Friday, 27 August 2010

in-house position DE-EN and DE-EN translation recommendation

Just saw this pointer to a temporary in-house contract in Berlin for a German-English translator. The deadline is 15 September.

Which reminded me that on my recent holiday I finished reading Hans Fallada's Alone in Berlin (original German title Jeder stirbt für sich allein) in Michael Hofmann's translation. It reads very like a translation in that the style is entirely un-English, but it is also beautifully crisp and comprehensible (and lightly footnoted, which I haven't seen in a translation for a while). Plus, the characters are fantastically drawn and the story gripped me from the first page. Just sayin'.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Translating controversial Arabic literature (call for papers)

A flurry of interesting calls for papers recently, including this one (the questions may also be of interest to students taking the Translating History unit):

International Federation of Translators XIX World Congress
Bridging Cultures (Panel)
Date and Venue: August 1-4, 2011, San Francisco, CA
Proposals are invited for a panel on "Translating 'Controversial' Arabic Literature"

Arabic literature, declared Edward Said in 1990, "remains relatively unknown and unread in the West, for reasons that are unique, even remarkable." Twenty years later, it is hard to say that the situation has remained the same: there has certainly been an increase in the availability of Arabic literary works in several European languages, and more attention is being given to current Arabic literature. Yet, considering the great interest in the West (generated mainly by political events) in Arab and Muslim societies and the remarkable growth in Arabic literature (especially the novel) in recent years, translating and publishing Arabic literature in several Western languages is often seen as nothing less than a gamble.

Whether it is their illustrative social value, their exotic appeal, their connection with current trends (as in the case of Naguib Mahfouz, for example), their confirmation of established political views or representations, Arabic literary works often have to give (non-literary) justifications for their existence in Western languages. One very effective pass to translation has been the "controversial" or "subversive" status of a work in Arabic. Writings viewed as
subverting political, social, and religious establishments or defying moral codes (especially when accompanied by public outcries or bans of different kinds) have usually been given priority by translators and publishers in the West.

This panel seeks to explore, from various angles, the translation of works considered controversial or subversive in Arabic. Our aim is to examine the factors influencing the selection of works for translation, the choices and dilemmas facing translators and publishers in the process of transferring the work from Arabic, and the recent developments and current state of the field.

We welcome contributions that benefit from recent research in translation studies, especially those engaging critically with traditional paradigms in translation theory or scholarship on Arabic literature.

Some of the questions that the panel addresses are:

What defines a work as controversial or subversive, whether in the source Arabic or in the target culture? Are readers' expectations in the source and target necessarily compatible?
What types of controversy usually attract western translators and publishers?
Do translators sometimes highlight, or exaggerate, controversial aspects in the works they translate? And what strategies do they use in the process?
Generally speaking, the controversiality label can add interest to a work translated from any language. How significant is the work's controversial status to its selection for translation from Arabic? Is controversiality a major condition for selection, or only one among others?
Has there been any change in recent years toward more attention to the "intrinsic artistic value" of Arabic literature, rather than its social or political relevance?
Conversely, did recent political developments in the Middle East and the West (the 9/11 attacks, the invasion of Iraq, the rise of fundamentalist movements, the Ghaza conflict), and the ensuing interest in the culture and politics of the Arab World, have any effect on the perception of Arabic literature and the conditions surrounding its translation?
How valid are the traditional paradigms of Orientalism and exoticism in understanding current translator choices and audience reactions in Western languages?
Does Edward Said's description of Arabic literature as "embargoed" still illustrate (if it did in the first place) the way Arabic literature is being treated by translators and publishers? Is there a deliberate intent somehow, as Said stated, to "interdict any attention to texts that do not reiterate the usual clichés about 'Islam,' violence, sensuality and so forth"?
What differences exist between Western countries in the conditions and modes of reception surrounding translations from Arabic?
To what extent can Arab institutions, intellectuals, and writers themselves be blamed for deficiencies in translating from Arabic?
To what extent can the conditions in which Arabic literature is translated and received in the West be compared to those governing the reception of literary works from other non-European, especially "Third World," cultures?

The submission deadline for 300-word proposals is December 1, 2010. Presentations should be in English. Contact: tarek.shamma at

Call for papers: Translators in Fiction

Looks fun and timely:

Call for papers: First International Conference on Fictional Translators in Literature and Film
15-17 September 2011
University of Vienna, Austria

Theme of the conference:
The last few years have seen an upsurge in films and literary texts in which translators or the act of translating have a central role. One reason for this development may be that translators serve as a perfect screen for the projection of social and cultural anxieties associated with various aspects of globalization, i.e. migration, cultural hybridity, mobility, multilingualism, etc. The topic of translation has reached all literary and film genres from dramatic works and novels to (auto)biographies, from motion pictures to documentary films and can be found in all fields: in historical novels and films, as well as in science fiction, experimental literature and films, crime stories and comedies. In their works, writers and film directors seem to make the most of the social and political dimensions of translating practice. Up to now, academic studies focusing on fictional translators in literature and films have been relatively few. One aim of this conference is to promote a more systematic approach by bringing together scholars from different disciplines with various research backgrounds and methodologies, such as translation studies, cultural studies, sociology, literary studies, film studies, hermeneutics, philosophy, etc. This pioneering conference aims to be a meeting point for all those interested in the subject, to become a discussion forum where scholars with different academic backgrounds can meet so as to stimulate interdisciplinary research in this area.

Suggested topics:
The First International Conference on Fictional Translators in Literature and Film is open to a variety of topics and approaches. Papers may discuss individual literary works and films, or specific genres, languages and cultural areas. Themes could, for example, include the following:
* What is the narrative role of the translator in a literary work or film?
* How are translator characters and their activity gendered or sexualized in
fiction, and what does this dimension bring to our understanding of how
translations are usually received?
* What may fictional translator characters reveal about the psychology of
writing and reading?
· What may such characters teach us about the ethical concerns involved
in the relationships usually established between "originals" and their
* What culture-specific features can be identified in the translators or
translating practice depicted in the film or literary work?
· Which cultural areas and social or other constellations do the
fictional characters inhabit?
· Which concepts of translating are implicit in the fictional practice
of the characters portrayed?
· Which cultural images are constructed? And from which perspective?
* Which role models are created in the films and literary works?
* What socio-political conditions or events contribute to the emergence of
fictional translators?
By means of papers and discussions on the featured topics, we hope to foster new perspectives, reflecting and anticipating scientific research in these fields in all its complexity.

Abstract proposals and deadlines:
Scholars are invited to submit 200-300 word proposals (with 3 keywords) for papers in Word as an attachment with the format: authorname.doc. (Please include your contact information in the body of your e-mail, not in the file.)
Abstract proposals should be sent by 15 January 2011 to:
transfiction at
The abstracts should be attached as a WORD document, Please indicate ABSTRACT in the subject line in your e-mail. Presentations will be 20 minutes in length, followed by discussion. There will be sessions Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Conference Languages: The languages of the conference will be English and German.

Information and Contact Details:
For all correspondence about the conference please use the e-mail address:
transfiction at
More information will be available soon from the conference website

Monday, 16 August 2010

poems about translation 7: Les Murray on being a translator at the Institute

It's been a while since we've had a poem about translation. Inexplicably remiss of me. It must be the heat (cue hollow laughter). Anyway, what should I find as I surf idly this evening but the Collected Poems of the fantastic Les Murray:

And the reason for my excitement is a wonderful poem called 'Employment for the Castes in Abeyance' which I politely insist you go and read now on page 134. And then why not listen to Murray reading it here. Or indeed vice versa. If you want your own fair copy of Murray's poems to annotate and spill tea on you can find a copy of the even shinier New Collected Poems here. Murray has a really good website also featuring some translations of his poems in German and Italian.

I'm going to leave you with one more Murray poem, in honour of my holiday in Italy which starts tomorrow. If the link works you should find yourself on page 233 reading a poem called 'The Dream of Wearing Shorts Forever':

See you in a couple of weeks.

interpreting lectureship in English and French, London

Maybe of interest to some readers, and/or their friends-and-relations?

London Metropolitan University - Faculty of Humanities, Arts, Languages and Education
Salary: £31,665/£38,664 to £37,326/£47,004 inclusive per annum (pro-rata)

The faculty of Humanities, Arts, Languages and Education is seeking to appoint a part-time (21 hours per week) Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Interpreting.

You will be responsible for teaching modules in Interpreting within the degree programmes in MA Interpreting and MA Public Service Interpreting as well as being responsible for providing student learning and support. We will also expect you to be involved in teaching on our professional short courses programme.

You will work closely with the Interpreting Course Leader and contribute to the administration of modules and to course planning and development as required.

You will have native or near native knowledge of English and French and a postgraduate qualification in Interpreting as well as professional experience as an interpreter.

Recent experience in the teaching of Interpreting at postgraduate level and a good research track record in the field of Interpreting are considered essential, as are excellent organisational and interpersonal qualities.

For an informal discussion please contact: Dr Alex Krouglov, Associate Dean, Faculty of Humanities Arts, Languages and Education (

We are planning to hold interviews in w/c 27 September 2010.

Job Ref No: 10A0512

Closing date for applications: 2 September 2010

To apply for the post and for further information, please visit our website at and quote the reference number

Sunday, 15 August 2010

workshop at Portsmouth on Translation Memory, 10 September

The ITI Wessex regional group in association with the University of Portsmouth is organising a one-day, hands-on workshop on Translation Memory software. The trainer will be Daniela Ford MITI, a certified Trados trainer. The training day will take place on Friday 10 September from 10 to 5 at Park Building. The venue is close to Portsmouth & Southsea train station (see The syllabus will cover an introduction to the theory and a hands-on workshop on Déjà Vu and Trados 2009 Studio. It will also make a good opportunity for networking. The workshop is suitable for both trainee translators and working professionals who wish to improve their knowledge of TM. The event meets the ITI's CPD criteria and certificates will be available.
The cost will be in the region of £35 for the day and a deposit of £20 is required. Further information can be obtained from the Wessex ITI co-ordinator Katie Belo dos Santos at portfolio_ls at

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Bibliography of Interpreting and Translation

Further to my post about open access translation journals the other day, allow me to remind my gentle readers about BITRA, the Bibliography of Interpreting and Translation, which is an open access database for translation and interpreting studies hosted by the University of Alicante. It's a useful resource for essay and dissertation research, has the benefit of being open access and makes a valuable supplement to the library databases and Google Scholar.

Friday, 13 August 2010

careless MT costs...

A quick reminder from Wales that uninformed use of machine translation can lead to tears...

30-minute courses in translation and interpreting

Just came across these 30-minute self-study courses in translation and interpreting aimed at bilinguals who don't have time or opportunity to attend a more substantial training course. Was, not unsurprisingly, curious (a training course 30 minutes long including assessment?). In fact they are quite well designed and get basic principles across efficiently.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Symposium on Videoconference and remote interpreting in legal proceedings, London, February 2011

For those of our readers interested in interpreting and how interpreting provision is changing:

International Symposium: Videoconference and remote interpreting in legal proceedings
London, 17-19 February 2011

The judicial services throughout Europe are currently implementing videoconference technology to facilitate communication at all stages of legal proceedings. In the area of criminal justice, for example, the emerging settings include videoconferences with witnesses, experts or suspects abroad as well as video links between courts or police stations and prisons. Videoconference technology is also used in immigration contexts and other legal settings. Any of these settings may be multilingual – involving more than one spoken language or a spoken language and a sign language – and thus entail the integration of an interpreter into a videoconference situation ('videoconference interpreting'). Additionally, videoconference technology offers a potential solution for current problems with the provision of qualified legal interpreters, especially for minority languages. Thus, 'remote interpreting' via video link, using interpreters at distant locations, is also gaining momentum in legal proceedings. Encouraged by the European 'e-Justice' initiative, which recommends the use of videoconferencing to speed up legal proceedings and to save costs, the area of legal videoconferencing is likely to expand in the future. While these developments are changing the practice of legal interpreting, knowledge about the viability and quality of videoconference and remote interpreting is scarce, and training for interpreters and legal practitioners on these emerging forms of interpreting is almost non-existent.

This International Symposium, organised by the EU project AVIDICUS – 'Assessment of Videoconference Interpreting in the Criminal Justice Services' (co-ordinated by the Centre for Translation Studies, University of Surrey, 2008-11), seeks to disseminate the findings of the AVIDICUS project and other ongoing project initiatives relating to the use of videoconference and remote interpreting in all types of legal proceedings. It will include reports on current practice and presentations of findings from the small but growing body of research in this area.
The Symposium, which is the first of its kind, will provide a forum for discussion and bring together:

* legal professionals and public service providers
* practising interpreters and interpreting service providers
* representatives of interpreting service users
* researchers in the field of legal interpreting incl. spoken and sign-language interpreting
* specialists in the use of videoconference technology
* representatives of educational and training institutions

The programme will include acknowledged experts in all fields that are relevant to this Symposium: legal proceedings, interpreting and videoconference technology.

The symposium will be held at the British Computer Society (BCS) office in London, which is located centrally between Covent Garden and the Strand. The address is: British Computer Society, 1st Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London, WC2E 7HA, UK.

Early bird registration until (15th December 2010): £150.
Late registration (until fully booked): £180
As the number of places is limited, please reserve a place as promptly as possible, using the online form at the symposium website. Registration will be based on a first-come, first-served basis.

Symposium website:

Dr Sabine Braun and Dr Judith Taylor
Centre for Translation Studies, University of Surrey, Guildford GU2 8FD, UK

All enquiries to the organisers should be sent to symposium at

The Symposium is organised with financial support from the EU DG Justice, Criminal Justice Programme.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

jobs in NGOs and aid organisations

Saw a couple of interesting and challenging-looking jobs advertised today: this ad on ReliefWeb, for an English to French translator for SOS Children's Villages in Morocco, and this ad for Serbian translators and interpreters for UNIFEM in Belgrade, on the UNJobs website. (Those of my Theory and Practice 2 students who couldn't see the point in studying gender and translation, please take a moment to read the specs for this second job!). Any of you interested in career opportunities in this field may find this page at the website useful.

Friday, 6 August 2010

liaison interpreting and its pitfalls (P.S. language identification request!)

Many thanks to Alan for two nice clips that show us in very different ways how not to interpret. From an old episode of Candid Camera, a conversation between two apparently engaged people has to be conducted bilingually in English and Greek via an interpreter, and goes predictably horribly wrong:

The second video is a how-to, how-not-to educational video from a charity interpreting and translation network illustrating the pitfalls of using ad hoc interpreters (in this case a family member) vs. using a qualified and trained interpreter. The video is cut slightly short, and suffers from unfortunately cheesy introductory music, but I thought it was well made and useful.

One thing that I thought was odd in this video was that they never actually mentioned what language was being interpreted - maybe this was a strategic decision, but I am still curious. Brownie points to anyone who can confirm what language the couple and their interpreter are speaking...

Thursday, 5 August 2010

plenary talks on translation from the Author-Translator conference

The plenary talks from the conference 'The Author-Translator in the European Literary Tradition' held at the University of Swansea earlier this summer are now online to view. It was a very good conference and it's great to have a second chance to listen to some excellent presentations.

open access translation journals

Since I'm getting around to revamping our website with new resource pages, I thought that a list of open-access translation journals might be of interest to readers. There are other good lists (see below); criteria for this list are that the journals be peer reviewed and all (or nearly all) open access. Suggestions of additional journals are very welcome.

Meta (one of the top journals in the field; recent issues are firewall-protected)
TTR (ditto)
Journal of Specialised Translation (a personal favourite)
TranscUlturAl (new but promising)
Transversal, published by the European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policy (some of the most interesting writing about translation on the web).

Quaderns: revista de traducció is a Catalan journal published by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Other Iberian journals include Doletiana, *Trans, *1611: A Journal of Translation History, the *Revista de Lingüística y Lenguas Aplicadas, the *Revista tradumàtica : traducció i tecnologies de la informació i la comunicació and *MonTI (issues online six months after publication).

Italian journals include the irregularly updated Intralinea and the more literary La nota del traduttore - perhaps not strictly speaking a periodical but I like it and it's my list, so hey.

French journals include recent issues of **Palimpsestes at the open-access journals site. The sociolinguistics journal **Glottopol sometimes carries useful translation articles.

From Colombia, Mutatis Mutandis; from Australia,*Translation & Interpreting. The international journal of Translation and Interpreting Research (has stolen the honours for longest journal title), from India, Translation Today; from Slovakia the SKASE Journal of Translation and Interpretation (honourable mention for least intuitively designed website).

More specialist journals include the Journal of Translation on Bible translation. On pedagogy of translation and interpreting, the Revista Electrónica de Didáctica de la Traducción y la Interpretación.
New Voices in Classical Reception Studies does just what it says on the tin.

Nice to see that back issues of New Comparison, the journal of the British Comparative Literature Association, are now downloadable as pdf files here, including some issues on translation.

Mona Baker's site has a useful list which also includes subscription-only journals. Another list here at the EST website or see Intute for more ideas. Comments on broken links are appreciated, as are suggestions of other open-access scholarly journals.

*added on 11 October 2010.
**added on 22 October 2010.

Monday, 2 August 2010

jobs with German and a web link

As if more proof were needed of the usefulness of German in the translation job market, I see that the BdÜ (Bundesverband der Dolmetscher und Übersetzer) has a page on their site listing translation jobs from and into German (look under 'Aktuelles'). For our Canadian students, Alpha Translations in Canada has a number of jobs advertised, also with German.
And I came across a nice translator's website with good-looking glossaries on legal and administrative topics for English and German, which may be of interest.

Translating Russian literature

For our Russianists, some links to some interesting snippets on translating Russian literature. On translating Pushkin, the indefatigable Robert Chandler is interviewed here and quoted here. I liked very much what RC says about the importance of sound when translating. Chandler again, this time on translating Andrei Platonov. And another translator of Russian literature has his spake here.