Translation Slam is the “duel” during which two translators cross their language swords. It is a concept and event conjured up by eminent British translator, editor, and writer Daniel Hahn and, within the framework of The Language Project, the Translation Slam has been evolving, changing form as it goes along.

This time, the bar was set quite high and the challenge was double: how do a male translator and a female translator deal with a demanding scientific work which “slaloms across styles and modes formal dialectic to loose musings”[i]? How do those two translators handle a terminology which, of all things, has to do with gender identity and sexuality?


And there was light! Those queries were answered in all their glory by Lyo Kalovyrnas and Vasia Tzanakari, assisted by Professor of Sociolinguistics Costas Canakis and coordinator Kleopatra Elaiotriviari. Lured by both the Translation Slam’s topic and the eminent panelists, the audience filled the amphitheater Sakis Karagiorgas, Panteion University, almost to capacity on Saturday, March 10, 2018. The event, which could well have been called “Vivisection of Two Translations”, examined the two translation versions of excerpts from The Greeks and Greek Love: A Radical Reappraisal of Homosexuality in Ancient Greeceby British historian James Davidson.

Without missing a beat, both the audience and the two parrying translators participating in the first ever Queer Translation Slam worldwide stumbled upon a wealth of interesting discoveries: how important the addition, or lack thereof, of a possessive pronoun might prove; how the word “Technicolor” is perceived by different people; why the oh-so-common word “boyfriend” may be translated into Greek, among other things, as “friend”, “boy”, “boo”, or “lover” but not in every case and in any case; and how many and diverse readings must take place to decipher at last the different layers of the concise and pithy writings of a sui generis writer like Davidson. The audience’s apt observations and the insightful remarks by Costas Canakis, together with the explanations provided by the translators in terms of their research into the original and their choice of words, showcased for yet another time the manifold dimensions of the translation process.


Our heartfelt thanks go to all who attended. We can’t wait to have you near us at the next Translation Slam!

Ευχαριστούμε την Tchoukie McKoy για τη μετάφραση στα αγγλικά.