News blog

Sept. 28, 2018

Hope, Faith & Courage in Swedish – How HFC II was translated and approved in Swedish

“How do we get approved translated litterature (we do of course translate it ourselves)?”


The above is a quote from an email from Robert sent to the trustee on Sept. 25, 2003, three weeks before the first CA meeting started in Sweden. On March 2, 2013, Sweden recived an approved version of HFC II. This is, very briefly, how it happened.


CA started in Sweden in the fall of 2003, I went at my first CA meeting in autumn 2004, a meeting which consisted, apart from me, of two people. When “Who is a cocaine addict?” was read something happened. I recognized the whole description. It could have been written about me and I stayed in CA.


In 2006, CA Sweden's held its first area meeting. J was elected chairman of the translation committee and I exprerssed an interest in doing service, the whole committee consisted of the two of us. We decided that we would translate the book HFC that year. We asked about what they had done earlier. One of the ideas had been to give each newcomer a pamphlet to translate before the next meeting, that is to say a week later. This was something that all newcomers had happily agreed to, no problems, but the result had been that they never came back. That made this a bad procedure.


J and I started working, we translated three pamphlets and some texts for meetings quickly. But that fall I went to Thailand for the winter to work as a diver and J moved to Norway. The translation work stopped completely. But we never stopped discussing it, at every area meeting we said: the first thing we do will be to translate the book.


By 2009, CA had grown and benefited from new talents, a new translation committe was formed with T as chairman, and this committee translated three stories. The method was that each of them translated one story, then the Committee met and the one that had translated each story read it while the others sat and compared with the English original. If someone thought something was wrong he noted this in his text and after the entire story had been read they compared everyone's comments and discussed them. When everyone was in agreement the translation was declared complete. This method gave very good results but was extremely time consuming. Translating a story took many hours, and the method was soon phased out.


By 2011, I knew that if we as a community were to translate the book in the foreseeable future, we would have to hire a pro. I googled translation agencies and emailed maybe 30 of them, None were willing to translate something directly from a physical paper book, they insisted upon receiving the text electronically. I emailed the WSO and asked if I could get the text in electronic form but had no luck.


In a desperate last attempt, I checked the swedish adverising site, and found an advertisement. I contacted the man who said that he was willing to translate directly from the book. I called my good friend Mattias and asked him to meet the guy, since they both lived in the same part of town. He met him on the same day.


After the meeting, he called me and said, “What the hell was that?”


“What do you mean?” I wondered.


“First, he said to meet him on a beach,” said Matthias. “As I stood there on the beach and waited in mid-winter, I saw a rowboat come with slow strokes over the water. What an idiot, I thought to myself. The rowboat reached the beach and a long-haired guy in well-worn clothes got out. He pulled the boat up on shore and started walking towards me. The guy held out his hand and said, ‘Are you Mattias? I'm David’. The guy smiled with his bad teeth and asked if I had brought the book. I gave it to him, he said goodbye and went back to his boat, climbed in and rowed away again.”


Even if we never heard from David again, we thought the book had probably found a home anyway. But I heard from David a few hours later, he would charge 1500 USD to translate the entire book, and wanted to be paid as each chapter was completed. It would take a month, he said. This sounded too good to be true but it was worth a try, so I said ok.


Later that night the first email from David came. The first five chapters are complete, pay X USD to my account. I skimmed through the text, and it was alright, so I paid. The nightly emails kept coming, and two weeks later the whole book was translated. I think I transferred money round ten times during that time, I did not even have time to read through the texts, for he translated faster than I read.


We were reluctant to send it all over to the WSO, we wanted to be sure that a book would come of it, and it wouldn't disappear somewhere. The World Convention was to be held for the first time in England and I knew that everyone would be there.


I found that people could produce their own books online, you just uploaded the whole text in one pdf. No sooner said than done. I had just been elected delegate for Sweden and wrote in my first delegate's report to the trustees as an answer to the question:


Is there anything going on in your Area that you would like me to be aware of or that I can help you with?”


“We’re going to print something like 20 copies of HFC 2 and bring ten to World convention. It’s not going to be perfect and we want to write some kind of preface saying, this is a non-approved translation of HFC 2 and is not perfect. Bla, bla…”


We think the translation will be finished before the end of the year and we do this to get a discussion about it. Things like: are we allowed to translate and print it, if we print it should we make it look like the English version, typing etc…”


Believe it or not, I actually forgot to attach the Word document to the trustee, so he never recieved the info. Two weeks before the convention, the 24 books that we had ordered arrived. Mattias and I were like kids on Christmas Eve as we opened the box. They looked so incredibly good, we had fought for them so long and now we had them. We put some books among some flowers, took a photo and posted it on the World Convention's Facebook page. It took a few minutes before the trustee contacted us, and he does not even have a Facebook account. What we had done was not popular. The USA was asleep when it happened, but woke up soon enough, and it was not popular at all. But we had an intense discussion about it, I don't think that I have ever discussed things so intensely.


When I arrived home from the convention I was exhausted, I could not think about the book anymore, I had done what I could. So I dropped it.


In January the trustee phoned me and said, “We have to finish the book in time for your 10 year convention, a convention that was going to be held on 1st March, about two months later. Do you think you can handle it if we do everything we can to help from our side?” “Of course”, I replied, thinking that no way would anybody be be able to say that we in Sweden were not able to get the book finished. An amazing session of work began, and the book, incredibly, was finished in time for our 10 year convention.


I really want to thank WSO, John, and Russell in particular, for all their help. We have our book now, and even if we do not always read it, it still means a lot to us. Today, anyone can open a meeting, launch a web page, and print out a few pamphlets, but writing a book is not something that you do everyday. It means that it's the real thing, that you're here to stay.

Richard E, Treasurer Chair, CAWS 2019