Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Critical Link community interpreting conference, July 2010, Aston, Birmingham

A big conference coming up on community interpreting. A quick reminder from the organisers:

This is to remind you that the 6th International Critical Link conference will be held from 26-30 July 2010 at Aston University in Birmingham. The main theme is 'Interpreting in a changing landscape'. It is for the first time that this conference which is specifically devoted to Public Service Interpreting is being held in the UK. About 300 participants have registered so far. If you wish to attend but haven't booked yet, please do so via the website
You can also find the draft programme and a list of presenters on the website and other useful information.

PEN translation anthology and stuff

The PEN Writers in Translation section has just published a good-looking anthology of translated works supported by the programme over the past five years. It can be downloaded free here. The site also has lots of other goodies including a list of links and resources and some sample translations of likely texts for publication. May well be of interest to students taking the Translation Project and translating literary texts.
And remember the deadline for the Harvill Secker Young Translators' Prize is only a month away! (Language pair this year is Spanish to English).

guess the misunderstanding (DE-EN)

The world needs translators who are real people partly because words can have more than one meaning and so far, human translators have the best record in working out from context which of multiple possible meanings is meant. Of course, it would be boring if they always got it right! German-speaking readers of this blog are invited to take a look at this story about a Legoland giraffe in Germany missing a vital body part, and guess where a possible misunderstanding might arise. The answer can be found here. A cautionary tail for us all! (sorry)

How to be a better proofreader

Corinne McKay just posted a very nice snippet on how to be a better proofreader with some excellent tips (e.g. always proofread in a different format). One other suggestion I read recently (can't alas remember where) was to proofread a text in a different font - maybe worth trying out!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

subtitling blunders, Polish-English

Just read a very funny post on a site called Polandian about the subtitling of a Polish film (which I haven't seen) called Dom Zły. The wonders of screenshot technology allow the poster to show us the subtitlers' amazing coinages (the mind boggles at 'dephlegmator'), poor syntax (a sentence beginning 'Probably you can' is unlikely to originate in English), collocational innovation and disregard for niceties like apostrophes and capitalisation.
Of course it's a tiny bit unfair to take single subtitles out of context and subject them to minute scrutiny, but here one can understand the temptation. Always get a native speaker to do your subtitles (and then a second native speaker to check your first native speaker). And then people won't mock your film in public. Well, they might, but not because of a bad translation.

Swedish-English doctoral translation bursaries

From the department of Scandinavian Studies at University College London, a great-looking opportunity for translators from Swedish to English:

Two fully-funded PhD Studentships in Swedish-English Translation are available at UCL, starting this autumn. The deadline for receipt of applications is 14 July.

The advertisement is available on the UCL Vacancies site. There are three ways to find the advert online: (a) go direct via; (b) visit our departmental homepage at; or (c) visit and enter reference 1143976.

A more detailed project description is available to download from our departmental homepage at

Thursday, 24 June 2010

no man's land call for submissions (German-English)

Just came across the very pleasing blog Love German Books. Recommended for any of you interested in the translation of German literature into English. Among the goodies, an introduction to the excellent online magazine no man's land, which I didn't know. They run a monthly literary translation lab in Berlin, an annual Translation Idol contest and a publication which is currently seeking submissions (see below). They also have a nice page of Translators' Tips for translators looking to pitch new books to publishers. The only thing they don't have, in fact, is a website with separately linkable pages (grrr).

no man’s land, the online journal for contemporary German literature in translation, is seeking submissions for its 2010 issue.
Deadline: August 20, 2010.

For prose, send up to 3 texts (stories or self-contained novel excerpts, max. 4,000 words each) by one or different contemporary* writers. For poetry, send work by up to 3 poets, each to a maximum of 5 poems. No simultaneous submissions, please, and – with some possible exceptions** – no previously-published translations. The deadline is August 20, 2010 (postmark date), and we will inform contributors by late September 2010; the issue will go online in November. We regret that we are unable to offer honoraria.

Please include your contact information, biographical and publication information (for both translator and author) and a copy of the original. Also, please provide proof of permission from the original publisher and/or author – whoever holds the rights to the piece (this could be a copy of a letter, or forward us an e-mail).

For more information, visit our website at

*Defined more or less as writers currently active, or active in the later 20th/early 21st century. When in doubt, query!

** We are willing to make exceptions for translations that have appeared previously in very limited circulation and that we feel deserve a new audience. Again, please feel free to query.

genre fiction in translation

The posts are accumulating at the Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Awards blog, and it's good to see the range of translated sf available (apparently the Finns are particularly prolific, who knew?). And delighted to see my old friend Blood of Elves receiving one of the inaugural David Gemmell Awards. It shows that translated novels can stand up against domestic product too. Prizes for translations are great but open competition is an important principle too, even when it threatens the status quo (remember the kerfuffle with the Crime Writers' Association Dagger awards, which gave rise to the exclusion of translations from the main award and the creation of the CWA International Dagger?)

For this among other reasons it was cheering that the winner of this year's IMPAC Dublin Literary Award was a translation, The Twin, by Gerbrand Bakker, translated by David Colmer. The hundred-thousand euro prize is the world's richest literary prize, and if it goes to a translation, the translator gets 25,000 euro. A good day for all concerned!

Residencies for Indian translators

The deadline for applications for the two annual translation residencies at the BCLT sponsored by the Charles Wallace India Trust is 16 November. Some details about the scheme here. The residencies are open to Indian citizens living in India. Further information should be available from your nearest British Council office.

Experiences of translation: the poetree

I was just browsing the site of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre, an annual initiative bringing together translators and their authors for residencies and creative collaboration generally, and came across a charming account of organic translation in the form of a poetree. There have been various attempts by scholars to link the concepts of ecology and translation, but the idea doesn't seem to be taking off. Perhaps it's time to go back to the drawing tree.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

EU competitions for translators and interpreters

I hear the EU competition for translators will be open for registration at the EPSO website at from 13 July to 12 August. According to the site, there will be competitions for translators into Danish, German, English, French and Slovenian, and for interpreters into Bulgarian, English, Dutch, Romanian and Slovenian.

While you are waiting for registration to open there are a couple of resources you might find helpful. Charles, a translator at the DGT, has a Facebook page where he answers questions from potential applicants for translation posts with the EU institutions - see the Discussions board. And sample texts in all languages for the translation competitions can be found here.

Good luck to any readers of this blog who apply! :)

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

I was a translator at the...

A heart-warming short film about being a translator at the European Commission, just to whet your appetite for the call for English native speakers expected next month:

Friday, 11 June 2010

interpreting as an unregulated profession

This is what happens when public service interpreting is unregulated, underpaid and taken for granted. And this. Oh, and this. Ooops.

In-house translation jobs, IT-EN, EN-DE

Hi guys,
A couple of good-looking in-house translation posts advertised in the Guardian recently. Previous experience required.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

poems about translation 6: Nabokov on Pushkin, and related snippets

Just saw that the Rossica Young Translators' Prize for translation from Russian to English was recently awarded to Leo Shtutin. The texts translated by this year's entrants are here. It's a great initiative (though I found the website a bit frustratingly designed) and let's wish it much success in promoting translation from Russian.

It seemed like a good moment to look up Nabokov's ironic poem about translating Pushkin's Eugene Onegin. The first four lines of this poem are so well known that I had forgotten it didn't stop there:

On Translating Eugene Onegin

What is translation? On a platter
A poet's pale and glaring head,
A parrot's screech, a monkey's chatter,
And profanation of the dead.
The parasites you were so hard on
Are pardoned if I have your pardon,
O, Pushkin, for my stratagem:
I traveled down your secret stem,
And reached the root, and fed upon it;
Then, in a language newly learned,
I grew another stalk and turned
Your stanza patterned on a sonnet,
Into my honest roadside prose--
All thorn, but cousin to your rose.

Reflected words can only shiver
Like elongated lights that twist
In the black mirror of a river
Between the city and the mist.
Elusive Pushkin! Persevering,
I still pick up Tatiana's earring,
Still travel with your sullen rake.
I find another man's mistake,
I analyze alliterations
That grace your feasts and haunt the great
Fourth stanza of your Canto Eight.
This is my task--a poet's patience
And scholastic passion blent:
Dove-droppings on your monument.

For another opinionated discussion on whether poetry translation is possible, see this recent conversation between Ilya Kaminsky and Adam Kirsch on the Poetry Foundation website.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

job in news translation EN-ES

Just saw a job for a news editor/translator in Mexico advertised on Since news translation is one of the things we talk about on the Translating History unit, some of you might find the spec interesting:

As a part of the World Spanish Service this editor will select, edit and distribute news on a variety of subjects in Spanish to clients worldwide. Responsibilities include monitoring news from bureaus in the U.S. and abroad and translating it from the English, editing and often rewriting it to make the best possible use of elements of interest to Latin America and U.S. clients. The translator-editor will edit stories originally written in Spanish by AP journalists in the United States and _ less frequently _ in Latin America. The translator-editor will translate photo captions from English into Spanish and moves the newly captioned photographs to clients. During work as shift supervisor, they will also plan and prioritize the news report, assign stories, review edited copy. The translator-editor will solve traffic issues with the Technology department, and occasionally report and write stories, according to needs. The translator will coordinate with international and domestic desks producing English copy. The translator will work flexible schedules, including frequent evening, weekend and overnight shifts.

More information here. There are other jobs with translation also advertised on the site - interestingly, most of them not under the label 'translator'.

call for translators into English for the European institutions

To translators with English as a first language, rumour has it that the competition for permanent posts for English translators opens on 13 July and registration will be open until 12 August. This has not been officially posted yet but expect an announcement soon at the competition's Facebook site.


Haitian Translation Challenge: French-English/French-Welsh, deadline 16 July 2010

Another very interesting translation challenge was launched by Translators' House Wales at the Hay literary festival the other day. The challenge is to translate an extract from the short story 'La folie était venue avec la pluie' by the Haitian writer Yanick Lahens into English or Welsh. The closing date for entries is July 16th 2010. The prize is a commission to translate the whole story, two nights' accommodation at Ty Newydd-Translators' House Wales (to be arranged with Ty Newydd) and the 2010 Bardic Staff.

The Bardic Staff - you know you want that. Another chance for aspiring literary translators to prove their mettle. The text for translation and more information are available here. Good luck to any of our readers who decide to give it a go!

tutor posts at the University of Portsmouth

Dear all,

The University of Portsmouth is seeking to expand its bank of part-time hourly paid translation tutors. Tutors working from and into Arabic, Chinese, French, Japanese and Russian are sought. Further details can be found at,113462,en.html. (Quick note: these posts may involve on-campus or online teaching; residency in the UK is a requirement for both).