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Klingon speakers rejoice: the golden era of fictional languages is now

Source: The Guardian
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Once ridiculed for their nerdy pursuits, the inventors of ‘conlangs’ are coming out – and linguistic enthusiasts are joining them

For most language-learning software companies, Spanish is bread and butter.

But at least one company is obliging fans’ desire to be subsumed into the world of Game of Thrones. Living Language has released a comprehensive course on Dothraki, an invented tongue belonging to the show’s nomadic, horseback warriors sometimes called the “blood riders”.

The interest in invented languages, like Klingon and Elvish, appears a fanciful, if fruitless, pursuit to most. But to those who spend their time engineering aesthetic languages, recent interest has been nothing short of a coming-out party.

Even Apple is providing for invented languages. Apple’s top software engineer, Craig Federighi, touted the Klingon keyboard available for iOS 8 at Thursday’s product launch.

“More and more people are willing to publicly talk about this hobby,” said Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets, president of the Language Creation Society , via email. “Do not forget that up until a few years ago, language creation was viewed with suspicion or at best was ridiculed as a useless hobby, and many older [language inventors] (myself included) didn’t dare ‘come out’ as language creators due to the fear of being ridiculed.”

Even the grandfather of constructed languages, or “conlangs”, guarded his activities. JRR Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and creator of Middle-earth languages such as Entish and Goldogrin, kept secret his penchant for language creation until a 1931 speech he called A Secret Vice. More.

See: The Guardian

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Canadian government convenes accreditation exam for interpreters

Source: AIIC
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

On Monday November 24, the Government of Canada’s Translation Bureau will hold an interpretation accreditation exam in Ottawa for candidates who wish to qualify to work for the Bureau as freelance interpreters in official languages.

Candidates who would like to sit the exam are asked to send an email to: and to include a CV demonstrating that they meet the eligibility criteria as posted on the Translation Bureau’s website.

Closing date: November 14, 2014.


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Financial planning for freelance translators – boring irrelevance or absolute necessity?

Source: ClaireCoxTranslations ~ Lines from a linguist
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

I know, I know, financial planning – the very thought is enough to make you yawn… and yet, is it? It may sound as dull as ditchwater, but I firmly believe that careful financial planning underpins every successful business. I should perhaps confess that my father worked in finance and I started off as a graduate trainee for one of the major banks when I first left university, many, many moons ago – but never gave up hope of following my dream and becoming a translator, so only spent a year in the world of finance myself. Enough, perhaps, to give me a sense of organisation and a need for order in all things, but especially where money is concerned.

It’s hardly rocket science to regard finances as the basis for a business, but so many people don’t seem to plan accordingly. From matters as elementary as record-keeping and cashflow, to which bank you choose and how you provide for tax bills, holidays and ultimately retirement, there is a huge amount of scope for optimising the way you work. Inevitably, my methods will apply specifically to UK-based translators, as that’s the self-employment system I’m used to, but the general principles still apply wherever your business is based. More.

See: ClaireCoxTranslations ~ Lines from a linguist

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Splendid Innovations: The development, reception and preservation of screen translation

Source: The British Academy
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Thursday 21 & Friday 22 May 2015, 9.30am – 5.00pm
The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH

Convenors: Dr Carol O’Sullivan, University of Bristol, and Dr Jean-François Cornu, France

This conference brings together translation scholars, film historians and archivists to piece together the untold history of screen translation from the silent period to the early talkies. There’s much that we don’t know about this period, starting with what materials survive, in what languages, from what films.

This conference will identify the challenges which exist in writing the history of dubbing, subtitling and other forms of screen translation. It will ask what a ‘translated’ film was anyway, in the silent and early sound period, and what part translation played in wider textual transformations of film before and after 1927. More.

See: The British Academy

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New competition for emerging non-fiction translators

Source: love german books
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

One of the hurdles for publishers wanting to bring out translated books in English, particularly in the non-fiction sector, is finding someone to translate them well. We now have a number of training programmes, networks and awards for budding translators of novels, but non-fiction has proved trickier. For me, translating non-fiction is a slightly different challenge to translating prose – and a whole different ball-game to translating poetry.

A non-fiction translator needs to get the right register and thoroughly understand the original, has to either know about or research the field in question and particularly its terminology, and must be familiar with the traditions and expectations around non-fiction writing in their target language. While you could say fiction translators do that too, non-fiction translators do it all to a much greater extent. So how can publishers find people to do that well? More.

See: love german books

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Lesson 106: Articles and posts on finance for freelance translators

Source: WantWords
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

In the search for articles under the topic of finance, I came across a range of useful resources, so I thought that the best thing I could do was to share them with you. And of course, ask for your contributions to the topic. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to create a small collection of the most important financial articles for translators. Let me start with a few ones that I found.

See: WantWords

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Are curriculum changes enough to get young people hooked on languages?

Source: The Guardian
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Compulsory languages at primary school level may be a positive step, but does it address the bigger picture?

Curriculum changes, a new education secretary and policy reviews all spell good things for language education. But is enough being done to join up the dots?

This academic year, primary school pupils started learning languages. A change to the curriculum now requires all schools using the national curriculum in England to teach a modern foreign language at primary key stage 2. Pupils aged seven to 11 will be learning basic French or Spanish and, in some schools, even Mandarin and Arabic.

A recent report from the British Council said that 85% of primary schools welcomed the move. “It’s a very positive step to introduce languages at key stage 2,” says Vicky Gough, schools adviser for the British Council. “But will they be able to continue the language they have chosen at secondary school?” More.

See: The Guardian

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Transenter launches LingoTM

Source: MultiLingual
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Transenter, a provider of language services, has launched LingoTM, a translation memory (TM) plugin software. The software uses smart match technology to turn fuzzy matches from the TM into full matches. The software can be used with existing CAT tools such as SDL Trados Studio.

See: MultiLingual

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Lesson 105: Why should you invest in your freelance business?

Source: WantWords
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

The idea of investing in a freelance business very often ends on start-up costs. We take into account what we need to get properly set up, for example a computer, a chair, CAT tools, dictionaries, maybe a website, and off we go into the freelancing world. Later on we may need a software update or a training course, but these expenses are hardly ever planned, budgeted for or even less likely – treated as an investment.

What I would like to propose this time is to change the perspective from simply having business expenses to seeing them as investments. There is a crucial difference between these two. An expense is a necessary cost that running a business entails, for example buying a printer toner. It’s really hard to imagine working as a translator without having a functional printer. Investment, on the other hand, is money spent on acquiring something that is supposed to bring bigger return later. To give you an example of investment, going to a trade fair is a time and monetary investment and you’re expecting to find clients there. The key of investment is precisely this: return.

If you make this switch in your thinking and start considering the return of the money you spend, you’re much more likely to benefit from your investments. More.

See: WantWords

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Greek literature risks getting lost in translation

Source: The Irish Times
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Bureaucratic and fitful support for translators risks hampering authors

If you write in a less well- known language, such as Irish, Finnish or Greek, the essential vehicles for reaching a wider readership are a reliable translator and a publisher who can exploit your book in the marketplace. This in turn requires a cultural policy underpinning the work of translation. But there is no government agency responsible for pushing Greek writers under the noses of commissioning editors, reviewers or the bulk-buying outlets.

In Greece, the Frasis project, managed by the national book centre, funds the translation of books published outside Greece. In its two years of existence, with a budget of €189,000, out of a total of 100 applications it has subsidised the translation of 28 books (at an average cost of €6,500), only four of them into English.

I’m told by translators that the Frasis application procedure is bureaucratic and its operation intermittent; it seems to have no policy guidelines, and no marketing role, which imperils any project that aims to get Greek authors into Waterstones or on to the Amazon website.

And last year the government announced the closure of the national book centre, with Frasis being subsumed into the culture ministry. More.

See: The Irish Times

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Do you have to win a Nobel Prize to be translated?

Source: The New Yorker
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

As soon as the Nobel Prize in Literature was announced on Thursday, people started asking the inevitable question: Who is Patrick Modiano? For an answer, read Alexandra Schwartz’s piece about Modiano’s life and work. Here, let’s raise another question: Why is it that, so often, when a Nobel Prize is awarded to a non-American writer, readers in the U.S.—even the most well-read and cosmopolitan among us—find themselves drawing a blank?

There are several ways to answer this question, but the most cited one is that so few translated books come out in the U.S. Last year, traditional publishers put out about sixty thousand print titles in fiction, poetry, or drama; only five hundred and twenty-four of those were translated books of fiction or poetry, according to the Three Percent Web site, run by the University of Rochester. Three Percent has painstakingly tracked translation publications since 2008 and, for each year since, has broken down its database into categories like country of origin (Europe tends to win—France, Germany, Italy, Spain) and publication date (spring and fall are the most popular).

The most interesting breakdown is of the publishers who print these books. Last year, the small press Dalkey Archive topped the list, which was dominated by small publishers, including Europa Editions, Seagull Books, Archipelago, and Open Letter (though an Amazon imprint called AmazonCrossing came in second). Larger publishers like Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Knopf showed up further down the list. More.

See: The New Yorker

Related Translation News article:

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Milen Ruskov wins the European Union Prize for Literature

Source: Three Percent
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Last week, during the Frankfurt Book Fair, the winners of this year’sEuropean Union Prize for Literature were announced, and among the winners was Bulgaria’s Milen Ruskov, who also happens to be published by Open Letter. (Not terribly surprising, since we’ve cornered the market on Bulgarian literature in translation.)

The novel that Ruskov won for is Height (or Summit) (Възвишение) which came out in 2011, but has yet to be translated into English. If you’re interested in reading him though—and you should be, since he’s incredible talented and has a very distinctive voice—you can check out Thrown into Nature, which was the inaugural winner of the Contemporary Bulgarian Novel Contest that we co-run with the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation. More.

See: Three Percent

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Globalese 1.5

Source: MultiLingual
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

MorphoLogic Localisation Ltd., a provider of translation, localization and machine translation solutions, has released Globalese 1.5. Updates include enhanced quality estimation matrices, integration features and a new application programming interface.

See: MultiLingual

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How to decide if a translation specialization is viable?

Source: Thoughts On Translation
Story flagged by: Jared Tabor

A student in my online course asks: How do I decide if a translation specialization is viable?

Hmm, interesting question, and one that nearly all freelancers have to grapple with at some point. Short answer: nearly any specialization is viable, depending on your marketing zeal and income needs. Longer answer follows.

When you’re looking at potential specializations, here are a few factors to consider (and readers, please add your thoughts in the Comments):

1. What’s your knowledge of/interest in this specialization? That’s undoubtedly the most important factor, and one that outweighs most other factors if you’re looking at a technical subject area.

2. What’s the demand? Some specializations (like legal translation) are so content-heavy that having enough work isn’t much of a concern. Others (restaurant menus) may have a lot of demand in terms of the *number* of clients, but not in terms of the size of each individual project. More.

See: Thoughts On Translation

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Language and the Interconnectedness of Things

Source: Wired
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

The Internet of Things has spawned more than just an increased infiltration of web technology into our day-to-day lives. It has introduced a much more connected experience among users of web technology every day — let’s call it the “Interconnectedness of Things.” That, in turn, has made it more important than ever that we appreciate the benefits of a common means of communication in science, technology and business. For what it’s worth, that common means of communication is (at least for the foreseeable future) the English language.

Despite the technological advances attributable to China and Russia, English is still the de facto language of science and business. As far back as 2008, Research Trends magazine noted that English is the first language of about 400 million people in 53 countries, and the second language of as many as 1.4 billion more. English, the magazine contended, is “well positioned to become the default language of science.”

As for business, a 2012 Reuters news agency survey conducted by Ipsos Global Public Affairs showed that more than two-thirds of employees of 26 nationalities who deal with people in other countries use English most often.

“The most revealing aspect of this survey is how English has emerged as the default language for business around the world,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos.

What does that mean in today’s interconnected age? Common communications skills create more options for more people, and yield better economic prospects for people with those skills. A common means of communication enables assimilation and creates positive changes in the culture of science and business. Distance is no longer an issue when the Interconnectedness of Things allows us to employ that common language to take full advantage of the Internet. More.

See: Wired

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Steven Pinker: These are the grammar rules you don’t need to follow

Source: The New Republic
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Steven Pinker—the Harvard cognitive scientist who also chairs the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary—is not a fan of many of the “rules” one finds in modern guides to grammar and usage, not to mention finger-wagging language columns.

That’s part of the reason he wrote The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century , which just came out today: Even though Pinker has long been a fan of Strunk & White’s and other style guides, he realized that they are often larded with proscriptions that exist simply because they have been passed down from earlier, different eras, rather than because they are based on any sound grammatical logic or understanding of linguistics (Strunk & White, he notes early on, “misdefined terms such as phrase, participle, and relative clause”). For example, Pinker argues, in many cases it’s perfectly fine—in fact, desirable—to dangle participles, split infinitives, describe things in the passive voice, and engage in various other practices frequently frowned upon by our most authoritative style sources.

But The Sense of Style is also a broader look at why there’s so much bad writing in the world—Pinker takes specific aim at certain types of professional and academic prose that he finds unreadable. And his advice about how to avoid such writing is couched in cognitive-science theories that help him advise readers not just on how to write better, but on why certain decisions lead to smoother, easier-to-parse prose. (He also draws lighthearted examples from frequently interspersed comics ranging from Doonesbury to xkcd .)

See: The New Republic

Read the full article and the interview with Steven Pinker here:

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ALTA NTA Shortlist Announced

Source: ALTA Talk
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Download the full ALTA NTA Shortlist 2014 Press Release.

The winner of the award will be announced at the 2014 ALTA Conference, Nov. 12-15, 2014 in Milwaukee, WI.

Here is what the three finalist judges, Barbara Epler (Publisher, New Directions), Elaine Katzenberger (Publisher, City Lights) and Jessica Cohen (renowned translator from the Hebrew), had to say about each of the five shortlist titles:

  1. Between Friends by Amos Oz, translated from the Hebrew by Sondra Silverston.
  2. An Invitation For Me to Think by Alexander Vvedensky, translated from the Russian by Eugene Ostashevsky & Matvei Yankelevich.
  3. Life’s Good, Brother by Nazim Hikmet, translated from the Turkish by Mutlu Konuk Blasing.
  4. A Treatise on Shelling Beans by Wieslaw Mysliwski, translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston.
  5. Theme of Farewell and After-Poems by Milo de Angelis, translated from the Italian by Susan Stewart and Patrizio Ceccagnoli.

See: ALTA Talk

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How did English become the language of science? (podcast)

Source: the world in words
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Here’s a post from Nina Porzucki.

Permafrost, oxygen, hydrogen — it all looks like science to me.

But these terms actually have origins in Russian, Greek and French.

Today though, if a scientist is going to coin a new term, it’s most likely in English. And if they are going to publish a new discovery, it is most definitely in English.

Look no further than the Nobel prize awarded for physiology and medicine to Norwegian couple May-Britt and Edvard Moser. Their research was written and published in English. This was not always so.

“If you look around the world in 1900, and someone told you, ‘Guess what the universal language of science will be in the year 2000?’ You would first of all laugh at them because it was obvious that no one language would be the language of science, but a mixture of French, German and English would be the right answer,” said Michael Gordin.

Gordin is a professor of the history of science at Princeton and his upcoming book, Scientific Babel, explores the history of language and science.

Gordin says that English was far from the dominant scientific language in 1900. The dominant language was German. More.

See: the world in words

Direct link to podcast:

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The proper way for doing everything, including translating

Source: Patenttranslator's Blog
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

When we were children, we were told that there was a proper way to do everything and anything. We then tried to teach our own children the skills that they would need to survive and proper ways for doing everything, from tying their shoe laces and riding their bike to driving a car …. until they learned what they needed to know …. and started telling us what terrible drivers we are.

Is there a proper way to translate? According to Horace, there should be a proper way for everything (“Est modus in rebus, sunt certi denique fines” – which loosely translated means “There is a right way for everything, but nothing should be overdone”).

So if there is a proper way for everything, is there a proper way to translate?

The proper ways of various methods for certification of translation (ISO and EN methods that were designed for manufacturing of industrial products) are in my opinion nothing but a mendacious advertising gimmick as I have written in several posts already. There is a proper way to type, for example, this is something that can be learned in a typing course, and if you respect the rules of our physical world and the processes occurring in your mind and associate in your head letters with their positions on the keyboard, you will eventually touch type relatively quickly.

But it so happens that one of the best translators I met simply discarded the notion that touch typing is something worth knowing and instead typed very quickly with only two fingers. I am a pretty fast touch typist after decades of typing just about every day, but the truth is, he was just as fast. More.

See: Patenttranslator’s Blog

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Zuckerberg stresses on the importance of internet access in rural areas and app development in local languages

Source: TECH2
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has arrived in India and will be meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow. Addressing the media at an event in New Delhi, Zuckerberg spoke at length about internet access to people across the country, specially in rural areas. Zuckerberg announced a $1 billion fund to encourage people to develop apps in local languages so as to help women, farmers, students across the length and breadth of India.

“Technology has to serve the whole of society. Connectivity can’t just be the privilege of some of the rich and powerful. It needs to be something that everyone shares,” said Zuckerberg. To help with this, Zuckerberg plans to discuss plans about getting the Internet to rural areas in India with PM Modi. Zuckerberg said he would discuss with the PM, how Facebook could be used to connect villages.

He mentioned that Facebook started working with Airtel in July, to launch a free basic internet services in Zambia. This helped in getting thousands of people in Zambia online. Zuckerberg gave examples of how this move touched the lives of rural people in Zambia. So the Facebook founder’s main agenda seems to be forging similar partnerships in India to connect rural areas and reducing the barriers to connectivity. More.

See: TECH2

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