Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year and paintings about translation

Just back from a lovely Christmas with my family (in Texas, for a change). I had the pleasure of seeing the Caravaggio exhibition at the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth and thought it would make a nice note to end the year on.

One of the fascinating features of this exhibition was the inclusion of paintings by followers of Caravaggio.The exhibition is structured in themed 'rooms', one of which is dedicated to St. Jerome. It turns out that Caravaggio's imitators have quite a different vision of Jerome to the one I was used to. Earlier paintings by Jan van Eyck, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Antonello da Messina portray him in elaborate interiors with big libraries and lots of kit. He also tends to be rather formally dressed for someone who works from home. The paintings after Caravaggio portray a rather different translation context. It's night, not day. Jerome hasn't bothered to finish dressing. He might or might not be sitting at a desk. Lions don't feature as prominently.

Of the four St. Jerome paintings in the exhibition, my favourites were Bartolomeo Cavarozzi's 'St. Jerome in his Study with Two Angels' (c.1617) of which I couldn't find a convincing image online, and Jusepe de Ribera's weatherbeaten, great-outdoorsy St. Jerome of c.1613:

There is also Trophime Bigot's 'Saint Jerome Reading', aka 'Saint Jerome and the Itty-Bitty Book Light'.

I very much like the painting below by Leonello Spada from the Galleria Nazionale in Rome, not in the exhibition but in the same tradition. The bare feet...The eyeglasses...The sitting with the laptop sorry manuscript in his lap...The candle burned down to the socket...:

For anyone in hailing distance of Fort Worth, the exhibition runs another week until 8 January. To all readers of this blog, a very happy New Year and best wishes from Southsea.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Doctoral studies summer school, Slovenia

I have just seen a call for participants for a new doctoral training initiative in Slovenia. This seems a valuable addition to the current range of doctoral training schools, and the emphasis on training the trainer is also very welcome:

EMUNI Translation Studies Doctoral and Teacher Training Summer School
23 June – 7 July 2012, Portorož, Slovenia
Guest Lecturer 2012: Dr. Michaela Wolf, University of Graz

The more than 300 MA programmes in translation across Europe indicate that there is both a great need to provide high-level doctoral study for prospective teachers and a pressing need to continuously provide teacher training to existing translation teachers in order to keep them up to date with the latest developments in the field. The EMUNI Translation Studies Doctoral Summer School and Teacher Training Summer School, a joint initiative by 7 different universities (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia; Boğaziçi University, Turkey; University of Turku, Finland; University of East Finland, Finland; University of Granada, Spain; Pablo de Olavide University, Seville, Spain; and EMUNI, Portorož, Slovenia), responds to this need by focusing, in particular, on contemporary research into literary and non-literary works from a historical perspective.
Participation will be limited to a maximum of 30 individuals; particularly welcome are doctoral students in the early stages of their projects, teachers of translation at MA level or its equivalent and other academics, as well as professionals who are involved in research in translation and interpreting studies or in other doctoral fields where translation, interpreting or intercultural mediation is a focus of interest.
Basic activities at the EMUNI Summer School:
a) Critical discussion of the most current approaches to translation theory, paying particular attention to contemporary research into literary and non-literary works from a historical perspective.
b) Presentation and critical discussion of different methodological approaches in TS, focusing in particular on researching the translation of literary and non-literary texts in historical TS from the perspective of historical and sociological studies, or through the use of ethnological and corpus approaches.
c) A series of lectures by the guest lecturer.
d) Teacher-training in the field of translator training, with a particular emphasis on curriculum and syllabus design, definition of objectives and learning outcomes, trainee and trainer profiles, ICT resources, classroom dynamics and assessment.
e) Tutorials for doctoral students and young researchers.
f) A graduate conference.

Teaching Staff:
Dr. Özlem Berk Albachten, Boğaziçi University, Turkey
Dr. Elisa Calvo, Pablo de Olavide University, Seville, Spain
Dr. Ebru Diriker, Boğaziçi University, Turkey
Dr. Vojko Gorjanc, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Dr. Dorothy Kelly, University of Granada, Spain
Dr. Nike K. Pokorn, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Dr. Kaisa Koskinen, University of Eastern Finland, Finland
Dr. Outi Polaposki, Turku University, Finland
Dr. Sehnaz Tahir-Gürçağlar, Boğaziçi University, Turkey
Dr. Špela Vintar, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Publication: participants shall be invited to submit an article to be refereed and published in print and on the EMUNI summer school website.

Expenses: Associates will be responsible for their own airfare and local transportation to and from Portorož. The expected maximum costs for students for 14 days (registration + tuition + accommodation + full board) is 1030 €. All students, but in particular students from the non-EU countries of the Union for the Mediterranean, are eligible for grants.

Application Deadline: March 15, 2012 

Website: For the application procedure and more details of the school please visit the website at: or write to at

Monday, 12 December 2011

Advice for translators starting out

There's a nice post by Jill Sommer over on TranslationMusings with hints and tips for finding translation work, building a clientele and surviving the first year of freelancing. Lots of good advice in the comments too.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

EST list of translation journals

For anyone looking for information about translation and interpreting journals, the European Society for Translation Studies has published a freely editable, updatable list of journals in Google Doc form. This is meant to be a resource for the international translation and interpreting research community. Please feel free to add journals, amend errors and update information. Queries should be addressed to carol.osullivan at (Warm thanks to Alice Colombo and Jonathan Evans for their generous help with compiling the list).

UPDATE August 2012: Just to say that the list is no longer freely editable because there were some unfortunate editing hiccups which led to information having to be re-entered. If you would like to change information on the list, add a publication etc. please contact carol.osullivan at 

Photo caption: Carl Spitzweg, Der Bücherwurm [The Bookworm]

Friday, 2 December 2011

Project management and quality training event, Portsmouth

Hi all,
The next in our series of professional training workshops takes place on 27 January. Raisa McNab of STP Nordic will be running the workshop. The workshop is addressed primarily to professional translators, both newly-qualified translators finding their feet, and more established professional translators who would like to enhance their awareness of and skills in project management and quality. See below for further details and a registration link.

Enhancing your project management and quality assurance skills
Raisa McNab
Friday, 27 January 2012
Park Building, University of Portsmouth

10 a.m-12 noon
  • Introduction
  • Project management for freelance translators: learning from a translation company context
  • Managing projects efficiently
  • Project management aids and tools
  • Opportunities in the translation industry
12 noon-1.30 Lunch and networking

  • What is "good quality"? Quality assurance metrics, standards and considerations
  • Quality assurance tools
  • Hands-on exercise using a QA tool: Apsic Xbench. (Participants may use the on-site machines or bring their own laptops.)
Raisa McNab is the Production & Quality Manager at STP Nordic, a translation company specialising in the Nordic languages. She holds an MA in Translation from her native Finland and brings to the workshop eight years of experience in project management and quality assurance along with her experiences of the challenges translators face in their daily working lives.
Fee: £50 (£45 for ITI and CIoL members and postgraduate students)

To register, please click here. Enquiries should be addressed to translation at

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Poems about translation 11: Apollinaire, 'il pleut'

Today, not so much a poem about translation as a poem in translation, in honour of the filthy, filthy weather in Southsea, and in memory of a very fun seminar on textuality and textual scholarship in Manchester on Friday. 

Here is Apollinaire's concrete poem 'il pleut' and a non-concrete English translation by Roger Shattuck, with comments by Edward Hirsch, from the Poetry Foundation website. For a lovely animated version by Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino and Mary Ann Sullivan, with some facsimiles of the manuscript and early typescripts, see here. For someone's earnestly linear wikitranscription of the poems, see here. For a bilingual edition of Calligrammes, see

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Lectureship in Chinese area studies and Chinese-English translation, Portsmouth

Lecturer in Chinese Area Studies & Mandarin Chinese-English Translation

University of Portsmouth - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Languages and Area Studies

Salary:  £31,798 - £34,745
Reference: 10003525
Closing date:  2nd December 2011

The School wishes to appoint a Lecturer to play a central role in the teaching and development of our East Asian Studies pathway and Chinese-English Translation Studies provision. S/he will be expected to teach on a range of course units at undergraduate level with a focus on East Asian Area Studies (with an initial focus on Chinese Area Studies) and Mandarin Chinese-English Translation at undergraduate level and possibly also postgraduate level. In addition, s/he will be expected to contribute to the development of the wider East Asian Studies area. Applicants will have proven experience of teaching in one or both areas, preferably at University level. The successful candidate should be fluent in English with a high level of language competence in Mandarin Chinese; will ideally possess a PhD (or be nearing completion) and be research and/or knowledge transfer-active. Experience of teaching international students is desirable. S/he will be expected to contribute to the School's and/or CEISR's profile in the East Asian and/or Translation Studies areas.

For further information or details of these positions, contact John Naysmith (Head of School), john.naysmith at, 02392 846050 or Bob Gould (Divisional Coordinator, European & International Studies), bob.gould at, 02392 846170.

To find out more about the University of Portsmouth and this role, visit and apply on-line. Alternatively telephone +44 (0)23 9284 3421. Please quote the reference number on all communications.

All applications for this position will be processed and conducted in compliance with UK legislation relevant at that time.

Friday, 25 November 2011

apprenticeships for translators

There's a nice piece on Sarah Dillon's blog There's something about translation on apprenticeships. I thought it might be of interest to those of our readers thinking about internships and work placements in translation.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

EN-AR volunteer translators sought, DESA (United Nations)

Seen on the Translation Studies Portal:

English to Arabic translation of news stories

UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA)
The task to translate news stories and web content highlighting the work of UN DESA within fields such as sustainable development, poverty reduction, population issues, economic analysis, trade data and the monitoring of the MDGs, relates to the goal of UN DESA to make all this information accessible in the six official languages of the UN, thereby enabling the world community to make informed decisions.
UN DESA seeks 2 voluntary translators. Each volunteer would be asked to translate one story per week from English to Arabic. Deadline would be 2-3 days. To assist in the translation efforts and to ensure correct terminology, UN DESA will provide a link to the UN Multilingual Terminology Database. DESA/CIMS will divide the work between the two translators, so that the workload will be approximately one translation per week.
Number of volunteers: 2

UN DESA works to promote development for all, assisting countries in agenda-setting and decision-making with the goal of meeting their economic, social and environmental challenges. The Communications and Information Management Service manages the department’s website with the goal of having online information available in all six UN languages. The department now seeks volunteers to assist with translations of information from English to Arabic.

Region or country: Global
Development topic: Development advocacy and strategies
REQUIREMENTS: UN DESA seeks volunteers with high-level language skills in English and Arabic. The volunteer should enjoy writing, be meticulous, accurate and flexible. Experience from working with professional translations is very much welcomed.

Areas of expertise: Humanities
Languages: English, Arabic
Hours per week  1-5
Duration in weeks 24

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Google n-grams and translation

I recently came across Google N-grams, and found myself wondering whether they could be used for translation-related research.

As the user guide explains, Google N-grams is a tool which can be used to interrogate a corpus of Google Books spanning two centuries from 1800 to 2008. The corpus is rather large: 5.2 million books, which we are told constitutes roughly 4% of all the books ever published.

There are several different language corpora: British English, UK English, other English corpora, Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Hebrew and Russian.  In another useful user guide to research using this tool, someone has christened the method 'culturomics' (not the loveliest word I have heard this year). (On the other hand, for a succession of completely lovely words, see this clip of Stephen Fry being delectable).

But I digress. One could begin by examining synonyms with different historical frequency. If we look up 'poetical' and 'poetic', for instance, the general English corpus (with a smoothing of 3) gives 1880 as the year where 'poetical' gives way in usage to 'poetic':

If we look up the same word pair in the British English corpus, we get a sense that 'poetical' hung on a bit longer in the UK, just about into the twentieth century, before being overtaken:

If we consider neologisms and when they entered the language, we learn that 'sniper' took off with the First World War:

'Translatress', on the other hand, gave it the old college try, but never really took off at all (cf. the very tiny numbers on the vertical axis):

This is a tool which encourages competition. Comparing the three great names of medieval Italian literature, the graph suggests that Petrarch was still Top Italian Poet at the beginning of the nineteenth century, but that some time after 1840 (which coincides with the general publication of Henry F. Cary's popularising translation The Vision in 1844), mentions of Dante get very much more frequent. His fame seems to peak around the turn of the twentieth century:

It would be interesting to track more carefully the appearance of the many translations of Dante and see how close a link there is with spikes on the chart.

The results for the three great Ancient tragedians, Euripides, Sophocles and Aeschylus, are even more fun. I always thought they went together like three things that always go together, but the Google Books data suggests that Aeschylus wasn't spoken of for praise or blame through the nineteenth century, despite intense interest in Ancient Greek literature. He begins to be mentioned more frequently from the turn of the century, until by 1940 the three dramatists are pretty much going hand in hand (though Euripides remains Top Tragedian).

Something to check against Peter France and Olive Classe, when time permits...

These are very crude readings, ignoring all sorts of important variables, but they seem to suggest that at the very least Google N-grams would provide some useful circumstantial data for translation history research, as well as language research more generally. I would be interested to hear from readers with suggestions of more fun searches to make in the corpus.

(c) Carol O'Sullivan, November 2011