Translators Associations North America: LTAC

The invisible art of literary translation

Translation Association North America: LTACThe Literary Translators Association of Canada (or Association des Traducteurs et Traductrices Litteraires du Canada, LTAC) was founded in 1975, to promote “the art of literary translation” and widen the interests of literary translators in Canada. Its professional members work in some 30 languages, and many of them are “frequent winners of major literary awards”.

The Canadian translation association is an active organization that promotes the interests of the profession. One of its tasks is to provide members with advice on negotiations with publishers. Furthermore, the association provides a model contract drawn up by a lawyer specialised in copyright.

LTAC provides information on the rights of translators as well as their responsibilities. If necessary, it mediates in disputes over the quality of the work provided by the translator. LTAC represents literary translations in national organisations and in international bodies.

According to LTAC, it is “the only Canadian organization representing literary translators across the country, with some 150 full members (professional literary translators) as well as student and associate members”. Even if the majority of them translate from English or French, many others work in different languages, like Czech, Italian, Norwegian or Portuguese.

One of the association’s missions is to raise the status of literary translation, contributing towards a better understanding of the profession by the reading public. The people in charge of LTAC state that “literary translators deserve recognition just as other artists do, and the LTAC works to win that recognition”.

The Canadian organisation believes in the maintenance of dialogue between Canada’s major cultures and in the building of bridges between all existing cultures. According to the leaders of LTAC, “by its very nature, literary translation is an "invisible" art; at its best, it does not call attention to itself”. This helps people forget that without translations – or high quality translations, at least – most Canadians would not have access to Canada’s “other national culture” or world literature itself.

The LTAC promotes literary translation through activities concerning the profession. Examples of those activities are readings, talks and panels aimed at the general public who cares about books. These events are usually presented in partnership with literary festivals (like the Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival or The Word on the Street in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary or Halifax), universities and other national organisations. Seminars, conferences and workshops complete the menu of events aimed at promoted high standards in literary translation offered by LTAC.

The Canadian translation association has achieved national recognition of “translations as literary works” in the Canadian Copyright Act. It has also obtained Public Lending Right payments for translators “on an equal basis with other creators”. In 2003, LTAC was a co-founder of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre.

The LTAC published a members’ directory with “relevant professional information for distribution to libraries, publishers and cultural institutions”. It is also responsible for the publication of Transmission, an internal newsletter that features news on relevant cultural events as well as members’ activities.

All of LTAC’s members get – usually by email – information about the association, news and invitations for events. They are allowed to participate in the association’s activities, from readings and workshops to round tables.

The literary translators association has three membership options. Full Membership is aimed at Canadian citizens or people residing permanently in Canada who have published a book-length literary translation or equivalent (“articles, stories, poems”) or comparable work in drama, film, radio, etc. Full members can vote and be listed in the online directory.

Student members must be translation or literature students. Associate membership solely requires an interest in literary translation. None of these have voting rights.

The John Glassco Prize

This award recognises “excellence in literary translation and the talent and dedication of the next generation of literary translators”. It has the purpose of “building greater awareness in the publishing world and in the general public by promoting a literary translator's first published work which demonstrates extraordinary talent and literary excellence”.

The John Glassco Prize has been awarded since 1982. It is aimed at works translated into French or English, which have been published in Canada the previous year. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama or children’s literature, amongst others. The award consists of a $1000 prize and a one-year membership of LTAC. It is given in September, during the celebration of St. Jerome, the patron saint of translators.

John Glassco, who lent his name to the award, was a famous writer and translator who died in 1981.

Keep in mind that Canada has two main languages: English (58.8 % of the population) and French (23.2 %), which is mainly used in Quebec, where it is the official language. The remaining population speaks other languages. Around the world, there are around 328 million native English speakers (the actual figures are estimated to be much higher), whereas French native speakers are about 125 millions.

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