Translation Workshop on Art, Architecture and Design

I enjoyed taking part in the local ITI North East translation workshop in November. This is an annual event, organised by our regional group one year and Yorkshire Translators and Interpreters the next. Several students from Durham University also attended this time, working in various language combinations. We were very grateful to the university for hosting the event.

Participants began by settling in and sharing a buffet lunch at the venue. For the second year running, a speaker launched the event by introducing the subject area. This year we tackled various texts in the fields of Art, Architecture and Design; I gave the introductory talk, with examples of issues I’ve encountered while translating in these fields.

For the main sessions, we split into groups for each language pair and/or direction, including French, Spanish, Italian, German, Russian and Dutch. It’s often handy to have native speakers of the source language on hand to help with understanding nuances in the source text. The general rule for the workshop is that any language direction can be accommodated at the workshop, provided more than two participants sign up in advance.

Everyone is invited to submit suitable texts to work on, and these are distributed beforehand so people can prepare them. Groups translating from English tackled a 1906 extract from Houses and Gardens by M. H. Baillie Scott about cottages. In places, the terms and concepts described were no longer in common parlance, such as a ‘scullery’ and ‘back kitchen’. More obscure still was the expression ‘carriage people’, apparently used to distinguish between people along class lines. Several terms used were also arguably specific to the UK, like the word ‘cottage’ itself.

The texts selected all presented different challenges. For instance, the French to English group were set a source text ostensibly aimed at children visiting a museum; however, they decided that the content of the target text would need adapting to make it more readily understandable to children.

As usual, a short plenary session at the end of the workshop enabled each group to feed back the insights they had gleaned while translating. I always find it interesting to hear how other groups have worked and what they have concluded. The plenary also received several suggestions for next year’s workshop topic. I look forward to seeing what YTI decide to tackle next, and to joining them.