On the 19th of January, a conference on translation in literature and the humanities was held at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.
Jointly organised by the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies (CAWCS) and the Centre for Cultural Translation at Aberystwyth University, and sponsored by Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, the conference, entitled Pontydd Cyfieithu [Translation Bridges], was held through the medium of Welsh.
The aim of the day’s proceedings was to bring together authors, translators and academics to discuss their own translation work and research on translation across a number of disciplines, including projects at Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, the University’s Centre of Celtic Studies and Marburg University in Germany.
With a view to attracting students of and researchers in History, Politics, Linguistics, Literature and Theatre, as well as practising translators, the programme included sessions which concentrated on two main areas of focus – the academic and the literary.
The morning sessions focused on the academic side of translation, highlighting recent databases of translations that will enable future researchers to access text of the past, the challenges translation poses for Welsh and other small languages, and the value of translated texts for the historian. The afternoon featured Welsh writers and poets, who in round table talks discussed translating their own work, and that of other authors, to reach new audiences and build bridges with other cultures, and the challenges and cultural consideration faced by authors when translating.
Individual speakers on the day included Professor Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones, who spoke about the challenges of translating key works into Welsh and smaller languages, and Dr Marion Löffler, who lectured on Translations of the ‘Marseillaise’ in Wales 1796–1914. Dr Eurig Salisbury and Ned Thomas discussed perspectives and experiences of translating with Sioned Puw Rowlands, and a panel including Manon Steffan Ros, Siân Northey, Guto Dafydd and George Jones discussed ‘The writer, the translator and literary translation’ with Mari Siôn of the Wales Literature Exchange.
Speaking about the day, Dr Marion Löffler, Senior Research Fellow at CAWCS and joint organiser of the conference, said:
“It has been a wonderful day of academic discussion intermixed with listening to poetry and novels in more than two languages, and of learning how cultures as far apart as India and Wales can be connected by translation. I am particularly happy that we were able to invite Dr Elena Parina of Marburg University in Germany. For many participants, it will have been the first time they heard a native speaker of Russian deliver a paper in Welsh. I am also happy to announce that everybody interested in the subject will be able to listen to the day’s proceedings on the Porth of Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol soon.”
To close the conference a public reception was held to launch a special edition of the Welsh-language literary journal Llên Cymru. Founded in 1950, the journal’s editorial purpose is to publish the highest quality academic research on Welsh literature of any period. In keeping with the theme of the conference, this special edition of the journal contains articles on cultural translation and an exciting wide range of topics in the same field.