40. WAAT Session: Mithu Sanyal & Alta L. Price on Author-Translator Collaboration

The WAAT Sessions is a new series of video conversations about literary translation. In WAAT Session 01, the German author Mithu Sanyal and the literary translator, Alta L. Price discuss their author-translator collaboration process for Alta's English translation of Mithu's novel, Identitti.

02. Long Words and Sentences (e.g. “Kraftfahrzeughaftpflichtversicherung”)

In 1993, I’d moved to Berlin, Germany to work at Siemens for a few months as an engineering apprentice. My job in the quality department involved doing all kinds of destructive and non-destructive testing procedures for defects, from hairline cracks to incorrect dimensions, in gas turbine components. And I had to do it all in a language that I had barely studied in the two years prior. So, while I was making my way around Berlin, getting hopelessly lost in eastern and western German dialects and all the immigrant slang that had made its way into them, I was also trying to decipher convoluted compound words from technical German manuals and reports.