August 17, 2016

Women in Translation Month is In Full Swing


Photo Credit: Pixabay

August is Women in Translation month, dedicated to boosting recognition of women writers
and working against the bias in the publishing industry toward books in translation

Catherine V. Howard

Why do we need a Women in Translation month? Perhaps a look at the statistics will help answer that question. According to Meytal Radzinski, a Hebrew-to-English translator and blogger at BiblioBio, her analysis of the Three Percent Translation Database revealed that women writers account for only 30% of works in translation published in the Americas (in English, Spanish, or Portuguese). Looking carefully at Meytal’s charts, we can see that Europe fares only slightly better at 33%, while Asia reaches 36% and Africa tallies a dismal 10%.

We already know how reluctant English-language publishers are to take on works in translation: in the U.S., only 3-5% of books published each year are translations. The percentage in the U.K. has been rising lately as works in translation are enjoying a refreshing surge of popularity, but is still woefully below the figures in other countries. If only one-third of those translations are by women authors, then that means that a mere 1% of the literary titles made available by U.S. publishers are by women in translation. As Ann Morgan points out in a post in her blog, Reading the World, the result is that Anglophone readers are being deprived of access to the voices and visions of writers representing half of the world’s non-English speaking population.

Besides having fewer books published, women authors in translation are also underrepresented in other aspects of the publishing world, such as the percentage of literary prizes they are awarded (e.g., only 8 out of 54 of the PEN Translation Awards) or the number of their works selected for book reviews (e.g., only 25% of the New York Times Sunday Book Reviews). And even though the number of female translators far exceeds male translators in general, the former end up being underrepresented in the book publishing industry as well.

Determined to do something about this, Meytal started Women in Translation Month in August of 2014 on her own. Her aims were simple and straightforward:

  1. Increase the dialogue about women writers in translation
  2. Read more books by women in translation

In her vision, the spirit of WITMonth should be “educational, entertaining, and enlightening.” Without a PR budget, corporate sponsorship, or even a grant, she simply began spreading the word through her blog, her contacts, and letters to publishers around the world. The idea caught on and as been gaining momentum every year through social media. Last year, she helped organize an entire panel on “Where are the Women in Translation?” at the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) Conference.

After listening to a similar panel in the U.K., a new independent publishing house was started, Calisi Press, which is dedicating itself entirely to publishing works by Italian women in translation. Similarly, Les Fugitives, another newly-launched publisher, will focus exclusively on female French writers in translation. And Other Stories, a press publishing only works in translation, has agreed to accept a challenge to devote all the 2018 titles to women writers. This year, WITMonth has caught the attention of bookstores in the U.K., New Zealand, Germany, and France, which are featuring foreign female authors in their displays and promotional events.

PLD members may be especially encouraged to know that Glossolalia, a new publication by PEN America on writers in translation, has dedicated its second issue to “Women Writing Brazil.” The issue was put together by Eric Becker and Mirna Queiroz dos Santos as a pointed retort to an assertion made at the 2015 Paraty Literary Festival (FLIP) by some male authors that “there are no great female writers in Brazil.”

The Twitter hashtags #WITMonth and #WomenInTranslation provide a rich trove of links to lists of suggested titles by women in translation. Some notable lists are those drawn up by the London Review of Books, Flavorwire, and Meytal’s own database in Google Docs, to which she invites anyone to contribute.

For those who want to learn more about women writers in translation beyond the month of August, the Tumblr site WomenInTranslation is dedicated to the topic all year long.

Finally, in pondering how all of us can contribute to the long, slow work of increasing access to women’s voices in translation, Meytal makes a special appeal to translators:

“Translators: Let us know what books we’re missing!
You’re our eyes and ears in other languages,
capable of pointing out fantastic literature by women writers
that has maybe not been recognized yet.”

If you’re looking for female authors from Brazil whose works may need translating into English, consider Wikipedia’s lists of women writers from Brazil, Portugal, Angola, Mozambique, Cabo Verde, Equatorial Guinea, and São Tomé and Principe (unfortunately, there are no lists for Macau or East Timor). As for books by women needing translation into Portuguese, there are thousands of possibilities from languages all over the world!


CATHERINE V. HOWARD is a Portuguese-to-English translator who spent time in the Amazon in the 1980s to conduct her doctoral fieldwork in cultural and linguistic anthropology. Her first book translation, From the Enemy’s Point of View, was published by the University of Chicago in 1992. She currently works as a socio-environmental translator, rendering English versions of environmental and social sustainability studies through her company TranslationCraft Services. Catherine also contributes to Contemporary Brazilian Short Stories, motivated by the pleasure she takes in working on texts written by verbal artists who care about the nuances, expressiveness, and power of language and in hopes that more foreigners will discover the astounding creativity of Brazilian authors.


August 11, 2016

AIIC Training Course in Conference Interpreting

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Dr. Georganne Weller, PLD member

I was fortunate to be able to attend the High Intensity Interpreter Training Workshop (HIIT) held in Curitiba, Brazil, on January 25-29, 2016, sponsored by the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC). This workshop was offered to conference interpreters for whom Portuguese is a “C” (or passive) language or who are planning to add Portuguese to their language combinations. Although the workshop, held once a year, was announced through official AIIC channels for members, it was also open to non-AIIC members, space permitting. The workshop leaders were Richard Laver and Raquel Schaitza, long-standing AIIC interpreters with excellent track records as freelance interpreters in Brazil and as trainers. They were ably assisted by other native Brazilian Portuguese speakers from local universities who were also budding conference interpreters. Their assistance was invaluable, as were the many professional lessons that Richard and Raquel shared with us.

The workshop definitely qualified as “intensive”: with the exception of short breaks and time off for lunch, we worked continuously from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for all five days. Our work was conducted either with a partner in a booth or with portable equipment at our seats. We were expected to pay attention at all times to the live speakers, although we could also tune into one of the booths to sample how our colleagues solved difficult language problems. We could work from Portuguese into our “A” (native) or “B” (active) languages, which in our group included English, Spanish, French, and German. Most of the work was done in the simultaneous mode with live speakers and a wide array of interesting topics, but we also had daily sessions for brief periods to practice note-taking for consecutive interpreting on various Brazilian cultural phenomena our colleagues had chosen for us. We worked hard, but the general feeling in the group was that the experience was well worth it and we all hope to go back in 2017 or as soon as possible. It was a growing and rewarding experience!

In addition to this particular workshop, another course was offered at the same location: a Training of Trainers (ToT) course, “IT and Blended Learning in Interpreter Training,” taught by Michelle Hof, which was held the week before our course and again two weeks later for native Portuguese speakers. In addition, a few days before our course, Matthew Perret gave an intensive course in Rio de Janeiro on “Working into English B,” held at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica (PUC-Rio). This meant there were many possibilities for training, both into and out of Brazilian Portuguese, for those of us who wanted to avail ourselves of such opportunities. I strongly encourage all of you to do just this.

More information is available on the AIIC website.


GWGEORGANNE WELLER is an interpreter and translator working with English, Portuguese, and Spanish for over 35 years. She is also an independent researcher and has taught T&I classes in several universities in Mexico. She has taught about translation/interpreting techniques, methods, tools, and technology.


August 3, 2016

Are You Ready for San Francisco?

Screenshot from 2016-08-03 08-55-26


We’re only three months away from the ATA 57th Annual Conference. Are you ready for San Francisco?

The conference website is up and you can check this year’s sessions to start putting your schedule together―because we all know we can’t be in two places at the same time!

Make sure you check the entire conference schedule, so you can make the most of your networking opportunities, including “Brainstorm Networking,” “Business Practices Happy Hour,” and “After Hours Cafe,” as well as division annual meetings. For all you early birds out there, you can also enjoy physical activities, such as Zumba and Stretch gatherings, before you make it to the Continental Breakfast.

There’s also information about the Advanced Skills and Training (AST) day, which will take place on Wednesday, November 2nd, and feature 16 three-hour hands-on sessions about a specific subject. Space is limited and require an additional fee (not included in the conference registration fee), so plan ahead and sign up for the class of your choosing.

And, mark your calendars:
if you register for the conference by September 23,
you’ll get 30% off.

Last, but not the least, make sure you enjoy the ATA rates at the conference hotel. This year, the Hyatt Regency San Francisco will be hosting the event, so make sure you find a roommate and book your room as soon as possible. ATA rates are available until October 10, 2016―or as space allows. Who knows, maybe you’ll be one of the five lucky guests who will be selected for a free night at the hotel!

In the following weeks we’ll be highlighting each session to be presented by PLD members, so keep an eye here on the blog for more information on each one of our colleagues who will have something interesting to share in San Francisco.