by Clara Giorgis
This past semester, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of the 334 Workshop in Translation class. We started off with discussing translation theory and translating short stories, however our main project was subtitling a documentary film about the well-known Soviet actor Mikhail Ulyanov. Subtitling the film wasn’t only about translating the dialogue from Russian to English; we watched clips from several of Ulyanov’s films, as well as another documentary directed by the same director in order to gain the background knowledge we needed to truly understand the documentary. One of the most challenging parts of this project was keeping the subtitles concise so that they wouldn’t take up the entire screen and many times we ended up debating over which word would be the best (and shortest!) translation. We were also lucky to be able to work alongside Anna Evtushenko, one of the screenwriters for the film, who helped to ensure that our subtitles remained true to the main ideas of the film. Although the project took a lot of time and energy, it was really satisfying and rewarding to translate an entire film, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to watch the film with our subtitles in place!
Since we’ve finished up subtitling the film, we’ve taken on individual projects. All of my classmates are working on wide range of projects, from translating archival documents to works of literature. Along with some of my classmates, I’ve taken on translating reference pages for the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON). The website houses a wealth of information about the forty indigenous groups that are part of the association. While some of the website’s main pages are translated into English, these reference pages are only in Russian. Working on this project has been challenging, as there are a lot of specific proper nouns and transliterations of indigenous words, however it’s also been very rewarding to learn more about the indigenous peoples who live within the Russian Federation. At the end of the semester, we hope to submit our translations to the website for publication. While translation is certainly a difficult area of language to tackle, all of the projects we’ve worked on have been really interesting and it’s amazing to know that the work that we’ve done will help these works to reach a wider audience.