BarCamp 2.0

Andreas Jandl: lost in translation, found in association


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Andreas Jandl is a freelance translator from English and French, who together with ‌BIEF‌ ‌(Bureau‌ ‌International‌ ‌de‌ ‌l’Edition‌ ‌Française)‌ organised programmes for young literary translators, booksellers and publishers. At the Centre Européen de Traduction Littéraire in Belgium, he is a regular lecturer and mentor for students in the Literary Translation study programme. During the BarCamp 2.0: Outside the Bubble event, Andreas shared his experience of being engaged in translation associations and told why it is important to be united.

Andreas has been doing translation for about 20 years now. And from the very first start, he was interested in leaving his own bubble and getting connected to other bubbles. One of which was the Literary Translators’ Association VdÜ in Germany.

Translators’ Associations

There is one big association for interpreters and translators BDÜ with about 7 500 members. It was founded in 1955 and is mainly for everything that is business translation, juridical translation, interpreting etc. Apart from this, there is another association VdÜ for literary translators. It was founded in 1954 in Hamburg by only 16 people in the beginning. Today there are over 1 300 members.


There are also international associations, such as FIT та CEATL.


FIT (Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs, or International Federation of Translators) is an umbrella body for over 100 associations of translators, interpreters & terminologists from 55 countries, designed to promote professionalism in the industry (not for individual members).


CEATL is an international non-profit association (AISBL) under Belgian law, officially created in 1993 as a platform where literary translators’ associations from different European countries could exchange views and information, and join forces to improve status and working conditions of literary translators. Set up by 10 founder members, CEATL now has 35 member associations from 29 countries across Europe, representing some 10,000 individual authors.


Today CEATL counts 35 member associations from 29 countries across Europe. I’m the second delegate for CETL from Germany. And it’s an impressive moment when you meet all these 35 delegates from all these countries and you know that they are doing the same as we do… It doesn’t matter whether you are in France or Spain, or Romania, we all want to have certain basic standards for translators’ labour.


Key points

  1. The author’s rights to your translation are in your hands. Of course, you have to find some way of cooperating with the publishing house. But they are not allowed to publish something in a changed way against your will. So, if you don’t agree at all, you can say: OK, this can be published and I’ll be paid, but not under my name. You have to know that this is your text, you are the author, and you have the author’s rights to this text.                                                                                                                                                                        
  2. One way of being visible is, of course, going to literary events: book fairs, readings, and any kind of literary gatherings. There is no recipe for success, but it’s quite likely to get into contact with colleagues at the book fairs.                                                                                                                                            
  3. Negotiating is much easier if you have a standard contract. The German translators’ association presented the first standard contract in 1992. And the new updated version came out in 2020.                                                                                                                                                                                                        
  4. Negotiation is a sport. Just do it. This is something you can always practice with your colleagues. For example, you are the publisher and someone is the translator. And then try to negotiate just for fun, just playing. The more you practice, the easier it’ll be to negotiate.                                                                                              
  5. Make a portfolio of your work. Include some of your high-quality translations just to give an impression. You can always send it to the publishing house and explain to them why they should be interested in your work.                                                                                                                                        
  6. Be colleagues in a way that you don’t compete against each other but with each other.                                                                                                                                       
  7. Unite with other translators. Try to convince all your colleagues that it’s good for them to accept certain standards only.


You can work together, you can chat and drink together, but you can also discuss policies of translation rates.