WOMEN IN TRANSLATION : FEMALE TRANSLATORS AND INTERPRETERS WHO INSPIRE US ON WOMEN’S DAY
From Cleopatra to Rosa Parks and Malala Yousafzai, the world --and our history-- is full of inspiring women whose PASSION, WORK and IMPACT in their community encourage us to follow a certain career path, choose a specific field of study, and become economically empowered. In all, they INSPIRE us.
March 8th is a day to RETHINK the capability and contribution of women, and to remember all those women that empowered us.
Having female role models can have an incredible influence -- as Serena Williams said once “every woman’s success should be an inspiration to another. We’re strongest when we cheer each other on”. For that reason, today at YOKO we want to pay tribute to some groundbreaking and inspirational women who made their mark in the field of linguistics, translation and interpreting.
SACAGAWEA (AMERICA, 1788 – 1812)
With a name that is extremely well-known among graduates of the American public school system, Sacagawea remains one of the most famous interpreters in U. S. history.
Sacagawea’s Shoshone interpreting skills earned her and husband Touissaint Charbonneau a place in the 1804 Lewis and Clark expedition. Sacagawea’s importance was not just limited to her excellent skills with interpreting and negotiating with the Shoshone, but she also had an extensive knowledge of plants, which came in handy when the travelers needed to know which plants were edible.
It is no surprise that Sacagawea has since been recognized as an American symbol of women’s bravery and leadership.
ANNE DACIER (FRANCE, 1654 – 1720)
Anne Dacier’s translations included works of Aristophanes, Anacreon and Plautus, but it was her prose translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey that earned her the greatest acclaim throughout France and Europe as it presented Homer to a French audience that had been unaware of him.
She developed unique philosophies of taste and language. She was also a fierce defender of the superiority of the classics and fought against their censorship. Her prodigious efforts to preserving and celebrating ancient literature in Europe continue to be cherished.
She proved a shining and inspiring example of why women deserve a place at the table in higher education and made a lasting mark on the traditions of literature, art and translation history.
CONSTANCE GARNETT: (ENGLAND, 1861 – 1946)
“Russian fever” is a term referring to the massive demand for Russian literature among Western European readers throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s. English writers in particular were captivated by the style and mastery of Russian writers, and Constance Garnet contributed directly to this sensation that took hold of the reading public.
She is near-singularly responsible for introducing English-speaking audiences to such novelists as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Chekhov, among many others. Altogether, she translated 71 volumes of Russian literature, many of which are still in print today.
LYDIA CALLIS (AMERICA, PRESENT)
Advocate and ASL (American Sign Language) Native and owner of LC Interpreting Services LLC (now known as SignNexus), Lydia Callis gained notoriety in 2012 when footage of her interpreting for Mayor Bloomberg’s Hurricane Sandy press conferences went viral.
Despite the grave subject matter at hand, her emotive interpreting was praised as being a beacon of positivity for struggling citizens. By the end of the press conference, Callis’s lively signing drew more attention than Bloomberg’s own speech, and she quickly gained a fan base overnight.
Callis used her newfound exposure to bring greater awareness to the Deaf community and continues to encourage businesses to become more “deaf friendly” for hearing-impaired customers. By partnering with local and national groups to help empower people who are Deaf and working to educate businesses and organizations about effective inclusion practices for those with hearing loss, she is clearly an example of entrepreneurial leadership, passion and hard work.