Translation in parallel

12932748_10206221129031515_1625694567615812925_nMy translator’s Note from http://lunchticket.org/spotlight-last-cigarette/

I always translate using two columns, in parallel. I set my author—in this case, Paolo Zardi—on the left-hand side, and trudge along down the right, stumbling, falling, picking myself up again. His words are there on the left guiding me; his words in my voice are on the right. I try to listen to him carefully, but it isn’t always easy. Sometimes, he gets ahead of me. His text rushes forward, while mine lags behind. And not just because his has already been beautifully created. Sometimes it’s a matter of strokes. Length. Space.

I hate it when the parallel text isn’t parallel at all because one language needs more words to say the same exact thing or perhaps not exactly the same thing. So I adjust the margins, making the texts run parallel again. And the words walk hand in hand for a bit, until one of the two languages falls behind, and I start playing with the margins again. I do this while flipping pages, jotting down notes, rummaging through the thesaurus.

I like it when I find exactly the right word, and the original is reflected in it. I like it when my column is finally complete, and the two versions can stand next to each other. And I like to hope the author’s words are reflected but never distorted.