Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Lecture by Professor Mona Baker, Bristol, 10 November 2016

We are really excited to welcome Professor Mona Baker, Emeritus Professor in Translation Studies from the University of Manchester, who will give a lecture on:

Fluidity, Uncertainty and Distance: Researching Volunteer Subtitling in the Context of the Egyptian Revolution

Thursday 10 November 2016
5.15pm - 6.30pm
Lecture Theatre 3, 17 Woodland Road (entrance for non-university members via 3-5 Woodland Rd)
Entrance is free and all are welcome.

While interest in volunteer translation and interpreting has grown noticeably in recent years, little field work has been undertaken to examine this important form of citizen media practice in violent and high risk contexts. Drawing on a recent study of the collaboration between subtitlers and filmmakers during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, this presentation will focus on the challenges posed by a fast-paced, fluid, non-hierarchical context of collaboration between relatively distinct groups (filmmakers and subtitlers) who do not interact regularly despite producing prolific output collaboratively. The discussion will also explore the difficulty of offering traditional research ‘findings’ in contexts where intense human relations and experiences are unfolding and taking unpredictable directions during the research period, rendering any notion of optimal researcher distance from the object of study both unworkable and undesirable and placing issues of trust and ethics at the centre of the research agenda. These difficulties are further exasperated by the ethos of contemporary movements of collective action, where there is often no interest in maintaining a record of individual contributions to any output or even a basic hierarchical structure that prevents any member from editing a (subtitled) video after it has been published.

More information at

She's a fantastic speaker, and we hope to see some of you there!

Monday, 10 October 2016

The fate of a Japanese silent film in translation

I have one thing to say about this year's Pordenone Silent Film Festival.


OK, two things:


It was my first visit (it's been a banner year for film festivals, what with the Slapstick Festival in Bristol, Il cinema ritrovato in Bologna, and then the first ever Cinema Rediscovered festival in Bristol) and I can't wait to go again.

I thought I would celebrate the brilliance that was this week by sharing a snippet of film translation history that I came across recently. It's a sordid story of silent film, translation, Ireland, criminal behaviour and flammable nitrate...

In researching the distribution of foreign films in Ireland (a task made more complicated because for much of the twentieth century 'foreign films' meant anything not made in Ireland) I came across a fascinating anecdote. On Thursday 21 September 1944 Dublin's Evening Herald newspaper reported on the theft of eight reels of 'the only English translation in the world of a foreign film, entitled "The 27 Martyrs of Japan". The case was heard at the Metropolitan Juvenile court, as the film had been stolen by a fourteen-year-old messenger boy:

Five rolls of the film had been recovered by the time of this first court hearing, and three were still missing. The unnamed boy reappeared in court on 28 August 1944, at which point it was discovered that the missing rolls of film had met an unhappy fate:

The film was in fact The 26 Martyrs of Japan, which had had a long run in Ireland. As reportedly the first Catholic-themed film to be released in Japan, it was much trailed in the Irish press, and opened at the Savoy in Holy Week, 1937:

It's not clear to me yet what form the translation took (there was some talk of a lecturer alongside the film), and why the print was still in Ireland in 1944 - and indeed whether the remaining reels of that print survive somewhere - but the good news is that a version of the film did survive elsewhere and it's once again being screened.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Mystery dubbed film: WW2 film 'Behind these Walls'?

Hello gentle readers, I've been burrowing in Irish newspaper archives recently, for my own nefarious research purposes, and am a bit perplexed by something (well, more than one thing, but you know what I mean).

On 23 May 1948, Noel F. Moran, film critic of Ireland's Sunday Independent, reviewed an Anglo-French coproduction by the title Behind These Walls in his regular column 'This week's Films' (p.2). I'm unable to find any record of a film with this title, and as you will see below, he doesn't give any helpful information about actors, director etc., because he is too busy complaining about the dubbing.

I'm casting this one out to the 'verse, and would be very grateful if any readers or their acquaintances could shed any light on what the film might be. Here's what NFM says about the film:
The Anglo-French film "Behind These Walls" (Regal) is more notable as a technical experiment than as a story of the French Resistance Movement. It is, to my mind, an experiment that fails but, let me hasten to add, not on the technical side.
     The background is French: the characters are French. By means of the De Lane Lea process of English speech recording (it is known as "Lingua Synchrone"), these characters are given English voices to speak the English dialogue. Technically, as I have already implied, the process is a success. The synchronisation is a definite advance on the old hit-and-miss methods of dubbing, utilised largely on the Continent and in America. But, what has happened to the atmosphere and the realism? They have gone with the wind.
     At its best, the picture could never be regarded as another "Open City". It has not the same scope or stature, nor does it seek to give the same comprehensive survey of a great nation under the heel of the invader. Made with R.A.F. co-operation, it is a recreation of a true incident. A group of ordinary people face a tragically simple problem - whether or not to blow up a German benzine [sic] train and sacrifice the lives of 50 of their fellow countrymen, held as hostages. Emphasis is on the reactions of these hostages as they await their fate - the Mayor, outwardly calm but sick inside; the doctor; the old beggar, facing destiny philosophically; the spiv; the coward; all the unspectacular heroes and heroines of the back streets.
     The characterisation has all the visual appeal and the sensitivity one has come to associate with the French cinema - all set at nought by those English voices, which make the film neither fish, flesh nor good red herring, to to speak. The cockney-like voice of the tramp, for instance, is described in the publicity sheet as "a forthright accent that drives home the essential provincialism of the French original hero of this dramatic part". My imagination is not sufficiently vivid to catch the analogy. Give me the original French version, with English sub-titles, however inadequate. When I go to see a French film, I want to see a French film. Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes.

UPDATE later that evening: Warm thanks to Lucy M. and Sam B. who have solved the mystery. The film is Jericho, also known as Behind These Walls, directed by Henri Calef and released in 1946. There does appear to be some confusion about the title. The film was reviewed in the New York Times on 6 December under the title Jericho ("exultant drama in the truly fine, French tradition"). There is no mention of the translation but it seems more likely that it was the subtitled version since it played at the 55th St. Playhouse which showed a lot of subtitled imports. Jericho was also the French release title. It was reviewed twice in the Monthly Film Bulletin in the UK, on 1 January 1947 for the dubbed version under the title Behind These Walls, on 1 January 1948 for the English-subtitled version, under the title Derrière ces murs. The subtitles were referred to as 'adequate' and the dubbed version 'not too offensive'.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Happy International Translation Day! and 2016 UK translator survey

What better way to celebrate St. Jerome's Day than via this email this morning that made me smile. It's from the indefatigable Paul Kaye at the European Commission representation in London (@PaulKayeEUlangs for anyone who might like to follow him on Twitter):

Subject: Happy St Jerome's Day! He'd do our survey if he were in our target group...

Dear all,

Today is the feast day of St Jerome, an Ilyrian theologian born in what is now Slovenia. He translated the Bible into Latin and is today the patron saint of translators. That makes 30 September International Translation Day.

If you work in translation in the UK, I'm sure St Jerome would urge you to complete our 2016 translator survey:

Best wishes,


Here's the man in question: (For more images of St. Jerome at work, see this old post...)

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

CFP: The Translator Made Corporeal: Translation History and the Archive, British Library, 8 May 2017

British Library and University College London

The Translator Made Corporeal: Translation History and the Archive

8 May 2017 
British Library Conference Centre

Keynote speaker: Jeremy Munday


In 2001 Theo Hermans suggested that while we have recognized that there can be no text without the human translator, translators are still expected to remain “hidden, out of view, transparent, incorporeal, disembodied and disenfranchised”.

Anthony Pym describes the need to look at the “flesh and blood” translator if we are to gain a deeper understanding of translators as cultural agents. D’Hulst suggests that we should ask Qui? - who is the translator? To answer this question he suggests we need to investigate the biographical detail of the translator, including his/her educational, social and economic background. More recently, Jeremy Munday, Outi Paloposki and others have suggested that we should research translators’ archives to reveal their every-day lives, struggles, networks, and even friendships. Munday has further suggested the creation of micro-histories of translators.

This conference sets out to explore current progress in studying the human, flesh-and-blood translator in an historical and cultural context.  A final panel, chaired by Theo Hermans, will focus on the future potentials, limitations and risks of biographical research of translators in Translation Studies and the humanities.

The British Library and University College London are currently accepting abstracts for papers from scholars and early career researchers in Translation Studies, History, Gender Studies, Comparative Literature, Sociology etc. We also welcome papers from archivists, curators and translators.


Themes for papers may include, but are not restricted to:

•    Biographical case studies of translators
•    Translators as political and/or cultural agents
•    The translator’s every-day life
•    Status and agency of translators
•    Translators' networks
•    The translator’s relationship with the author, publisher, editor
•    Translators’ social and cultural profile(s)
•    The translator negotiating her/his public persona – visibility versus invisibility
•    Translator as a poly-professional versus mono-professional
•    Amateur translators
•    Translation as a collaborative act
•    Collection of, and access to, translators archives
•    The opportunities and difficulties posed in of crossing disciplinary boundaries
•    The place of Bourdieu in investigating translators (“field”, “habitus”, capital)
•    The potential of collaborative research

Deadline and further details

Abstracts of 300 words should be sent to deborah.dawkin[at] by Friday 4 November 2016.
Selection of papers will be confirmed by the committee by 9 December 2016.

Scientific Committee

Theo Hermans, Jeremy Munday, Outi Paloposki, Mark Shuttleworth, Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen, Deborah Dawkin, Peter Good, Rachel Foss.

The British Library and Translation
The British Library is committed to promoting the importance of translation through its collections and events.  Among other translation related events, it is proud to host the annual Sebald Lecture and International Translation Day. “The Translator Made Corporeal: Translation History and the Archive” conference builds on two recent conferences held here: “Archival Uncertainties“, an international conference, exploring  the “diasporic archive” which featured leading Translation Studies scholars presenting their work on translation related archives, and the 2011 Conference “Literary Translators: Creative, Cultural and Collecting Contexts” which served as a forum for translation scholars, publishers, curators and archivists to discuss the future of collecting translators’ archives

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Bursary Opportunity in Ireland for Brazilian Literary Translators in 2017

This looks like a wonderful opportunity for qualified candidates:

Bursary Opportunity in Ireland for Brazilian Literary Translators in 2017

Literature Ireland, in co-operation with the Trinity Centre for Literary Translation, Trinity College Dublin, wishes to invite applications from literary translators for a residential bursary in Dublin in the period January to May 2017.

The bursary will be awarded to a practising literary translator of established track record who is working on a translation into Brazilian Portuguese of a work of contemporary Irish literature.

Travel and living expenses will be covered by Literature Ireland, while accommodation and work space will be provided by the Trinity Centre for Literary Translation, Trinity College Dublin. The successful applicant will be asked to work closely with students on the M. Phil. in Literary Translation (1–2 contact hours a week) and to organise three public workshops/talks on contemporary Latin American literature.

The bursary will be of four months’ duration. All applicants for this bursary must provide proof that they hold a publishing contract for the work in question. Applications should include an outline project proposal, current curriculum vitae and two references (including one from a publishing house). Where possible, a sample of the translation-in-progress (approximately 1,000 words of the original) should also be submitted in support of the application.

Completed applications should be submitted by email in English to no later than Friday, 14 October 2016. The successful candidate will be notified by Friday, 21 October 2016. For further information, contact Rita McCann, info at, or Dr Sarah Smyth, ssmyth at

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Two Irish events for International Translation Day, Cork and Dublin, 2016

A flurry of posts, as St. Jerome's day heaves into view.
This next event looks fantastic; I wish I could go! What a dream line-up of speakers including Professors Luis Perez Gonzalez, Michael Cronin, Hilary Footitt, Lawrence Venuti and other very distinguished scholars...

There is more information at

The event is organized by Dr Caroline Williamson of University College Cork whose article "Post-traumatic growth at the international level: The obstructive role played by translators and editors of Rwandan Genocide testimonies" was published in issue 9(1) of the journal Translation Studies.


As it happens the reason I can't go is a happy one; I will be taking part in another event on Tuesday 27 September for International Translation Day, at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. The programme is as follows:

Translation Seminar with Professor Reine Meylaerts, KU Leuven

Translation and Citizenship: 'La loi doit être connue pour être obligatoire'

Since the European democratization processes of the long nineteenth century, the very core of the legal and political potential to act as a citizen was formed by communicative resources. Communication between authorities and citizens through one (or more) national language(s) thus became of utmost importance. That is why studying language and translation policies is crucial to understand the role of language and translation in the construction of democratic citizenship. Drawing on examples from nineteenth-century Belgium, this presentation will reflect on issues of translation and citizenship and on methodological and theoretical implications for Translation Studies.

14:00—16:00, choose one of the following round tables:

1) The Work of the Professional Translator

This roundtable will discuss topics such as training, freelance v staff translator, the translation market, specialising and technology. Chair: Annette Schiller (ITIA)

2) Translation History: Why Bother?

This roundtable will discuss the function and utility of translation history, approaches to translation history, futures of translation history, interdisciplinarity and impact. Chair: Carol O'Sullivan (University of Bristol) and Alice Colombo (NUI Galway)

3) Why Translation Matters

This roundtable will look at the function and place of translation in society, its role in intercultural dialogue, its challenges and its future. Chairs: David Johnston and Piotr Blumczynski (Queen's University Belfast)

The afternoon's roundtables will be followed at 17:00 by 'Translating Anne Enright' - an event with Anne Enright in conversation with four translators of her work; Sergio Claudio Perroni (Italy), Hans-Christian Oeser (Germany), Isabelle Reinharez (France) and María Porras Sánchez (Spain). 

Click here to book tickets for the 'Translating Anne Enright' event at 17:00 on 27 September 2016.

More information on both events and booking links at

Celebration of Charles Tomlinson, poet, translator, teacher, Bristol, 30 September

British readers of poetry in translation will long have been familiar with Charles Tomlinson's generation-defining Oxford Book of Verse in English Translation, first published in 1980. Tomlinson was a poet, translator and lecturer who taught for many years at the University of Bristol. On 30 September (the day of St. Jerome, patron saint of translators, as regular readers of this blog will know well) the English Department is putting on an event in celebration of Tomlinson:

Charles Tomlinson - A celebration
Fri 30 September, 1.30 pm – 8.30 pm
Reception room, Wills Memorial Building, Queen’s Road, BS8 1RJ

An afternoon of academic papers followed by a series of poetry readings in the evening to celebrate the legacy of Charles Tomlinson, internationally acclaimed poet, translator, artist and literary scholar. Charles taught at the University's English department for 36 years. Free to attend, booking required.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Wikiproject Translation Studies: how to get involved

There is a long tradition among academics of treating Wikipedia with caution, or even disdain. Many of us don’t allow students to use it as a reference for academic essays. At the same time it’s very widely used by translators (see e.g. Alonso 2015), and it’s thus part of our role as trainers to teach students how to use it in their practice. Wikipedia has a translation interface and associated translation projects (see e.g. Panigrahi 2014) and the relevance of this aspect of Wikipedia for both research and training is increasingly evident (Ronen et al. 2014, McDonough Dolmaya 2014, 2015).

Academics use Wikipedia to different extents in their work (see Aibar et al. 2015). I know I use it a lot as a quick point of reference. Of course, it has to be taken with the appropriate pinch of salt. But whatever our relationship with Wikipedia, we must recognize that it is an important resource used by specialists and non-specialists across all subjects and disciplines all over the world. It is therefore relevant for us as scholars to consider what information Wikipedia holds about translation and Translation Studies. Other disciplines and scholarly associations are already doing this (see e.g. Ridge 2013; Hodson 2015; Machefert 2015; Whysel 2015).

Some of the initiatives already in progress seek to improve the visibility of less-studied and less-chronicled issues, for example female scientists or alternative perspectives on the First World War. Other initiatives seek to encourage greater diversity among Wikipedia editors (see e.g. Wexelbaum et al. 2015). Such initiatives speak to central Translation Studies concerns, which include increasing the visibility of translators as well as improving public understanding of translation and interpreting practices.

Translation Studies researchers who look at TS-related pages may have noted problems with some content. The Translation page, for instance, covers a huge range of phenomena, some of which are key concepts in their own right; not all of these have pages of their own. I was very surprised to find that ‘literary translation’ is not a heading in Wikipedia, for instance; it's just a sub-section on the translation page. Literary translation is a very specialized and separate area of translation, with different professional associations, different requirements, different norms and often different practitioners, so the creation of separate entries for this seems very desirable. The only language in which there seems to be a separate entry for literary translation at the moment is Spanish. Many bibliographical references for TS content are outdated, and links may be broken. While some important Translation Studies scholars have pages on Wikipedia, many others do not. Some pages are available in very few languages. Quality of entries is variable, and there are lots of stubs.

The European Society for Translation Studies set up an initiative, led by Dr Esther Torres Simón, Dr David Orrego Carmona and yours truly, to see what could be done to improve Translation Studies content. We ran two editing events in June 2015 and January 2016 to gauge interest, and created or edited a number of articles (for a sample, see James S. Holmes in English and Spanish; Indirect Translation; Retranslation). Further work was done on the main Translation Studies entry. See here for a list of articles created so far.

This work culminated in the setting up of the Wikiproject: Translation Studies in spring 2016. Participation in the project is warmly welcomed from anybody with an interest in improving the quality of Translation Studies content in any language. This may involve anything from proofreading and error correction to translating content to adding of new sections or indeed new entries. It may also include groundwork such as tagging articles which are of interest to the project.

This will inevitably be an incremental process. Wikipedia is a crowd-sourced environment where many different users negotiate their understanding of subject matter, so this is an initiative that is likely to take time. Anybody with an interest in taking part in the project, from experienced Wikipedians to newbies, is invited to contact me (you can find my email address here).

We are running a third Editathon to coincide with the 2016 EST Congress at Aarhus from 14 to 17 September 2016. A training event before the Congress on 14 September will be followed by three days of editing with support for on- and offsite editors. Expressions of interest in participating in this Editathon can be sent to me by email or you can signup via the event page here, any time before the event). For catering purposes, anyone wishing to attend the training event in Aarhus on 14 September should notify us by 11 September (extended deadline).

Aibar, Eduard, Josep Lladós-Masllorens, Antoni Meseguer-Artola, Julià Minguillón, Maura Lerga. 2015. Wikipedia at university: what faculty think and do about it. The Electronic Library (33)4: 668-683. Online at
Alonso, Elisa. 2015. Analysing the use and perception of Wikipedia in the professional context of translation. Journal of Specialised Translation 23. Online at
Evans, Siân, Jacqueline Mabey and Michael Mandiberg. 2015. Editing for Equality: The Outcomes of the Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thons. Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America 34(2): 194-203
Fahmy, Sarah. 2012. Rewriting History: The JISC/ Wikipedia World War One Editathon [blog post], July 2. Online at
Hodson, Richard. 2015. Wikipedians reach out to academics. Nature (7 September 2015), doi:10.1038/nature.2015.18313
McDonough Dolmaya, 2014. Analyzing the Crowdsourcing Model and Its Impact on Public Perceptions of Translation. The Translator 18(2): 167-191
McDonough Dolmaya, 2015. Revision History: Translation Trends in Wikipedia. Translation Studies 8(1): 16-34. Online at (open access at time of writing)
Machefert, Sylvain. 2015. Improving the articles about modern art in Wikipedia: a partnership between Wikimédia France and the Pompidou Centre. Art Libraries Journal 40: 34-40. doi:10.1017/S030747220000033X.
Panigrahi, Subhashish. 2014. Doctors and Translators Are Working Together to Bridge Wikipedia's Medical Language Gap. Online at, 27 July
Ridge, Mia. 2013. New Challenges in Digital History: Sharing Women's History on Wikipedia (March 23, 2013).Women's History in the Digital World. Paper 37. [conference paper] Online at
Ronen, Shahar, Bruno Gonçalves, Kevin Z. Hu, Alessandro Vespignani, Steven Pinker and César A. Hidalgo. 2014. Links that speak: The global language network and its association with global fame.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111(52): E5616.
Thomas, Amber. 2012. 21st-century Scholarship and Wikipedia. Ariadne 70. Online at
Whysel, Noreen. 2015. Information Architecture in Wikipedia. Bulletin of the Association for Information Science and Technology 41(5): 26-33 Online at
Wexelbaum, Rachel S.; Herzog, Katie; and Rasberry, Lane. 2015. Queering Wikipedia. Library Faculty Publications. Paper 49. Online at
Yong, Ed. 2012. Edit-a-thon gets women scientists into Wikipedia. Nature News, Oct 22, 2012. Online at

N.B. This post is an extended version of a piece signed by Carol O'Sullivan, Esther Torres Simón and David Orrego Carmona which originally appeared in the newsletter of the European Society for Translation Studies.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Poem about translation 26: Paul Muldoon on the erotics of retranslation

I've been thinking a lot about retranslation recently - indeed, earlier this year I did a first draft of a Wikipedia entry on the topic. And as it happens, I have just come across a poem on precisely the topic of retranslation. This seemed too serendipitous not to blog about, as part of my occasional series on (more or less) translation-themed verse.

The poem is by Paul Muldoon and is entitled 'Whim'. It can be found in Muldoon's New Selected Poems 1968-1994. A chat-up line based on the obsolence of a nineteenth-century translation leads to an unfortunate al fresco incident in Belfast's Botanic Gardens:

Monday, 8 August 2016

Subtitling 'Du' and 'Sie'

I was just watching Michael Verhoeven's 1990 film Das schreckliche Mädchen [The Nasty Girl] and I was struck by this exchange between the protagonist Sonja and her crush Martin, a trainee teacher.
MARTIN: Wenn ich mein Staatsexamen hab' komm'ich zurück zu dir...vielmehr - zu Ihnen. [Pause.] Wollen wir nicht Du sagen zueinander?
SONJA: Doch, schon.
MARTIN: Ich heiß' Martin.
SONJA: Weiß schon...
Translating the shift from formal to informal address, which is standard in many languages but somehow not in English, is always tricky. (And not just in subtitling either. For a great discussion about this, sparked by an ingenious solution of Ros Schwartz's, see this languagehat post.)

A rough translation of Martin's remark would be something like: When I pass my state teaching exam, I'll come back to you [informal]...or rather [correcting himself] - to you [formal]. [Pause.] Can't we address each other as you [informal]?.

Multimodal elements of this scene will have to be taken into account. Kinetics, mise en scène, sound and rhythm may reinforce, undercut or otherwise inflect what's happening with the dialogue. A distinct change of mood occurs when Martin sees Sonja's secret framed photograph of him. He takes off his glasses. The scene opens with him standing while she sits. When he catches sight of the picture he crouches down to see better. She stands up so that she is momentarily taller than him; he stands and is again taller than her. His face is surprised, then serious; hers is quizzical. There's a short pause before he corrects Du to Sie and then a longer pause before he suggests that they call each other Du. All these things contribute to how the scene signifies, and may act as a guide (consciously or intuitively) to the subtitler.

Obviously, English uses the same word for both Du and Sie, so if transposed directly Martin's self-correction would make no sense, and there is no corresponding English expression for the question abut using Du.

The subtitler of this clip on the Miramax Youtube channel solves the problem as follows:

The subtitler changes the emphasis of Martin's line. Instead of correcting himself, he starts by saying that he will come back (implied, to the school), and then corrects himself that he will come back to her, specifically. You can see the whole clip here (it's at 2 mins 24 secs):

My 1992 VCI videocassette edition has, presumably, a different (unnamed) subtitler, and a different solution. The subtitler in fact has done the opposite of what the Miramax subtitler did:

This solution actually fits more closely with the dynamic of this scene, since he moves from a more intimate register (back to you) to a more 'formal' register in that 'to all of you' re-situates her as just a girl in his class. The long pause gives him time to gather his courage to request that they start using Du (and, by implication, that they begin a romantic relationship). The rather awkwardly formal 'Shall we be on Christian-name terms' is not out of keeping with the film's register.

So, a nice example of how opposite approaches by two translators can both work, in the moment.

More on translating formal and informal address, in a future post. Meanwhile if anybody has a copy of this film to hand, in any language, with a different subtitling solution, I'd love to hear about it.

UPDATE 20 August 2016: I rewrote and extended this post because on re-viewing the clips I realised I'd missed a couple of important things. (That will teach me to blog late at night.)

UPDATE 24 August 2016: The wonderful 20th-Century Flicks in Bristol turns out to have yet another subtitled version of the film, distributed by Arrow on Region 2 DVD (dated 2005). It has quite a different take on this scene again. The subtitles are by Lotti Mardell and Peter Templeton for SBS Australia, dated 2002:

This solution works very well to get across the levels of formality, though there's a lack of correspondence between the audio, where the proper names are not heard, and the subtitles. The trade-off seems worth it in this instance.

Any more versions out there...? Any information that might help me identify the subtitlers of the first two versions?

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Poem about translation (if you squint): The capybara as unit of measure

I should say in advance that this post has nothing at all to do with the Rio Olympics, but today a Facebook friend linked to a picture of the baby capybaras recently born at Berlin zoo and I was irresistibly reminded of a well-loved poem, Sandra Beasley's 'Unit of ':
All can be measured by the standard of the capybara.
Everyone is lesser than or greater than the capybara.
Everything is taller or shorter than the capybara.
Everything is mistaken for a Brazilian dance craze
more or less frequently than the capybara. [...]
You can read the whole, wonderful poem, and listen to Beasley reading it, at the Poetry Foundation website. It's not really a poem about translation, but it does mention translation at one point, so I figure it just squeaks in on that basis. Let's call it no. 25a in the series.

Speaking of squeaking:

 For more auditory descriptions of the capybara, in the immortal prose of Gerald Durrell, see here.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Save the date: Professor Mona Baker, Professor Anne Coldiron guest lectures at Bristol

We are delighted to announce two visits to Bristol by distinguished and internationally known translation scholars this autumn.

Professor Anne E.B. Coldiron is Professor of English, affiliated faculty in French, and Director of the History of Text Technologies Program at Florida State University, USA. In 2014-15 Professor Coldiron was Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Year-Long Colloquium on Renaissance/Early Modern Translation. Her Printers without Borders: Translation and Textuality in the Renaissance (Cambridge UP, 2015) follows a book on gender and early modern poetic translation (English Printing, Verse Translation, & the Battle of the Sexes, 1476-1557, Ashgate, 2009) and revises some of the transnational challenges in her Canon, Period, and the Poetry of Charles of Orleans: Found in Translation (2000). Her articles on Shakespeare, Spenser, Sidney, Donne, Milton, Chaucer, as well as Villon, Du Bellay, and Verlaine, appear in, for example, Renaissance Studies, Comparative Literature, Yale Journal of Criticism, JEGP, Criticism, and Translation Studies. She is currently editing a collection of Christine de Pizan in English, 1478-1549 for the MHRA.

Professor Coldiron will speak at Bristol on Thursday 27 October 2016. Title, time and venue TBC.


Mona Baker is Emeritus Professor of Translation Studies at the Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies, University of Manchester, UK, and Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded project Genealogies of Knowledge: The Evolution and Contestation of Concepts across Time and Space. She is author of In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation (Routledge, 1992; second edition 2011) and Translation and Conflict: A Narrative Account (Routledge, 2006), Editor of Translating Dissent: Voices from and with the Egyptian Revolution (Routledge, 2016), the Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies (1998, 2001; 2nd edition, co-edited with Gabriela Saldanha, 2009); Critical Concepts: Translation Studies (4 volumes, Routledge, 2009); and Critical Readings in Translation Studies (Routledge, 2010). Her articles have appeared in a wide range of international journals, including Social Movement Studies, Critical Studies on Terrorism, The Translator and Target. She is founding Editor of The Translator (St. Jerome Publishing, 1995-2013), former Editorial Director of St. Jerome Publishing (1995-2013), and founding Vice-President of IATIS, the International Association for Translation & Intercultural Studies (2004-2015).

Professor Baker will speak at Bristol on Thursday 10 November 2016. Title, time and venue TBC. 
Titles of both lectures will be confirmed later in the summer. I hope many readers of the blog may be able to attend, so do save the date!

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Michael Henry Heim Collegial Translation Prize: deadline 1 September 2016

This looks like a very interesting initiative. The Michael Henry Heim Prize is offered for the best translation of a journal article by a scholar from a relevant discipline, from an Eastern European language into English. The prize is worth $500 and publication of the translation in the journal East European Politics and Societies. The deadline is 1 September 2016.

The prize came into being because in the Guidelines for the Translation of Social Science Texts, which he compiled with Andrzej Tymowski, Heim
encouraged scholars to translate their colleagues' work to make it more widely available. Although Heim was a renowned literary translator, he was convinced that the best translator of a scholarly text is a colleague in a relevant discipline who has acquired facility in translation, rather than a professional translator who is linguistically skilled but unfamiliar with the discipline's concepts, contexts, and controversies.
The Heim Prize flyer can be downloaded here.

The Guidelines for the Translation of Social Science Texts, as well as translations of it into Arabic, Chinese, French, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese, can be found at

For more writing on translation by Michael Henry Heim see this 2012 interviewthis article in the Yearbook of General and Comparative Literature (paywalled) and the MLA's very useful peer review guidelines on 'Evaluating Translations as Scholarship'.

For more on the problematic status of translation in the academy see this article in the US Chronicle of Higher Education (another version downloadable as a pdf here).

Monday, 25 July 2016

ESRC Global Challenges Research Fund Postdoctoral Fellowships *for PhD graduates of Bristol/Bath/Exeter*

This looks like an interesting opportunity for PhD graduates of Bath, Bristol or Exeter universities. 

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is pleased to announce a call for Postdoctoral Fellowships as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

The Global Challenges Research Fund is a £1.5 billion funding stream to support cutting-edge research which addresses the problems faced by developing countries. GCRF forms part of the UK's Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment, and will be awarded according to official ODA guidelines. GCRF will address global challenges through disciplinary and interdisciplinary research, strengthen capability for research and innovation within both UK and developing countries, and will provide an agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent research need. Capacity development is an important aspect of GCRF and this fellowships scheme aims to directly address this.

Proposals should be submitted to the relevant DTC by 16.00 on 9 September 2016. 

N.B. Applicants must have graduated with a PhD from one of the research organisations (ROs) which make up the SWDTC (the Universities of Bath, Bristol and Exeter).

More details at

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Early film translations: Marcel Carné on the first subtitled films in France

An excellent volume of Marcel Carné's film criticism has just appeared: Marcel Carné: Ciné-reporter (1929-1934), edited by Philippe Morisson and published by La Tour Verte.

One section, entitled 'Cet art qui fut muet et devint parlant: Articles sur les talkies' [That art that was dumb and became talking: Articles on the talkies], includes pieces published in Cinémagazine and other film magazines between August 1929 and April 1931, at the height of the transition from silent to sound films. Carné covers what it is like on a film set shooting a sound picture, discusses the technical requirements and skillsets required to shoot and edit sound film (at a time when the camera was just emerging again from its soundproof booth), and debates with Marcel Lapierre about whether silent film has, in fact, had its day.

One of the pieces, 'De l'internationalité du film parlant' ['On the internationalism of the talking picture'] published in Cinémagazine 48, 29 November 1929, gives a fascinating viewpoint on the development, and unpopularity, of subtitles in France. This is so relevant to my own research on film translation between the silent and the sound periods (see that I hope I will be forgiven for quoting it at some length. It is also cited by my colleague Dr Jean-François Cornu in his 2014 book Le doublage et le sous-titrage. Histoire et esthétique (Presses Universitaires de Rennes),

I have taken the liberty of putting a few particularly interesting phrases in bold, including the speculation that talking films might, like great books, one day have translators of their own (gosh!); and the condemnation that subtitling was a cognitive impossibility for audiences. The first of these statements is not false as such; but the low status of film translators relative to literary translators (see this post for more on this) makes it in some ways a slightly skewed prediction.

 The translation that follows, and any errors in it, are my own.
Le seul reproche - il est vrai qu'il est de taille - qu'on puisse adresser aujourd'hui au film parlant, est que du jour où le cinéma a trouvé la parole, il a cessé d'être un art international par excellence.
   Encore faudrait-il s'entendre là-dessus; le cinéma parlant est national au même titre que la littérature ou le théâtre. Et nous verrons tout à l'heure qu'il est fort possible que, d'ici quelque temps, le film parlé, produit d'une race, ait, lui aussi, ses traducteurs, tout comme un chef-d'oeuvre de la littérature ou une pièce consacrée dans son propre pays, par un succès éclatant.
   À l'origine des talkies, on imagina, pour tourner la difficulté, de sur-impressioner sur l'image des sous-titres explicatifs. Au début, la curiosité l'emporta: il nous suffit de citer le succès du Chanteur de jazz et de La Chanson de Paris. Pourtant, ce que les spectateurs toléraient pour les premiers films, ils l'admirent moins facilement par la suite.
C'est ainsi que Weary River, pour n'en citer qu'un, valant très largement les deux premiers, connut un succès honorable, certes, mais ne souffrant pas la comparaison avec ses deux devanciers. Encore plus que l'absence d'une très grande vedette (car Barthelmess, malgré son grand talent, n'a pas la célébrité d'un Chevalier), les nombreux sous-titres français intercalés dans Weary River ne furent pas étrangers à cet état de choses. Il n'est, au reste, pas une personne à l'heure actuelle qui n'ait compris que ce système n'est qu'un pis-aller qui ne saurait subsister bien longtemps encore. Outre que cela est fort désagréable, il est matériellement impossible à un spectateur de suivre à la fois le jeu parlé des acteurs et de lire les sous-titres inscrits dans le bas de l'image.
   Et puis n'est-il pas paradoxal que le film parlant, au lieu de supprimer les sous-titres comme on était en droit de attendre de lui, les multiplie, au contraire, à l'infini?
   Un établissement des boulevards n'annonce-t-il pas actuellement un film parlant américain cent pour cent parlant avec de nombreux sous-titres français; alors qu'une telle annonce eût fait fuir les spectateurs il y a seulement un an! Enfin, les lecteurs de cette revue n'ont pas été sans remarquer que le procédé de surimpression des titres nécessite, ce que l'on appelle en termes techniques, un contretype, c'est-à-dire un double tirage du négatif, ce qui a pour efet d'obscurcir singulièrement la photographie la plus lumineuse.
   Donc, à tous les points de vue, le système s'avérait détestable. Aussi, a-t-on cherché autre chose. Et la lumière nous est venue, cette fois, de l'Angleterre. [...]
My translation: The only reproach - though, to be fair, a substantial one - that could be directed today to the talking film, is that from the moment that cinema discovered words, it ceased to become the international art par excellence.
   Let us be clear: the sound cinema is national in the same way as literature or theatre are. And we will see shortly that it is entirely possible that, some time in the future, the talking film, as a national product, will itself also have its translators, just as a literary masterpiece might, or a theatre play which has been a major success in its own country.
   When talkies began, someone came up with the idea of solving the problem by superimposing explanatory sub-titles on the image. This passed muster with early spectators, as witness the success of The Jazz Singer and Innocents of Paris. But what spectators tolerated in the first sound films was less welcome to them as time went on. That explains why Weary River, for instance, every bit as good as the two earlier films, met with fair success, sure, but nothing like its two predecessors. This will have been partly due to the lack of a major star (because Barthelmess, while a very talented actor, has nothing like Maurice Chevalier's fame), but the many French subtitles in Weary River were also a factor. There isn't anybody, at this point, who hasn't realised that this system [subtitling] is nothing but a shabby compromise whose days are numbered. Apart from the fact that it is very disagreeable, it is materially impossible for a spectator to follow the actors' performances and to read the subtitles at the bottom of the image at the same time.
   And is it not paradoxical that the talking film, instead of suppressing titles as we might have expected, is instead proliferating them into infinity?
   Is a popular Paris cinema not currently advertising a 100 per cent talking American film with many French subtitles, though such an advertisement would have made spectators take to their heels only a year ago! And readers of this periodical have taken the opportunity to observe that the superimposition of titles on the image requires what is technically referred to as a contretype, in other words a duplication of the negative, the result of which is a noticeable darkening of even the brightest photographic image.
   So, on all fronts, the system has proven detestable. Another solution was sought. And the light came, this time, from England. [...]

(c) for the translation Carol O'Sullivan, 2016. Many thanks to Sam B. for picking up a couple of errors in the draft.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Post-doctoral funding for translation projects, University of Bristol

 The School of Modern Languages at the University of Bristol welcomes enquiries about post-doctoral research in related disciplines, including Translation Studies, from potential applicants.

A variety of schemes are available in the United Kingdom, including schemes run by the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust. It is our understanding that applicants for Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowships are still eligible to choose UK universities as a destination. The British Academy also offers Newton Advanced Fellowships to early- and mid-career researchers from Malaysia, Mexico or South Africa. Some deadlines are coming up in the next couple of months.

**Please note that applicants can apply to these schemes for a project at any eligible university, not just the University of Bristol. Candidates should consider carefully the fit between their project and their prospective institution.**

But in this post I am focusing on expertise in my own institution. Specialisms within Translation Studies at the University of Bristol include literary translation across all the languages offered in the School of Modern Languages (Catalan, Czech, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish; for examples of work being done see here, here, here and here); subtitling, audiovisual translation, multilingualism in film (see e.g. here and here); theatre and performance; adaptation; translation in medieval French culture; translation history (see e.g. here, here, here, here); machine translation and post-editing; games localisation. Further languages with which colleagues work include Chinese, Arabic, Georgian and Persian.

Initial enquiries about translation studies research may be made to Dr Rebecca Gould. For projects relating to theatre and performance, please contact Dr Katja Krebs in the School of Arts. Enquiries should be made well in advance of any deadline as the preparation of a competitive bid to any of these schemes is an intensive and time-consuming process. Internal university deadlines also apply. 

Applicants wishing to apply to the British Academy post-doctoral fellowship scheme for research in the School of Modern Languages are required to send a draft application and CV to the Deputy Head of School for Research, Professor Charles Burdett, at c.f.burdett [at] as soon as possible.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Short course on silent film in Bristol

Yet another of the cornucopia of cinematic delights with which Bristol abounds (she says, grandiloquently but in no way exaggerating): this upcoming short course on silent cinema, given by Dr Peter Walsh of South-West Silents (@SWSilents on Twitter).

I'm trying to work out if I can steal enough time from writing to take the course myself. It will take place at the enchanting Twentieth-Century Flicks video shop (and when I say video shop, I mean a place where you can still rent a VHS tape (of certain, rare titles) and take it home and watch it in your VHS player).

Contact details for the silent film course are in the flyer above.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Event: ADMIT ALL: Accessing the Arts Through Multisemiotic Translation, London, 27 May

ADMIT ALL: Accessing the Arts Through Multisemiotic Translation

Sarah Eardley-Weaver (Queen's University, Belfast)
Pioneering arts accessibility provisions are pushing the boundaries of translation to embrace communication between multiple senses. Interaction between the sensory channels of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste is intrinsic to the reception of a live artistic performance and therefore this field requires an approach to translation that involves engaging multiple senses: a multisemiotic model (Weaver 2010; Delabastita 1989). With a view to facilitating access for audiences with diverse linguistic and sensory abilities there has been a rapid development of methods aiming to translate the multisemioticity of live artistic performance for all. In the last 20 years the variety of such translation methods has increased to include audio description, touch tours, sign language interpreting, captioning for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, and audiosubtitling. Moreover, at present experiments with ground-breaking haptic and sound technologies are opening the doors to a more sensorially immersive experience for all. During this seminar, a multisemiotic model of translation will be explored through investigation of these innovative translation modalities and there will be opportunities for hand-on experiences of techniques employed to facilitate arts accessibility for all.

Date: 27/05/2016 - 16:00 - 18:30
Institute: Institute of Modern Languages Research
Type: Seminar
Venue: Room 234, Second Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU