A CONVERSATION WITH THREE ITALIAN TRANSLATORS

On April 27, 2023 I attended a seminar at the Rizzoli bookstore at which three prominent translators spoke about their latest projects. The translators were Ann Goldstein, translator of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet, Jenny McPhee, who has translated Elsa Morante and Natalia Ginzburg, and Michael Moore, who recently published the first new translation in 50 years of the seminal 19th century novel I Promessi Sposi. The discussion was moderated by Professor Monica Calabritto, Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at Hunter College and Chairperson of the Department of Romance Languages and Eugenio Refini, Associate Professor of Italian Studies at New York University.

Jennie McPhee discussed her work on the three-volume translation of the complete works of Primo Levi published in 2015. This project, which took seventeen years to complete, was edited by Ann Goldstein. It was mentioned that as Levi’s works were published in Italian, they were not translated with a consistent voice and this project was able to achieve that. Also, Levi’s works had often been evaluated more on the basis of his role as witness than on his skill as a writer. The new translation was able to show the beauty of his prose as well as the importance of his work as historical record.

It was mentioned how a translation can help a book to take its place in the canon of great literary classics and/or give a book a new life. Many books are not included among the great books simply because they were overlooked or forgotten after they were published in their native tongue. This has often been the case for women writers such as Natalia Ginzburg whose works were given new life after they were translated. Other examples of this are Elena Ferrante, who became a more important writer in Italy because of the success of her translated books in the US, and Alba de Cespedes.

Translation can also be an act of restoration. Michael Moore mentioned that earlier translations of I Promessi Sposi skirted around the issue of sexuality in such a way that the erotic undertones present in the novel were eliminated. Jennie MacPhee mentioned that in an earlier translation of a work by Elsa Morante the translator for some unexplained reason simply left out about 200 pages.

It can be difficult to translate potentially controversial elements of a literary work so as to be true to the tone of the original while not offending contemporary sensibilities. An example might be words that are potentially denigrating in nature. Jenny McPhee mentioned how in one story the author used the word “moro” to describe a child. The word could have been translated into English in several different ways such as the black boy, the negro, the dark one, etc. She opted to use the word negro with a footnote describing the context in which the word was used.

Throughout the discussion it was acknowledged how difficult it is to translate the past in present day terms. This raises questions such as what good English today is and when a translation is too contemporary or too American.  All of the panelists agreed that literary translation is anything but literal but is an art in itself.

Patricia Stumpp

 

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

Greetings to all our readers and best wishes for a happy and successful 2023!

As you may know, we are starting 2023 with a new slate of officers so this seemed like a good opportunity to introduce our new President, Michelle Berrios. I hope you enjoy the interview with Michelle in this edition of the Gotham.

Feel free also to check out the write-up on our January business meeting. This will give you an overview of where the Circle stands today.

In addition, as a member of the Circle, don’t miss the opportunity to attend the presentation of the film Sansón and Me at BAM at a very attractive ticket price.

 

With best regards,

 

Patricia Stumpp, Editor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MEET YOUR NEW PRESIDENT: MICHELLE BERRIOS

 

I recently had the chance to spend a very enjoyable few minutes chatting with Michele Berrios, our new President. Michelle comes to the Circle with more than fifteen years of Spanish to English and English to Spanish translation experience which includes a specialization in the US Hispanic market.

The daughter of parents who were both PhD’s, Michelle came from a family where bi-lingual reading was always encouraged. At the age of 14, she chose translation as her future career during a meeting with her guidance counselor when she spotted “translation” as one of the possible career choices on a list that the counselor showed her.

Michelle’s academic experience is impressive. In addition to a BA in Translation from the University of Puerto Rico and a Postgraduate Certificate in Translation from City University of London, she also has an MA in Lexicography from the University of León and the Royal Spanish Academy in Spain. From 2016 to 2021 she worked as a lexicographer for Curiosity Media where she helped to expand dictionary and grammar content for SpanishDict.com and ingles.com. She is also an active voting member of the ATA.

Michelle mentioned that some of her most fulfilling translation jobs have been volunteer assignments. These include translating for the Obama Campaign and for the International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL). On a personal note, she is currently editing a book of short stories written in Spanish by her late father which she hopes to eventually translate into English.

As our newly elected President, Michelle now brings her commitment to service to the Circle. In our case that means fostering opportunities for networking and communication to help us stay abreast of current industry conditions and trends. Without such knowledge, translators can be at a disadvantage when dealing with employers and building their careers. An advocate of lifelong learning, Michelle is also committed to providing continuing education opportunities for our members as we face challenges such as the effective use of CAT tools and the proliferation of machine translation.

Welcome to the Circle, Michelle! We look forward to working with you on these exciting initiatives during the coming year.

ANNUAL MEMBER MEETING – JANUARY 31, 2023

The Circle’s annual business meeting was held virtually on January 31, 2023 with twenty-three members in attendance. This event, which is required by the Circle’s by-laws, is an opportunity to look back at the achievements of the prior year, discuss the Board’s plans for 2023 and to take questions and suggestions from our members.

The meeting was called to order by Milena Savova, our out-going President, who thanked the other outgoing members of the Board for their outstanding service during the challenging conditions that we faced in 2022. She then introduced our new slate of officers: Michelle Berrios, President, Liz Herron-Sweet, Vice President; and Randall Gernaat, who is taking over as Treasurer from Sepideh Moussavi.

Looking back on 2022, Milena mentioned the Circle’s success in transitioning to on-site meeting as well as continuing to hold online events during the year. On-line attendance increased both from the US and abroad. The summer picnic in Central Park was held successfully with the Circle covering the cost of the event. The December in person holiday event also was held with the Circle covering part of the cost for that event as well. Milena also acknowledged the drop in membership which occurred last year which is an industry-wide phenomenon shared by the ATA. This year an effort will be made to bring in new members, including student members. Our membership at the present time stands at 170.

Alexia Klein, who is continuing as our Program Director, discussed her work during the year which included hosting eight webinars, a Translation Day get-together for members as well as the picnic and the holiday party. Matt Goldstein, Secretary, discussed his efforts to put together the new website which is still being perfected. He also reminded both new and old members to update their profiles on the site so as to increase their searchability. Matt also assisted Alexia in the planning of the summer picnic. Outgoing Vice President Marcel Votlucka was not present but communicated by email his efforts to prioritize member outreach and advocacy for our industry.

Sepideh Moussavi then reported on the Circle’s financial condition which is solid. During 2022 progress was made on cutting expenses. The Circle no longer uses a Webmaster which contributed to a significant reduction in expenses. The Circle has a substantial balance in its checking and savings accounts as well as a healthy amount in the CD that represents the proceeds of the Charles Stern bequest. Those funds are earmarked for covering the professional development expenses of emerging translators. In 2022, two grants were awarded to people who attended translation-related events and who subsequently wrote articles for the Gotham about their experiences.  Members who belong both to the Circle and to the ATA were also encouraged to check the box pertaining to rebates to local chapters when renewing their ATA memberships as that increases the flow of funds into the Circle’s coffers.

Our new officers then had an opportunity to introduce themselves to the membership. Michelle, our new President, brings a wealth of translation experience to the Circle as a Spanish to English and English to Spanish translator. She will focus on increasing networking opportunities and surveying our members to determine how the Circle can best serve them.  Vice President Liz Herron-Sweet, an ATA-certified Portuguese/English translator, is very active in the law division of the ATA of which she is a founding member. Randal Gernaat, our new Treasurer, is a freelance German/English translator with an extensive financial background.

Natalia Postrigan, who continues as our administrator, discussed her efforts to improve membership retention and to increase participation in social media though Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. She also mentioned how the new website makes it much easier for members to sign up for events.

I, your Gotham editor, would like to remind members that I am always looking for original articles on translation and interpretation for eventual publication in the Gotham. I am happy to work with authors on the editing of rough drafts to get them ready for publication. Aside from providing interesting reading for our membership, such articles increase our member’s visibility within the profession, potentially leading to increased business opportunities.

One of my ideas for 2023 is to provide members who are literary translators with the opportunity to publish yet unpublished literary translations in the Gotham. However, the Gotham cannot assume responsibility for ensuring that no copyright laws would be violated by doing so. Copyright laws seem to be a grey area for most of us and it was suggested that this might be a good topic for one of our monthly meetings if we can find an expert in the field willing to address our group on this issue.

To conclude, I think I speak for all the officers and members of the Circle in expressing our sincerest thanks to outgoing President, Milena Savova, for her outstanding leadership during the challenging times that characterized the last few years. Milena, you will be missed!

 

Patricia Stumpp, Editor

 

 

 

 

TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR FILM PRESENTATION AT BAM

The New York Circle of Translators would like to invite you to join us for the opening of a film by court interpreter and acclaimed Mexican-American director Rodrigo Reyes, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). NYCT will be at BAM on Sunday, March 5th, at the 4:30 pm screening, and we hope to see you there! Please use the discount code “SANSON” to get tickets for $8 each (plus fees).
Sansón and Me began when the filmmaker was working as a court interpreter in rural California for the then 19-year-old undocumented Mexican migrant Sansón Noé Andrade, who was sentenced to two life sentences without parole in Pelican Bay State Prison. Through letters and visits, Andrade shared his story with Reyes.
The film won the top award for best film at the Sheffield DocFest and a favorite at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival. It will open on March 3rd at BAM, and the director will be present for Q&A sessions on March 3, 4, and 5!
Sansón and Me is a vibrant portrait of a friendship navigating immigration and the depths of the criminal justice system, Sansón and Me pushes the boundaries of cinematic imagination to rescue a young migrant’s story from oblivion, and makes the case for a justice system that works to transform people’s lives, rather than continue cycles of violence.

 

NYCT ELECTION BALLOT 2022

Please familiarize yourself with the candidate statements provided in today’s post and select one candidate per position. Print ballot and mail to the Circle at the address shown below. You may also print the ballot, fill it out, scan it and send it as an email to nycirclemanager14@gmail.com.

All ballots must be postmarked or received via e-mail by December 19, 2022. Ballot received after that date will not be valid. Only one vote per members.

NYCT ELECTION BALLOT 2022

CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT:

______ Michelle Berrios

CANDIDATES FOR VICE PRESIDENT:

_____Elizabeth (Liz) Herron-Sweet:

_____Tiziana Ruskauff

Mailed completed ballot by December 19, 2022 to:

 

New York Circle of Translators

PO Box 4051

Grand Central Station

New York, NY 10163-4051

 

ELECTION 2022: CANDIDATE STATEMENTS

It’s that time of year again when we vote for our new leadership. Please read over the candidate statements for the Board positions mentioned below and make your voice heard by mailing in your ballot. The New York Circle thrives because of the efforts of you, our members, and our dedicated Board of directors.

CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT:

MICHELLE BERRIOS
My name is Michelle Berrios and I’m pleased to announce my candidacy for President on the New York Circle of Translators Board of Directors. I’ve been a member of the NYCT and the Dictionary Society of North America for the past two years, as well as being an active member of the ATA. My working languages are Spanish to English and English to Spanish with in-depth knowledge of the US Hispanic market.

My abilities, experience, and background in translation, lexicography, and translation project management make me a good candidate for the role. I have a BA in Translation from the University of Puerto Rico, a Postgraduate Certificate in Translation from City, University of London, and an MA in Lexicography from the University of León and the Royal Spanish Academy, in Spain. I’ve been a freelance translator for over fifteen years. In addition, I worked from 2016 to 2021 as a lexicographer for Curiosity Media, where I helped expand the dictionary and grammar content for SpanishDict.com and ingles.com.

NYC has been my home at various stages of my life: right after college, after a seven-year stint in Argentina, and most recently, when I moved back in 2020. While living in Argentina, I regularly participated in activities and attended continuing education courses at the Sworn Translators’ Association of the City of Buenos Aires (CTPCBA) and the Institute of Localisation Professionals. This allowed me to make connections with others in my field and enhance my business profile. Being part of these associations also enabled me to become part of a group of very committed translators who were interested in actively widening their professional horizons. I lived in Puerto Rico from 2016 to 2020 and, during that time, became involved in another association, the Puerto Rican Academy of the Spanish Language. All were enriching experiences that provided me with professional development tools and led me to engage with likeminded professionals.

If I am elected President, I will serve the needs of the Association to the best of my abilities. I hope to inspire and be inspired by its members, collaborate with the Association and support the group in providing opportunities for continuing education, job prospects, mentoring programs, networking, access to resources, new perspectives, and professional development.

On a personal level, the NYCT is an opportunity for me to give back to the language community by sharing the academic and professional knowledge I have accumulated throughout the years and help make way for the next generation of translators and interpreters.
Michelle Berrios

 

CANDIDATES FOR VICE PRESIDENT:

Elizabeth (Liz) Herron-Sweet

I am pleased to be running for the position of vice president of the New York Circle of Translators.

I joined ATA in 2015 and became certified in the Portuguese > English language pair in 2017. I was a founding member of the ATA’s Law Division in 2017 and went on to serve as Assistant Administrator of the Division from 2018-2021 and as Administrator since 2021. I look forwarding to implementing my experience on the Law Division as vice president of the NYCT.

I have a B.A. in International Studies with a concentration in Portuguese from Middlebury College and worked for six years as a paralegal at a large international law firm, first in New York City and then at the firm’s new office in São Paulo. I have now been a translator for nine years, specializing in legal, business and academic work. I hold a Certificate in English to Portuguese Translation from the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies and a Certificate in Basic Training in Conference Interpreting from Versão Brasileira in Curitiba, Brazil.

After having lived in Brazil for 10 years, I moved with my family to New York City in 2021 and am now rebuilding my freelance business from the ground up. I was very pleased to join the NYCT in early 2022 and have done great networking through its monthly webinars and semi-annual in-person events. If I am elected, I look forward to assisting the NYCT, the president and the board with implementing all the Circle’s programming and ensuring it remains a valuable resource and venue for its members and for the translation and interpretation community in the New York area.

 

TIZIANA RUSKAUFF

My name is Tiziana Ruskauff. I am a native Italian, I hold a Foreign Languages and Literatures degree from the University of Sassari, Italy.  I live in New Jersey and I’ve been working as a freelance English into Italian translator since 1995.

Back then, the Internet was quite new. Some of you probably remember the very loud dial-up modems and the fact that we could not stay always connected as we do now, since it was quite expensive!  Actually, when I first started working in-house for a translation agency in Upstate New York, we did not have Internet and no CAT tools either.  I had several specialized dictionaries and I remember keeping the most pertinent one on my knees while working, for faster consultation.

I am honored to be asked to run for vice president of the NYCT.  While I joined the Circle recently, I’ve been a member of the ATA, the Italian Language Division and the Audiovisual Division for several years.  Things have changed drastically compared to the ‘90s, but the need to promote our profession is still actual, maybe even more than in the past since now many clients and LSPs tend to rely on machine translation.

During my career, one of the opportunities I enjoyed the most is the Language Lead role I recently covered for different translation agencies.  In one case in particular, I lead a group of over 25 translators.  I mentored and supported them, I also advocated for them, while developing training materials and glossaries.  I would like to put this experience to good use as an active member of the NYCT board.  I intend to help the President and the Board in any way I can and to support and give back to the Circle, as I feel it’s important for linguists to have a welcoming place where they can grow professionally, network and keep in touch with peers.