The Process

Strategy Used for Approaching the Translation

The text itself challenged my translation skills, but while reading the novel I found that when I didn’t understand a work, I could look at the picture and understand what was happening, therefore when just reading the novel myself it wasn’t necessary to translate every single word to understand the story.

However, once I started the translation, I realised that there were words that I had previously just skipped over because I understood the context, and while working on the translation I became more aware of the words I didn’t understand. In general, the words I didn’t know were words that were used in association with war or boats, therefore there was a reason I would never have come across them before.

In a graphic novel it is very easy to divide up the text and work section by section. The way I did this was firstly focusing on a page, and within the page focusing on each frame. I translated frame by frame.

In my main translation I put the name of the person who is speaking which makes is clearer to follow. Below is an example of how the main translation reads;

Paco: ….

Miguel: …

Paco: ….

I also put in page numbers which makes the translation easier to follow if you are looking at the pictures in the book at the same time.

My main aim for this translation was to make sure that my translation made sense. I also wanted to stay true to the original, evoke a similar response to that of the original, and also make sure that my translation had a natural form which would make it easier to read and understand.

As mentioned before, in order to this firstly I approached the translation and translated the text phrase by phrase, not worrying about the context, following this text I reviewed my work and made sure that it made sense. If certain phrases didn’t make sense, I changed them around. At this point the translation seemed very formal compared to the informal narrative style in which the original was written. I knew that this needed to change this in order to stay true to the original since it is a graphic novel and most of the story is told through speech bubbles in an informal manner.

Keeping this in mind I revised my translation and altered and edited the phrases, keeping in mind that the story needed to be told in a conversational manner, and that the use of colloquial English phrases was necessary to make sure that it was portrayed correctly. This was more difficult that intended, and for this part of the translation I found it easier to close the original and look at my translation and read through it out loud, and whenever a phrase seemed strange to say out loud, I changed it to something I would say more naturally. My lecturer helped massively with this, after reading the same text many times Helena Buffery caught many of the little mistakes that I had overlooked Once I had completed this I compared mine to the original making sure that the main story was still being told correctly in a way that would evoke similar feelings to that of the original.

During the entire process I incorporated all the knowledge that I had learned in classes throughout this semester, all the information that we were given in these classes were very helpful for working through the entire translation process.  

Linguistic and Cultural Issues Encountered

For a graphic novel the language used tends to be informal, this is because most of the story is told as a narrative and must fit into speech bubbles or into short paragraphs. As a student studying Spanish, in my classes the Spanish that I learn is more formal than that which would be found in graphic novels, for this reason when I first started reading the novel it took some time to process the language, however the pictures made the text easier to understand.

This graphic novel is also based in the past and again this led to some linguistic issues, some of the words that I encountered were rather outdated and wouldn’t necessarily be used by native speakers today. An example of this is ‘carbonero’, when I looked up this word it was difficult to find the exact translation that fit the context of this novel, however when I asked a native Spanish speaker to translate it for me they happily obliged but also told that it was a boat that was fuelled by coal, but also said that it isn’t a word that they would ever use and that it is quite outdated.

This is also the first long text that I translated from Spanish and for that reason I found myself translating the text word for word when I first started the translation process. Words such as ‘alto’ I translated as ‘higher’, when they actually meant ‘stop’, but I was so focused on the exact translation that I didn’t take the context into consideration. It wasn’t until we had a class that focused on translating a longer text, with an emphasis on context that the text was written in, that I became more confident in translating my text more accurately. Instead of translating word for word I translated each speech bubble/phrase while thinking about the meaning. I had to revise this version of the translation again to make it sound more like native English by adding in colloquial words and phrases.

The main cultural issue that I had with this project was that I had no previous knowledge of any Spanish history, while this was not a massive issue, I did find that once I did more extra reading on the Spanish history the novel became easier to translate. I felt like I had a deeper understanding of the feeling and emotions that the author it was trying to depict after reading history from Spanish sources.

Resources Used

The use of the sites wordreference (, spanishdict (, and the Collins Online Dictionary (, were all the online resources that were helpful in the translation process, however they did not always give me everything that I needed to create a flowing translation. To achieve this type of translation I found that the classes at the beginning of semester were very helpful, these classes helped me to develop the ability to think about how to create a translation in a specific context.

The classes helped me understand the differences between a literal translation and a translation that made sense, and a translation that was flowing. Through applying what I learned in these classes along with the use of online resources I manages to create translation of ‘Los Surcos del Azar’ that makes sense both grammatically and contextually.

In final year Spanish all students also attend translation classes as part of their core timetable, in these classes we also develop out translation skills, throughout these classes we work on restructuring sentences and phrases to make each part of the translation make sense in the target language, throughout this semester there was a lot of emphasis put on grammar, and this also helped massively in my project. Applying all the skills that I was taught in these classes helped me create a grammatically accurate translation of my text.

Sites such as Wikipedia ( and Twitter ( ) were also helpful for researching the history of Spain, with particular emphasis on World War II and the Spanish Civil War. The second half of this module was focused on using online platforms for research, and I was surprised by how much knowledge that could be gained from online media platforms, it was the first time that I had used these platforms for researching a project for college, and I enjoyed it an was surprised by how much information was available due to people around the world contributing in such an informal manner, ie using hashtags. Although the information was not always accurate, and often required a background check it was certainly helpful.  

The classes this semester were the main resource that Irelied on, and really helped me to understand the importance of translation,and how translate texts yourself instead of solely relying on translating tools,which while they are useful are not always completely accurate.

Overall this project was an enjoyable translation experience. It gave me an insight into the process of translation, and helped me to develop new skills. One of the things that I learnt was photoshop, and found this exciting as I had never done anything like this before. While my photoshop skills are not perfect, it was fantastic to see how my translation would look on the actual page. 

Due to completing this project I also think that over the next semester that this project will stand to me when carrying out tasks in my core translation class for the remainder of final year.