Category Archives: Translations

Zoom in to the Spanish-English collaborative translation group

by Gabriella Munoz

Earlier this year, TransCollaborate invited me help to facilitate a Spanish-English collaborative translation group.

I sent invitations to friends, colleagues and Latinx Facebook groups to join the project and the response was overwhelming. Given the COVID-19 situation in Australia and the challenges it brought, we started the group with three source collaborators and a target collaborator in June this year. The COVID-19 restrictions meant our evenings of translation took place in Zoom – a first for TransCollaborate – and that collaborators from all Australia, not only from Victoria, could join.

As a facilitator, it was important to ensure the texts the collaborators were going to translate from Spanish to English were challenging and also a reflection of our times. For the first session, the group worked on the poem ‘Un dia’ by Argentinian poet Alfonsina Storni and the micro-play ‘Un Mundo Entero’ by Mexican writer, director and producer Alejandro Ramírez. Storni’s poem reflects on what could happen after two individuals reunite and try to recognise each other and Ramírez’s micro-play introduces us to four characters who are looking for a home and what that means for them.

The group worked using the Zoom chat function to exchange ideas and work on the translation. The chat allowed me, as a facilitator, to see how they worked with language and made me part of their project in a way that, perhaps, wouldn’t have been possible in a physical space. As the session progressed, the participants found a rhythm of their own, working on the translation collaboratively and taking time to discuss what certain words could mean for Spanish speakers in Mexico and for Spanish speakers in Argentina before weaving their translation into English of each text.

During the second and third sessions, the collaborators worked on a fragment of the short story ‘Corredores’ by Nabucodonosor, which examines the estranged relationship between a father and his son. The short story posed a different set of challenges for the group as they embarked on a longer project which required two sessions to be completed.

The sessions also triggered several questions, for example, when we translate Spanish collaboratively and people from different Latinx countries participate, is there a need to first discuss and agree on the meaning and nuances of certain words and then translate to English? How would these translations look if the group decided to mix both English and Spanish, allowing themselves to experiment with multilingual writing? These and other questions remain open.

The collaborators and actors from La Vida Teatro will read online the micro-play ‘Un Mundo Entero’ in Spanish and English and discuss the translations process on 23 October. You can register for the event here.

Translating the story of Yoon-Hwa Choi

Over the past month, Jessica Trevitt has been working with Yoon-Hwa, a recent Australian migrant from South Korea. Since moving here with her partner Kyu, Yoon-Hwa has spent 6 months  learning upper-intermediate English in Melbourne, and has spent the last three months working in a meat factory in rural South Australia to obtain her second visa.

Yoon-Hwa Choi

She and Kyu have found the move from Melbourne to a small country town eye-opening, and Yoon-Hwa has written a series of five short stories in her native Korean to document the experience. In the first story, Yoon-Hwa relates her first impressions of the town, including her encounter with a white kangaroo, her exploration of the local supermarkets, and her meeting with a fellow Korean migrant in their new apartment. In the subsequent stories she describes her experiences at the factory and how they have learned to adjust to an intensive work life in an isolated town.

For one hour a week over the last five weeks, Jessica and Yoon-Hwa have collaborated via Skype to translate the first story into English. For Yoon-Hwa, this experience of collaborative translation has been a significant source of support in her learning of English and her development of conversational technique, as it has given her regular speaking practice during a time when she is unable to attend classes in Melbourne. For Jessica, the process has given  significant insight into how target language revisions reflect the authorial style and voice of the source language author; together, they have worked to capture Yoon-Hwa’s frankness and her eye for narrative detail, producing an English text with a distinctly literary tone.

Over the course of the next few months, while Yoon-Hwa finishes her contract at the factory, they will continue to translate each of her stories. Ultimately they hope to have them published as a rare testament to migrant experience in the rural Australian environment.

Shakespeare research in Italian


Early in 2016, Prof. Angela Tiziana Tarantini (Monash University) and Chris Griffiths completed an analysis of a 1924 Italian translation of Coriolanus and Julius Caesar. Their analysis addressed how the depiction of Rome in the translation of Shakespeare was used in support of fascist ideology in the early 1920s. The translation features a critical introduction by scholar Giuseppe de Lorenzo, which outlines a intriguing argument in which the Senecan ideal that Shakespeare found in the heroes of the Plutarch and Livy is held to be synonymous with the emerging fascist ideals of the period.

Learning Basic German through collaboration

by Jessica Trevitt

I recently undertook a German>English collaborative translation with Dr Madeleine Bieg, and a prominent part of the experience was the opportunity it afforded me to learn some basic German. We translated 155 items proposed for a survey in the field of educational psychology, and with each item we took it in turns to read the German aloud. When Madeleine read I listened carefully to her pronunciation, and when I read I would emulate her and she would correct me where necessary. She would then explain roughly in English what the item meant, while I typed out a suggested revision of her translation on a shared screen. We would then negotiate a final version by clarifying for each other the nuances of the source and target items to ensure we were both satisfied. Over time, this process helped me learn some basic elements of German grammar, such as the capitalisation of nouns, and I began to recognise repeated vocabulary and sentence structures. Toward the end of the four months I found I was able to start suggesting rough English translations myself.

Translating a Survey for Educational Psychology

by Jessica Trevitt

Dr Madeleine Bieg and I have completed a translation from German into English for Madeleine’s research in the field of educational psychology. Working via Skype between Germany and Australia, we met for one hour every week for four months; this was enough time to move through 155 items proposed for a survey of secondary school students. The survey is intended to investigate the students’ emotional attitudes toward their choice of subjects at school, and while it will be conducted using the original German items, our English translations will be used as the research team’s official translation for the purposes of dissemination in Anglophone contexts. We are in the final stages of finalising the target text, and will share more news once it’s ready for circulation!