From 9:30 to 10:45 I went to the Spanish translation workshop, which was going to be run by Marisa Estelrich, with a focus on bilingual/multilingual translation, using, I think, her work on Martín Espada who writes in Spanish, English, and Spanglish. Unfortunately, Marisa wasn't there - probably her flight was delayed. I asked that everyone come up to the front to a big conference table, so that we could have a roundtable discussion/workshop anyway.

We spent a lot of time going around the table introducing ourselves. Many of the new members from the "welcome" panel were there, so it was great to get to hear more about what languages they translate from and to. Here's who was there:
- Wendy Call, from Seattle, translating Spanish from Nihe, Zapotec, and (Waife) - from southern Mexico
- Jane Matt - French, Italian, Russian, poetry. From St. Petersburg/Los Angeles. Children's lit.
Lee Trousdale - a Spanish language teacher (?) used to translate for Boeing, interested in literature
Karen Philips - translating Victoria Ocampo. interested in mulitple language translation.
Liz Henry (me) - 19th/early 20th century Latin American women poets - recently translating Nestor Perlongher and Carmen Bereneguer, also reading a lot of Spanglish/bilingual poets from the US
Mark Fried - translator of Eduardo Galenano, works closely with him
Mark Gimsan - Non-fiction, mostly Portuguese. Book on Angola, another on a small tribe in the Amazon. Lots of indigenous words. Useful Brazilian govt. web site helped him. Most of the "untranslateable" words were spiritual or religious concepts or words for food.
Noga Emanuel - Israel - Ladino - interested in Fray Luis de Leon -
Gerry Whelan - from Boston - High school Spanish teacher - involved with the journal "Salmagundi" and translating Mario Vargas Llosa. Translated "The Trojan Women" also.
- Rosanne Mendoza - in publishing/editing - Ph.D. in Latin American Lit - translating a poet from Colombia
Aaron Zaritzky - translated Felipe Benitz Reyes - a poet from Spain, in his 40s, well known in Spain and Italy.

After that, we workshopped a paragraph from a late 19th century science fiction novel that Andrea Bell is translating. I missed the name and the author, but it's a story about a time machine that predates H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine". It was a long complex sentence in a somewhat high-flown style that doesn't come through well if translated literally. In the process we had a lot of interesting conversation about our own translating processes. Most people make multiple passes through the text. Mark Fried does not: he reads the source many times till he can hear it in his head, and then he translates it right off. We all went "ooooOOOOoo" in response to this.

I put up a short verse in Quechua and Spanish, written by Adela Zamudio (1854-1928), a Bolivian poet.

Ripuy, ripuy waj llajtaman / Véte a ciudades lejanas,
Waj kausayta kausarqamuy / anda a vivir otra vida,
Kaypi ñak'arisqaykita, / y lo que yo haya sufrido
Chay kausaypi qonqarqamuy. / olvídalo en tu existencia.

You can see the repetition in the first line in Quechua, not replicated in the Spanish version (self-translation by Zamudio.) The repetition of "ripuy, ripuy" was interestingly not visible in the Spanish version but I'd like to put it into the English translation. Is it mere repetition? Or is it a special intensifier, like saying "wikiwiki" in Hawaiian? I can also see the root of the same word in "Ripunaykita yachaspa", the first line of the poem, which Zamudio gives as "Al saber que ya te irías". We ended the workshop there !

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