Courses for Aspiring and Established Literary Translators: Register Now!
By Lisa Carter, with Stacy McKenna, Intralingo Contributor

It’s back to school time! Whether you’re currently studying or those days are long behind you, enhancing your professional skills is a lifelong endeavour. We’ve got two new online courses to help: Editor-Proof Your Translation and Lessons in the Art of Literary Translation: Spanish Literature.

Taught by Lisa Carter (Editor-Proof Your Translation) and Stacy McKenna (Lessons in the Art of Literary Translation), the materials draw on our many years of experience and a variety of excellent resources.

Intralingo reaches out to meet you where you live online. For five weeks, you’ll log in to access course materials and a private discussion forum. Throughout the class, you can pick our brains and network with colleagues from around the world.

Sessions begin Tuesday, September 8. Note that ATA and CTTIC members receive a $50 discount. (Email Lisa to get your coupon code.) Also, as extra incentive, both courses are eligible for 5 ATA Continuing Education Points.

We can’t wait to share these courses with you. Register now!

And in case you need more convincing, here’s a sneak peek at content from the first lesson in each of these courses…

(Editor-Proof Your Translation)

(Lessons in the Art of Literary Translation)


Editor-Proof Your Translation, with Instructor Lisa Carter

In the Next Steps Course, I begin by saying, “There may be no better time to be a literary translator.”

Shifts in the industry and general perception over the past ten years have meant that more works are being published in English translation, more journals are focusing on literary translation and more readers are interested in reading works in translation.

That said, the path to publication is not easy—whether you’re a writer or a literary translator. As McNair says in his Introduction, many writers (and translators) may never be published. (ix-x) This is an unfortunate reality.

The work you choose to translate, and where and when you choose to submit it for publication will definitely affect your chances of being published. So will the way you format your manuscript for presentation. But nothing matters more than the writing itself. The original writing and your writing, in translation.

Editors are overwhelmed by floods of submissions every week. As a result, they are looking for any excuse to discard a sloppy submission or a piece of less than sparkling prose.

If you’re looking to self-publish, it’s even more important to ensure your writing is impeccable. You’ll be competing on a very crowded playing field and so will need to give readers your very best. While you’ll take at least part of your WIP to new levels with this course, I (and McNair) still recommend professional editing if pursuing this route to publication. (xiii)

Regardless of how you intend to publish, we’re here to take the first and most important step: make sure your translation shines before you submit it for an author or agent to review, an editor to work his magic on or consider it for publication.


Lessons in the Art of Literary Translation: Spanish Literature (ES>EN), with instructor Stacy McKenna

We’ll be covering a variety of translation issues in this course, offering possible solutions and helpful resources. Style/approach is a rather broad label that we’ll break down into smaller sections. What are we talking about when we talk about a translator’s approach and ability to capture the author’s style and voice? What’s the difference between a liberal or loyal translation? How much impact does word choice and word order have on a translation?

Sometimes a certain word or phrase isn’t going to make or break a translation. For example, it doesn’t matter much if someone “starts speaking” or “begins speaking” or if someone “walks quickly” or “walks fast.” However, when faced with more complex structures, idiomatic speech or the task of transporting one concise and beautiful metaphor into another language, the translator must often decide if a more liberal translation or one more loyal to the original is going to be the better solution.

Consider the following excerpt from Chris Andrews’ translation of Roberto Bolaño’s short story, “El gaucho insufrible.”

“La noche era oscura como boca de lobo. La expresión le pareció a Pereda una estupidez. Probablemente las noches europeas fueran oscuras como bocas de lobo, no las noches americanas, que más bien eran oscuras como el vacío…” (29).

“The night was dark as pitch or coal. Stupid expressions, thought Pereda. European nights might be pitch-dark or coal-black, but not American nights, which are dark like a void…” (21).

How would the English translation have sounded if Andrews had translated the first line as, “The night was dark as a wolf’s mouth”? That would’ve been a very loyal translation, or even a literal translation, but it’s not a set idiomatic expression in English. Andrews turned to the common expressions that are used in English for describing a dark night, found a cultural equivalent and prevents the reader from being jarred by an unfamiliar expression.

Why might have Andrews decided to use “dark as pitch or coal” instead of the more concise “pitch black”? Was he trying to maintain the parallel structure between the similes, “oscura como boca de lobo” and “oscuras como el vacío”? Was he also trying to maintain the repetition of the word “oscura”? Obviously we won’t know Andrews’ reasons without interviewing him directly, but we can see the endless options and decisions that he made for that one brief excerpt and how each decision falls among the many shades of liberal and loyal to produce an English translation that sounds smooth and idiomatic while capturing the imagery of the original Spanish.

Intrigued? We hope so! Register here.

Lisa Carter is an acclaimed Spanish>English translator. Her work has won the Alicia Gordon Award for Word Artistry in Translation and been nominated for an International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Lisa offers translation, editing, professional development and promotion services through her company, Intralingo Inc., at
Stacy McKenna received her MFA in English and Creative Writing from Mills College in Oakland, California. Her translations have appeared in The Other Poetry of Barcelona, Códols in New York, 580 Split, Cerise Press and Río Grande Review. She has taught English and ESL throughout the Bay Area and worked at several nonprofit organizations including the Center for the Art of Translation. She has recently returned to the Bay Area after teaching literary translation and English at the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro in Querétaro, Mexico.

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