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The Future Becomes Clear

And here I am once more, returning to my most-neglected blog, making promises to myself that this time I really will make time to do what once, was a weekly staple.

Well, what's prompted me to get back in the saddle on this occasion is a rather happy series of events, that I shall tell you of forthwith.

Back in March, I was finishing off a class with Ramón, my karate teacher, at his dojo (black belt exam coming up at the end of June, gulp! But that's another story). Anyway, the front door opened and Ramón popped out of the office to see who it was and I recognised a voice I hadn't heard for several years. I stuck my head around the door, and sure enough, there was an old client of the academia, who I'd worked with on several translations - of his website, various articles and a couple of books. It was always a pleasure, his being quite particular about what he wanted, on top of writing well, and it forcing me to improve as a translator. So, to cut to the chase, it turned out he'd written, produced and directed a film and asked me if I'd do the English subtitling for it. The crowning moment was when he stated he wanted me to did it since he knew he could trust me. I agreed, and he said he'd be in touch. No sooner was he out of the door, than I started to dance around the entrance hall of the dojo and sing happily, arms aloft, much to the amusement of Ramón. Me, writing subtitles, for a film! 

Nothing transpired for several weeks after that, and I awaited a little nervously, wondering if things weren't going to pan out, but sure enough, an email eventually arrived, and with no messing around - the script was attached. The film, a musical, was also being having its premiere in Asturias the following week, so I decided to attend. Its director, having been told I'd be there, responded that he hoped I'd enjoy it. Ah, I foolishly hadn't considered that, what if I didn't like it?! I've never been able to decide if my tragic inability to lie convincingly is a positive or negative quality. My emotions quickly show on my face and I am almost always incapable of preventing it. I could be in real trouble here, I thought, and went along to the showing in no little trepidation, took my seat and waited for the film, and a possibly excruciatingly embarrassing scene afterwards. I was thinking that making a film is a huge undertaking, it could be awful, and the blurb about the film wasn't convincing - a tale of dancing protesters, determined to stop the violent destruction of green land by an evil developer, plus there was a speaking gnome in it, hmm...

Oh ye of little faith, Raelha. It turned out that the film was carefully crafted, amusing in parts, touching in others and with a message that was intelligently hammered home, and it avoided preaching to the audience, which was no mean feat, given its subject matter. At the end I was able to go up to the director and truthfully state that I'd enjoyed it very much indeed.

After that I spend a month or so working on the subtitles. The dialogue didn't cause many problems, but the songs, well, they were definitely another matter. I'd originally been asked to provide a Literal Translation without worrying about rhythm or rhyme. However, on our second meeting it was pointed out that in one of the songs, a tango, the rhythm was actually quite important, so if I could find a way to follow that of the song, but still without changing any of the meaning with as literal translation as possible, it would be much appreciated, and then there was another, highly metaphorical, song, that also needed special attention... And so the gauntlet was laid down, and the challenge was accepted. I have never enjoyed translating so much.

The whole process was a fantastic experience, from the first draft to the final check of watching the film with my subtitles on it - quite an emotional moment for me. I also had to force myself to concentrate on any possible corrections since we were watching on a rather tasty Apple computer with a huge screen and high resolution - the colour and light were amazing, a real treat after my tatty old laptop.

And now it is done. I learnt much in the process, but the most important thing by far is that, although my teaching is going very well, my students are happy and I'm frequently called out of the blue by strangers asking for classes which I have no time to give, what I want to do, definitively, is translate. I love the playing around with language, finding the correct combination of words in English that perfectly express the ideas of a different tongue. Teaching would be easier. I know if I opened up my own academia it would be successful and I'd more than likely earn a very good living, indeed, the thought has been tempting me these last nine months or so. But no. I have not been walking around for the last few weeks, I've been floating, and that's how I want to feel from now on. I'm hooked.

This post first appeared on In A Land Of Milk, Honey And Cider, please read the originial post: here

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The Future Becomes Clear


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