Translation Slam in Barcelona

Catalan & Greek: less spoken languages in international literature and translation

On the eve of a very important and difficult day for Catalonia –the day of the Catalan independence referendum– the CCCB opened its doors to the audience of the Translation Slam, organized by The Language Project.

For this Slam, the Catalan language met the Greek language in the beautiful city of Barcelona. Following a brief presentation by Vicenç Villatoro i Lamolla, managing director of CCCB, of the Kosmopolis literature festival, during which our translation battle took place, our Slam moderator and translators took the stage.


The novel “Late-night news” by Petros Markaris became the bone of contention amongst the translators. A brief extract, two different translations. What made this event unique is the fact that the two translated versions of this abstract were the result of collaborative translation.

Back in May 2017, during the Collaborative Translation Workshop at the Escola Oficial d’Idiomes Barcelona-Drassanes, the two professional translators Montserrat Franquesa and Quim Gestí had each led a translation team, made up of professional and amateur translators, as well as Greek language students. The members of each team worked together –without consulting the other team– in order to produce their own version of the Greek text in Catalan. The result was two Catalan translations, inherently different, each one containing its own reasons behind the linguistic choices made.


Using these two Catalan translations, the translation duo Quim and Montserrat, with Kleri Skandami, head of the Greek department at the EOIBD, as moderator, confronted the audience and the battle began! The event was conducted in a smooth and happy atmosphere. Some members of the audience spoke Greek, while others did not, but what they all shared was the same passion for literature, words and languages. The event was held in Catalan, so everyone had the chance to participate actively in the discussion. As for the “conclusion” of the Translation Slam, well… both version had some “better” or “worse” choices.


For their support and help in making this event possible, we would like to thank Alexandra Büchler and Literature Across Frontiers.

We hope that the less spoken languages in Europe will eventually have a bigger voice and wider reading audience, and more cultural events like this Translation Slam have the chance to take place in the future.


Photo credits:  ©CCCB 2017 Òscar Ferrer

For a taste of the action, take a look at the full length video of the event!