Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Open talk: 'Making a living as a professional translator', Bristol, 12 November 2014

Here's an event coming up that may interest some readers who are within reach of Bristol. The event is free and open to everyone.

as a Professional

Silke Lührmann
(Wolfestone Translation, Swansea)
on working in-house & as a freelance translator

Wednesday 12 November 2014
ARTS CMPLX Lecture Theatre 2
entrance via 3-5 Woodland Road, Bristol BS8
All welcome. 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The Forum for Modern Language Studies Prize 2015: Translating Cultures

Seen in passing on the FRANCOFIL mailling list: 

The Forum Prize 2015 – Call for Articles

The Forum for Modern Language Studies Prize competition 2015 invites submissions on the subject of translating cultures.

In an increasingly transnational, multi-cultural and multi-lingual world, translation has a crucial role to play in inter-cultural understanding, to which research in Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures makes a vital contribution. Translation has long been at the heart of LLC teaching and research activity and is a thriving area of interdisciplinary scholarship across a broad range of historical and geographical contexts.

‘Translating Cultures’ is the subject of an important current AHRC research theme in the UK, and is a key area of many research centres, collaborative projects and networks across the world, involving a wide range of disciplinary fields, in both the academic and professional spheres. As well as a textual practice familiar to all learners of language, translation understood as a range of dynamic processes has extended into countless inter-related research domains including such broad fields as adaptation, comparative literature, multilingualism, post-colonialism and cultural identity. Authors may wish to address one or more of the following topics:

• Comparative analyses of different translations of the same text, their reception and the ways they allow the flow of ideas – and their evolution – across national boundaries.

• How translation contributes to the development of particular literary forms (and vice versa).

• Canonisation – the relationship between translation and notions of world literature, or the role translation plays in comparative literature.

• Questions of genre – what differences or similarities might be observed in the translation of narrative, poetry, prose, drama, opera, subtitles, bande dessinée, fiction and non-fiction, or political, legal, economic and religious texts?

• The multilingual text, translanguaging, and the relationship between multilingualism and creativity.

• Intermediality – the ways in which adaptation may be conceived as a form of translation, ekphrastic translations of the visual arts, but also including non-linguistic translation, between music, painting, sculpture, dance, as well as digital culture.

• The ethics of translation – how notions of domestication or foreignisation raise questions of appropriation and resistance in intercultural dialogues.

• Migration and diaspora – the migration of texts across boundaries,
translation as a form of cultural interpretation, or as catalyst for mobile, dynamic global identities.

• Linguistics and the linguistic landscape – the politics and practice of bilingual signage, the complex relationship between language and regional, national or transnational identities.

• Translating between regional and national languages, the question of internal colonialism, and the creation of hybridised global discourses.

• Representations of the translator in literature or film. How do fictional texts represent, support or subvert the politics and practice of translation?

• Radical translation practices: intralingual translation and rewriting, feminist translation strategies, translation and phenomenology.

• The role of translation in producing original cultural artefacts.

• Mistranslations, deliberate or accidental.

• The untranslatable, including omitted or untranslated elements, or
resistance to translation.

• Translation and the acoustic properties of a text.

Submissions may address literature of any period, from a literary or
linguistic perspective, and in any of the languages covered by the journal (usually Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian, but we will consider others too). The competition is open to all researchers, whether established or early-career: it is worth noting that previous competitions have been won by scholars in both categories.

The winner’s prize will consist of:

1. Publication of the winning essay in the next appropriate volume of Forum for Modern Language Studies

2. A cheque for £500

A panel of judges will read all entries, which will be assessed anonymously. At the judges’ discretion, a runner-up prize of £200 may be awarded. The Editors may commission for publication any entries that are highly commended by the judges.

Entry requirements and Submission details for the Forum Prize 2015.

The closing date for entries is Friday 3 April 2015.

Entries must be written in English, between 6,000 and 10,000 words in length including notes, should conform to MHRA style, and must be accompanied by an abstract (approx. 150 words) summarizing the principal arguments and making clear the relevance of the article to the competition topic.

Articles should be submitted online at www.fmls.oxfordjournals.org, flagged as Forum Prize entries and following the guidelines for authors. We will also accept submissions by email or hard copy and disc, if there is a compelling reason: in this case, please contact:

formod.editorialoffice at oup.com

Full details of the Essay Prize rules can be found at

Plus ça change: on being a translator in the UK a century ago

I'm reading the urbane Frederic Whyte's memoirs, titled A Bachelor's London: Memories of the Day before Yesterday 1889-1914, and he has this to say about the state of the translation profession and rates:
One of the curses of the town translator, by the way (and most of us are townsmen, of course), is his country competitor. A man earning his livelihood by his pen in London can scarcely translate a German book (unless he knows German as perfectly as English) for much less than £1 per 1,000 words. A man living in cheap quarters in the country may welcome such work at less than half the price. I heard of one very competent worker some years ago who translated a long and important French book at 5s. per 1,000! He was living in a Welsh village quite happily. (Whyte 1931: 141)

So far, so plus ça change (except for the mysteriously and exclusively male workforce of British translators...?). Whyte goes on to say:
Still worse competitors are the people who can afford to translate for the pleasure of it, or the kudos. The whole matter of payment for translators calls for rationalisation. Arnold Bennett used to advocate the founding of a Translators' Guild. It might be a great boon. 

Monday, 20 October 2014

Applications open for European Society for Translation Studies Event Grant

EST Translation Studies Event Grant

The EST Translation Studies Event Grant is awarded annually to help finance Translation Studies events (conferences, symposia, guest lectures, courses, exhibitions). It may be used to cover a wide range of documented expenses such as bursaries, travel, accommodation, or preparation of conference materials.

Deadline: January 31, 2015

Amount: Up to 1000 euros

Rules and procedures
  1. At least one member of the organizing or scientific committee must be a paid-up member of the European Society for Translation Studies.
  2. The funds have to support a Translation Studies event. This may include symposia, courses, visits of keynote speakers, etc.
  3. Applications should explain the circumstances under which the request is made and include details about the specific use of the sum requested.
  4. The Event Grant Committee will conduct an evaluation of each application on the basis of: a) the needs demonstrated in the application, b) the importance of the event for the Translation Studies community, and c) compliance of the event with the EST’s general philosophy of making Translation Studies accessible to all.
  5. The sum granted will be transferred to the applicant’s account after invoices and/or receipts have been received.
  6. Applications should be sent by email to the Chair of the Event Grant Committee, Magdalena Bartłomiejczyk: magdalenabartlomiejczyk[at]hotmail.com. Reception will be acknowledged.
  7. The deadline for submitting applications for 2015 is January 31, 2015. The decision of the Committee will be announced at the beginning of March. The grant may thus be requested for events that are planned for between March 1, 2015 and March 31, 2016.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Oldies but goodies

It's fifty-five years old, but I still really like this description of what good translation feels like:
If [the translator] does see and hear clearly and fully, he (sic) will hold the original poem in a sort of colloidal suspension in his mind – I mean a fluid state in which the syntax, all the rigid features of the original dissolve, and yet its movements and inner structures persist and operate. It is out of this that he must make another poem that will speak, or sing, with his own voice’
Jackson Mathews, 'Third Thoughts on Translating Poetry', in Reuben Brower (ed. ) On Translation, Harvard University Press, 1959, pp.66-77

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

How to prepare a good PhD application

The next round of Doctoral Training Partnership funding is coming up, and it's made me think about what makes a good PhD application. Over the years I have seen a lot of PhD enquiries and applications, and it might be helpful to outline what my expectations of a competitive application in my field are. These are just my personal opinions, and are not representative of any institution or organisation, but I hope they may be helpful for readers out there considering applying for PhD funding in Translation Studies.

The thing I can't emphasise enough is groundwork. The PhD application is not the place to submit your initial idea; once you have an idea, you should get appropriate academic feedback on it and begin approaching your chosen institution(s) to scope out supervision possibilities. This should be done well in advance of any application, particularly where funding deadlines are at issue. A good literature review takes time to develop; for archival projects, you might find yourself visiting archives to establish the availability of appropriate primary material - and so on. A competitive funding application is about showing that the project is worth doing and that you are the right person to do it.

Turning your topic into a proposal
What's going to be new about your project? The literature review is an important step in pinning this down. What's been written about the topic? Where is the gap in knowledge that this work can address? What theoretical framework/methodology will you use/draw on/develop? Why is this an appropriate framework/methodology? Your prospective supervisor will look with interest at the bibliography following your research proposal - do you mention the key scholars in this field? Are you familiar with the relevant debates? Where's the evidence of critical thinking in your proposal?

Where are you going to get your data from? Sometimes, a PhD project comes not from the research question, but the other way around, from the discovery of a source of data which invites analysis - the research question might then be a function of what you can usefully ask about that data. If you're looking at a body of texts, what texts are you going to look at, and why?

Your own preparation for doctoral work
Your application will include details about your academic and professional background. A good PhD application explains how this project proposal builds on your existing strengths. It should show that you have enough familiarity with the general field to be reasonably confident about the claims or hypotheses outlined in your proposal. Is there appropriate evidence of the language competence, if any, needed to do the research?

You don't have to have all the research training in advance; good PhD programmes will make training available to you, but you need to have an appropriate background in the subject. And you don't have to answer your research question(s) before you've even begun the PhD, but you do need to be able to show in the proposal that the questions are worth asking, and can be answered within the scheme of work that you propose.

Managing your application(s)
One of the things which helps to make a good narrative for a PhD application is choice of institution. Have you selected an appropriate institution? Do they have the right research strengths? Are they able to supervise in your language pair(s)? Can you tell a good story, not just about how you are the right person to do this project, but about how this is the right place for you to do it?
Have you checked the requirements for the application at your chosen institution(s)? Don't be afraid to ask questions.

Attention to detail
Have you formatted and proofread your application carefully, using clear headers and consistent referencing conventions? Check that you've done all this, then proofread it again.

Be aware that a lot of funding for PhDs in the UK has deadlines in December or January for the following autumn; for the 2015 round I'd start approaching institutions as soon as possible.

Useful Links
There are lots of more or less helpful webpages out there with advice about applying for PhDs. I thought this one and this one had pretty useful guidance.

UPDATED 23 September 2016 with some style edits and a new title.

Translators' notes

I've long thought that there's not enough writing out there by translators about specific knotty problems in texts. You can track them down sometimes in the prefaces of books, and there's always one's own experience to draw on, but one can never have too many examples to hand of real problems which have come up in authentic translation contexts, especially in a translation class with seven language pairs represented.

So I was delighted when the Translators Association's excellent journal In Other Words added an 'in brief' section where translators discuss fascinating questions such as how to translate 'del rancho de la chingada' in Mexican writer Juan Pablo Villalobos' Down the Rabbit Hole (Rosalind Harvey in issue 39) or the kind of relationship known as a 'Bratkartoffelverhältnis' (Anthea Bell in issue 40, on translating Eugen Ruge's In Times of Fading Light).

And now I am very very pleased to see that there's a new wordpress community, Brouillon, dedicated to the same thing - short pieces by translators about very specific words and phrases that proved a problem in translation, and how they got solved. So far, all the posts are, predictably enough, about fiction translation but it seems to be open to all sorts of translation (screen translation, anyone?).

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Doctoral funding available from the South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership

The University of Bristol is a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded SouthWest and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SW&W DTP).

The DTP consortium, which consists of eight universities, will award more than 50 scholarships for students commencing doctoral research in 2015-16. 
Applications can be made to the DTP after 26 November 2014. The closing date for applications is 12 January 2015
If you wish to undertake doctoral studies at the University of Bristol, and wish to be considered for a DTP scholarship, please make contact with your potential supervisor at Bristol as soon as possible. Candidates are welcome to submit proposals in any field of the arts and humanities with supervision expertise in the University of Bristol. 
The University of Bristol offers supervision in a range of translation studies fields including translation history, literary translation, screen translation, adaptation, interpreting and theatre translation/performance. Languages include Chinese, Czech, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Candidates should contact Dr Carol O'Sullivan in the first instance. For projects in drama translation and performance, please contact Dr Katja Krebs.

The University of Bristol also expects to be in a position to offer a number of its own postgraduate research scholarships to outstanding applicants. Students who apply for a DTP scholarship based at Bristol will also be automatically considered for a University of Bristol scholarship. An application for a place on the PGR programme at the University of Bristol can be made at any time, but only those applications received before 12 January 2015 will be considered for a UoB scholarship.  For more details of PGR funding opportunities at the University of Bristol see http://www.bristol.ac.uk/arts/gradschool/funding.