Translation Tips – Ros Schwartz


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. In this first installment, Ros Schwartz offers five of her top tips.

1.  Eavesdrop shamelessly wherever you are, on buses, in the doctor’s waiting room, in bars, restaurants, shops. Store quirky turns of phrase for future use.

2.  Live and love in the language you translate from.

3.  Do a crossword every day, stimulate your active vocabulary.

4.  Cultivate a wide social network so you can pick your friends’ brains when you have a character in a novel who is a banker or a brain surgeon, a delinquent or a decorator.

5.  Go to workshops organised by professional translators associations and join professional networks. Peer training and mentoring are the best springboards into the profession. Attend industry events, bookfairs, talks and events by translators at book festivals and at venues like the Free Word Centre and the South Bank.


Ros Schwartz is an award-winning literary translator and, a prominent figure in the Translators’ Association of the Society of Authors. A freelancer since 1980, Ros has translated some 60 works of fiction and non-fiction, particularly novels by contemporary Francophone writers. She runs numerous workshops, is a frequent speaker on the international circuit and publishes articles on translation-related issues. Ros was Chair of the European Council of Literary Translators Associations (CEATL) from 2000-2009 and is Chair of English PEN’s Writers in Translation Programme. She was recently made Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des lettres.

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