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How I translated Oksa Pollock, AKA the French Harry Potter

Source: The Guardian
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

It was a hugely enjoyable challenge to introduce English teenagers to Oksa Pollock, the loveable French heroine with incredible magic powers. Being a translator is like putting on Harry Potter’s Cloak of Invisibility or wearing a layer of Oksa Pollock’s Invisibuls — you don’t want anyone to see you’re there. You need to stay out of sight so that the reader has no idea how much blood, sweat and tears have gone into the mix.

While trying to stay invisible, you also have to navigate what feels like a lengthy obstacle course! The first set of walls I had to clamber over was the names of the many adorable, quirky creatures that inhabit Oksa’s world. These were plays on words in French, which meant they couldn’t be left as they were because an English speaker wouldn’t get the joke. More.

See: The Guardian

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Best Translated Book Award winners to be announced at BookExpo America

Source: Three Percent
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

So, this has been percolating for some time, but yesterday BookExpo America sent out the official press release (copied below) about how this year’s Best Translated Book Award winners will be announced on Wednesday, May 27 at 2:30 as part of BEA’s programming:

Norwalk, CT, February 25, 2015: BookExpo America (BEA), North America’s largest and preeminent book industry convention, continues to shine a light on international publishing by sponsoring the 8th Annual Best Translated Book Award which was founded to bring attention to great works of literature in translation and honor the translators who make these available to English readers. Over the past few years, underwriting from has made it possible for the winning authors and translators to receive $5,000 in cash prizes, making this the largest award for literature in translation in the United States. Inaugurated in 2008, the award is conferred by Three Percent, the online literary magazine of Open Letter Books, which is the book translation press of the University of Rochester.

The award will take place on the Eastside Stage at BEA on Wednesday, May 27 at 2:30pm at the Jacob K. Javits Center. BookExpo America is widely known as an ideal place for content creators, media, booksellers, rights professionals, and movie and television executives to meet new authors, discover new books, learn about trends shaping the book industry, and network with those who have a passion for books and reading. It is the nation’s largest gathering of booksellers, book publishers and book industry professionals.

Read the full post in Three Percent here:

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Machine vs. Human: Translators put to the test

Source: Multilizer Translation Blog
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

This is a guest post by Verbal Ink.

In contemporary culture, we are used to computers being able to shock us. The idea of a computer doing something that a previous generation thought was impossible is, to us, the norm. That’s why what paradoxically shocks those of us well-versed in technology and the power of machines is the areas where they still fail to match us mere humans.

As an example, think about translation. Absorbing languages is a natural and easy task for young humans- a baby can learn to speak any language in the world. As we age, it becomes harder to learn new languages, and some people are better at it than others. However, it is usually a matter of memorization, commitment, and time investment. For that reason, once someone has learned more than one language, it is generally not a difficult task for them to translate words, ideas, and conversations from one language they know to another. Professional translators will tend to have a better grasp of the details of grammar, syntax, and structure, as well as larger vocabularies than most speakers, but even a novice will be able to translate rudimentary conversation and basic sentences.

On the other hand, machines have a great deal of trouble with translation. They are unable to really understand the ebb and flow of a conversation, understand the main idea of an argument, or understand how the audience of a translation should affect the word choice. While a computer translation program has a huge list of words in different languages, and therefore possesses a deeper and larger vocabulary than a human ever could, it is unable to understand what it is translating. As a result, while a machine might be able to assign some translated meaning to each individual word in a sentence, it is rarely able to produce coherent paragraphs or even sentences.

To test this theory, we tried two different, well, tests. First, we took some marketing material in Spanish. We fed it into Google Translate and asked a professional Spanish to English translator to translate it, and then compared the results. What we found confirmed our suspicions. While the human translator was able to deliver a message with accuracy, nuance, and style, Google was unable to deliver sentences that really made sense, and the translation was often overly literal. More.

See: Multilizer Translation Blog

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Works in translation: If they publish them, will they buy them?

Source: Publishers Weekly
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Anecdotal evidence and internal discussions continue to suggest that increasing numbers of international publishers are eager to put out works in translation that cross many cultural boundaries. But it’s also evident from the number of actual translations which have sold well that this isn’t always easy.

The topic of how to get more foreign language works translated and published into English was cited as being the “holy grail” for international publishers at IPR’s Global Licensing: The Bigger Picture conference late last year. This illustrates the scale of the task facing many territories without English as their first language.

On the other side of the coin, the sales of translation rights for English language books remain a prominent source of revenue for many publishing houses. And in the midst of producing a White Paper around this aforementioned event I thought I’d offer a few sneak extracts from it, referring specifically to translation rights and emerging new markets. More.

See: Publishers Weekly

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July 3, 2015: International Symposium for Young Researchers in Translation, Interpreting, Intercultural Studies and East Asian Studies

Source: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

The Sixth Symposium for Young Researchers is aimed at students who are about to begin their research as M.A. students, PhD students or those who have recently completed their PhD theses. The purpose of this symposium is to provide a scientific forum within which the next generation of researchers can exchange ideas and present their current research in the field of Translation, Interpreting, Intercultural Studies and East Asian Studies.

In addition to the papers which will be presented, the symposium will include a keynote lecture by Ovidi Carbonell Cortés, lecturer in Translation and Interpreting and director of the Centro Cultural Hispano-Japonés at the Universidad de Salamanca.

The symposium will be held on July 3, 2015 in the Faculty of Translation and Interpreting, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. More.

See: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

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Benkirane calls for adopting English as first foreign language in Morocco

Source: Morocco World News
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

After the statements of many Moroccan ministers and politicians in favor of adopting English over French, Abdelilah Benkirane, the Head of the Government, called for adopting English as the first foreign language in the kingdom.

During the monthly political conference of the party dedicated to the reform of education and training, the Head of the Government highlighted the importance of adopting English and using in it in Moroccan schools.

In a video posted on YouTube, Abdelilah Benkirane said that “we all agree on teaching languages, and we have to teach our students to be excellent at both English and French,” but he added, “if we have to choose, we will choose English because it is the language of today’s science, technology and commerce.”

“To be clear, in all Arab nations, we need the English language,” he said.

Benkirane confirmed that Morocco and France have very “strong bonds that can’t be broken, but it is not our destiny to keep using French.”

“Personally, I regret having not learned English very well because I need it the most during my official visits, even when I go to Saudi Arabia,” he added. More.

See: Morocco World News

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If you speak Mandarin, your brain is different

Source: The Conversation
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

We speak so effortlessly that most of us never think about it. But psychologists and neuroscientists are captivated by the human capacity to communicate with language. By the time a child can tie his or her shoes, enough words and rules have been mastered to allow the expression of an unlimited number of utterances. The uniqueness of this behaviour to the human species indicates its centrality to human psychology.

That this behaviour comes naturally and seemingly effortlessly in the first few years of life merely fascinates us further. Untangling the brain’s mechanisms for language has been a pillar of neuroscience since its inception. New research published in the Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences about the different connections going on in the brains of Mandarin and English speakers, demonstrates just how flexible our ability to learn language really is. More.

See: The Conversation

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U.S. English Chairman calls Texas bill to declare English the official language a unifying step

Source: Marketwired
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

WASHINGTON, DC–(Marketwired – Feb 24, 2015) – U.S.English Chairman Mauro E. Mujica today issued the following statement in reaction to the introduction of a bill in the Texas State Senate that would declare English the official language of the Lone Star State.

State Senator Bob Hall has introduced S.B. 447, a bill to make English the official language of the state and remove the requirement that state government agencies provide documents and materials in foreign languages.

“With more than 3.4 million Texans struggling with English proficiency, Senator Hall’s Official English bill is a long overdue step to help these residents assimilate with their neighbors,” Chairman Mujica said. “When a state government operates in English, it adds an incentive for the state’s non-English speakers to learn the common language more quickly. Such a move is especially needed in Texas, where 170 languages are spoken by residents. Declaring English the official language will not only allow for more streamlined government operations, but it will also open the doors of communication to the state’s limited English proficient residents, placing them on the road to success.”

The bill has been referred to the Texas House Business and Commerce Committee for further consideration. If S.B. 447 is enacted, Texas will become the 32nd state to recognize English as the official language. More.

See: Marketwired

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Bilingual babies practice lip-reading long before monolingual counterparts

Source: PRI
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Babies raised in bilingual households spend significantly more time watching the mouth of the person speaking to them than their monolingual counterparts, according to a new study.

David Lewkowicz, a professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Northeastern University, and colleagues in Barcelona, Spain, observed bilin­gual and monolingual infants as they watched a video of a woman speaking in Spanish or Catalan. The infants were all learning one or both languages.

Lewkowicz says the idea for the study arose from previous research in which he and his colleagues had found that 4-month-old babies, despite their fascination with things that move, don’t look at a person’s mouth when they speak, but rather look only at the eyes. When babies start babbling at 8 to 10 months, they also start to shift their attention back and forth between the eyes and the mouth.

He and his colleagues wondered if bilingual babies do this any differently — and it turns out they do: bilin­gual babies focus their atten­tion on the mouth at an ear­lier age and for a longer period of time than mono­lin­gual infants. “Babies learning two different languages take advantage even more of the information that is located in the lips,” Lewkowicz says. More.

See: PRI

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Siri learns seven new languages, plus English with new accents

Source: The Christian Science Monitor
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Apple’s virtual assistant Siri will soon add Russian, Danish, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish to its multi-lingual vocabulary, according to reports.

The latest update for iOS 8 will reportedly be diversifying more than its emojis.

According to reports, Siri will soon be able to understand seven additional languages with the release of the iOS 8.3 beta 2. The voice assistant feature will add Russian, Danish, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish to its multi-lingual vocabulary, which is expected to be released later this year.

The most interesting language update will allow Siri to interpret English with an Indian accent. As India Today reports, Indian speakers were “forced to fake an American accent to get Siri to understand their voice commands.” While watching others attempt to fake an accent can be amusing, this is sure to come as a relief in one of the largest growing markets in the world. More.

See: The Christian Science Monitor

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L.A. County Superior Court expands access to free interpreter services

Source: LA Times
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

The Los Angeles County Superior Court has begun expanding access to free interpreter services for those with limited English skills in some civil cases, seeking to address a gap in language services that federal authorities say violates the Civil Rights Act.

The court has started providing translators at no cost for those involved in eviction, guardianship and conservatorship cases, a service previously only available to low-income litigants.

Unlike in criminal court, people in civil cases do not have a constitutional right to an interpreter, making navigating the court system exceedingly difficult for many, said Joann H. Lee, directing attorney with Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.

“We think it’s a great step toward full implementation, and L.A. County seems to be really leading the effort statewide,” Lee said.

About a third of California’s nearly 7 million limited-English speakers reside in Los Angeles County. More.

See: LA Times

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Mexico’s energy reforms boost translation business in Texas

Source: San Antonio Business Journal
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Mexico’s energy reforms have created higher demand for highly-technical translation services here in the Lone Star State.

President Enrique Peña-Nieto signed the historic legislation into law in August 2014, opening Mexico’s energy markets to foreign investment for the first time in more than 70 years.

Energy and logistics companies in Texas are among those seeking lucrative contracts south of the border.

Bidders must file all their documents translated into Spanish, notarized and affixed with the Texas Secretary of State seal. More.

See: San Antonio Business Journal

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International Mother Language Day: Cameroon on the celebration trail

Source: CrTV
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

The 15th edition of the International Mother Language Day has been commemorated in Cameroon under the theme, “Inclusive education using the mother tongue; the mother tongue an indispensable tool.”

Activities to mark the day in Cameroon were organised on 21st February 2015. Some highlights included sketches, traditional dances and recitation of poems by children from the ten regions of Cameroon.

During the event in Yaounde, the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Basic Education, Benoit Ndong Soumhet hinted that Government is training teachers to teach national languages in primary schools.

So far, some languages have been included in the country’s primary school curricular; these include Ewondo, Fulfude, Bassa and Ghomala.

A Non-Governmental Organisation, better known in French as ELAN-Afrique has been working on this project to integrate the four languages. The NGO is working closely with the Ministry of Basic Education and La Francophonie, UNESCO and SIL-Cameroon, which are amongst the Ministry’s external partners. More.

See: CrTV

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Gaeltacht Committee wants Irish promoted ‘more effectively’

Source: The Irish Times
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht published its Report on the General Scheme of the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2014 today.

The Leas-Chathaoirleach of the Sub-Committee on the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010–2030 and Related Matters, Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú said: “This report recommends that at least 10 per cent of public workers in public service bodies should be fully proficient in Irish and should be willing, and indeed eager, to carry out their duties and engage with the public through Irish. We believe that this is an achievable objective and that there is, as indicated by the 2011 census returns, a clear demand for it among the Irish people.” More.

See: The Irish Times

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Language barriers persist in Pennsylvania’s district courts, survey finds

Source: The Morning Call
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Pennsylvania’s frontline courts lack consistency in providing interpreters and other services to people whose first language isn’t English, a Temple University law school survey shows.

About a third of the courts sometimes rely on friends and family during legal proceedings as translators for defendants and litigants with limited English skills. Half don’t make certified interpreters available in civil cases.

And nearly two-thirds expect someone to bring an English-speaking friend or relative to court to help them navigate and understand basic court services.

Temple surveyed magisterial district courts, the lowest court level, in 20 counties and about half responded. The findings are based on those responses.

The study comes more than a decade after leaders in Pennsylvania’s legal community identified serious deficiencies in access to justice for people with limited English proficiency. More.

See: The Morning Call

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4 changes to English so subtle we hardly notice they’re happening

Source: Mental Floss
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Everyone knows that language changes. It’s easy to pick out words that have only been recently introduced (bromance, YOLO, derp) or sentence constructions that have gone out of style (How do you do? Have you a moment?), but we are constantly in the middle of language change that may not be noticeable for decades or even centuries. Some of the biggest and most lasting changes to language happen slowly and imperceptibly. The Great Vowel Shift, for example, was a series of pronunciation changes occurring over 350 years, and not really noticed for over 100 years after that. It resulted in an intelligibility gap between Modern and Middle English and created the annoying misalignment between English pronunciation and spelling. But it was impossible to see while it was going on.

These days, however, it is possible to spot subtle linguistic changes by analyzing large digital collections of text or transcribed speech, some of which cover long periods of time. Linguists can run the numbers on these large corpora to determine the direction of language use trends and whether they are statistically significant. Here are 4 rather subtle changes happening in English, as determined by looking at the numbers.


Read the full article in Mental Floss here:

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Episode 43: Productivity for translators – Interview with Konstantin Kisin

Source: Marketing Tips for Translators
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Do you ever feel the day has too few hours, or did you ever wish you could translate faster and be more productive? I know I have. Therefore it is my pleasure to interview a very productive translator, who is also teaching productivity tips for other translators. This is the second time I have Konstantin Kisin on this podcast and his previous interview was one of the three most downloaded so far. In this episode we also talk about his new project, “R U LOVE”. Check out the episode to find out more.

In this episode we discuss the following:

  • How we can become more productive as translators
  • How to make checking emails and responding to inquiries more efficient
  • Productivity tools
  • An efficient translation process
  • How to avoid feeling overwhelmed and overloaded
  • Preventing eye fatique from long hours in front of a computer screen
  • Eating for maximum productivity

See the full article in Marketing Tips for Translators here:

Direct link to podcast:

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Omaha Tribe trying to revitalize an ‘endangered language’

Source: The Washington Times
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

MACY, Neb. (AP) – Two sisters from the Omaha Tribe keep a list of the people who still speak their language.

There are 12 names left.

Glenna Slater and Octa Keen are among the few certified to teach the Omaha tribe’s language, Umónhon. None of the fluent speakers are under 70.

The single leaf of notebook paper is filled with names scribbled out. The sisters fear a day may come when the last name is scratched out, the Omaha World-Herald ( ) reports.

“It just tears part of your heart out,” Keen said, “because you know it’s never coming back.”

The tribe, which is centered in Macy, Nebraska, just south of Sioux City, Iowa, has more than 7,000 members. The tribal council estimates fewer than 150 know parts of the language, but elders and teachers say only a few handfuls are fluent.

The “Encyclopedia of the World’s Endangered Languages” says one-third of surviving world languages are “severely endangered,” meaning there are between 10 and 100 speakers. About one-fourth of the 250 or so languages that survived past 1930 have gone silent.

On average, about one endangered language is lost each year. A few in the Omaha Tribe are fighting to keep theirs alive. More.

See: The Washington Times

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Experts say constitutional changes should look at subtlety of Irish translation

Source: The Irish Times
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

The practice of drafting constitutional amendments in English and then translating them into Irish should be reviewed, a leading authority has said.

Seán Ó Conaill, a law lecturer in University College Cork and an expert on the use of Irish in the Constitution, has said Irish translators were presented with English text already signed off by Cabinet and inflexible to change. He was responding to an issue raised in relation to the Irish version of the proposed amendment to the Constitution to allow same sex-marriage.

The English version is: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.” The Irish translation is: “Féadfaidh beirt, cibé acu is fir nó mná iad, conradh a dhéanamh i leith pósadh de réir dlí.”

Directly translated back into English it states: “A couple may, whether they are men or women, make a contract of marriage in accordance with law.” He said that other bilingual jurisdictions such as Canada and Wales had adopted a method of co-drafting where the laws were simultaneously drafted in both languages. More.

See: The Irish Times

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Why a ‘poetic’ sign language interpreter went viral in Australia

Source: BBC News
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

An Australian sign language interpreter who translated the Queensland Premier’s live Cyclone Marcia press conference has made waves on social media. But what did his energetic performance add to the important storm information being broadcast?

A number of sign language interpreters have hit the headlines in the past few years for their show-stealing performances at public events. In 2013, viewers of the Nelson Mandela memorial called out an interpreter for not using correct South African sign language.

In 2012, Lydia Callis, who interpreted at live press conference updates for New York’s Mayor Bloomberg during Superstorm Sandy, shot to fame for her energetic translations. It’s thought that people take particular note of the interpreter because it’s a novelty that they don’t see on their screens too often.

The latest one to go viral comes from Australia.

Mark Cave has been widely praised by deaf and hearing tweeters alike for his interpretation of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s live updates on the status of Tropical Cyclone Marcia. He is “doing so much for AUSLAN and understanding”, one Tweeter said of the 30-year-old. AUSLAN is Australian sign language, the UK equivalent is BSL. Another tweeter pointed out that sign language is “a must for all emergency events”. Some users aren’t fluent in English so can’t benefit from subtitles. More.

See: BBC News

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