Vietnamese young translators inspired to love their occupation

 Training for Vietnamese Translators in Social Sciences and Humanities,
a project funded by EUNIC Global.

L’Espace Hanoi.
The translation workshop themed “Theory of Translation in current world: Translator or Traitor?” took place in Hanoi on October 26th, aiming to promote closer dialogues between European experts and Vietnamese professional translators on translation strategies and cultural exchange.

The symposium, which was organised by L’Institut Francais du Vietnam (IFV) on behalf of EUNIC Viet Nam in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy to Viet Nam, was the closing activity of a series of symposia by experts from EU countries within the framework of the EUNIC Global-funded project “Training for Vietnamese Translators in Social Sciences and Humanities”.

Professor. Stefano Romagnoli speaks and shares his expertise
during the translation workshop on October 26th , 2019  
(Photo: ©IFV)

Addressing the event, Professor Stefano Romagnoli has provided the audience with both of theoretical and practical knowledge of translation in attachment with his direct experience and examples, ranging from literature to theatre scripts and art performances.

Based on a wordplay in Italian between ‘traduttore’ (translator) and ‘traditore’ (traitor), Romagnoli has underlined the translator’s dilemma over their negotiation process with source texts and publishing houses. Following Umberto Eco, he strongly asserted there is no magic or fixed formula to carry the meaning of a text from one language to one another. By contrast, translators have to consider target audience and context within translation. Moreover, they also face many difficult negotiations with publishers, i.e. about their remuneration, editing costs, and even adding notes or a glossary of terms. “Translation is not a simple job”, Romagnoli concluded; in fact, the translator is required to have the same kind of talent as the actor on stage, “what they both do is to take something of somebody else’s and put it over as if it were their own”. [ Willard Trask (1900 – 1980)]

Translators discusses challenges in translation work (Photo: ©IFV)

Thanks to his expertise in Japanese media arts and cultural studies, Romagnoli shared several intriguingly practical examples and useful techniques to overcome the problems. He exemplified each of the points he was making with an amusing anecdote, thereby exchanging valuable lessons learnt and different ways of resolving difficult predicaments with translators. Apart from recommending trustworthy handbooks in translation and interpretation studies as a starting point to the awareness of the global millennial experience in the field, he reiterated Venuti’s statement, the translator works to make his or her work ‘invisible’, producing the illusory effect of transparency that simultaneously masks its status as an illusion; therefore, the translated text seems ‘natural’, not translated. [The Translator’s Invisibility, Lawrence Venuti, 1955, Routledge]

Translators coming from different languages pose a group photograph in the closing workshop (Photo: ©IFV)

To sum up the closing workshop, Romagnoli conveyed his best wishes to all the translators involving in the EUNIC Global project, encouraging them to continuously cultivate their love for the creative and invaluable work despite any efforts and drawbacks. In bocca al lupo!

By Vu Hoang Quyen


To follow the closing workshop, please visit

* Notes about the Speaker: Stefano Romagnoli is Assistant Professor of Japanese Language and Translation at La Sapienza University of Rome 1, Department of Oriental Studies. His research interests include the representation of other people and culture in Japanese modern literature, in particular in travel literature, and the narrative singing known as Rōkyoku. He has recently translated a novel by Higashino Keigo and has subtitled many movies and performances.