Found in Translation: Win a Signed Copy!

There's no doubt that Found in Translation, written by our friends Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche, is the most anticipated language-related book of the year (perhaps we are a bit biased). We are delighted to announce that we will be raffling off the very first signed copy of the book! Unfortunately, we were not able to get it autographed by both authors, as they live on opposite coasts, so you will have to do with Nataly's signature. We were also able to get a quick Q&A with Nataly, which we hope you will enjoy. Read on for our chat with her and don't forget to have a look at the trivia questions at the bottom so you can win the signed copy! This contest closes on Tuesday, September 25, 2012.

Translation Times: What inspired you to write this book?
Nataly Kelly: Translation and interpreting are the inspiration for this book. The fact is, these fields enable the entire world to communicate. That’s why we actually dedicate the book to translators and interpreters.  Too many people are unaware of how expansive and diverse the translation field really is.  Even translators and interpreters are not always aware of the many ways their work influences the world!  This book aims to change that.

Nataly Kelly.
TT: How did you come up with the title, Found in Translation?
NK: Our editor gets all the credit for it!  We didn’t think of that title ourselves. One thing we learned in this process is that our view of a good title has nothing in common with what mainstream readers consider a good title!  Because we are so used to seeing titles in the news like “Lost in Translation” and “Found in Translation,” at first we had reservations about it.  However, I’ve heard from so many people who aren’t in the translation field that they think the title is very clever.  Since the readers we’re hoping to reach are people who normally don’t read “translation books,” that’s a good sign.

TT: You’re writing the book with a major publisher, Penguin.  How did that happen?
NK: Well, I basically wrote to the editor and pitched her the book idea.  She liked it and asked to see a proposal and sample chapter. The book originally began several years before as a slightly different concept, with a book idea I developed called From Our Lips to Your Ears: How Interpreters Are Changing the World. I had not had any luck finding a publisher, but later expanded the concept to include translation too. My editor, Marian Lizzi at Perigee Books (a division of Penguin) was smart enough to jump on a good idea when she saw one!  It was a joy to work with her and her team.  She was so enthusiastic about the concept and the book throughout the entire process.

TT:How did you end up working with our mutual friend and translation technology guru Jost Zetzsche?
Jost Zetzsche.
NK: Even though we knew each other by our reputations, Jost and I had never even spoken before, until one day, he called me to ask me a question for his newsletter, the Translator’s Tool Box. We had a great call. Then, in a later conversation, he said, “We should write a book together!”  It seemed like a crazy idea in some ways.  However, since I had a book concept that I’d been wanting to write for several years, and I had already been thinking of writing it with another person, I said, “I actually have an idea for a book we could write together. Let me get back to you.”  After discussing it with some of my colleagues, I called him back and told him about the concept. He was very enthusiastic about it, and agreed to be involved.  I am grateful for the timing of his suggestion to work on a book, because timing is everything!  And in this case, the timing was perfect.

TT: What did you like most about working with him?
NK: Jost is extremely spontaneous. I’ll never forget when we went to interview Peter Less, an interpreter who worked at the Nuremberg Trials.  As a young man, Peter’s entire family was murdered at Auschwitz, yet he had to interpret for many of the masterminds of the Holocaust. While we were asking him questions, Peter’s daughter Nettie was politely bringing us coffee and Stollen, which we had bought for Peter in the Christmas market in Chicago. As we were asking Peter about how hard things must have been after he moved to the United States, Jost suddenly turned to Nettie and said, “What about you?  What was this experience like for you growing up?” I nearly spilled my coffee! I was so focused on Peter, whom I respect so much, that I had tuned out everyone else.  Nettie’s perspective gave us a more complete picture, and that is thanks to Jost.
TT: That's such a Jost thing to say! Brilliant outcome!

The finished product. 
TT: How long did it take to write the book?
NK: From the time we signed our contract with Penguin and the deadline for our manuscript, we had just a little over six months to write the book.  However, several of the stories that appear in the book had already been written before that, because they were part of the sample chapter I had written for From Our Lips to Your Ears, an early concept for the book, which intended to show how interpreters are shaping our world.  In fact, the very first story that appears in the book, which shares my experience interpreting for a 9-1-1 call, was written back in 2007. There is a story about an interpreter for NASA, and she had agreed five years ago for her story to be told in the book. Once we had the contract with Penguin, she was one of the first people I contacted, to ask if we could include her story. Of course, the vast majority of the stories had to be written from scratch. There are about 90 stories in total in the book.

TT: Can you describe the writing process?
NK: It won’t sound very glamorous, but in my experience, writing a book requires project management skills.  The first thing I did was to create a timeline and milestones for how many words needed to be written by what dates, and I added in time for weaving the chapters together and editing.  I created a spreadsheet to track all the stories and word counts, so that at any given time, we could easily see how many words we had written, how many stories we needed, and how much more was needed.  Jost and I discussed how many stories we could each commit to writing. We needed to write about four stories per week over a 22-week period in order to make our deadline. Whenever we would draft a story, we would send to the other person for review and feedback.

TT: How did you decide which stories to write?
Judy reading the manuscript by the pool.
NK: For most of the stories, we needed to actually talk to people. What’s it like to translate Harlequin romance novels?  How does a translator end up completely specialized in wine-related translation? What really goes on when you interpret for the UN General Assembly? We ended up doing a large number of interviews in order to answer these questions. Generally, we would start by picking a subject area and then searching for people who might have interesting stories to tell about translation in those particular areas. We decided to include some stories that were based on our own experiences with translation and interpreting. However, we didn’t want to just tell our own stories. We wanted the book to be reflective of a much broader cross-section of the industry.

TT: How did you ensure that the stories would strike a similar chord?
NK: Well, we knew that the style had to be consistently accessible and jargon-free.  But beyond that, we wanted each story to make an impression on the reader. The point of the book is that translation affects people’s lives. We did not want to be preachy, so rather than overtly say this, we tried to illustrate this to the reader in each and every story.  We also wanted to capture all kinds of different emotions in the stories in order to make the reader feel a personal connection to translation. So, the first story in the book is a bit of a nail-biter, but there are others designed to make you laugh, feel compassion, or perhaps even a bit of outrage in some cases. David Crystal, who wrote the foreword for our book, described it best, I think.  He mentioned that, by the end of this book, the reader discovers that what we find in translation is ourselves. That is precisely the point of the book. Translation is not some distant activity that is far-removed from everyday life.  It affects everything we do – even the air we breathe!  Just ask the translators who work on projects for the Environmental Protection Agency. Their website is available in six languages!

TT: How did you decide on the story groupings and chapters?
NK: This was relatively easy.  Just open up any newspaper, and most of the sections are reflected in our book:  Politics, Sports, Entertainment, Business, Technology, Religion, and so on.  We didn’t use the newspaper to come up with those categories, but we started out thinking that the book had to cover the areas of life itself that people actually care to read about.  Earlier on, we had more than double the number of chapters.  However, our editor wisely suggested that we group the stories differently.  The way we ended up presenting the stories has a logic behind it.  We start out with topics that are truly life-affecting, like rescuing victims of the earthquake in Haiti, protecting human beings from outbreaks, and other things that truly affect human lives. Later in the book, we move into lighter topics, like entertainment, food, and love. But we don’t shy away from tough topics either, like conflict, politics, and religion.

TT: What did you think when you first held a copy of the book in your hands?
NK: My first thought was, “I cannot wait for translators and interpreters everywhere to see this!” It is, after all, a celebration of the profession as a whole.  However, I really cannot wait for everyone else to see this book too, so that translators and interpreters, and the field at large, will finally get some well-deserved attention. My mission was not just to write a book, but to create awareness, so I cannot wait to see what happens next.

Now, here are the trivia questions. The first person to answer at least two of these questions correctly will win the prize....a signed copy of Found in Translation, shipped directly to you by the author!
1) How tall is Jost? Hint: it's 6-something.
2) What is Nataly's alma mater? Hint: it's an American university.
3) What is Jost's dog's name? Hint: Judy's dog has the same name. Copycats?
4) What's Nataly's favorite variety of Spanish? No hint here.
5) Who is Jost's alter ego? No hint here, either. 

Please leave a comment below. There can only be one winner, so if you are online on a Friday afternoon, you might be in luck!


Emily Ortiz Alfonso on September 21, 2012 at 3:30 PM said...

Luna is the dog, and Jerombot is the alter ego.

Emily Ortiz Alfonso on September 21, 2012 at 3:32 PM said...

Luna is the dog, Jerombot is the alter ego

Sarah on September 21, 2012 at 3:39 PM said...

Ooh, pick me! Used to be a translation pm and saw this post on Jost's Twitter. Congrats on the launch!

EMILY ORTIZ Alfonso on September 21, 2012 at 3:41 PM said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jost on September 21, 2012 at 5:28 PM said...

Thanks for the great interview, Judy! (and as far the "copycat" charge goes: my hands were tied by circumstance and pressure from my 12-year-old!)

FrenchNad on September 21, 2012 at 6:23 PM said...

2) Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar Ecuador
5) Jeromobot

Nadia Price on September 21, 2012 at 6:29 PM said...

2) Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar Ecuador
5) Jeromobot

Rachel M. on September 23, 2012 at 8:41 AM said...

Thanks for this interview! It was interesting to hear a little more about how this book came together, and I am excited to read it.

And just in case:
2. Wartburg College
3. Luna

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on September 23, 2012 at 12:13 PM said...

@Emily: You go, girl! Well done. You win our price. Those are the right answers. Excellent! We will be in touch via e-mail. :)

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on September 23, 2012 at 12:13 PM said...

@Sarah: Sorry, Emily already answered correctly. :) Plus, you did not answer any of the trivia questions! You do have to answer questions to win the prize. We make it hard here on Translation Times.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on September 23, 2012 at 12:14 PM said...

@Jost: Our pleasure! Hehe, yes, those 12-year-old are very persuasive, aren't they?

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on September 23, 2012 at 12:15 PM said...

@FrenchNad: Those are the correct answers, but unfortunately, Emily had already answered correctly and she was the first one, so she's already won the prize.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on September 23, 2012 at 12:16 PM said...

@FrenchNad: Duh, actually, as we hinted at, we were looking for Nataly's American alma mater.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on September 23, 2012 at 12:17 PM said...

@Nadia: One of these is correct, but Emily had already won the prize. Thanks for playing!

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on September 23, 2012 at 12:19 PM said...

@Rachel M: Our pleasure. Glad you like it! You got both answers correct, but unfortunately Emily had already won the prize. Thanks so much for playing! We will have more raffles in the future for sure. We love raffles.

SalmanRiaz on October 2, 2012 at 4:54 PM said...

Hello buddies,

I am also a blogger, and I have recently started my first blog on translation. I was just searching through trying to find out my translator colleagues, and I found your blog. I feel lucky to find out this great blog which is full of information and innovation. I have subscribed to your blog and will definitely read your future posts to benefit from them.

It would be great if you could visit my blog and share your valuable opinion about it. My blog does not have much to offer in terms of knowledge, but it is my humble attempt to contribute my my share.

Hope to see you there!

Best wishes,


Chicago to Las Vegas on November 4, 2012 at 11:35 PM said...

Very Interesting book indeed, I must buy one also.

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