Editing translations – English and Tetun


In 1994, Sally-Anne Watson (now Sally-Anne Watson Kane) befriended some Timorese families living in Darwin and became aware of Timor Leste’s struggle for independence. Within a few months, armed with a limited knowledge of Portuguese and an Indonesian phrase-book, she went to Timor Leste to see the situation for herself. During her travels throughout the island, villagers drew her aside and pleaded with her to tell the world what was happening in Timor so they would help the East Timorese people to be free. With the help of some villagers with a smattering of English, Sally-Anne scribed the stories of people across Timor Leste (in a version of shorthand that others would not be able to read) and smuggled her notes, and several cassette recordings of interviews in Tetun and Portuguese, back to Australia.

Upon her return to Darwin, Sally-Anne wrote a collection of non-fiction stories based on what she had seen and heard in Timor Leste, changing the names of places and people so the witnesses would not risk being arrested and tortured. She then worked with her Timorese and Australian colleagues in Darwin to publish a little book – Children of the Resistance – under a pseudonym.

This set Sally-Anne on the path of working with Timorese communities in Darwin and Timor Leste to produce publications of oral histories in Tetun and English. Sally-Anne would like to point out, however, that despite her experience working in and translating Tetun/English, her knowledge of Tetun is fairly basic and a work in progress.

Scribing and editing in Tetun, translating Tetun/English, and editing English translations of Tetun
  • Current projects: scribing oral history in Tetun (2016-current).
  • Tais Don, 2016 (in English and Tetun, published); autobiographical article spoken in Tetun by Veronica Pereira, master weaver, regarding the special woven panels (tais) she produced which had been exhibited at various times over the years concluding in an exhibition in Darwin in 2014. Sally-Anne Watson Kane scribed her words in Tetun and edited the article in Tetun then translated the article and edited it in English, to produce a bilingual article.
  • Buibere: Voice of East Timorese Women, volume 2, 2002 (in English; unpublished): Sally-Anne Watson Kane translated Buibere: Lian Feto Timor Lorosa’e Nian, vol. 2 (which had been published in 2001) into English then edited the English translation.
  • Buibere: Lian Feto Timor Lorosa’e Nianvol. 2, 2001 (in Tetun; published); compiled and edited in Tetun by Sally-Anne Watson [Kane] with the assistance of Timorese translators. ISBN 0_646_41719_3. Copyright Fokupers, Timor Leste; self-publishing assistance and coordination by Sally-Anne Watson Kane. Funded by USAID-OTI, Fokupers and Australian Volunteers International. Some sections translated from original Buibere publication (in English) into Tetun, some sections scribed by Sally-Anne in Tetun. Sally-Anne coordinated a team of over 40 Timorese photographers, translators, designers, editors and researchers, edited and compiled this publication in the Tetun language which was launched in December 2001.

Note: in 2000, Sally-Anne completed a short Tetun language course run by Timor Aid, based in Dili, Timor Leste.

  • Buibere: Voice of East Timorese Women, vol. 1, 1999 (in English, published); edited and compiled by Sally-Anne Watson [Kane] (as pseudonym ‘Rebecca Winters’). ISBN 0_9577329_3_7. Copyright ETISC; self-publishing assistance and coordination by Sally-Anne Watson Kane. Sally-Anne recorded testimonies in Tetun and Portuguese; worked closely with Timorese translators in Timor Leste and Darwin, Australia, to scribe their translation of the testimonies into English; and worked closely with Timorese translators and Australians to edit and produce this English-language publication which was launched in mid-1999.
  • East Timor Interviews Recorded November 1998, 2001 (in English, published); report edited and compiled by Sally-Anne Watson [Kane] (as pseudonym ‘Rebecca Winters’). Copyright ETISC; self-publishing assistance and coordination by Sally-Anne Watson Kane who recorded 11 interviews in Tetun and Portuguese; worked with Timorese translators to scribe their translations of the testimonies into English; and edited this English language publication. Note: introduction by Bishop Belo who was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Children of the Resistance1996, written by Sally-Anne Watson Kane (under the pseudonyms ‘Rebecca Winters and Brian Kelly’). ISBN 0_646_30388_0. Copyright AFFET; self-publishing assistance and coordination by Matin Goreing, Sally-Anne Watson Kane and AFFET members. Sally-Anne Watson Kane recorded interviews and her experiences over one month travelling in East Timor in 1996 then, based on that information, scribed, wrote and edited this collection of creative non-fiction articles.
Related links

After completing the second volume of Buibere (in Tetun), Sally-Anne returned to Darwin and started a business. If you are interested in how she did this, go to: How Sally-Anne started up her online business

For information about recording oral histories go to: Recording/transcribing oral histories

For information about editing oral histories go to: Editing oral histories

Photo by: Darren Kane. Image: Baucau tais given to me (Sally-Anne) by Joanna Lebre (RIP) in 1996. Many thanks to Pedro Lebre and family for this treasured tais which has been in my home ever since. 

Hau fo obrigada barak ba Lebre familia, liu-liu Senor Pedro Lebre, katak ita nia fen, Joana, fo tais kapas ida ne’e ba hau, iha tempu funu tinan 1996. Tais ne’e sempre hela iha hau nia uma.

In 2002, I started On Time Typing as a sole trader scribing and editing business in Darwin, which has over the years evolved into an online scribing, editing and audio transcription business with clients across Australia. For articles about managing online businesses go to: 


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