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 are Nick Caistor’s tips.
1. Try doing a simple writing exercise – looking out the window, or describing a stranger on the bus etc. – but in the voice of the author you are translating.
2. Take a page at random, and change the sentence order on its head, to see how it sounds.
3. Start at the end of the text – then you will know what you are aiming towards, and you will be able to revise it when you get there the second time.
4. Use the FIND button on some common words, to see how often you’ve repeated them, probably without repeating it.
5. Keep a bit of paper in your pocket to write down words that occur to you or you hear other people saying.
Nick Caistor has translated more than thirty books by Spanish and Latin American authors. As Latin American editor of the magazine Index on Censorship, he edited the English version of Argentina’s report on the thousands of disappeared, NUNCA MAS, and has translated and written about many human rights problems in Latin America. From Spain, he has translated novels by Juan Marse and Eduardo Mendoza which examine the effects of the Civil War; in 2007 he won the Valle-Inclan translation prize for his translation of The Sleeping Voice, a novel based on the experiences of Republican women prisoners in the Franco period.