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The other stories in Anna Karenina: A translator’s perspective

Source: Columbia University in the City of New York
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Monday, November 10, 2014
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room (1219 IAB, 420 West 118th St.)

Please join the Harriman Institute for a talk with Rosamund Bartlett on the translation history of Anna Karenina.

This talk will explore the translation history of Anna Karenina, and the particular role played by Constance Garnett and Louise and Aylmer Maude in establishing Tolstoy’s reputation in the English-speaking world. This will lead to a discussion of some of the novel’s less well-known, but surprisingly revealing aspects, as seen from the grass-roots level of a contemporary translator, and, through a comparison of the fictional Anna with her real-life British contemporary Louise Jopling, a reconsideration of the novel’s relationship to the “woman question” in late 19th-century Russia.

Rosamund Bartlett is a writer, scholar and translator based in Oxford, who specializes in both music history and literature. The author and editor of several books, including Wagner and Russia, Shostakovich in Context, Chekhov: Scenes from a Life, and Tolstoy: A Russian Life, she has also received recognition as a translator, having published two volumes of Chekhov’s stories and the first unexpurgated edition of his letters. Her new translation of Anna Karenina was published by Oxford World’s Classics in 2014. More.

See: Columbia University in the City of New York

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Science reveals something surprising about people who speak more than one language

Source: Mic
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Learning more than one language isn’t just good for traveling — it may actually make you better at performing tasks that aren’t even related to linguistics.

recent study in Brain and Language by University of Washington researchers generated this somewhatsurprising statistic: Bilingual people are about half a second faster at executing novel instructions, like “add 1 to x, divide y by 2, and sum the results” than their monolingual cousins.

In short, the approximately 20% of Americans who are bilingual may tend to have better executive functioning — the network of cognitive processes involved in reasoning and problem solving, among others — than the rest of us.

The study: UW’s Andrea Stocco and Chantel Prat reached this conclusion by subjecting 17 bilingual and 14 monolingual people to a battery of arithmetic problems, each comprised of a set of operations and two inputs. Pacific Standards’ Nathan Collins explains the process involved:

First, participants ran through 40 practice problems using just two operation sets. Next, they went through another 40 problems, this time a mix of 20 new ones, each with a unique set of operations and inputs, and another 20 featuring the previously studied arithmetic operations, but with new inputs for x and y. Finally, the groups worked through 40 more problems, again a mix of familiar and novel, but this time, they completed them inside a fMRI brain scanner.The good news for those of us who speak only English is that monolinguals evenly matched bilinguals on accuracy and solved the familiar problems just as quickly. But when the bilingual group was asked to complete the novel problems, they beat out the one-language crowd handily. The brain scans show that the basal ganglia, which exhibits influence on the motor system and action selection, was more active when respondents were completing the unfamiliar problems. More.

See: Mic

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Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize to Eleanor Collins

Source: love german books
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

[...] The Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize goes to a translator under a certain age from a particular language who submits the most impressive version of a particular original. And this year it was awarded for a translation from German of a very tricky story by Julia Franck, and you can read winner Eleanor Collins’ lovely version at the Granta website. More.

See: love german books

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XTRF 2014 Autumn

Source: MultiLingual
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

XTRF Translation Management Systems sp. z o.o., has released XTRF 2014 Autumn. The latest version includes updated and additional features in the Vendor Portal and a new customer notification widget called Landing Card.

See: MultiLingual

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Source: MultiLingual
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

LinguaSys, Inc., a provider of multilingual human language technologies, has created a new application programming interface portal. GlobalNLP is designed to enable software developers to understand and extract meaning from unstructured or conversational text across languages.

See: MultiLingual

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Language, cultural disconnects fuel Ebola fear

Source: USA Today
Story flagged by: Hege Jakobsen Lepri

When the Chinese community in New York City developed a sudden and irrational fear of Ebola-carrying salmon last week, New York Hospital Queens fielded the strange calls and quashed the rumor. You can’t get Ebola from the fish, hospital staff assured the callers.

Somehow, the Chinese government’s ban in September on the import of whole Norwegian salmon for an alleged bout of a fish disease called infectious salmon anemia got lost in translation on its way to the United States.

“It turns out something happening to the fish is being called ‘the Ebola of the salmon industry.’ People were scared,” hospital spokeswoman Camela Morrissey says.

New York is one of many multicultural U.S. cities scrambling to get accurate Ebola information to residents who speak dozens of languages before rumor and panic spread. New York Hospital Queens conducted its latest news briefing in Chinese, English and Spanish and offers content on its website in four languages.

While getting such messages out quickly is nothing new, experts say the multilingual efforts can be tricky business. The efforts are underfunded, dangerously slow and prone to error, increasing chances that a mistranslated word will fuel a rumor, cause a cultural faux pas or induce unnecessary panic, experts say. More.

See: USA Today

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PEN Translates open for submissions

Source: English PEN
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

English PEN is pleased to announce that the PEN Translates grants programme is now open for submissions. This grant is part of our Writers in Translation programme. Grants covering up to 75% of translation costs are available for works translated into English*

Please note that for this round (and in all subsequent rounds) we request that publishers submit a short sample translation (1500-2000 words) with their application to PEN Translates. The sample translation should be completed by the translator that has been identified in the application form.

Our PEN assessors evaluate applications and original manuscripts against the following criteria: Literary Quality, Strength of the Project and Contributing to Literary Diversity. A panel of experts then make the final selection of books for inclusion in the PEN Translates portfolio of supported titles. The panel will be looking for a range of languages, genres, and a good balance of male and female authors for the final selection.

All PEN supported titles are featured on our World Bookshelf, which is run in partnership with Foyles. More.

See: English PEN

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Why language is neither an instinct nor innate (book review)

Source: New Scientist
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

The ideas of Noam Chomsky, popularised by Steven Pinker, come under fire in Vyvyan Evans’s book The Language Myth: Why language is not an instinct

IS THE way we think about language on the cusp of a revolution? After reading The Language Myth, it certainly looks as if a major shift is in progress, one that will open people’s minds to liberating new ways of thinking about language.

I came away excited. I found that words aren’t so much things that can be limited by a dictionary definition but are encyclopaedic, pointing to sets of concepts. There is the intriguing notion that language will always be less rich than our ideas and there will always be things we cannot quite express. And there is the growing evidence that words are rooted in concepts built out of our bodily experience of living in the world.

Its author, Vyvyan Evans, is a professor of linguistics at Bangor University, UK, and his primary purpose is not so much to map out the revolution (that comes in a sequel) but to prepare you for it by sweeping out old ideas. The book is sure to whip up a storm, because in his sights are key ideas from some of the world’s great thinkers, including philosophers Noam Chomsky and Jerry Fodor.

Ideas about language that have entered the public consciousness are more myth than reality, Evans argues. Bestsellers by Steven Pinker, the Harvard University professor who popularised Chomksy in The Language InstinctHow the Mind Works and The Stuff of Thought, come in for particular criticism. “Science has moved on,” Evans writes. “And to end it all, Pinker is largely wrong, about language and about a number of other things too…”

The commonplace view of “language as instinct” is the myth Evans wants to destroy and he attempts the operation with great verve. The myth comes from the way children effortlessly learn languages just by listening to adults around them, without being aware explicitly of the governing grammatical rules. More.

See: New Scientist

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London Language Festival – the highlights

Source: The Guardian
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Last weekend language enthusiasts descended on Olympia conference centre in London to celebrate linguistic diversity. Here are some of the highlights

The Language Festival may have set out to be a celebration of cultural and linguistic diversity, but the first session of the weekend – the Born Global Synposium – didn’t shy away from some of the big, and difficult, questions around the state of language learning in the UK.

The session drew together some of the initial findings from the ongoing Born Global research project on the role of language skills in the workplace and global economy. Among the questions discussed was how to measure the value of language skills in the economy, and how to better support their development in schools and universities. More.

See: The Guardian

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New York Hospital of Queens tailors healthcare series to Chinese patients

Source: NY City Lens
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky
It is hard to stay healthy without information, and it’s hard to get information here without English. A lecture in Chinese helps fill a gap in Flushing.

An arrow traced the gnarled forms of arteries on a projector inside Lang Auditorium at the New York Hospital of Queens. “Craniotomy,” “burr hole,” and “micro surgical clips” were among the only English words said from behind the podium. On a rainy Saturday morning, a group of fifteen had gathered to hear the day’s lecture on stroke prevention.

Anita Co, a local resident of Filipino-Chinese descent, sat in the audience. Co regularly attends the monthly lectures, part of the hospital’s Community Health Initiatives program, launched in 2014. The series is tailored to native Chinese speakers, most of whom lack Co’s English skills. New York Hospital of Queens says this population makes up 30 percent of its patients. The hospital is located in Flushing, part of Queens Community District 7, where 55.7 percent of residents are foreign-born and 42.8 percent speak English “less than very well,” according to the Department of NYC Planning. Limited English proficiency remains a problem in the neighborhood—both on streets and in hospital rooms.

Co can attest to this. As a volunteer at New York Hospital of Queens a couple of years ago, she helped resolve an argument between doctor and patient, the result of miscommunication. “The doctor said the patient was yelling and had a bad attitude,” said Co. “So I asked the patient, what did you say?” The patient told her, “‘I was not swearing. I said I was in a lot of pain—I’m in pain!’ They just didn’t understand each other.”

Co’s experience is one example of hospitals’ ongoing struggle to meet the linguistic and cultural needs of the communities they serve. And it is not an isolated case.

New York City is home to over 1.8 million speakers of limited English proficiency, according to the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. The city’s largest LEP minorities speak Spanish, at 50.4 percent of all LEP speakers, and Chinese, at 16.5 percent. A recent NYC Planning report shows New York’s foreign-born population has risen steadily in the last decade, hitting a new high in 2011, when foreign-born citizens accounted for over 3 million in of the city’s 8 million residents. More.

See: NY City Lens

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John Duval and his authors

Source: Authors & Translators
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

“As a translator I learned more than ever the importance of making a voice echo into English.

Although I have felt admiration for some of my authors, the only writer I have identified with, somewhat, is François Villon. That’s a paradox, because he was a thief, a killer of a priest, a whorer, and—if you believe one of his ballades—a pimp; and I am none of these. What I identify with is his inability to take anything or anybody quite seriously and to resist making fun of important people who might not appreciate his jokes.”

John DuVal is a United States literary translator. He speaks English, French. and Spanish. He decided to answer our questions in English.

Read the full interview in Authors & Translators here:

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The Tablet Interpreter’s App Charts

Source: A Word In Your Ear
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Lourdes and I want to show you a collection of my favourite apps for interpreters. Most of them are iPad apps, but some of them are also available for other platforms. Some are free, some are not, but I don’t indicate prices here because they change all the time. The apps are sorted in alphabetical order.

And now, let’s get started!

1Password (

Audible (

Biscuit (

Documents (

Evernote Peek (

Haiku Deck (

Mr. Reader (

Notability (

Pocket (

PocketCasts (

Scanner Pro (

Tap Forms (

TripIt (

See: A Word In Your Ear

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On translating children’s books into English (podcast)

Source: BBC Radio: Four Thought
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Daniel Hahn argues that as a society we would benefit from having more children’s books translated into English.

A translator himself, and having recently completed work on a major book about children’s literature, Daniel is concerned that few books are being translated today to sit alongside Tintin, the Swiss Family Robinson and the Moomins.

See: BBC Radio: Four Thought

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Cookies, caches and cows: Translating technological terms throws up some peculiar challenges

Source: The Economist
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

OUSMANE sweats under a tin roof as he thumbs through a Chinese smartphone that he is selling at the technology market in Bamako, Mali. Words in French, Mali’s official language, scroll down the screen. “A ka nyi?” (Is it good?) a customer asks him in Bambara, Mali’s most widely used tongue.

Mozilla, the foundation behind Firefox, an open-source web browser, wants Ousmane’s customers to have the option of a device that speaks their language. Smartphones with its operating system (OS) are already on sale in 24 countries, including Bangladesh, India and Mexico, for as little as $33. Other countries will be added as it makes more deals with handset manufacturers. And Bambara is one of dozens of languages into which volunteer “localisers” are translating the OS.

Mozilla has 230 localisation teams, says Jeff Beatty, who co-ordinates some from his office in Utah. Their work takes both time and ingenuity. Firefox for a computer uses about 40,000 words; for the phone OS, 16,000. Translators must express technological terms in languages shaped by livestock, farming and fishing, and choose alternatives for culture-specific words such as “cookie”, “file” and “mouse”.

Ibrahima Sarr, a Senegalese coder, led the translation of Firefox into Fulah, which is spoken by 20m people from Senegal to Nigeria. “Crash” became hookii (a cow falling over but not dying); “timeout” became a honaama (your fish has got away). “Aspect ratio” became jeendondiral, a rebuke from elders when a fishing net is wrongly woven. In Malawi’s Chichewa language, which has 10m speakers, “cached pages” became mfutso wa tsamba, or bits of leftover food. The windowless houses of the 440,000 speakers of Zapotec, a family of indigenous languages in Mexico, meant that computer “windows” became “eyes”. More.

See: The Economist

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Signed languages can do so many things spoken languages can’t

Source: The Guardian
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

[...] Because this week is National Week of Deaf People, I feel it’s a good time to talk about the nature of Auslan (Australian Sign Language) and the deaf community. I’ve only been studying Auslan for four years, but I’ve come a long way from that first community course.

You see, I used to be one of you, one of those people who thought sign language followed English grammar. And I thought there was just one sign language – the same in every country – though if I’d thought that through for more than a minute I would’ve realised those two assumptions were mutually exclusive.

I also used to assume all deaf people would prefer to be hearing. More.

See: The Guardian

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The new Dictionary of the Spanish Language is out!

Source: Real Academia Española
Story flagged by: Susana E. Cano Méndez

The Diccionario de la lengua española (DRAE) [Dictionary of the Spanish Language] is the reference work of the Spanish Academy. The latest edition (23rd) has just been published in paperback yesterday, 16th October 2014. They are working on the digital version.

Linguists all over the world use this dictionary and are usually in great expectancy some months before it is published: the Spanish Academy uses to remove many ancient and useless words in each issue (1,350 in 2014), and, on the other hand, add some new words as  ”bótox”, “dron”, “cameo”, “feminicidio”, “tuit”, “wifi”, “botellón”, “multiculturalidad”, “mileurista” and “precuela”.

Its price is 99 EUR.

See: Real Academia Española

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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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