Language Bridges

Translating Minority Languages, Bridge Language Translation
17th April 2012, 11.30am - 12.30pm, Literary Translation Centre at the London Book Fair

Organised by Wales Literature Exchange, Literature Across Frontiers, Words Without Borders and London Book Fair Literary Translation Centre consortium partners.

Published literary translations continue to be dominated by only a few large source languages – English, French, Spanish, German, and a handful of others. They are the languages most commonly acquired as a second language, and as such they’re also the languages commissioning publishers are more likely to be able to access directly themselves.

What, then, are the challenges faced when working from less-widely spoken languages, which may in fact be used by a large number of speakers as a first language but are rarely acquired as a second, especially not in international publishing centres? Do we need more channels of access, more information, more training for translators?

Work originally written in less-widely used languages, whether European or not, will often find its way into translation via a bridge language or through a collaborative effort – is this a welcome practical solution (albeit one that should be practiced with caution and caveats), or – as some translators would argue – is this practice entirely unacceptable?

Chaired by Daniel Hahn (BCLT and the Translators' Association, UK) with Sampurna Chattarji (Poet, India), Gabriel Rosenstock (Poet, translator, Ireland), Christopher Meredith (translator and Professor of Creative Writing, Wales) and Clive Boutle (Francis Boutle Publishers, UK). 

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