Thursday, 29 July 2010

ethics in translation

We spend lots of time in class talking about the challenges of translation; how to deal with colloquialisms, ambiguity, puns, cultural references, rhetorical devices, terminology and so on. We ask 'how' a lot. We don't often ask 'whether' - whether we should be translating a text at all in the first place. So I was interested in the discussion taking place on the fxtrans blog about ethical and moral conflicts of interest. Are there subjects (abortion, pornography, animal experimentation; munitions) that make you so uncomfortable that they would stop you taking a translation commission? Are there clients (laboratories testing on animals; arms manufacturers; insurance companies) you wouldn't work for for moral or ethical reasons (as opposed to for banal reasons of low rates/risk of non-payment)? Are there circumstances in which taking part in a boycott (of Israel, of Arizona, or maybe of organisations boycotting Israel or Arizona) could affect what translation commissions you take on? How far should the translator's ethical stance affect how much they work and what they work on? Fxtrans set up a poll, and the discussion that resulted shows that actually, these issues come up for translators pretty often (though not as much in reality as in principle) (see also here and here). The debate ranges from the 'I wouldn't ever translate anything against my beliefs' crowd to the partisans of neutrality and objectivity for whom a translator who turns down a commission because of the content isn't really a translator at all. It's just a pity that the usefulness of the poll is compromised by the fact that it doesn't account for translators who have never thought about it, or the (probably much larger) number of translators, like me, for whom a moral or ethical conflict of interest hasn't (yet) ever arisen.

A couple of posters make the point that it's more professional to turn down a job that you can't be neutral about than it is to take it and possibly compromise the job. I can see why some other translators would think that in these cases one simply stiffens one's upper lip, holds one's head high and slips into a neutral, objective headspace - but I don't see that one is any less of an ethical being as a translator than one is in any other profession. I don't think it's a question of whether or not translators operate in a 'third space' or of professional codes of ethics, so much as of individual ethical stances. No matter what one's profession (in the exercising of which one will of course have to abide by a code of professional conduct) one is always 'free', at least in theory, to refuse to co-operate with power structures or interests with which one disagrees.

I am reminded of a film I saw recently, Gillo Pontecorvo's Kapò, released in 1959. It's an early Holocaust fiction film, set in a concentration camp. It's not unproblematic (Jacques Rivette famously declared his 'profound contempt' for its use of a tracking shot to aestheticise the death of one of the inmates), and it's melodramatic by today's standards, but it has one very powerful scene in which a camp inmate, Riva, is asked to interpret at an execution. Part of the way through the execution, Riva simply stumbles to a halt, unable to continue. The German commandant yells at her to translate, but she cannot force the words out despite the savage penalty that will result. (Interestingly, the subtitler takes over where Riva falters, translating the German officer's final peroration. One might ask how and whether the subtitles could or should have supported the interpreter and refused, too, to translate.)

Quite a different tack is taken by Roberto Benigni in a scene which you may remember from Life is Beautiful. Since some kind soul has put the clip up on Youtube, I thought it might be interesting to rewatch and think about the different ways in which ethical behaviour and indeed fidelity can be understood in translation. Note how faithful Benigni is to the body language and gestures of the camp guard for whom he is interpreting:

Maybe it's just the rhythm of consecutive interpreting that they have in common, but I find it hard to imagine that Benigni wouldn't have had Pontecorvo's film in mind when writing this scene.

I would be interested to hear from any readers of the blog about ethical or moral conflicts they may have found themselves in as translators, subtitlers or interpreters, and how they addressed them...?

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

public service interpreting

In honour of the Critical Link conference currently taking place at the University of Aston which I'm off to tomorrow, here are two links about public service interpreting: a nice profile of a public service interpreter in Birmingham from the Guardian; and a very interesting article by Roxana Cardenas on public service interpreting in California and the problems of equality and access.

For any loyal readers in the Birmingham area, our National Network for Translation panel on translation in the work of public service interpreters will be at 4pm on Wednesday afternoon. Further details of the conference here.

webinar on running your own business (legal and accounting issues)

From Lucy Brooks at the Chartered Institute of Linguists, another webinar which she tells me may be of interest to newly qualified translators, as well as those already established as freelancers.

The webinar on "Running your own business - legal and accounting aspects" takes place on 9 September 2010

Time: 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM BST
Cost: £15

A webinar aimed at individuals based in the UK, who are already running their own business and looking for some tax and accounting tips, or who are thinking about setting up and are not sure about the best way to do so. This will be of interest to both linguists and non-linguists, so please feel free to forward this email to any of your contacts who may wish to attend.

The webinar will last 60-90 minutes and requires basic IT equipment and no travel at all. Webinars are also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Furthermore, the system we use allows for interactive sessions with Q&As. Seats are limited, so book early to avoid disappointment.

To register for the webinar, click on this link:

Once you have registered, you will be directed to our website where you will find out how to pay, learn more about eCPD Webinars and discover our full programme of events for the autumn. Alternatively, go straight to the Events Diary section of our website. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Call for papers: "Invisible Presences: Translation, Dramaturgy and Performance"

A good-looking conference coming up on drama translation:

Call for papers: "Invisible Presences: Translation, Dramaturgy and Performance"
Drama and Film Centre, Queen’s University Belfast
18-20 April 2011

‘Invisible Presences’ is presented under the aegis of Out of the Wings,
an AHRC-funded project exploring Spanish theatre in English translation,
in association with the Dramaturgies Project, and the Translation,
Adaptation, and Dramaturgy Working Group of the International Federation
for Theatre Research.

This international conference will explore the dramaturgical processes
of translation in performance practice, whether across language and
culture or the translation of ideas into material production. Rather
than seeing the processes of writing (whether collaborative or
singleauthored), translation, rehearsal, production, and audience
reception as separate and discrete, the conference will engage with
approaches that view the process as more of a continuum, one that is
perpetually at work. In this way the conference offers the opportunity
for dialogue between contemporary practitioners, both translators and
theatre makers, and for new insights into dramaturgy and translation
that seek to map the growing convergence between theatre practice and

The conference will feature:
-A range of eminent keynote speakers
-Practical workshops exploring issues of dramaturgy and translation
-Panel sessions
-Round table discussions

Areas for discussion include, but are not limited to:
-Translation and its metaphorical apprehension of text
-Translation and its audiences
-Translation and the contingency of performance -
-Collaborative translation processes
-The limits of translation
-Translation and ethics
-Dramaturgy as translation/ translational process
-Visual theatre: dramaturgies and translations of light, sound, space
-Technology: new relationships with audiences in online productions
-The dramaturgical process in different contexts: Case studies from
practitioners and scholars exploring the issues and particularities of
each context, such as community arts, theatre for young people,
cross-art collaboration processes and facilitation, ‘postdramatic’
dramaturgies, queer dramaturgies, disability arts, collaborative writing
processes, etc.

Proposals addressing the themes of the conference are invited in the
forms of: 20-minute paper presentation; 2-hour workshop. Please submit
proposals of 300-500 words, with 150-word biography, by 30 September
2010, to the organisers:
Alyson Campbell: a.e.campbell at
David Johnston: d.johnston at
Kurt Taroff: k.taroff at

For more information, please contact David Johnston at d.johnston at

Sunday, 25 July 2010

podcast on literary translation

Thanks to Katherine W. for pointing out this enjoyable podcast on the Guardian website about literary translation. Claire Armitstead interviews Anthea Bell, OBE, one of the UK's best-known translators, and Aleksandar Hemon, the Bosnian-American author and editor of the anthology Best European Fiction 2010 published by Dalkey Archive Press. They also look at a recently compiled list of the 50 bestselling books in Europe which has some surprising names on it.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

survey of interpreting in North America

Readers may be interested in a recent survey by Common Sense Advisory of the state of the interpreting profession in North America, carried out for the first North American Summit on Interpreting. The survey is available as a free download and it has lots of useful facts and figures about the main language combinations, certification, specialist fields, earnings and other language services provided by interpreters.

Update: the link should now work and take you to a page where you can download the survey for free.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

SFT translation working conditions survey

Interesting report just out from the Société française des traducteurs, with lots of facts and figures on translators' working conditions, rates, gender distribution, income, etc. We read that that 65% of the more than 1,000 respondents to the survey translate between 200 and 400 words an hour, that they earn between 16,000 and 90,000 euro a year, that 77% of the translators are women, and many fascinating other factoids. Please note that the report is in French.

It's good to see really systematic data gathering by a translators' organisation - let's hope other associations follow suit.

Monday, 19 July 2010

internships FR-EN/DE-EN, EN/DE/IT-FR, Lucerne, Switzerland

Just heard about this internship with a Swiss company for a French to English or German to English translator. Email the address provided for further information. This advertisement for a French native speaker may also be of interest.

postdoctoral bursaries, Berlin (deadline 9 August 2010)

A post-doc opportunity also open to translation students:

The Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien invites scholars to apply for three postdoctoral fellowships for the research project 'ZUKUNFTSPHILOLOGIE: REVISITING THE CANONS OF TEXTUAL SCHOLARSHIP' for the academic year 2010/11 in Berlin.

The project Zukunftsphilologie endeavors to promote and emphasise primary textual scholarship beyond the classical humanistic canon. In an age of advanced communication, intellectual specialisation, and unprecedented migration of knowledge and people, the discipline of philology assumes new relevance. Zukunftsphilologie aspires to support research in marginalised, undocumented and displaced varieties of philology by revisiting pre-colonial texts and scholarly traditions in Asia, Africa, the Middle East as well as in Europe.

The title Zukunftsphilologie is inspired by the 1872 polemic between the classicist Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff and Friedrich Nietzsche on the method and meaning of classical studies. The project draws on recent calls for a return to philology as particularly emphasised by Sheldon Pollock in his essay Future Philology? and the late Edward Said's essay The Return to Philology.

In order to promote historically-conscious philology, the project will foster research in the following areas: the genealogy and transformations of philological practice, philology's place in the system of knowledge (e.g. its relation to science, theology, and jurisprudence), philology and the university, and philology and empire.

Zukunftsphilologie aims to examine the role mobility, calamities, expulsions, and natural catastrophes play in the dissemination and globalisation of knowledge. How does the mobility of scholars, books, and manuscripts bring about scientific innovation (e.g. in tenth-century Baghdad, during the European Renaissance, or during the Ming dynasty)? What kind of knowledge systems are also displaced by these processes of reorganisation? What transformations and translations accompany such mobilisations?

In addition, Zukunftsphilologie aims to support critical reviews of historical and philological practice. In revisiting important philological debates, the goal is not to merely evaluate the argumentative worth of these debates, but to reflect on the wider cultural and political context in which these debates emerged and how they have shaped our knowledge of the past.

Zukunftsphilologie is an initiative of the Seminar for Semitistik and Arabistik at the Freie Universitaet Berlin and envisages the establishment of a Berlin-based research group of philologists. The project is coordinated by Angelika Neuwirth and Islam Dayeh (both Freie Universitaet Berlin), funded and hosted by the Forum Transregionale Studien.

The fellowships are intended primarily for scholars of Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Persian, Sanskrit, Syriac, Turkish, and other linguistic and philological traditions from Africa, Asia and Europe, as well as for scholars of intellectual and literary history, of comparative linguistics, philology, religion and the history of science from outside Berlin, who wish to carry out their research projects in the framework of the initiative Zukunftsphilologie in Berlin. Applicants should be at the postdoctoral level and should have obtained their doctorate within the last five years. Fellows are given the opportunity to pursue research projects of their own choice, provided the topic falls within the research agenda of the project. During the fellowship in Berlin they will be integrated into a university or extra-university research institute. In the overall context of the project Zukunftsphilologie, they will participate in regular working meetings of the project group as well as in lectures, conferences and summer and winter academies, organised by the project and by the Forum Transregionale Studien.

Individual research projects should fall within one of the themes of the project Zukunftsphilologie. Projects should have a comparative perspective, whereby the plurality of textual practices, polyphonic textuality, and the trajectories and genealogies of philological traditions in early modernity are examined.

For the year 2010/2011, research projects focusing on intellectual debates, polemics, correspondences, and transregional encounters are especially welcome. A revisiting of major philological debates will enable us to explore the significance of philology in the cultural and political transformations beyond the modern/pre-modern divide. Moreover, an examination of philological debates will shed light on marginal philological traditions and undocumented intellectual positions as well as the way in which the canonical positions were consolidated and normalised.

Fellowships may start anytime in the period between October 1, 2010 and January 1, 2011 and will end on July 31, 2011. Shorter fellowship terms can be considered. Postdoctoral fellows will receive a monthly stipend. To apply, please send the following documents in English exclusively by e-mail as single Word or PDF file. The letter of recommendation can be sent directly by e-mail.
— a curriculum vitae
— a project description (no longer than five pages) stating what the scholar will
work on in Berlin if granted a fellowship
— a sample of scholarly work (maximum 20 pages, article, book chapter,
conference contribution)
— a letter of recommendation from one academic faculty
The application should be submitted in English and should be received by
August 9, 2010, addressed to office at

For more information, please see our website (under construction)

8th 'Giornate della traduzione letteraria', Urbino, September 2010

For Italianists with an interest in literary translation, here's a useful conference/workshop coming up. It's been running for many years now, features some of the most eminent translators in Italy and has a great-looking programme this year (see below for a list of seminars). More information here.


17-19 settembre 2010
Palazzo Battiferri - Via Saffi, n. 42 - Urbino
Dipartimento di Letterature moderne e scienze filologico-linguistiche
Università degli Studi di Urbino 'Carlo Bo'
A cura di Stefano Arduini e Ilide Carmignani

Dal 17 al 19 settembre prossimi, presso l'Università degli Studi di Urbino 'Carlo Bo', si svolgerà, sotto il patrocinio del Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali e delle Biblioteche di Roma, l'ottava edizione delle Giornate della Traduzione Letteraria. Professionisti dell'editoria, scrittori, studiosi e naturalmente traduttori si alterneranno in seminari e dibattiti per analizzare problematiche e orizzonti di un mestiere che, come scrive Susan Sontag, è il sistema circolatorio delle letterature del mondo.

Ospite d'onore del convegno è Edwin Gentzler, illustre studioso di teoria della traduzione. Anche queste Giornate avranno tra i loro punti di forza seminari con i più illustri traduttori ed editori. Hanno confermato la loro presenza editor delle case editrici Adelphi, Feltrinelli, Harlequin, Mondadori, Voland, Zanichelli. Partecipano, infine, il Centro per il Libro e la Lettura, le Biblioteche di Roma, AIDAC, AITI e SNS.

Per la prima volta verrà conferito il Premio Fedrigoni - Giornate della traduzione letteraria. Il Premio viene assegnato dalla giuria, composta dal rettore dell'Università di Urbino Stefano Pivato, da Ernesto Ferrero, direttore del Salone Internazionale del Libro di Torino, e da Ilide Carmignani, curatrice con Stefano Arduini delle Giornate, a traduttori letterari per l'insieme della loro attività o a personaggi del mondo culturale che si sono contraddistinti per il loro impegno a favore della traduzione. Vincitrice di questa edizione è Franca Cavagnoli, traduttrice di Toni Morrison, J.M. Coetzee, V.S. Naipaul e David Malouf. Il Premio è sostenuto da Fedrigoni, gruppo leader in Europa nel settore delle carte speciali.

Harlequin Mondadori indice la seconda edizione del Premio "Bluenocturne" per offrire ai partecipanti delle VIII Giornate la possibilità di mettersi alla prova con la traduzione di un racconto dall'inglese. Una commissione valuterà, a suo insindacabile giudizio, tutti gli elaborati e premierà la versione migliore, offrendo un contratto per una traduzione di un romanzo Harlequin Mondadori. A breve gli interessati potranno scaricare il brano da tradurre e alcune linee guida dal sito delle Giornate Le traduzioni devono pervenire sia alla segreteria di redazione Harlequin (Via Marco D'Aviano 2 - 20131 MILANO) sia alla dott.ssa Stefania Rocco (Palazzo Veterani, Via Veterani 36 - 61029 Urbino) in formato cartaceo più dischetto con file, unitamente alla fotocopia del versamento d'iscrizione alle VIII Giornate, entro e non oltre il 31 dicembre 2010. Sulle buste deve essere chiaramente indicato: Premio "Bluenocturne".

Il giorno 29 ottobre le Giornate della Traduzione continuano con un seminario di Ilide Carmignani, che aprirà il corso “Tradurre la letteratura”. Le Giornate 2009 rientrano nell'ambito del progetto Ottobre, piovono libri: i luoghi della lettura promosso dall'Istituto per il Libro in collaborazione con la Conferenza delle Regioni e delle Province Autonome, l'Unione delle Province d'Italia e l'Associazione Nazionale Comuni Italiani.

Le iscrizioni alle VIII Giornate (80 euro per i tre giorni, 40 euro per un giorno a scelta) resteranno aperte fino a esaurimento dei posti disponibili:

I seminari sono a numero chiuso e l'ammissione sarà determinata dall'ordine di iscrizione al convegno (data della ricevuta di versamento).

L'Università di Urbino rilascerà un attestato di partecipazione del valore di 2 crediti. L'AITI, nel contesto del suo programma di formazione continua, riconosce punti credito agli iscritti che parteciperanno alle Giornate.

Segreteria: coordinamento Stefania Rocco, organizzazione Luisa Doplicher e Benedetta Zavatta. Per informazioni e iscrizioni: Stefania Rocco tel. 0722.305651, Roberta Fabbri tel. 335.6842880, Segreteria Istituti di Civiltà Antiche, Filologia Moderna, Linguistica, Via Veterani 36 - 61029 Urbino

Iscriviti al gruppo Facebook delle Giornate della traduzione letteraria!


Susanna Basso, Presentazione del libro: Sul tradurre. Esperienze e divagazioni militanti
Alessandra Bazardi (Harlequin), L'editing genere per genere
Rossella Bernascone, Psicologia per traduttori: come ascoltare un testo
Mariarosa Bricchi (Bruno Mondadori), I calchi: evitarli o governarli?
Edoardo Brugnatelli (Strade Blu Mondadori), Lost in Translation: non è un paese per vecchi
Franca Cavagnoli, Ripetizione, oralità e traduzione
Simona Cives (Biblioteche di Roma), Biblioteche e traduzione: strumenti di ricerca e momenti di confronto per la professione del traduttore letterario
Elena Dal Pra, Il dizionario elettronico: come mettergli il turbo
Umberto D'Angelo (Ministero per i Beni Culturali), Le lingue non veicolari nell'editoria italiana: forme di sostegno, traduzione e revisione
Eleonora Di Fortunato e Mario Paolinelli, Tradurre il cinema fra arte e mercato (a cura di AIDAC)
Daniela Di Sora (Voland), La traduzione in una casa editrice indipendente
Luisa Doplicher, La traduzione scientifica: fino a che punto intervenire sul testo?
Susanne Kolb, Umgangssprache-Slang-Mischsprache: le varietà substandard nella letteratura tedesca contemporanea e la loro traduzione (a cura di Zanichelli)
Marina Manfredi (Università di Bologna), Preservare/divulgare l'alterità linguistico-culturale: la traduzione postcoloniale come doppio atto etico
Paola Mazzarelli, Il vocabolario interiore
Franco Nasi (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia), Two bees or not two bees: tradurre la parodia
Bruno Osimo, Correggiamo insieme un testo: valutare e selezionare traduttori
Giorgio Pinotti (Adelphi), Quando il traduttore non osa (Jean Echenoz vittima del traduttese)
Laura Prandino, Il mestiere di tradurre: fisco, legislazione, trattative (a cura della Sezione Traduttori del Sindacato Nazionale Scrittori)
Alessandra Repossi, Revisione e redazione di una traduzione letteraria (a cura di AITI - Associazione Italiana Traduttori e Interpreti)
Alberto Rollo (Feltrinelli), Prima dei libri, intorno ai libri
Giuliana Schiavi, L'analisi del testo come primo passo del processo traduttivo
Caterina Sinibaldi, Voci e silenzi. Riflessioni sul rapporto tra censura e traduzione

Microcorsi di traduzione editoriale

All'interno delle Giornate verranno attivati due laboratori di traduzione editoriale dall'inglese rivolti ai più giovani, uno di narrativa (docente Bruno Osimo) e uno di letteratura per ragazzi (docente Maurizio Bartocci). I laboratori si svolgeranno dalle ore 9.00 alle ore 12.00 di domenica 19 settembre e saranno a numero chiuso (20 persone ciascuno). Chi è interessato deve inviare i propri dati unitamente alla fotocopia della ricevuta di versamento dell'iscrizione alle Giornate a: Bruno Osimo, Via Tolentino, 19 - 20155 Milano, o a: Maurizio Bartocci, Dipartimento di Anglistica, Sapienza Università di Roma, Via Carlo Fea, 2 - 00161 Roma. L'ammissione verrà determinata dall'ordine di iscrizione. Non è possibile presentare domanda di partecipazione a entrambi i corsi.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

The language industry in the EU

Many thanks to Juliette S. for pointing out this useful 2009 survey about the language industry in the EU by the Directorate-General for Translation at the European Commission. It gives some interesting trends for the industry including the increasing domination of a small number of huge translation companies.

Conference on music, poetry and translation

More fun stuff going on in New York:

International Conference on “Music, Poetry and Translation”
Barnard College, New York City
October 29-31, 2010

Analogies between poetry and music go back thousands of years, to the very origins of poetry itself. Poetry, we are told, is music, or at least more like music than other uses of language. Poetry translation also goes back a very long way. And so does the idea that music cannot be translated....

If poetry is music (or at least is characterized by a musical element), and music cannot be translated, how is a translator to cope with the music in poetry? That simple question has never been addressed directly and systematically, but it is one that binds together translators themselves, and two of the academic fields of inquiry that have proved most compelling over recent years: translation studies, and word and music studies. This conference will bring together people across the spectrum, from philosophers of aesthetics who have studied how words cope with the strange phenomenon we call music, to literature specialists who have dealt both in theory and in practice with how music in poetry passes from one language to another, and experts on the history of translation. The interdisciplinary nature of this conference will ensure multiple approaches to the problem, and cast new light, we hope, on one of the most challenging questions for literary translation.


Ronnie Apter (Central Michigan University), Emerita Professor of English
Scott Burnham (Princeton University), Music
Peter Connor (Barnard College), French
Peter Dayan (University of Edinburgh), Word and Music Studies
Peter France (University of Edinburgh), Emeritus Professor of French
Marc Froment-Meurice (Vanderbilt University), French
Marylin Gaddis Rose (SUNY-Binghamton), Comparative Literature
Susan Gillespie (Bard College), independent translator
Lydia Goehr (Columbia University), Music and Philosophy
John Hamilton (Harvard University), Comparative Literature and Classics
Kenneth Haynes (Brown University), Comparative Literature and Classics
Robert Hullot-Kentor (Long Island University), Philosophy
Charlotte Mandell, independent translator
Brian O’Keeffe (Barnard College), French
John Sallis (Boston College), Philosophy
Clive Scott (University of East Anglia), Emeritus Professor of European Literature

Event Oval, The Diana Center
Barnard College
New York City

For a map of the Barnard campus:

Friday, October 29, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 30, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Sunday, October 31, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Susan Johnson
Co-ordinator, Barnard Center for Translation Studies sjohnson at
(212) 851-5979
See the conference website for program updates.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

translation competitions deadline reminder: 16 July, 31 July

Dear all,

A quick reminder of imminent deadlines for two translation competitions.

The deadline for the Translators' House Wales translation challenge from French into Welsh or English is tonight (Friday 16 July) at midnight GMT. Or possibly tomorrow at midnight. You know, I'm not sure. You can come to your own conclusion here.

The deadline for the Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize is 31 July 2010. This prize will be presented to a translator at the start of their career and will focus on a different language each year. In 2010 – the inaugural year – 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 here. The prize is open to anyone between the ages of 16 and 34, with no restriction on country of residence.

One of the judges, Margaret Jull Costa (translator), commented ‘There are very few prizes open to the young, unpublished translator, who is either trying to get a toehold in the world of literary translation or who simply loves translating. All praise to Harvill Secker, then, for instigating this Young Translators’ Prize.’

Good luck to any readers who enter either of these competitions!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

postgraduate workshop on books and reading, Manchester, November 2010

I like the look of this postgraduate workshop, which may be of interest to translation research students too:

POSTGRADUATE WORKSHOP: Same Old Story? New Trends in Books, Literature and Reading in the New Millennium

Friday, 5 November 2010
University of Manchester

Plenary Speaker:
Prof. Stephen Hutchings
School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures

You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.
~ Ray Bradbury ~

The advent of digital technologies has had an enormous impact on the way we generate and perceive literature. The book as a material object is now facing significant pressure as a result of competition with less traditional means of creating and distributing texts such as the Internet. The authority of the writer is also being challenged by new possibilities to enter into dialogue with the reader. Last but not least, the digital evolution has had an impact on the book market itself, demanding new marketing strategies and new means of communication between the author, the reader and the publisher.

While some perceive these trends with enthusiasm, others react to this changing literary environment in a more sceptical way, predicting not only the death of the book, but also the diminishing role literature will play in society. The aim of this workshop is to look into how the role of literature, readers and books has changed in recent years. What significant trends are emerging? Has there been a shift in our perception of literary works and their creators? Is the digital evolution a threat to the printed book or does it encourage an alternative reading culture, co-existing with the traditional one? The primary focus of the workshop is on the Post-Soviet space, where the digital revolution has coincided with major societal transformations. We also welcome abstracts on relevant topics outside the Post-Soviet area.

Possible topics may include (but are not limited to):

· Changes in the role of the book in print form
· Changes in the role of the reader
· New literary genres
· Impact of new media on the printed book
· Reader/author communication
· Extra-textual factors influencing the book market
· Translation and the canon
· Politics of the book market
· Changing boundaries of the high and low dichotomy
· The concept of the bestseller

Keep informed at (I think this is the first time I've seen LiveJournal used for the purposes of research - good idea!).

Languages at War conference, 2011

International Conference, Imperial War Museum, London.
7-9 April 2011
Languages at War: policies and practices of language contacts in conflict

This interdisciplinary conference, supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, will bring together current research on the role of languages in war, conflict and peacemaking situations, focusing on such questions as:

- What are the foreign language policies of government, military and multilateral agencies in conflict situations?
- What are the language-related experiences of those involved ‘on the ground’ in these conflicts?
- What are the implications for language intermediaries who work in conflict zones?

Invited speakers include Professor Joanna Bourke (Birkbeck), and Professor Mona Baker (Manchester), and there will be contributions from employing agencies and from practitioners. Papers are invited (from historians, war studies specialists, cultural studies scholars, translation/interpreting specialists) for Panel sessions on ‘Meeting the other in war and conflict’ and ‘Interpreting /Translating in war and conflict’. We are particularly keen to have contributions from early career researchers, as well as from more experienced researchers and practitioners.

Paper proposals should provide a) name/institutional affiliation; b) 200 word abstract of proposed paper, c) brief statement of research interest.

Proposals should be sent to Professor Hilary Footitt at the University of Reading (h.a.foot at by 30th September 2010.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

EU translator competition finally open

The website for the current competition for EU translators into selected languages (including English) is now open. Or, in the parlance of your future employer (if you are very good and very lucky) The Notice of Competition for Open Competition EPSO/AD/185/10 (TRANSLATORS ENGLISH LANGUAGE (EN)) has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

To apply, go to the following link: and scroll down to EPSO/AD/185/10. The closing date for on-line registration is 12 August 2010 at 12.00 midday (Brussels time).

Good luck to any of our readers who apply!

New York bilingual reading in support of Haiti

Readers in New York might be interested in a bilingual reading of Aimé Césaire’s “Cahier d’un retour au pays natal” (Notebook of a Return to My Native Land) taking place on Thursday, 15 July at the Shrine in Harlem. Proceeds to support social projects in Haiti.

Monday, 12 July 2010

academic post in Translation Studies, University of Exeter deadline 16 July

Dear all,
Just saw this - looks like a good opportunity.

We are pleased to announce two one-year translation posts at Exeter: below is the description for the teaching fellow post, and there is an associate teaching felow post as well. Only one application is needed for both posts, and both are advertised on the University website ( and on

Please note that the turn around is tight -- the deadline is THIS FRIDAY, 16th July. If you have any questions about the posts, please do not hesitate to contact me at r.m.mansell at

All the best



Dr Richard Mansell
Director MA Translation
The Queen's Building
The University of Exeter

+44 1392 26 3199

Teaching Fellow in Translation NEW
Ref: N2607
Closes 16th Jul 2010
College of Humanities   (Academic)

Teaching Fellow in Translation (Ref. N2607)

Salary: £31,671 per annum

This full-time post is available from 1st September 2010 on a fixed term basis until 30th September 2011.

The University seeks to appoint a Teaching Fellow in Translation to contribute to postgraduate and undergraduate teaching in Translation Studies, and in appropriate language programmes within the Department of Modern Languages. The person appointed will have expertise in translation theory and/or professional translation practice and have completed, or be near completion of a PhD in a relevant discipline. A record of research-led teaching experience in one of the above-named languages is essential.

The starting salary will be £31,671 per annum on Grade F.

Informal enquiries may be addressed to Dr Katharine Hodgson, Head of Department of Modern Languages (k.m.hodgson at

Application packs are available from

E-mail completed applications to G.A.Macdonald at; quoting reference number N2607.

The closing date for completed applications is 12 noon 16th July 2010.

Interviews will take place on 28th July 2010.

The University of Exeter is an equal opportunity employer and promotes diversity in its workforce and, whilst all applicants will be judged on merit alone, is particularly keen to consider applications from groups currently underrepresented in the workforce.

Please contact: G.A.Macdonald at

Extended Call for Papers: "Image, Music, Text...?" Translating Multimodalities

Dear all,

This is to let you know that the call for papers for the tenth annual Portsmouth translation conference has been extended. The theme of the conference is: "Image, Music, Text…?" Translating Multimodalities. It will take place on Saturday 6 November 2010 at the usual venue, Park Building, University of Portsmouth

Translation is usually about the printed word, but in today’s multimodal environment translators must take account of other signifying elements too. Words may interact with still and moving images, diagrams, music, typography or page layout. Multimodal meaning-making is deployed for promotional, political, expressive and informative purposes which must be understood and accounted for by technical translators, literary translators, copywriters, subtitlers, localisers and other language professionals. The organisers of the tenth annual Portsmouth Translation Conference invite contributions from translation and interpreting professionals and scholars on the challenges posed to translators by multimodality. Topics might include, but are by no means limited to:

• Image and text: advertising, visual communication
• Technical writing, diagrams, layout and document design
• Illustration, bindings, typography and paratexts
• Comics, cartoons, graphic novels, intersemiotic translation
• Song, opera and music in translation
• (Poly)semiotic interferences and intertextualities
• Written to be spoken; the audiomedial text
• Performance, staging, movement; sign language interpreting
• Subtitling, dubbing, surtitling, mise-en-scène, audiodescription, videogame localisation
• Paralinguistic issues and non-verbal communication
• Multimodal spaces: museums, tourist sites, the World Wide Web

We welcome a broad range of approaches to translation, including presentations with an empirical, critical, pedagogical, technological or professional focus. Proposals for practical workshops are warmly welcomed.

Enquiries and/or abstracts of 300 words should be sent to Carol O’Sullivan at carol.osullivan at by 31 July 2010.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Terminology handbook

For those of you who'd like a bit more background on terminology, you may find the FIT terminology handbook of interest. It's available for download in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese on the FIT website.

residency for Polish literary translator; application deadline 30 July

From the website of the ITIA, an advertisement for a translation residency for a Polish translator working on Irish poetry:

Ireland Literature Exchange/Idirmhalartán Litríocht Éireann (ILE), in association with the Ulster Bank Theatre Festival and the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport, invites applications from literary translators from Poland who are working on the translation of a work of contemporary Irish poetry and wish to spend a period of up to three consecutive weeks in Ireland during the period 26th September to 17th October 2010.

The bursary is open to experienced literary translators from Poland who:
1. are not resident in Ireland
2. are engaged in the translation of a work of Irish poetry
3. have secured a publisher's contract for the work in question or will have secured one at the time of residency.

Applications are welcome from translators translating from English to Polish.

The bursary will cover accommodation, board and living costs. Where possible, all necessary arrangements will be made by ILE. A contribution will also be made towards reasonable travel expenses. Recipients will be accommodated in Dublin and at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig, Co. Monaghan.

More information here or at

Friday, 9 July 2010

French embassy post, FR-EN

Just spotted on the website of the Chartered Institute of Linguists, this post for an experienced translator from French to English:


The work principally involves translating political speeches and information documents of a political, economic or cultural nature.
An up-to-date knowledge of international and European affairs and familiarity with French political, economic and cultural life is therefore essential.
Applicants, whose mother tongue must be English, must be fully qualified, have proven experience as a translator and reviser, and be computer literate.

Please reply, enclosing detailed CV, to:
presse.londres-amba at
The Press Counsellor
Press and Information Department
French Embassy
58 Knightsbridge
London SW1X 7JT

in-house translation jobs DE-EN

Just saw this post listing a few different positions available for translators from German to English. As always, read the requirements carefully.

This reminds me that quite a high proportion of the jobs I see advertised are for German, and a lot of stakeholders I speak to cite German as a language highly in demand - so I am a bit mystified as to why we are turning out so few German linguists in the UK. The jobs are there! Shiny, sparkly jobs with good prospects! Come on people! :)

Thursday, 8 July 2010

winner of UK French Translation Prize

The winner of the UK French Translation Prize has been announced and the winning translation can be found here. Compare, if you will, with the original texts here and here.
I hope these links stay live - frustratingly, the competition doesn't have its own dedicated web page, though there's lots of other interesting stuff on the site.

English as she is spoke

I was just talking earlier about the resources the web offers for translation companies and translators promoting their services. Many translators blog to raise their profile and to contribute to their professional community. Some translators have elaborate websites (personal favourites include Linda Hoaglund's website and Roberto Crivello's site). I just came across another good website belonging to the Italian to English translator Wendell Ricketts of No Peanuts fame.

WR is waging a valiant rearguard action against translation into the second language. I especially enjoyed his collection of sins against English: Traducese (essentially an unfamiliarity with standard terms and collocations); Inglisc (a selection of translations from Italian to English produced by non-native speakers of English), similar hybrids 'Egliano', 'Italiese' and the international category Doesn't matter as long as it's cheap, which takes aim at 'translators' who charge clients for unedited work done using free translation software.

Fun reading for all the family. The question of translation into the second language is a fairly hot potato in translation circles. There's a clear need for client education in a market where translations into the second language are common even though there's no perceptible shortage of qualified native-English-speaking translators. In some language pairs, though, there is a shortage of such translators, and in that case creative compromises are made and specific working practices adopted. Of course quality control is always important.

I don't agree with WR that it is never possible to translate into an acquired language - I have known too many gifted translators translating out of their 'mother tongue' for that (well, at least two). I do agree that it is impossible to translate competently, for publication, into a language of which you do not have native-standard mastery of written expression. Unless your written English (or French, or German) is indistinguishable from that of a professional writer who is also a native speaker, you shouldn't be translating into the language for publication. (By 'publication' I mean anything that will be seen by the public, shareholders, customers, clients etc.). (Hint: almost nobody writes in their second language as well as they write in their first, with a very few honourable exceptions of the order of Samuel Beckett).

So WR's website is an entertainment and a cautionary tale in one.

jobs and due caution

Because it's job-hunting season for translation MA students, I thought I would post a few more sites worth browsing through (see below); but I also wanted to sound a note of caution about recent scams targeting translators. Be very, very careful before responding to unsolicited offers of work and check the background of any potential client/agency carefully. A number of professional associations and websites have blacklists, so make use of these. Tip of the day: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Another couple of sites for translation job-hunters out there which seem to give useful results: the general portal (there is also a sister site for US-based jobseekers) and, which specialises in localisation. Bear in mind that many clients advertising through general portals don't seem to know the difference between a translator and an interpreter. An agency site that caught my eye is, (It's interesting to see how translation companies market themselves to freelancers using various forms of 'content' and, in this case, endorsements from previous translators, from some time ago now, suggesting that a widget is desirable that would 'feed' up-to-date endorsements to company websites...?). Experienced freelancers could also try here. Remember (a vague disclaimer is nobody's friend) that these are just suggestions, and mention on this blog doesn't constitute an endorsement of any kind. Caveat interpres.

interpreting in the financial spotlight

I see another easy news story about the terrible expense of public service translating and interpreting ('Cash-strapped force defends up to £68-an-hour translators'). A funny one for several reasons:
(a) they are talking as usual about interpreting rather than translation;
(b) reading down, one learns that the regular rate is less than half the headline rate, and that the headline rate is for anti-social hours (freelancers need sleep too, and the occasional day off);
(c) I have just seen an advertisement for some occasional interpreting work that paid £9 an hour, which rather dents the image of plutocratic linguists living off the fat of the land. (I also, fwiw, recently came across an ad for an interpreting gig that pays $200,000+ a year, but that one involved Dari and Pashto and being shot at, so I'm going to say that one doesn't count).

It's good at least to hear the other side of the story from the police and in the form of a spirited comment by Pamela Mayorcas of the ITI. Not everyone may agree, but we live in a multilingual society where basic legal, medical and administrative access entitlements mean that we will continue to need interpreters and translators, just as we continue to need lawyers, police, plumbing, wifi signals, ramps, tea, coffee, water, telephones, oxygen etc. It's easy and seductive to fantasise about everyone learning English, particularly in these straitened times when everyone is looking for budget headings to cut; but any day any one of us could be mugged in Rome or accidentally rear-end someone in Estonia, and then we would be very, very grateful indeed to find that the police speak our language.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

English-language style guides and European Commission translation resources

I am in the process of putting together a list of translation links and resources for our website (keep an eye out later in the summer) and have rediscovered a few bits and pieces that I thought might be of interest to our general readership as well.

First of all, style guides. I got lots of detailed questions about assignment editing over the past couple of months, and some of them might be answered by a document such as this one, the English style guide of the Directorate-General for Translation at the European Commission. Note the extreme attention to detail! If you're not a pedant, then ask yourself are you sure you are a translator? The style guide also has some good basic details about the EU for anyone boning up for this summer's competition for translators (includes a call for English native speakers!).
The compulsive cross-checkers among you could compare the DGT styleguide with more journalistic style guides such as the Economist style guide or the BBC News style guide. It can also be entertaining to look at issues which are actively policed like dead metaphors and conventions for gender-neutral and gender-inclusive language.
The DGT site also has a page of general translation resources and a useful page of language-specific resources in all the official languages.

More links and resources anon. Anyone with suggestions of sites, glossaries, term banks, encyclopaedias etc. that they have found useful is welcome to post them in the comments!

Friday, 2 July 2010

'Delighted Beauty' project

I am just back from a thoroughly enjoyable conference on 'The Author-Translator in the European Literary Tradition' in Swansea (lovely beaches btw). More on that anon. Tonight's post is about a really pleasing project launched by a colleague at Swansea, collecting translations into any language of a couplet from Shakespeare's Othello. The couplet is 'If virtue no delighted beauty lack/Your son-in-law is far more fair than black' from Act 1, scene 3. There's a lot packed into this one little couplet, and one could see how it might pose all sorts of problems to a translator. Dr Tom Cheesman is looking for published/performed translations into any language. More about the project here and some intriguing suggestions of what one could do with the material here. This project seems like lots of fun and well worth supporting. If you have a copy of Othello on your shelves in any language other than English, why not support the project by looking up the couplet and sending it in? Translations directly to Dr Cheesman please.

crime fiction in translation

A nice article in the Wall Street Journal today on crime fiction and the explosion of interest in translated crime fiction since the frankly silly sales of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy. And who knew that The Elegance of the Hedgehog had sold half a million copies in translation? More power to it. Any readers of this blog looking to get into literary translation - sounds as though you could do worse than read up on some crime novelists and think about a pitch to a publisher...

Thursday, 1 July 2010

translation tools survey

Kevin Lossner over at Translation Tribulations has posted the results of this month's translation tools survey, for anyone curious to know what's popular and what tools other translators are using. The blog will probably be interesting for those of you working with German too.