Lost and Found in Translation

3 May

How do you translate a translation? For much of April, Jenny Cameron has been grappling with this issue. She has been in Tampere in Finland working with the translator of Take Back the Economy: An Ethical Guide to Transforming our Communities, Eeva Talvikallio (and with Eeva’s translation consultants Pieta Hyvärinen and Tuomo Alhojärvi). Jenny’s book, co-authored with J.K. Gibson-Graham and Stephen Healy, is based on the idea of reframing common economic concepts such as business and finance. Only problem with translating this book into Finnish is that there are no comparable concepts such as business or finance! So how do you translate a book that itself is an attempt to translate understandings of economy?

Jenny says “This is an interesting process and it has been eye-opening to work alongside a translator who takes such care to ensure that the integrity of the original ideas is maintained. I have a new-found appreciation for how hard translators work”.

A second challenge is that the book is based on elaborating the ethical negotiations that go into building a community economy. However, a direct translation of the term “community economy” loses meaning in Finnish. Eeva and her consultants have had to come up with a new term. The term they have found is “elävä talous”. In Finnish this conjures up ideas of a “living economy”, an economy that’s “alive and changing”, “vivid”, “animate”, and “supportive of life”.

Eeva says “I love this term, and as a translator I’m thrilled that “elävä talous” will be the last two words in the Finnish translation. I hope that by finishing the book with these two words the reader will be left with inspiration for the future”.

Top Photos: Translator at Work
Bottom Left: While in Helsinki, Jenny visited Lapinlahden Lähde a wonderful centre for wellbeing.
Bottom Right: Out in the snow. The Finnish word for the snow that “comes back” in Spring is takatalvi (it directly translates as “back winter”).

As part of her visit, Jenny also visited Helsinki to met with other researchers including those from Bios (who have been working with journalists to help synthesise and communicate information about climate change).

BIOS Researchers with Jenny Cameron (centre)

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