Elisabete Medeiros Tavares - The description of several violent and unfair situations taken as norma
by Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik. In the following the interview with Elisabete Medeiros Tavares, who translated William Hanna's book "Hiramic Brotherhood: Ezekiel's Temple Prophesy". I asked her questions around the motivation of translating such a book against injustice in general, and Zionism as a main symbol of injustice, and the importance of translation work for human rights and justice.
What is your professional background, and why did you agree to translate this particular book?
I was a Portuguese and English teacher for almost eight years until 2010 when I arrived in the UK and I was also involved in translation projects for the Azorean (Portuguese) government. Since 2015, I have been a freelance translator and proofreader with several clients all over the world. Because I felt that this book had a strong message to be delivered, because I soon realised the extensive research made by the author in preparation for this book, it seemed to be a very interesting project to be involved with.
Elisabete Medeiros Tavares
What does the subject of the book mean to you personally, and what in your opinion is most important about it?
I believe that the whole sense of injustice being widely accepted by many when other interests (mainly financial) are at play is overwhelming. The description of several violent and unfair situations taken as normal by some is extremely cruel. Personally, we do not wish to have these issues happening at our door. And because they happen far away, they become acceptable… when they shouldn’t. I think the most important is to draw attention to the whole message because we can only change something when we realise what is happening and really intend to do something about it.
What are the main difficulties of translating from English into Portuguese, and the challenges of translating any book?
I guess the main challenges would be related to certain idiomatic expressions or even slang. Some could be quite common and quite easy to translate, others not so much. So, research is needed. Also, what specific English and Portuguese are we dealing with? English from the US, from the UK, European Portuguese or from Brazil? There are many differences in vocabulary, sentence structures and specific grammatical aspects to bear in mind. The English language is quite simple in terms of grammar when comparing to the Portuguese language, for example. I strongly believe in translating the essence, the meaning of what the writer intends to convey in order to make sense to the reader and make it enjoyable for the reader, so he learns from what he is reading.
How important is it to have a good working relationship and communication with the author?
It is vital. Having a good working relationship and communication with the author allows the translator to clarify possible doubts and manage his or her time adequately and efforts. I guess being in contact when necessary is essential for both parties as long as it is within reason and with deadlines in mind. And it is also a matter of respect. Unforeseen circumstances can happen to anyone and that is why we always need to be able to communicate appropriately.
What was your perspective on the book’s subject matter before and after completion of the project?
Before actually working on the book, I realised the topic is a well-known and current one. Undoubtedly, after completing the project, with the examples provided, with the description of certain events, scenes and portrayal of certain entities, it became clearer that many injustices are happening without anyone really doing anything about them. And only a part of them is truly known to the wider public. I really think the research made by the author is of great importance.
Why is the translation of such books so important?
When a book is translated into any language, it makes that message available to a whole new public probably not so aware of certain issues or matters beyond what the news show. It helps to spread the message to more people.
What advantage (if any) was there in the author’s decision to deliver his message in a novel?
Besides the fact that the book has a role of talking about all the injustice happening in the past and now, I think that by making it a novel, it makes it a bit more approachable to a different public because the reader will enjoy the sweet relationship between Conrad and Freya and will want to know what happens to them until the end of the story. Also, the relationship between Conrad and his father Mark, between Conrad, Freya and other characters can be seen as quite relevant to some.