Thursday, 29 October 2009

lecture on audiodescription, London, 9 December

Dear all,

The next in the series of annual plenary lectures in translation at City University will be:

Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? The basic principles of Audio Description
Yota Georgakopoulou
European Captioning Institute

Audiodescription is fascinating and I expect the lecture to be very interesting for those of you interested in audiovisual translation.

The lecture is free but must be booked online here.

Monday, 26 October 2009

residencies for literary translators from FR to EN

Hi all,

Just came across this on the French Book News site and thought it might be of interest to colleagues with literary experience and/or interests. There are several residency and grant schemes available to translators from French to English, both British and American.
If memory serves, there are also residencies for translators from French at the CITL in Arles (see here and at the Banff International Literary Translation Centre here.

Maybe of interest to someone with a translation of a great and underappreciated writer in their drawer/head/future?

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Translation events Foyles, London, November

Many thanks to Jon Evans, who has just drawn my attention to these translation events happening next month as part of Foyles Bookshop's Festival of Ibero-American Literature. The whole festival looks great, but for translation students events of most interest include:

Saturday 14 November

13.45 – 15.00 The Art of Translation
Translation is an essential part of the literary market in a globalised world, opening the gates to foreign narratives in the luxury of our own language. But what are the challenges behind translation, and what ethical questions does it pose? Join us for an exciting session with the UK’s leading figures in literary translation, Dr Stefan Tobler, Professor Amanda Hopkinson and Professor Peter Bush, as they discuss their crucial role in bringing Latin American and Hispanic literature to the UK.
Tickets: Free, email to reserve a place

15.15 – 16.30 The Art of Translation: A Closer Look
Get up close to the particulars of translation as Colombian author Juan Gabriel Vásquez and translator Anne McLean discuss their work on The Informers, 9780747596516 shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and one of the most successful Latin American novels to be published in the UK in recent years.
Tickets: Free, email to reserve a place

Monday, 19 October 2009

translating for the stage

I thought it might be nice to put together a quick summary and a few links about theatre translation, for my own amusement and maybe other people's too.

Translation for the stage is unlike any other form of literary translation, because of the dimension of performance. Translations for the stage are recreated with each new production and even with each new performance. When translating a play, it’s crucial to know what the purpose of the translation is. There is a big difference between translation for performance and translation for publication. Translations for publication are intended to be read, rather than performed, so you might well find footnotes in a reading translation of a play – but you can’t have footnotes on stage, so jokes, puns, cultural references and wordplay must be recreated in a way which works for the new audience. Performable translations must also be ‘speakable’ by the actors, and may be adapted by director and actors in the rehearsal process.

Like other forms of literary translation, translation for the stage is a niche specialisation. One of the more remarkable traditions in British theatre today is the use of ‘literal’ translations to support ‘new versions’ by well-known writers. A translator is commissioned to provide a close translation of the text with supporting documentation, which is then used by the writer to develop his or her ‘own’ version of the text. This is the case, for instance, with many newly commissioned translations of Russian plays. Literal translators are usually poorly paid and unrecognised for their work, though some reward may be found in the opportunity to work with big names in the theatre world. In an ideal scenario, the translator, the director and the actors work closely together in rehearsal but in the 'real world' this often doesn't happen.

There’s a good article about translation of classical French comedy for the British stage here. You might also like to read this interesting panel discussion organised by the National Theatre a few years ago.

A play that’s been retranslated for the stage several times is Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac. Compare this scene from a 2006 Comédie Française production:

with the same scene from Derek Jacobi’s 1985 Royal Shakespeare Company production of the play (this is from the TV version so is a bit like cheating). Jacobi uses a newly commissioned translation by Anthony Burgess, though he could, in theory, have used any one of a number of existing translations. The Gertrude Hall translation, which appeared in 1898, might be a bit old-fashioned, but the 1923 version by the American translator Brian Hooker was a big success in its day. The 1972 Lowell Bair translation is for publication rather than for performance, but Jacobi might well have chosen the Christopher Fry translation from 1975, which I saw revived earlier this year at Chichester with Joseph Fiennes in the title role, and thoroughly enjoyable it was too! Of course, in 1985 Jacobi didn’t have access to Edwin Morgan’s 1992 Scots version of Cyrano, Ranjit Bolt and Jatinda Verma’s Indian adaptation, or Irish poet Derek Mahon’s 2004 version (which received rather mixed reviews, like this one. This is how Jacobi imagines the scene:

(Anyone who follows this blog regularly may recognise this scene from a previous post which included a clip of the same scene, subtitled in English, from Rappeneau’s 1990 film of the play.)

A specialised type of translating for the stage is surtitling, or the writing of short titles to translate dialogue or song lyrics. These titles may be displayed on a screen over or beside the stage, or in a little airline-style screen on the back of the seat in front – there are some images here of what it looks like. Surtitling is now fairly common for performances of opera in the original languages, and is also used for stage musicals. There’s a long interview with Jonathan Burton and Judi Palmer of the Royal Opera House here (it’s a big file so it might take a while to download).

Of course, it’s also possible to make ‘singable’ translations of opera, musicals and songs, though it’s extremely challenging. Here’s an aria from Handel’s opera Giulio Cesare, originally written in Italian:

and the same aria sung in English (this also gives a good picture of how different stage productions of the same ‘work’ can vary):

On a cheesier note, here’s a well-known song from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Jesus Christ Superstar:

and the same song in Italian (sorry I couldn’t find performance footage for this):

There are several good academic books out there on translating for the stage, of which one of the most accessible and interesting is David Johnston’s (alas, apparently out of print) Stages of Translation: Translators on Translating for the Stage.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

webinar on building relationships with translation agencies

Dear all,

The indefatigable Chartered Institute of Linguists is holding another webinar, this time on building relationships with translation agencies. 'How to Approach, Impress and Retain Agencies' is delivered by Anne de Freyman. For more details see the Chartered Institute of Linguists' website.


Wednesday, 14 October 2009

translation seminars in Edinburgh

Those of you (very lucky people) within hail of the beautiful city of Edinburgh may be interested in the joint Translation Studies research seminar run by Heriot Watt and the University of Edinburgh. The programme for the autumn follows. Seminars are open to the public and students and staff from across the universities.

Svenja Adolphs, University of Nottingham
Record, Represent, Replay: Construction + Analysis of Multi-Modal Language Corpora
Wed., 21 Oct. 2009, 4.00-5.30pm, Heriot-Watt University

Amanda Hopkinson, Centre for Lit. Trans., University of East Anglia
The politics and polices of literary translation
Wed., 4 Nov. 2009, 4.00-5.30pm, University of Edinburgh

Christina Schäffner, Aston University and Cecilia Wadensjö, Linköping University
Press conferences and recontextualisation
Fri., 20 Nov. 2009, 3-6 pm, Venue: David Brewster Building 1.13, Heriot-Watt University

Sharon Deane, University of Edinburgh
In Quest of a PhD: Methods for exploring and shaping a research project in TS
Wed., 3 Feb. 2010, 4.00-5.30pm, University of Edinburgh

Sameh Hanna, University of Salford
Negotiating Shakespeare in Arabic: The Socio-cultural Dynamics of Drama Translation in Egypt
Wed., 17 Feb. 2010, 4.00-5.30pm, Heriot-Watt University

Dimitris Asimakoulas, University of Surrey
Translating 'Self' and 'Others': Translation and Protest under the Greek Junta
Wed., 10 March 2010, 4.00-5.30pm, University of Edinburgh

Sara Laviosa, University of Bari
Intercultural Language Learning & Translation: A thing of the present for our future
Wed., 24 March 2010, 4.00-5.30pm, Heriot-Watt University

Venues, unless indicated otherwise
At University of Edinburgh: David Hume Tower, Faculty Room South:
At Heriot Watt University: Postgraduate Centre, lecture theatre G.01 (unless indicated otherwise)
map at:

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Conference and guest lecture, 6-7 November, Portsmouth

A quick reminder that the one-day conference 'The Translator as Writer' takes place in Park Building, Portsmouth PO1 2DZ (just by the Guildhall and Portsmouth and Southsea train station) on Saturday 7 November 2009.

We have a packed programme of papers and workshops including plenary lectures by novelist, theatre translator and director Neil Bartlett and Jody Byrne, author of Technical Translation. For details and online registration go to (sorry for lack of link but html is going all squirrelly on me).

On the afternoon of Friday 6 November we also have a research seminar given by Dr Michaela Wolf of the University of Graz. Dr Wolf will speak on the topic

“A sociological eye on research in translation history”

The talk will take place at 4.00 pm in Park Building, Room 2.05. The event is free and all are welcome.

Friday, 9 October 2009

being a translator at the UN

It's not easy to find films about translation - usually the interpreters get most of the attention! ;) - but this film below is quite nice and has good advice about how to go about furthering a career as an in-house translator at the UN in New York. The film was produced by the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California, but lots of what Sabela has to say is relevant to translator training in general.

For those of you who are particularly interested in careers at the UN, go here to find past UN exam papers and details of their entrance exam process.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Susan Sontag prize for translation

Dear friends,
This looks like an exciting opportunity for any of you working in appropriate language combinations:

$5,000 grant for a literary translation from Swedish, Norwegian, Danish
or Icelandic into English

This $5,000 grant will be awarded to a proposed work of literary
translation from Swedish, Norwegian, Danish or Icelandic into English
and is open to anyone under the age of 30. The translation must fall
under the category of fiction or letters, and the applicant will propose
his or her own translation project. The project should be manageable for
a five-month period of work, as the grant will be awarded in May 2010,
and the translation must be completed by October 2010. Acceptable
proposals include a novella, a play, a collection of short stories or
poems, or a collection of letters that have literary import. Preference
will be given to works that have not been previously translated.
(Previously translated works will be considered, however applicants
should include an explanation for why they are proposing a new
translation.) Applicants wishing to translate significantly longer works
should contact the Foundation before sending in their applications so
that supplementary materials can be included. The prizewinner will be
notified on May 14, 2010 and results will be announced online at The recipient will be expected to participate in
symposia on literary translation with established writers and
translators, as well as public readings of their work once the
translation has been completed.

Application Requirements (Please download the official application
online at All applications must include three
copies of the following:
• Application Cover Sheet (available online at
• Personal Statement (2 pages maximum) explaining your interest and
background in literature and the source language (Swedish, Norwegian,
Danish or Icelandic)
• Project proposal (2 pages maximum) outlining the work and describing
its importance
• 5 page sample translation of the proposed work from the source
language into English
• The same passage in the original language
• A bio-bibliography of the author (including information on previous
translations of his or her work into English)
• One academic letter of recommendation
• Official transcript from your current or most recent academic institution

All applications must be submitted via regular mail to the Foundation’s
P.O. Box address, which will be posted online at on
December 15, 2009. All application materials must be received by
February 13, 2010. The fine print: Applicants must be under the age of
30 on the date the prizewinner will be announced: May 14, 2010. By
submitting work to the Susan Sontag Foundation, the applicant
acknowledges the right of the Foundation to use the accepted work in its
publications, on its website, and for educational and promotional
purposes related to the Foundation. Please note that application
materials cannot be returned to applicants.

For more information, please go to or

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Translation memory webinars

Dear all,

The Chartered Institute of Linguists is organising a series of webinars on translation memory which may be of interest to some of you - note that they are webinars so you can participate from anywhere in the world! I haven't participated in such events in the past but would expect them to be of interest, especially for those of you with limited experience of CAT tools. There is a discount for students.


The Translating Division of the Chartered Institute of Linguists is delighted to invite you to a series of workshops on computer-aided translation tools. Join us to view demonstrations of three different systems, Déjà vu, MemoQ and Wordfast. You need to register for EACH of the workshop webinars that you wish to attend.

Attend one, two or all three. We are giving a discount for attending more than one – see below. Please register for each webinar you wish to attend. On registration you will be directed to a page giving you information as to how to pay for this event. Fees: Students £8, Members £12.00, non-members £15. Payment by sterling cheque or Paypal (a handling charge is made for Paypal payments). If you register for 2 sessions, the fee will be £12/£20/£26 and for 3 sessions, it will be £16/£28/£37 respectively. Please send your payment (cheque or Paypal) to the address shown on the web page. On receipt of your payment, the organiser will send you the link(s) to join the webinars. Queries to the organiser please:


Thursday 29 October 2009 11:00 a.m. GMT (time in London)

Presenter David Turner, SFT

David Turner is an experienced user of and trainer in Deja Vu and will be demonstrating the tool's major features, using some real-life examples as illustration. There will be an opportunity to ask questions, and, where possible, these will be answered by means of further on-line demonstrations.

The session is aimed at translators who have been using Deja Vu, but who wish to intensify their knowledge of this CAT tool.

To register, click here:


Friday 30th October 2009, 11:00 a.m. GMT (time in London)


Presenter Lucy Brooks, MCIL, CL (Translator)

This workshop is an introduction to MemoQ (published by Kilgray) aimed at newcomers to the software. Lucy will demonstrate tool's major features, using some real-life examples as illustration. There will be an opportunity to ask questions, and, where possible, these will be answered by means of further on-line demonstrations.

To register, click here:


Tuesday 3 November 2009 at 11:00 a.m. GMT (time in London)


Presenter Dominique Pivard

Dominique is a professional Wordfast trainer and will be demonstrating aspects of the software. There will be an opportunity to ask questions, and, where possible, these will be answered by means of further on-line demonstrations.

The session is aimed at translators who have some experience of Wordfast, but who wish to intensify their knowledge of this CAT tool.

To register, click here:


What equipment do I need to attend a webinar?

You need a PC with a reasonably fast broadband connection and speakers. A microphone is not necessary unless you are invited to speak. You can ask questions by typing them.

Who is organising the webinars?

The Translating Division Committee of the Chartered Institute of Linguists. The Institute itself is not responsible for the webinars. The Translating Division Committee is made up of volunteer translators. We are mostly freelancers, and do this in our spare time.

If I have to cancel, can I get a refund?

Due to the high amount of administration involved we do not anticipate giving refunds for cancelled places except in exceptional circumstances. You may transfer your fee to another webinar in the future.

What is the deadline for payment?

Please try to make your payment 72 hours before the date of the webinar. Our systems are not fully automated and require manual input, so you need to allow time for this.

Why are you not including Trados in your workshops?

The answer is that Trados has recently brought out a new suite of software, Trados Suite 2009. We have not yet been able to find a trainer of our own to present a similar workshop to those above. Furthermore, demonstrations and training courses have recently been made widely available by the vendor.

Can I download the webinar to view later?

Unfortunately not at the present time.

How can I find out more?
Please address any queries to

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Translation research seminars at Salford nr Manchester

Dear all,

The University of Salford in Manchester also runs research seminars which look very very interesting this semester, for those of you in the North of England who are free on a Wednesday afternoon...

Centre for Research in Linguistics

Translation Studies

Interpreters in the Nuremberg trials
Dr Simona Tobia (University of Reading)
4.30pm, Wednesday 18 November 2009
Maxwell Building, Room 813

Translating Rhythm for Performance
Dr Roger Baines & Fred Dalmasso (University of East Anglia)
4.30pm, Wednesday 25 November 2009
Maxwell Building, Room 813

Translation and oblique censorship in the Italian Press
Dr Federico Federici (University of Durham)
4.30pm, Wednesday 2 December 2009
Maxwell Building, Room 813


Debbie Hughes
Executive Officer/Conference Assistant
European Studies Research Institute (ESRI)
Research Support Unit
G33/34, Crescent House
University of Salford
M5 4WT
Tel: +44 (0)161 295 5614
Fax: +44 (0)161 295 2818