This is Not an Oversight. It’s a Policy – Italian Media and the Incredible Disappearing Translator

Questo non è un caso. È una politica.

Here’s the basic principle: When a newspaper, magazine, website, or other journalistic medium publishes an article about a translated book, the name of the translator should appear. Everywhere in the world, that’s courtesy and common sense. In Italy, it’s also the law.

And yet important Italian newspapers, magazines, and social networking sites routinely fail to name translators.

This is not just an oversight. It’s not an accident, a mishap, a one-off, a moment of inattention, or a slip up.

The practice has become a policy.

But don’t just take our word for it.

As a writer on the Authors&Translators blog put it recently, “Here in Italy a translator’s name is almost never mentioned — not in the newspapers, often not at authors’ readings, and not by all publishers and journalists.”

Or, as a member of a mailing list for translators working to/from English and Italian recently posted:

Il problema dell’omessa citazione del nome del traduttore nasce quando entrano in ballo recensioni di libri, interviste, e/o  anteprime. Su molte altre cose [quelli della redazione di qualsiasi  pubblicazione] devono stare iperattenti (sennò sono c***i). Se fossero c***i anche nel caso del traduttore mancante, state tranquilli che non ci ricascherebbero. La domanda quindi è: come fare in modo che se omettono il nome del traduttore siano c***i? The “missing translator” problem arises with book reviews, interviews, and/or features. The editorial staff of any publication have to be hypervigilant regarding details (otherwise, someone’s a** is on the line). But if it were also someone’s a** when a translator wasn’t cited, you can rest assured that editors and writers wouldn’t keep doing it. So the question is: What needs to happen so that it’s someone’s a** when the translator’s name is left off?

Editors typically excuse their omissions with such stock phrases as: “Usually we do include the translator’s name.” “It was just one of those things.” Or perhaps our favorite: “The translator’s name isn’t news.”

So just look at typical book reviews and features. The name of the author is news, the publisher’s name is news, the price of the book is news, and the number of pages in the book is news…. But the translator’s name is not news.

In the last few months, No Peanuts! has called your attention to the case of Giuliana Lupi, the Italian translator of Andre Agassi’s autobiography, Open, whose name did not appear in articles published in Italy’s largest daily, La Repubblica. Earlier in March, La Repubblica did it again with the Italian publication of Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In. A major, three-page Sunday feature ignored the two women translators of Sandberg’s book. These instances can be added to scores if not hundreds of others over recent years involving La Repubblica.

This is not an oversight. This is a policy.

When translators are rendered invisible, their entire profession is undervalued. They also tend to be underpaid. And that’s exactly what’s happening in Italy, where literary translators are under assault by the Italian editorial industry through relentless downward pressure on rates.

Coincidence? We don’t think so. That’s why No Peanuts! is launching a new project: The Translator’s Thistle/Il Cardo del Traduttore.

Each month, we’ll award a Translator’s Thistle to the print or online source that has done the most to disrespect translators. No surprise: the winner for March 2013 is La Repubblica and, specifically, its Sunday-edition editor Livio Quagliata and its writer Enrico Deaglio for their March 10, 2013 translator-less Sunday feature on Lean In/Facciamoci Avanti.

Visibility = respect. Visibilità = rispetto.

Click on these links to learn how you can participate: 

About No Peanuts! for Translators

No Peanuts! supports professional translators & interpreters in demanding & receiving fair pay for their work.
This entry was posted in Resistance, Respect, The Translator's Thistle. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to This is Not an Oversight. It’s a Policy – Italian Media and the Incredible Disappearing Translator

  1. redcactus says:

    That’s true. And I actually feel invisible and disregarded when people ask me: “and what is it that you do exactly?” or, better still, when I started working in an office people remarked:”now that you are working…” As if I hadn’t before.

No Peanuts! doesn't pretend to be a representative democracy. We don't publish comments that denigrate our movement, attack our writers, or show disrespect for translators. All comments must be signed with first/last name and include a verifiable email address.

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