Friday, 8 May 2020

Poems about Translation 29: from 'Poets Online'

It's been a while since I've published anything in the long-running, meandering 'Poems About Translation series, which seeks to admire and publicise observations on translation through the medium of poetry. Number 29 is in fact more than one poem; it's this collection of poems inspired by the concept of translation on the 'Poets Online' website. My favourite is 'Deaf and Dumb' by poet and ASL interpreter Paul Hostovsky. Here is a short extract...

...but go read the whole poem. It can also be found, with two other poems on the theme of Deafness and language, here.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

PhD opportunity in Translation Studies with an industry emphasis, University of Manchester

A very interesting-looking doctoral opportunity is available at the University of Manchester. Copying here to signal-boost!

AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award in Translation Studies: Humans in the Loop

The Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies, supported by the North-West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership (NWCDTP), invites applications from exceptional candidates for a fully funded collaborative PhD studentship, to start in September 2020 at the University of Manchester, UK.

The Humans in the Loop project will investigate the impact of the quality of source texts on the work of post-editors or translators, in collaboration with our partner, TranslateMedia. Specialising in the translation of advertising and marketing materials, TranslateMedia is implementing post-editing of machine translation as part of its professional translation workflow. This research will examine TranslateMedia’s encounters with poorly written and non-canonical source texts, to understand how specific features of source texts can affect the quality of MT output, post-editing practices and translator productivity. The basic parameters of the research are set but specific details will be decided jointly by the student, supervisor and partner. TranslateMedia will provide access to a range of datasets, resources and personnel. This research will make a valuable contribution to our understanding of the conditions in which professional translation takes place and the changing nature of translation practice as MT technology is further integrated into workflows.

The successful candidate will join a dynamic community of doctoral researchers at a world-leading translation studies research centre. They will benefit from expert supervision, a wide range of research training opportunities, and access to additional funds for fieldwork, research expenses, conferences, etc.


Applicants should have:

  • A First Class Honours degree (or equivalent) and a Masters level qualification with Distinction (completed or in progress), in translation studies or a cognate discipline
  • Native or near-native competence in English and at least one of the following languages: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch 
  • Prior experience of using translation technologies
  • Some prior professional experience in language services (desirable).
Funding and eligibility

A full award comprises the UK/EU tuition fee and a maintenance stipend of approximately £15,000 per year, for 3.5 years of full-time study.

Candidates must have a relevant connection with the UK to qualify for a full AHRC award, i.e. they must have been ordinarily resident in the UK throughout the three-year period preceding the date of application, or have settled status in the UK. Non-EU candidates who have not been ordinarily resident in the UK for the last three years, or who were resident wholly or mainly for the purposes of education, are not eligible to apply.

Candidates from EU countries are eligible for full awards if they have been resident in the UK, for education or other purposes, for at least three years prior to the start of their programme. Candidates from EU countries who have not resided in the UK for three years prior to the start of their programme will normally be eligible for a fees-only award.


Please submit a CV, undergraduate and Masters degree transcripts, and a 1,500-word PhD proposal related to the research topic to by 17:00 GMT on Monday 17 February 2020. Interviews will take place at the end of February and the successful candidate’s nomination will be confirmed by 13 March.

The successful candidate will then be required to submit an online application for a place on the PhD in Translation and Intercultural Studies programme by 31 March, with the support of the supervisors – see
for details.

Contact for further information

Dr Maeve Olohan, maeve.olohan [at]

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Films about industrial action (on the occasion of the UCU strike, 2019)

As the Universities and College Union strike goes into its second week, I find myself moved to blog about it. Followers of this blog will have noticed it's been a bit quiet recently.

(More accurately, it's been like this recently:)


Unfortunately, blogging is one of the things I found much less time for as work has got more and more hectic. This is one of the issues that lies behind the strike (the link downloads a pdf with key issues around academic workloads).

But I have found blogging hugely rewarding over the years and I want to pick it up again, and so I'm taking the opportunity of the strike to talk about movies.

There's a grand tradition in Higher Education of the 'teach out' during industrial action, where students and staff come together to talk about ideas off campus as an alternative to cancelled classes and/or to crossing the picket line. I wanted to think about films that could allow us to talk through ideas about industrial action.

There are more moving and entertaining films about strikes out there than we might think! The ones I know reflect my own filmgoing and TV-watching generation:

Brassed Off (Herman 1996) is a musical about the miners' strike.

Bread and Roses (Loach, 2000) is based on the 'Justice for Janitors' campaign, waged by janitorial workers in Los Angeles who were trying to unionise.

The title Bread and Roses is based on the song of the same name, apparently originally inspired by a speech by the American union activist Rosa Schneiderman on the occasion of the 1912 Lawrence textile strike.

The 2004 BBC miniseries North & South is a romantic drama based on Mrs Gaskell's social realist novel about industrial unrest in the cotton mills of the north of England. Come for Richard Armitage's brooding but beautiful baritone, stay for the friendships across strict nineteenth-century British class boundaries:

Made in Dagenham (Cole, 2010) is the story of Rita O'Grady and the women machinists at Ford in Dagenham who went on strike for equal pay in 1968, which was followed by the passing of the Equal Pay Act in 1970.

Pride (Warchus, 2014) is about the miners' strike and the activism of a London-based group called Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners:

The film also includes a beautiful rendition of the song 'Bread and Roses':

Other films that have been suggested by friends and colleagues include I compagni, starring Marcello Mastroianni, a film about a textile workers' strike in Turin in the late nineteenth century:

(From a #filmtranslationhistory perspective I cannot help noticing that nothing is said in this vintage American trailer about the industrial action itself, though there's plenty of the Mastroianni-as-star and women-in-their-undergarments typical of contemporary US perceptions of Italian cinema).

John Sayles's Matewan is set during a coal miners' strike in 1920 in West Virginia (see here for Sayles talking about some of the film influences on Matewan, which include The Organizer):

Kevin Brownlow's 1975 film Winstanley, a historical drama about Gerrard Winstanley and the Diggers, is available to watch on the BFI player.

For fans of Russian cinema and silent film I must mention Eistenstein's silent 1925 Strike and Pudovkin's 1933 silent Deserter, both watchable in various versions on Youtube.

On Tuesday last we saw Comrades, directed by Bill Douglas, released in 1986, an extraordinarily beautiful and moving film about the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Run, do not walk, to see this film (though be aware that it is 183 minutes long). It has recently been re-released and looks brilliant on a big screen.

On Monday afternoon I will be showing Pabst's Kameradschaft [Comradeship] (1931) at Twentieth Century Flicks video shop on the Christmas Steps. This is a film not about industrial action but about international solidarity between workers, which was not available for many decades but has now been re-released. The film was shot in French and German as a way of respecting both communities equally. Bristol folks who would like to come, please DM me on Twitter.

Again, run rather than walk to see this film. It's a lost treasure, and one of the first films to be released in the UK with English subtitles (by Paul Rotha). The re-release has new subtitles.

I hope these suggestions for filmwatching will help to inspire and energise my fellow strikers and our students, many of whom have been providing stalwart support in the form of hot drinks, cake and solidarity. Suggestions for more good films about industrial action are warmly welcome in the comments.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Upcoming translation events at Bristol

It's been a while since I've updated the blog, but just popping in to say we've got three events coming up at Bristol later this month and next month which may be of interest to readers:

1) Postgraduate Research Study Day

28 January 2019, 2-5.15 pm, in G4, 3 Priory Road.

Some of our PhD students in Translation Studies will be presenting their work, followed by drinks and nibbles in the School of Modern Languages, Common Room, 17 Woodland Road.
Enquiries to adrienne.mason at

2) Translation pricing event (N.B. translation students only)
Thursday 31 January 2019 
1715-1900, Room G4/5, 10 Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UQ 

Registration at:

This is a hands-on translation pricing and quoting workshop jointly held by the University of Bristol and the Western Regional Group (WRG) of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting. Students will get first-hand advice from experienced WRG members who will discuss pricing strategies based on situations they encountered throughout their career. There will be plenty of time for networking over refreshments. Attendance is free but registration is required. Translation students from any institution may attend.

3) Subtitling Masterclass with Professor Luis Pérez González

Thursday 14 February 2019
2-4pm, G10, 43 Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UU.

In collaboration with Migrating Texts, we are delighted to present Professor Luis Pérez González of the University of Manchester. As part of our Subtitling Masterclass series, he will present on

Immaterial Subtitling in the Digital Culture Value Chain:

Implications for Subtitle Reception Studies

This event is free and open to all.
More details and a link to register here:

We hope to see you there!

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Why typography is important in subtitling

"Well, I'm back," she said.

I'm thinking about a paper I'm writing for the conference Beyond Words: Multimodal Encounters in Translation, which will take place in Cambridge in July 2018.

Part of the paper will talk about meaning-making in typography and specifically in film intertitles and subtitles. (I've said something about this before here)

Now I have come across this splendid fansubtitled video about Thranduil and the gems of Lasgalen, from Peter Jackson's Hobbit adaptation. Every character gets a different subtitle typeface:

So, two questions:

1) Which typeface is best suited to its character? Answers in the comments please. 
2) Which can you actually read without eyestrain? The video is shooting for accessibility, which is always a good thing, but the typefaces are not, really.

And if readers out there want to rank the typefaces in order of most to least accessible, I'm all ears! 

Monday, 16 April 2018

Two upcoming events: research seminar and film screening

I am very happy to announce two imminent events:

The first is a research seminar tomorrow, which looks fascinating and is free and open to all:

When Translation Multiples Tell Their Own Story

Dr Kasia Szymanska, Oxford University
Tuesday 17 April
16:00 - 17:30 | LR2, 43 Woodland Rd, University of Bristol

Kasia Szymanska is a Junior Research Fellow in Modern Languages at Oxford University, where she is a member of the committee of the Comparative Criticism and Translation Research Centre.  Her research lies in literary translation thought, experimental translations, and multilingual poetics - especially with reference to the East European context.  She was awarded the 2015 EST Translation Prize and is currently serving as one of the judges of the 2018 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize.


The second event is an ultra-rare 35mm film screening on Sunday 22 April

Treasures from the Turin Film Museum

The silent period was a golden era for Italian cinema, with pioneer directors like Giovanni Pastrone, whose 1914 epic Cabiria influenced filmmakers such as D.W. Griffith. Historical epics were particularly popular. This event features five restored films from the collections of the Turin Film Museum, all with a classical theme. They include Pastrone’s Fall of Troy (1911) and The Last Days of Pompeii (1910), from the novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, which was the first Italian historical epic. The programme also includes Hero and Leander and Dido Abandoned from 1910; and Judas from 1911.

Followed by a Q&A featuring Stella Dagna from the Turin Film Museum, Professor Maria Wyke from UCL, Dr Pantelis Michelakis from the University of Bristol, and our distinguished accompanist Mr Stephen Horne.

The event is generously supported by a grant from the Institute for Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition at the University of Bristol. Organised in partnership with South West Silents.

Tickets are available here at the Watershed website (booking recommended):