This is the title of the translation summer school which was held last week at Birkbeck College. I was invited there on the Thursday for lunch as the provider of one of the short stories that the students were working on: Scarpette Rosse by Alfredo Colitto. The story is set in Italy during the Second World War, and as well as being an excellent piece, it is an interesting one to translate. At first sight it appears really easy but there are a number of connotations clear to an Italian reader which are rather difficult to convey in another culture: for example the term “capo-manipolo”, one of the ranks in the Fascist police force.
As well as meeting lovely young translators from Italian (and other languages!) it was great to see how everyone is really passionate about their job – I’ve been long familiar with translation and the translator’s work, but it still amazes me how much thinking and skill is needed to make a text flawless.
The afternoon saw an editing session with the brilliant Alexa Alfer, who made us think hard about finding the right balance of intervention when editing a text – managing to make the session interesting and very funny.
Later on, Shaun Whiteside and Kevin Halliwell participated in a translation slam on a text from Pinocchio. For those of you who’ve never been to one such events, in a translation slam the same text is translated separately by two different people and at the event the two translations are compared and discussed. AS well as being interesting to see the different sub-text that each professional attached to the given task, the two participants made it a very fun analysis of the semantics of mouldy pies, talking crickets and the pains of hunger.
The atmosphere was great, I met a lot of new people and saw a number of old friends, and I would certainly recommend the school to anyone with an interest in translation. Next year, I might even join myself as a participant!