August is Women in Translation Month, an annual celebration of women writers from around the world writing in languages other than English. It’s also a chance to recognize the women who work to translate works from other languages into English in order to share those voices. This month, we want to share some words from Arielle Aaronson, translator of the recent translation of Marie-Renée Lavoie’s middle grade novel, The Curious Misadventures of Kitty the Cat. Here she explains a little bit of what it’s like to bring a story from one language into another.
“This is the fourth title by Marie-Renée Lavoie that I’ve translated. Every time I sit down with one of her books, it feels like I’m continuing a conversation with an old friend. I get to laugh at her humor and wit, but I’m also able to watch her characters and themes develop as her writing evolves. It’s a lot like sitting in the passenger seat for a very scenic drive. Often you can tell where the car is headed, sometimes you want to reach over and take the wheel, but mostly you act as a second pair of eyes and ears (or paws, in this case).
For this book, it was such fun to imagine the universe of a family pet. My task was threefold: I had to translate Marie-Renée’s words into English, create an English voice for Kitty himself, and develop a style that was accessible yet goofy enough to draw in younger readers. Some of my biggest challenges involved striking the right tone for a pun (would you believe it took me months to come up with”poo-tunia”?) or landing on a name like “Spitball.” If I’ve done my job right, you’ll fall in love with Kitty just as I did.”