Kim Snoeijing and Lucy Pijttersen - February’s Translators of the Month

February’s Translators of the Month are Lucy Pijttersen and Kim Snoeijing from The Netherlands.
After leaving school, Kim worked at a law firm for several years before going on to study Norwegian language and literature in Groningen at the age of 27. While at university, she also worked at the Netherlands-based ‘Arctic Centre’ for three years which, back in the ‘80s, focused heavily on Svalbard and the country’s whaling history. It would be another 10 years before she started translating full-time. She primarily translates from Norwegian, but she has translated a number of Danish and Swedish books too. She also works as a proof-reader, which she will continue doing now that she no longer works in translation: she has just retired and is looking forward to enjoying a bit more time off!
Lucy began studying Norwegian language and literature in Groningen after leaving school – mainly out of pure curiosity and a bit coaxing by Amy van Marken, legendary professor of Scandinavian languages and literature at the University of Groningen.

L.pijttersen og k. snoeijing
From left: Lucy Pijttersen and Kim Snoeijing with the impressive stack of books they have translated together

They were sent a question from their colleague, the Turkish translator Deniz Canefe Sahin:
‘Hi Kim and Lucy! I’ve seen that you’re still working together on a few books, including Diving for Seahorses (Å dykke etter sjøhester) by Hilde and Ylva Østby. I would love to know more about how you work on your co-translations. Do you always translate together, or do you split the book into sections and then go through each other’s work?’

Hi Deniz, great question – it’s just made us think back to when we first started working together. That was way back in the ‘80s when we translated De levendes land by Carl Fredrik Engelstad in 1988. (There were three of us then, actually, Janke Klok was the third translator). We started by translating a dozen pages each. We read over each other’s texts, writing comments all over them, and came to a decision about what the best strategy would be, regarding things like style and wording. We then split the book into sections, completed the translations, and read and edited each other’s work when we were done. We compiled a glossary that ended up changing throughout the translation process too – this resulted in a lot of conversations and discussions! But we finished the book in the end, and were rather proud when it turned out that none of the readers could see where the three translators had divided the text.
Once we got used to working together, we eventually stopped bothering with that first step and started translating after deciding who was working on what. But the corrections, conversations and discussions were, and are, a permanent part of the process (as well as the celebratory dinner we have when we’ve sent the final corrections to the publisher!).
We’ve been doing more independent translations over the last few years, as solo-translators or with other colleagues, but we still work together as each other’s proof-readers.

Read more

Those of you who understand Norwegian can read Kim and Lucy’s Translators of the Month interview in full here.

Learn more about Kim on Books from Norway
And learn more about Lucy on Books from Norway

Other translators interviewed in our Translator of the Month series.