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Alice Martin

Born February 12, 1959, Helsinki

Master of Arts (English philology) 2008, University of Helsinki

Editor for foreign fiction 1989–91, 1993–, WSOY
Freelance editor 1985–89, 1991–93, WSOY and others.
Translator into Finnish 1982–

Teaching at the University of Helsinki, courses arranged by the Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters, the Finnish Book Publishers Association and KAOS (Literary translators’ branch of UJF), and various workshops for Finnish translators

Member of the Finnish Language Board 2009–15

Publications and translations:
Presentations and articles on translation and editorial work
Finnish translations of poetry and books for children and young people, including those of Lewis Carroll, Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes, and the poems of Tolkien.

Awards and special achievements:
The Alvar Renqvist Prize 2005
The Salli Journalism Prize (for the Shakespeare Project working group) 2006

Awards received by Finnish translations edited by Alice Martin:
The Mikael Agricola Prize:
1995 Henry Fielding: Tom Jones, translated by Marja Alopaeus
1999 Laurence Sterne: Tristram Shandy - elämä ja mielipiteet (The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman), translated by Kersti Juva
2003 Anselm Hollo: Corvus, translated by Kai Nieminen

Finnish State Prize for Literature/ Finnish State Prize for Finnish Translators:
1990 Tatjana Tolstaja: Tulta ja pölyä (On the Golden Porch), translated from the Russian by Marja Koskinen
2004 Jaan Kross: Uppiniskaisuuden kronikka (Kolme katku vahel) translated from the Estonian by Kaisu Lahikainen and Jouko Vanhanen
2007 William Shakespeare: Macbeth, Rikhard III (Richard III), Juhannusyön uni (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Henrik VI, kolmas osa, (Henry VI, Part 3) translated by Matti Rossi
2009 J. L. Runeberg: Vänrikki Stålin tarinat (The Tales of Ensign Stål), translated from the Swedish by Juhani Lindholm
2011 Anne Michaels: Routaholvi (The Winter Vault), translated by Kaijamari Sivill

The Kääntäjäkarhu Prize for poetry translation awarded by The Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE):
2003 Anselm Hollo: Corvus, translated by Kai Nieminen
2006 Zbigniew Herbert: Kyynelten teknologiasta, translated from the Polish by Jussi Rosti
2007 J. L. Runeberg: Vänrikki Stålin tarinat, (The Tales of Ensign Stål), translated from the Swedish by Juhani Lindholm

Photo: Mika Federley
Written by Tomas Sjöblom
Translated by Matthew Billington

“Translating is the most natural thing in the world”

At its best, the relationship between an editor and a translator is one of trust. In her years as editor Alice Martin has worked with several translators over a long period of time.

“An established partnership is fruitful but not always possible. It would be very sad if all editors were to become freelances. The best interests of the book are not necessarily served by outsourcing the editing work.”

In Finland, literature in English and the Nordic languages provides the bulk of the work for translators and their editors. But alongside these, Martin has also edited works translated from many other languages, such as Russian and Hungarian.

“I’ve also edited texts originally written in Arabic, but I had a reliable translator into Finnish, Sampsa Peltonen, and the help of an English translation. Basically, you can edit a book translated from any language, because it’s your proficiency in editing that counts, not knowledge of the source language as such. If one of the publisher’s editorial team knows the source language well, of course we make use of it in the editing process.”

Martin was asked to contribute to the work called Käännetyt maailmat. Johdatus käännösviestintään (‘Translated worlds. An introduction to translation communication’) published by Gaudeamus in 2015, with an article about book editing. Martin has been cited for her observation that “[a]lthough everyone translates, not everyone can translate”.

“The need to communicate with people using other languages is universal. In that sense translating or interpreting is the most natural thing in the world: everyone knows how to translate.”

However, Martin is keen to point out that professional translating is altogether another matter.

“People still seem to believe that anyone proficient in two languages can produce translations that will be fit for publication. That’s simply not the case - translating is a skill in its own right. However, if you have talent, you can get better at it, and experience counts for a great deal. Joint educational workshops and seminars for translators are important, as well as mentoring and feedback from peers.

Photo: Gaudeamus


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