About the Video

Advanced Literary Translation Techniques, Common Linguistic and Cultural Problems, and how to Solve them

One of the most difficult aspects of literary translation is knowing exactly how much liberty you can, and should, take with your translation. On the whole, this comes with experience, but there are certain guidelines and methods you can practice before translating a work of fiction, and these apply to any language being translated into English.

In this webinar, we will discuss practical examples of the most common difficulties translators of literary works will encounter: distinguishing between formal and informal language, dealing with dialect, when – and how – to update or modernise the language of a text, being aware of alliteration and assonance and how to get such techniques across in English, etc.

In addition, certain cultural customs are often very tricky to translate, so examples of possible solutions will be given.

Please note: You are encouraged to send in specific questions you would like addressed, with or without examples from your own work, and we will try to cover them. Please submit at least 10 days before the webinar takes place. Remember that people will be translating from different languages, so keep your questions as general as possible. Please send your questions to Sandra through the comments box at the bottom of this page.

Key takeaways

By the end of the session, you will:

  1. Learn techniques so you can experiment with how much liberty you can take with your translations
  2. Receive actual examples of published works that dealt with some of the most common linguistic and cultural issues
  3. Know how to transpose assonance and alliteration between languages
  4. Have the opportunity to have your particular concerns addressed

Discount for both webinars

This is the second of a series of two to be given by Sandra Smith. The first one takes place on 18 January 2018, and will discuss some practical methods for adapting commercial translation skills into more literary skills. Book both in one transaction and receive a £7 discount. Simply type SANDRASMITHDUO into the discount area of your checkout. The discount code will expire on 18 January 2018.

All webinars are recorded: if you miss the live session, you will be able to view the recording later.

Speaker: Sandra Smith

Sandra Smith has translated some 20 works, including Irène Némirovsky’s Suite Française, Camus’ The StrangerThe Necklace and Other Stories: Maupassant for Modern TimesBut you did not come back by Marceline Loridan-Ivens, amongst others.

Her translation of Suite Française won the French-American-Florence Gould Foundation Translation Prize, the PEN Translation Prize and was voted Book of the Year for 2006 by The Times of London. In 2015, her translation was adapted into a movie directed by Saul Dibb and starring Michele Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts and Kristin Scott Thomas.

But you did not come back won the 2016 National Jewish Book Award in the Best Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir category.

Seven of Smith’s translations have been adapted as radio plays for the BBC – Suite Française, David Golder, Fire in the Blood, The Dogs and the Wolves, and Jezebel, all by Némirovsky, as well as Camus’ The Outsider and But you did not come back.

Smith taught French language, literature and translation for many years at the University of Cambridge, as well as Master Classes in translation at Columbia. She has been a guest lecturer at Sarah Lawrence, Barnard and Harvard. She currently teaches at NYU and is a member of the Author’s Guild and the PEN Translation Committee.


25 January 2018


3 pm GMT, 16: CET, 10 am EST. Click here to see the time where you live.


Approx. 60-70 minutes plus Q&A.

CPD points

This webinar earns one hour of CPD (ATA approved for one point). Our webinars and courses are accredited by the CIOL and by the Dutch Bureau Wbtv as ‘erkende opleiding’ (approved training). ITI members may also log these webinars as CPD hours. The same is true of most other professional institutes.

Who should watch it?

Any translator wishing to discover more about the literary translation world and how it works.

What are the benefits to you?

This webinar, given by a master of the art, will arm you with tools to produce literary translations, and will help you produce better translations in any creative field.

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