Thursday, 29 April 2010

Webinars on setting up your own website

Two upcoming webinars for translators run by the Chartered Institute of Linguists on setting up your own website.

literary translation and publishing handbook 'Translation in Practice'

Very pleased to hear today that the indispensable handbook Translation in Practice, published by Dalkey Archive Press, is now available as a free download from the DAP site. It's also available to buy as a handy pocket-sized book for those of us who don't have a handbag big enough for a sheaf of A4 paper. Thoroughly recommended for anyone who wants to know more about the literary translation publishing process.

Monday, 26 April 2010

'Getting into Print' talk, Portsmouth, 29 April 2010

This is just to remind you that Ros Schwartz of the Translators Association will be giving a paper on Thursday in our 'Translators on Translation' seminar series. The talk will begin at 5pm in Room 3.06, Park Building, University of Portsmouth (see All welcome. Refreshments provided. For further information contact carol.osullivan at or see This talk is highly recommended for anyone considering literary translation as a specialisation or for the Translation Project.

Ros Schwartz is an award-winning literary translator and a prominent member of the TA, the Translators’ Association of the Society of Authors. A freelancer since 1980, Ros has translated some 50 works of fiction and non-fiction, particularly novels by contemporary Francophone writers. She runs a small translation company with a team of translators working into and out of the major European languages and specializing in the arts, development and corporate literature. She works for a select number of clients with the emphasis on quality and style, developing long-term relationships based on good communications. She runs numerous workshops, is a frequent speaker on the international circuit and writes on translation-related issues; see e.g. here and here.

Translation projects - some suggestions

The summer's coming up and some Portsmouth students may be looking for translation project ideas. I just came across an old Soros Foundation project which funded translations of academic books on lots of subjects in the humanities and social sciences - maybe worth looking here for possible source texts? Texts tend to have a social focus.

hours of fun for all the family: the Bad Translator

The Inttranews twitter feed has just come up with the ultimate timewaster - worse than Youtube, more insidious even than twitter itself - the Bad Translator. It is a little app which takes a phrase and translates it in and out of various language pairs in alphabetical order (from English to Afrikaans, back to English, to Albanian, to English, to Arabic, to English, to Belarussian etc.). It's powered by GoogleTranslate and you choose how many language pairs you want an item translated through: 10, 25 or 'max', which seems to be 54.

I tried it with a few lines off the top of my head:

'Sing me a song but not for me alone' (sue me, I like Lloyd Webber) comes out after 10 translations as 'Singing, but not for me'; after 25 translations as 'Song, but not for me' and after max translations as 'I know Paul'. The key languages where the translation shifts happen seem to be Korean and Norwegian. All explanations welcome.

'I peel and portion a tangerine and spit the pips and feel the drunkenness of things being various' (thank you Louis McNeice) comes out rather come-hither after 10 translations: 'My skin, lemons, spit it out of the moment, things feel different sugar' and 25 translations: 'My skin, lemon, play, feel the various sugars'. I hardly dared to press 'max' but in the end it was all rather tame: 'Lemon zest, I feel the various Sugars.'

Another well-known Irish poem redolent of the values of yesteryear begins 'In a mean abode on the Shankill Road/ lived a man named William Bloat'. Just one translation (in and out of Afrikaans) gives 'In an average home in the Shankill Road, a man named William Bloat'. This is fabulous and can hardly be improved on, but the proper names also get interesting later on. The 25th translation reads: 'On the street, a man named William Shan Kill Iron'. After a few rounds of transliteration, we have: "People oyryamukirushanairon vice". I think Joyce would have liked it.

'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness' comes out after 10 translations as '"This is the best time is the worst, which is the age of wisdom, crazy times'; after 25 translations as 'This is the best time of knowledge poor old crazy time' and after max translations becomes unexpectedly lyrical: 'The best time for anger, loss'.

There's an obvious pun there but I'm not going to make it.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Introduction to Subtitling course, London, 8 May

There's a useful-looking one-day introductory course on subtitling taking place at Imperial College on 8 May 2010. The tutor is Adriana Tortoriello, whom some Portsmouth graduates will remember well from her visits to the south coast...

Friday, 23 April 2010

jobs and internships in Germany DE-EN-DE

The euphoniously-named German translation company Fry & Bonthrone is advertising for an in-house translator for DE-EN, as well as interns with DE-EN or EN-DE and freelancers in the same language pairs.

Conference, Lancaster, 21-22 May; 'Africa: Cultural Translations'

For those of you in the north of England, a fascinating-looking conference on issues of translation and cultural translation (by no means the same thing!) called 'Africa: Cultural Translations', to be held at Lancaster University on 21-22 May 2010. It's organised by the Centre for Transcultural Writing and Research. For Italianists, some very interesting short texts with their Italian translations here.

Africa: Cultural Translations Conference

Organised by Lancaster University African Studies Group
In association with the Centre for Transcultural Writing and Research

Friday 21 May 2010

10.00-10.30 Registration and Welcome

10.30-12.00 Panel 1: Transcultural Encounters
Chair: Alison Lloyd-Williams

Lorraine Moore (Manchester University, UK) "I want to tell you something that no one else can know: Exploring the implications of hearing and seeing too much whilst conducting fieldwork'

Saskia Vermeylen (Lancaster University, UK) 'African Stories in the Court Room'

Femi Adedina (Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia) 'Walking through Translation's Landmines: Surviving through a Novel's Footnoting'

12.00-12.45 Presentation: Graham Mort and Kate Horsley (Lancaster University, UK), African Writers Projects

12.45-1.30 Lunch

1.30-3.00 Panel 2: Performance and Visual Representation
Chair: Saskia Vermeylen

Jane Plastow (University of Leeds, UK) and Alison Lloyd Williams (Lancaster University, UK) 'Using Theatre to discuss Ugandan women's priorities across generations and educational divides'

Marion Arnold (Loughborough University, UK) 'Mind the Gap: Translation in a Fractured African Society'

Eitan Bar-Yosef (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel) 'Zionist Blackface: Performing "Africa" in the Israeli Theatre of the 1950s'

3.00-3.30 Coffee

3.30-5.00 Panel 3: Literary Translations
Chair: Amy Rushton

Théophile Munyangeyo (Leeds Metropolitan University, UK) 'The Symbolism of Flowers through the Rhetoric of Disenchantment'

Marta Cariello (Seconda Università di Napoli, Italy) 'Translating the North African Coast: Laila Lalami's Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits'

Brendon Nicholls (University of Leeds, UK) 'Reading Ethically: Gender and Ngugi's Texts in Translation'

5.00-6.00 Goretti Kyomuhendo Reading and Discussion
Chair: Graham Mort

6.30 Conference Dinner, Lancaster House Hotel

Saturday 22 May 2010

9.30-11.00 Panel 4: Linguistic and Cultural Translations
Chair: Charlotte Baker

Felix Awung (National University of Lesotho, South Africa) 'Translating African Culture: Ferdinand Oyono's Une Vie de Boy in English'

Amy Rushton (Goldsmiths, University of London, UK) 'Translating real violence into fictional worlds: issues confronting the writer of contemporary African fiction'

Ursula Troche (London School of Economics, UK) 'Cultural Translation as Methodology of Understanding'

11.00-11.30 Coffee

11.30-1.00 Panel 5: Language and Cultural Transmission
Chair: Jane Sunderland

Valentine Njende Ubanako (University of Yaoundé 1, Cameroon) 'Humour Translation in Cameroon: Stakes in National Integration and Social Cohesion. A Cultural Challenge?'

Mamour Turuk and Mei Lin (Newcastle University, UK) 'Improving ESL Thinking and Argumentative Writing Skills: A Sudanese Perspective'

Valentina Alice Mutti (University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy) 'French, Malgasy or rice with vegetables? Reflections on languages, schooling and cultural transmission in Highland Madagascar'

Grace Bota (Lancaster University, UK) 'What gets lost in translation: methodological issues on translating from Akan to English'

1.00-2.00 Lunch

2.00-3.30 Panel 6: The Local and the Global
Chair: Brendon Nicholls

Holger Droessler (Harvard University, USA) 'From A-Town to ATL: The Politics of Translation in Contemporary Global Hip Hop Cultures'

Shola Adenekan (University of Birmingham, UK) and Helen Cousins (Newman University College, Birmingham, UK) 'Class online: Digital Representations of African middle-class identity'

Michelle Kelly (University of York, UK) 'Playing it by the book'?: Law and Cultural Translation in J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace

3.30-4.00 Round Table

4.00 Conference close

If you wish to register, please contact Charlotte Baker for further details: c.baker at

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Countdown to EU competition for EN translators

The countdown is beginning to this summer's expected competition for English native speaker translators for the European institutions. Applicants must be citizens of any EU Member State, have a bachelor's degree in any discipline and be able to translate from two EU official languages into native-standard English. If you are interested in a varied, interesting, challenging and well-paid position as an EU institution translator, join this Facebook group now!

Talk at Aston: David Katan on intercultural communication, 27 April

For students in the Birmingham area, there is a good talk on next week at the University of Aston by Professor David Katan (Lecce University, Italy).

Professor Katan will give a public lecture on 'Translation as Intercultural communication' on Tuesday, 27 April 2010, 16:30-18:00 in the Main Building, first floor, room MB 146.

The event is free and all are welcome.

summer courses in translation

Who knew that there were so many summer schools in translation and interpreting? Some research-focused, some more literary, some specialised. I think my favourite must be the Summer Translation Institute at Western Michigan University; languages this year include Arabic, German, Old French and Russian. :D Sounds like a lot of fun.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Call for Papers: journal issue on Non-professionals Translating and Interpreting

A timely call for papers for The Translator on a really interesting topic:

Non-professionals Translating and Interpreting: Participatory and Engaged Perspectives

Guest editors
Þebnem Susam-Sarajeva (University of Edinburgh, U.K.) &
Luis Pérez-González (University of Manchester, U.K.)

To be published by St. Jerome Publishing (Manchester, UK)

Since its inception, translation studies has focused overwhelmingly on professional instances of linguistic and cultural mediation undertaken by individuals who designate themselves as ‘translators’ or ‘interpreters’ and are recognised (and paid) as such by their commissioners. Indeed, the division between the commissioning and translating agents had been one of the most decisive features shaping the dynamics of the translation industry until very recently. Against this background, issues pertaining to the formal training of translators and interpreters; translation quality assessment and criticism; and observance of professional ethics and norms have featured prominently in the research agenda of translation scholars. Even within the more descriptively oriented approaches, the prevalent research questions of “who translates what, why, how, under what circumstances, and for which audience?” have targeted almost exclusively the work of professional translators and interpreters.

Translating and interpreting, however, are obviously not limited to the professional sphere. Individuals increasingly undertake these forms of mediation, either in isolation or as part of organised/ad hoc networks, within a variety of contexts and for a multitude of purposes. The rapidly expanding category of non-professional translators/interpreters includes, for instance, consumers of creative industries and news media; engaged individuals and/or activists involved in different forms of ideological and cultural resistance against prevailing socio-economic structures or values; and individuals translating or interpreting on an ad hoc basis, either as an ‘add-on’ to their core professional services or to palliate the need for translators/interpreters in settings where stakeholders are unable to enlist the services of professionals.

Non-professional translation has been so far of peripheral interest to translation scholars, who often express concern over the quality of ‘amateur output’ and the intrusion of ‘unregulated outsiders’ into the precarious translation industry. Understandably, non-professional translation is seen to erode the professional status which the discipline has sought to promote since its inception. But, as it diversifies and moves towards the core of economic and cultural activities, non-professional translation is increasingly bound to challenge our understanding of professional identities and the current organisation of labour in the translation and interpreting industries.

This collection proposes to explore the field of non-professional translation and interpreting with a view to learning from the individuals who take on translation/interpreting activities; the networks and organisations for which they translate and interpret; the media which facilitate the distribution of amateur translations; and, last but not least, the societies where these activities emerge and impact on the political, economic and cultural spheres.

Contributors to this special issue might offer theoretical and empirical studies centred on one or more of the following themes:

· Amateur news translation and distribution
· Non-professional translation/interpreting within the context of religion
· Scanlation and fansubbing
· Fanfiction and translation
· Translation and the blogosphere
· Interpreting within local NGO settings
· Non-professionals translating/interpreting within conflict situations
· Activist translation/interpreting
· Amateur translation as a form of cyberactivism
· Child-language brokering vis-à-vis professional interpreting

The contributions should be between 6000 and 10000 words on average. Examples from languages other than English should be glossed where necessary. Copyright permission must be obtained by the contributor where necessary prior to publication. Please note that papers will be refereed.

30 July 2010 Deadline for submission of abstracts (500 words)
15 October 2010 Selected contributors notified of acceptance of abstracts
15 April 2011 Deadline for submission of contributions
16 September 2011 Confirmation of acceptance of contributions
30 November 2011 Deadline for submission of final versions
June 2012 Publication date

Contact Details

Þebnem Susam-Sarajeva
University of Edinburgh
s.susam-sarajeva at

Luis Pérez-González
The University of Manchester
luis.perez-gonzalez at

ES-EN competition for young translators (deadline 31 July 2010)

Just received the following good news about a new translation prize:

Harvill Secker, an imprint of The Random House Group, is launching a new prize for young translators as part of our centenary celebrations this year. The annual prize, in association with Waterstone’s, will be presented to a translator at the start of their career and will focus on a different language each year.

In 2010 the chosen language is Spanish and entrants will be asked to translate ‘El hachazo’, a short story by the Argentine writer Matías Néspolo. The short story and details on how to enter can be found at The prize is open to anyone between the ages of 16 and 34, with no restriction on country of residence.

The winner’s name will be announced in September 2010 and the winning translator will receive £1000, a selection of Harvill Secker titles and Waterstone’s books vouchers. Judges include Margaret Jull Costa (translator), Nicholas Shakespeare (author).

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Essential Skills for Translators video talks and 22 May event, New York

Translators starting out might be interested in a good event organised by NYU last year with talks about how to prepare for the translation profession and how to work with agencies. A similar talk will be held on 22 May 2010. The event is free and open to all.

translators on translation: two interviews

Two short but good interviews by translators on translating fiction: Marian Schwartz in the Boston Globe on translating Russian fiction, and the ubiquitous Chris Andrews on Bolaño in the New Yorker, with some nice examples of tricky problems in the text. Russianists may be interested in Schwartz's hints and tips about Russian translation and Russian resources here and here.

My only thin, reedy, querulous complaint: how, in the New Yorker of all publications, can an interviewer not know the difference between the present tense and the past tense of the verb 'to lead'? Am I the only person who remembers that the past tense is 'led'? Next you're seeing 'loose' for 'lose' and then Aughrim is really lost. 'Ware spellchecks.

Independent Foreign Fiction prize shortlist 2010 and fiction in translation

For those of you, like me, who get seized with anxiety in bookshops because of too much choice, and at the same time get frustrated by the limited and bland range of titles which are given most airtime, sigh no more, for the shortlist for this year's Independent Foreign Fiction prize has just been announced.

Thinking about the books I've enjoyed over the last year or two I was struck by how many of them were in translation. Saramago's Blindness, translated by Giovanni Pontiero; Muriel Barbery's The Elegance of the Hedgehog, published by Europa Editions and translated by Alison Anderson. I hugely enjoyed The Last Wish by the Polish fantasy writer Andrzej Sapkowski, translated by Danuta Stok (many thanks to Tomasz whose essay introduced me to Sapkowski, and I have more of the books on order!). I and half the world have really enjoyed Stieg Larsson's Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy in Reg Keeland's translations. The style is sometimes clunky but Larsson can plot like nobody's business.
In their different genres, all riveting reads and I look forward to more in 2010. If any of our readers has recently read a translation they really enjoyed, why not post and tell us about it?

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

interpreting talk in Portsmouth

Dear all,

Those of you in the Portsmouth area may be interested in a guest talk by Katie Belo dos Santos, interpreter and regional co-ordinator of ITI Wessex. She will speak about her work as a public service interpreter as part of the 'Professional Aspects of Translation' unit at 2pm on Friday 16 April in Park 2.24.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

crime fiction translation workshop, Bristol, 23 May 2010

Hi all,
Those of you in the south-west who work with French might be interested in a fun-sounding crime fiction translation workshop led by Ros Schwartz. It's part of Crimefest 2010. Further details about the workshop here.

IASH seminar and fellowships, Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh is organising a seminar on 22 April which may be of interest especially to Germanists:

Thursday, 22 April
3.00 - 5.00 pm, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, Hope Park Square

Iain Galbraith (Independent Scholar; Visiting Fellow of IASH): The translation of 20th-century Scottish poetry into German: Cultural Aporiai and the negotiatory strategies of translation
Abstract: Identifying specific instances of impasse encountered in German translations of Scottish poetry since 1900, and reviewing typical benchmarks of translation criticism such as gain/loss, betrayal, metaphor, equivalence and rewriting, this paper will argue that the task of translation invites the more or less inventive re-negotiation of the terms of cultural, historical and linguistic discontinuity, reconstituting the parameters of poetic coherence in new media and contexts. In so doing, translations not only evince historical and cultural incongruities, but may also stimulate exemplary reflection on the conditions of knowledge acquisition, transformative resources, and the evolution and modification of traditions.


Dr Sheila Dickson (Senior Lecturer in German and Adviser of Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Glasgow): The Creative Imperative. German Romantic Translation
Abstract: "In the final instance, all poetry is translation.” (Novalis) German Romantic theorists and writers recognised all narrative mediation as an act of subjective transformation and enrichment. Translation as a second level of mediation could therefore add a further layer of individual creativity and so become not just a metaphor for poetry but also a practical modality. The paper will briefly characterise the Schlegel/Tieck Shakespeare translation before concentrating on the international folk literature source base of later Romantic works. As epitome and impasse of German Romantic translation it will examine Goethe’s Correspondence with a Child, the English translation of Bettina von Arnim’s work, which she undertook herself, without any previous knowledge of the English language.

I see that the IASH has a special running theme at the moment on 'Translations, Adaptations and Modalities' and funds visiting fellowships which may be of interest to post-doctoral researchers in translation.

Monday, 12 April 2010

volunteer translation opportunities

I regularly get asked by students for details of pro-bono translation opportunities. I've posted suggestions elsewhere on the blog but here are a couple more. In addition, googling "volunteer translation" will turn up a host of possibilities. Note that mention of organisations on this blog does not constitute an endorsement. Volunteering is a part of social activism in general and you may find translation opportunities through organisations and causes to which you already subscribe.

The social entrepreneurship organisation Ashoka seems to be looking for volunteer translators on an ongoing basis (click here). Some more suggestions on an old blog post here. The Olympics organisers in London are looking for volunteers including linguists. The organisation Translations for Progress includes a number of our course languages and may be of interest. One of the best-known volunteer translation and interpreting organisations is Babels. The organisation TED has an open call for volunteers to subtitle short video talks. One attractive feature of TED is that it seems to have a robust quality review process. Perhaps of interest to students taking the subtitling unit.

Remember that whether or not you are working pro bono, you are still a professional!

Languages At War seminar, Imperial War Museum, London, 28 May 2010

For those of you in the London area. It would probably be of interest to students taking the 'Translating History' unit in the summer - there's a block on translation, interpreting and conflict in that unit. As far as I can see the event is free but booking is required; see here for details.

Languages at War
MEETING THE ‘OTHER’ IN WAR: Two case studies
28 May 2010
Conference Room, Imperial War Museum, London

10.00: Welcome and coffee

James Taylor (Imperial War Museum); Prof Hilary Footitt (University of Reading)

10.30–11.30: Keynote paper

Prof Joanna Bourke (Birkbeck College): Does the enemy have a face?: combat narratives, speech acts and faciality, 1914–1975

11.30–11.45: Coffee

11.45–1.15: Case study 1: Western Europe 1944–47

Prof Hilary Footitt (University of Reading): Geographies of co-existence: fraternization revisited

Dr Simona Tobia (University of Reading): Interrogations: transnational encounters during and after the war

Discussants: Prof Anita Prażmowska (LSE); Dr Dan Todman (Queen Mary, University of London)

1.15–1.45: Lunch

1.45–3.15: Case study 2: Bosnia-Herzegovina 1995–2000

Prof Mike Kelly (University of Southampton): Kicking the jeep: how a little language goes a long way

Dr Catherine Baker (University of Southampton): Prosperity without security: locally employed interpreters in the Bosnian economy

Discussants: Dr Vanessa Pupavac (University of Nottingham); Dr Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers (Roehampton University)

3.15–4.00: Museums and war

James Taylor (Imperial War Museum): Saying the unsayable: challenging history at the Imperial War Museum

Discussant: Samantha Cairns (Museums, Libraries and Archives London)

4.00–4.15: Coffee

4.15–4.45: Closing remarks

Nick Stansfield (Freelance international contractor): Language encounters on the ground

Round table 'The Labour of Translation', London 27 April 2010

An interesting-looking event with a philosophical angle for those of you in the London area:

The Labour of Translation: A Public Roundtable Discussion on Working amid Languages

With Rada Ivekovic, Julie Boeri, Arianna Bove and Matteo Mandarini

Tuesday, April 27, 2010, 4-6pm
School of Business and Management, Queen Mary, University of London, Arts 1.28 (Francis Bancroft Building)

The work of translation is often rendered invisible in academia and fares little better in daily life generally. It has repeatedly been remarked how both the intellectual and political dimensions of translating become subsumed under the normalising drives of authorship, clarity, and efficiency. Less noticed is the way the actual work of translating gets discounted in the process, and academic translators too often form an undercommons of labour in the university. Organising efforts like the National Union of Professional Interpreters and Translators do much to formalise and concretise this labour both inside the university and beyond in the social factory more generally. The discounted way working amid languages is treated in the academia is reflected in society as a whole. Migrants who negotiate multiple languages and their social codes often get coded themselves as unskilled. Working class, ethnic, and regional dialects, accents, and vocabularies may be acknowledged on their own but those who employ them rarely get credit for the skills of translating, matching, or switching with dominant languages. In social movements, the work of translation can very often be taken for granted, yet volunteer networks of interpreters such as Babels are indispensable in making transnationalisation possible. The informal labour of translation, the migrant's multiple communications, the global address of social movement, the secret vocabularies of new affinities, and the code-switching of personal technologies still pass unnoticed. Valorised immaterial labour is apparently elsewhere. This roundtable will bring together working translators and working academics, often in the same bodies, to discuss not the politics of translation alone but the politics of the labour of translation.

All Welcome

Contact: Emma Dowling e.dowling at

Directions to campus:

Sunday, 11 April 2010

DE-EN literary translation prize: deadline 1 September 2010

German-English literary translators based in the US might be interested in the Austrian Cultural Forum Translation Prize, just announced for 2010.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

poems about translation 3

For April Fool's Day, a gorgeous poem 'Translator's Note' by Bob Hicok. I don't know his other work but the poem is from the collection Insomnia Diary and there's more here.

Why this poem today? Because it's a touching reflection on the horse-trading of the act of translation that reads like the gentlest of spoofs. Does the language exist? Does it matter? It's possible that a language exists somewhere in which the same line can mean 'The arm rose and embraced the sun' or 'The arm rose and devoured the sun'. It's the kind of translation problem you always think is quite rare until you're wrestling with it on the page. The amusement Hicok finds in the contours of his imaginary Kuntolo words and their cultural context reminds us how much unexpected fun still lurks around the corner of our next translation.

This is also by way of a 'happy Easter' to both the loyal readers of this blog - I'm off for a few days to practice my Italian and read up on the further adventures of the girl with the dragon tattoo. Have a great Easter break, all.

loan words and translation traps

Read a nice piece today on loan words and why they constitute traps for translators. The article is about English loan words in Japanese but the point applies to other languages too - just think about translating 'jolly' from Italian, 'handy' from German or 'planning' from French...