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Above and beyond - the creative text

It can be argued that all translation is a creative process. Some even say that translators who think ‘beyond the source text’ are only doing their job properly. But when working in the creative industries you can – and should – take it further. This topic was explored in the conference session Above and beyond - the creative text.

Alison Hughes spoke about how flow and style are paramount in creative texts, and so translators can take more liberties. It is important to focus on meaning rather than individual words.

She suggested that the stages should be:

  1. Literal translation
  2. Edit/check
  3. Rewrite
  4. Discuss with editor/client

When working on the title, the translator should consider what the text is there for – a summary? to draw attention? It is often clever, for example a play on words.

Alison said that it was useful to work on the title last. If the direct translation didn’t seem to be working, and as a last resort, she said that the translator should write their own based on what they felt was appropriate for the text.

Adriana Tortoriello discussed multi-semiotic texts where meaning was dependent on an interaction of codes e.g. verbal and visual. For example, if some kind of pun or expression was used in film that was rather particular to the language in question – and this also related to something a character was doing or pointing out – this could be very challenging for the translator.

She also covered the constraints of the medium. For example, sub-titles had to be synchronized with dialogue, on screen for a maximum of 6-8 seconds and consist of a maximum of 2 lines (39 characters per line).

In relation to printed text, there was a need to consider the space available, distribution of text, the presence of images, and the type and size of fonts to be used.

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