Translation: Juan Mari Mendizabal

In the field of Basque translation, translating into Spanish is getting more and more important lately, and we therefore thought it would be interesting to give it some room, little room as it may be, in this issue of SENEZ, so it could speak for itself. Moreover, the importance that this new field taken on board by our profession has for Basques is by no means to be belittled, since we could say that this is closely linked to the standardization and good health of the Basque language. Let's take simultaneous translation, for instance: the field of oral translation is taking more and more space; a bilingual society cannot leave it out, since it's essential for its expression and for the balance among its different groups of speakers. Nowadays at any social event, even at the highest international level, there is the opportunity to speak and listen to Basque, interpreters delivering the speaker's speech into Basque or Spanish for those who want to listen or take an active part in one language or the other. This is a reality now, at this moment, and not only in the Basque Parliament, Provincial Parliaments and city council meetings, or at courts of justice and the university, but also at talks, working sessions, conferences and the like. However, this does not mean that there is no need for strengthening and improvement. This being so, in this issue we are offering three papers on the interpretation work being done in the Basque Country: the first two deal with interpreting in the Basque Parliament and in the courts of justice mostly from Basque into Spanish, and the third, while focusing on interpreting at conferences and the like, looks at interpreting as a whole, and we are informed about the bitter reality of some interpreters as told by themselves.

In parallel, and thus following the same lines, we have brought to these pages two cases worth mentioning. One of them is the translation of Bernardo Atxaga's novel Obabakoak. Some consider this as an expression of Basque and Basque literature spreading their wings. We don't go into that here, but we discuss the relevance of translation in this coming of age in an interview, where Atxaga speaks about the translation of his book and, in a broader way, about translation in the Basque Country.

The other case has to do with the suing of the author of an article in Basque, when his words had to be translated into Spanish. In fact, as our linguistic situation improves, Basque is increasingly used within the system of justice, and as a result translation/interpretation, both from Spanish into Basque and the other way round, as this incident shows. Besides the special article dedicated to the aforementioned case, we have another article offering an overview of interpretation at courts of justice in the Basque Country. Along these lines, we could not forget that soon we are going to have authorized translators for Basque, and this is going to have implications in the realm of justice. However, we'll leave that for another occasion.

We think that these articles will give readers enough topics to reflect upon a very fashionable pastime, and we hope as well that a passion for debate will ensue. Because as relations or debates between Basque and other languages, not only Spanish, become a normal thing, Basque translators will have to prove not only that we are good at translating into Basque, but that we also are good at translating into Spanish; and nobody will be surprised if we say that this is going to be a challenge for many of us. We have made a start, and more people will start, and we'll have to deal with the same familiar problems, which are unknown to us when translating into Spanish. What is said in the interview about the untranslatability of Atxaga's book and the problems arising from the translation of the court case article will be the way to do that. We have the challenge before us: is it impossible to translate from Basque? The question brings echoes of another question, asked —and answered a long time ago by other people elsewhere about other realities; but perhaps the question should be different: are we capable of translating from Basque? Debate has been mentioned above; as the Basque saying goes, «you can achieve the impossible by trying». We can't let chances escape, but translating Obabakoak, not only into Spanish, but into several other languages, could be one lost chance to learn from and research around how to translate from Basque  one more lost chance, we should say, bearing in mind the article written by Koldo Izagirre for the 1989 double issue.

Apart from this, there are some other interesting texts to read: the translating theory of the Spanish humanist Baltasar Céspedes; an article about the «first professional translator» Gregorio Arrue's life and work, on the occasion of the centenary of his death; notes on punctuation, the organic nature of written texts, and the contradictory tendencies translators show when translating figurative speech, whether we are translating from another language into Basque or from Basque into another language.

So, if we give food for thought to those reading the magazine we'll be happy. If we can prompt from them a response, we'll be much happier. Should we achieve this, the doors of the magazine will be open to them.