English PEN has gathered a collection of top translation tips from established and award-winning translators. Every fortnight we publish advice from a different translator on how to improve your translation skills. Here Antonia Lloyd-Jones, who translates from Polish, offers five of her top tips.
1. Read, read read lots of very good English writing – George Orwell, Alan Bennett, Tobias Wolff, Muriel Spark, all the greatest, lasting authors who write in English.
2. Start by reading the foreign text aloud and LISTEN to it, listen to the choice of words and the rhythms. Eventually, read your final translation aloud to hear if it works the same way.
3. Imagine two people are in the room with you, behind your left and right shoulder – the WRITER and the READER.
4. Think beyond the dictionary, don’t be its slave.
5. Do lots of English word puzzles, read/listen to anything at all to do with language, from the Times Crossword to Roger’s Profanisaurus, via anagrams, rhyming slang, funny foreign menus, Milton Jones, Ronnie Barker, etc etc…
Antonia Lloyd-Jones is a full-time translator of Polish literature into English. Her published translations from Polish include novels by Paweł Huelle and Jacek Dehnel, short stories by Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, and non-fiction, most recently by Jacek Hugo-Bader and Wojciech Jagielski.