Pilar Tello, the woman behind a worldwide phenomenom


I’m sure that the majority of you know the name of your favourite writer, but, have you ever thought the amount of people that are involved in the creation of a book? Yes, the writer is the most important one, without them the book wouldn’t even exist in the first place but…what about the rest of them? Today I am going to talk about the collective of amazing people that change any book written in another language, to the one that the reader uses to communicate: the translators. And for that, I have interviewed Pilar Ramírez Tello, the translator to Spanish of huge trilogies such as The Hunger Games or Divergent.

When Pilar finished high school she did not have any vocation for anything, she did not like any of the degrees, so as she liked read and write, she tried to find something related to it. At first, she thought in Journalism but she finally opted to the degree of Translation since she had received English lessons when she was little. When doing the degree, she discovered that she liked the translation process, either being a book or a technical manual.

She told me that she started working in an agency where she did a bit of everything. Then, she worked in an enterprise specialized in document management where she has the chance of collaborating on the translation of bilingual specialized dictionaries. Also, she worked in the translation department of an engineering enterprise. As a fact, meanwhile she was working on the engineering enterprise, she started her literary translation.

When talking about the reason of why the job of translators it is not as much valuable as it should, she said that “right now, we bet for visibility”. This one is the reason of why the campaign Acredítame has been created. This campaign asks media to mention the translators of the books that they make reviews to. The idea is to make people more aware of the existence of translator, so it will be easier to make this profession valuable, “believe it or not, there are people that do not even take into account that, for example, Veronica Roth does not write in Spanish.”

Pilar thinks that she had just good luck when the editorial chose her to translate sagas, as huge as for example, The Hunger Games or Divergent. “When the rights of translation of The Hunger Games were bought for Spain, the trilogy was not the smash hit in which it would become later”. In that time Pilar had already translated enough fantasy, science-fiction and youth literature books, so, at the time of looking for someone with experience in that field, they found her. But with Divergent was different as the editorial already knew her.

When I asked her about how it was to be the translator of Spanish trilogies that have succeeded that much, she told me that “at the beginning it made her head spin.” And, when the books that she translated were read by more and more people, the feeling of responsibility and scare appeared since a lot of people could see her mistakes.

“When Mockingjay arrived I could only talk about it with the RBA’s person in charge of press”, she said, speaking when about the third part of The Hunger Games. She also added, “the last pages were not sent from the U.S. editorial until the last time, before I had already the rest of the book translated, because of the fear of it being leaked.” As the editorial wanted to publish at the same time both original version and Spanish version, she had to translate it in twenty days and the last few pages were sent via regular email to avoid other translations or leaks. So, it was necessary to sign a confidentiality agreement.

“For me, neologisms are the most difficult and entertaining thing of translating fantasy and science-fiction novels”, she responded when I asked her about the translation of mockingjay as sinsajo. She added that when they find a term that they do not know anything about, the first thing they do is to research to get a conclusion. Once they are sure that the term has been invented by the author, they have to look for the process that the author has followed to invent it. In the case of mockingjay, she started by analysing the word jabberjay, the term in the original version which makes reference to a man-made bird created to keep an eye on the citizens of the districts. “A jay is a real bird and its equivalent in Spanish is arrendajo. And jabber is a verb that means farfullar. Nevertheless, for an aesthetic question, after have been looking for synonyms, I used the verb charlar.” As a result, jabberjay was translated as charlajo. “When all jabberjays or charlajos were released, as all of them were male, it was supposed that they could not reproduce. But they get to survive and they mated with female mockingbirds, which in Spanish are sinsontes”, she added to explain how the word sinsajo was created: sinsonte and charlajo together make up sinsajo in Spanish. 

Pilar has shown me the great importance of translators and the pressure they have to bear when it comes to the deadline. People should be more aware of what translators have to face every day and value their relevant job. My future job.

 

Made by María Martínez Lorenzo

 

 

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