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Why Philip Roth sounds so good in French: the method of a master translator

Source: Worldcrunch
Story flagged by: RominaZ

Whether they realize it or not, French fans of Philip Roth and John Irving know the work of Josée Kamoun as well. The Parisian woman has translated novels by more than a dozen writers. The work is “painstaking and solitary” but fulfils a calling predicted long ago.

“The translator dances the tango with the text. When the text leads with the left foot, the translator steps back with the right. It is an extremely tight embrace, and, if possible, graceful…”

Josée Kamoun, the French translator for the works of Philip Roth, John Irving and Jonathan Coe, chooses her words carefully. But right now, she is preparing to take part in a translation festival in Switzerland where, for once, it is the translators who will be celebrated, rather than the authors.

Modest and joyful, Kamoun is having fun with this rare moment in the sun. “I like that people are talking about us, but not too much. I like being in the shadow of my authors,” she says. ”One of the reasons I do this work is because it allows me to avoid writing myself.”

Kamoun describes the translator’s “extremely ambiguously status” in the literary process. “He or she is a double agent, perhaps even two-faced. You can never be sure that the translator is telling the truth,” she says. “The translator is an unpleasant witness to the fact that we are unable to read the original version of the book. The translator serves two masters, is even a bit seedy. But we like translators because without them we would not have access to the text.”

Listening to her Latin teacher

For Kamoun, translation is the combination of a mask to hide behind, the possibility of performance – she compares her work to that of an art restorer or actor – and a rare pleasure.

It all started with a prediction, made in high school by her Latin teacher, who envisioned Kamoun doing just this kind of work. But this star translator also taught English literature for 15 years and still works in the national education system. She never wanted to make translation her only job. “I never thought about starving for translation,” Kamoun says. “Besides, the work of a translator is painstaking and solitary. There are better things for your social life.”

See: Worldcrunch

2012 International Writers Fest in Durban

By: RominaZ

Writers and the written word are set to permeate Durban as 18 writers from around South Africa, Africa and overseas gather for a week of literary dialogue, readings, exchange of ideas and discussion at the 15th Time of the Writer International Writers Festival, which will run in the Indian Ocean city from March 19 to 24. The festival, hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal), will feature a diverse mix of novelists, short story writers, poets and crime writers.

On opening night all participating writers make brief presentations at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. On subsequent nights pairings of writers will read, discuss and provide insight into their opinions, experiences and the creative processes that inform their work.

See: Examiner

News from the Translation Center, March 9, 2012

Source: Translators without Borders
Story flagged by: RominaZ

* Earlier this week the counter of translated words delivered by out volunteers through the Translation Center since January 2011 moved beyond the 3,000,000 mark, and it currently indicates 3,029,377 words translated.

* 47,000 words have been posted in the Translation Center so far during March and, as usual, top pairs are French to English (30%) and English to French (23%).

* Translators without Borders is looking for humanitarian NGOs in need of translation outside these two language pairs. If you know of any please pass the word.

See: Translators without Borders

An Indigenous language with unique staying power (Paraguay)

Source: The New York Times
Story flagged by: RominaZ

Legislators on the floor of Congress deliver speeches in it. Lovers entwined on Asunción’s park benches murmur sweet nothings with its high-pitched, nasal and guttural sounds. Soccer fans use it when insulting referees.

To this day, Paraguay remains the only country in the Americas where a majority of the population speaks one indigenous language: Guaraní. It is enshrined in the Constitution, officially giving it equal footing with the language of European conquest, Spanish. And in the streets, it is a source of national pride.

“Only 54 of nearly 12,000 schools teach Portuguese,” said Nancy Benítez, director of curriculum at the Ministry of Education, of the language of Brazil, the giant neighbor that dominates trade with Paraguay. “But every one of our schools teaches Guaraní.”

Paraguay differs significantly even from other multilingual Latin American nations like neighboring Bolivia, where a majority of the population is indigenous. Languages like Quechua and Aymara are spoken by different groups there, but rarely by people of mixed ancestry or the traditional elite.

In Paraguay, indigenous peoples account for less than 5 percent of the population. Yet Guaraní is spoken by an estimated 90 percent of Paraguayans, including many in the middle class, upper-crust presidential candidates, and even newer arrivals. More.

See: The New York Times

Free question and answer conference call with translation technology guru Jost Zetzsche

Source: Speaking of Translation
Story flagged by: RominaZ

On Wednesday, March 21 at 12:00 Noon
New York time, Speaking of Translation will host a free question and answer conference call with translation technology guru Jost Zetzsche. Jost is the author of the popular biweekly translation technology e-newsletter The Tool Box and writes the popular column “Geek Speak” for the ATA Chronicle.

Register here.

See: Speaking of Translation

Tomas Transtromer’s Poems and the Art of Translation

Source: The New York Times
Story flagged by: RominaZ

If you’re a poet outside the Anglophone world, and you manage to win the Nobel Prize, two things are likely to happen. First, your ascendancy will be questioned by fiction critics in a major English-­language news publication. Second, there will be a fair amount of pushing and shoving among your translators (if you have any), as publishers attempt to capitalize on your 15 minutes of free media attention.

And lo, for the Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer, it has come to pass. The questioning came from, among others, Philip Hensher for The Telegraph (in Britain) and Hephzibah Anderson for Bloomberg News, both of whom implied that real writers — Philip Roth, for instance — had been bypassed to flatter a country largely inhabited by melancholic reindeer. And when Transtromer hasn’t been doubted by fiction critics, he’s been clutched at by publishing houses. Since his Nobel moment in October, three different Transtromer books have been released (or reissued): THE DELETED WORLD: Poems (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), with translations by the Scottish poet Robin Robertson; TOMAS TRANSTROMER: Selected Poems (Ecco/HarperCollins), edited by Robert Hass; and FOR THE LIVING AND THE DEAD: Poems and a Memoir (Ecco/HarperCollins), edited by Daniel Halpern. These books join two major collections already in print: “The Half-Finished Heaven: The Best Poems of Tomas Transtromer,” from Graywolf Press, translated by Robert Bly, and “The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems,” from New Directions, translated by Robin Fulton. So a little complaining, a glut of books: pretty typical.

But what’s unusual about Transtromer is that the most interesting debates over English versions of his work actually took place before his Nobel victory. In this case, the argument went to the heart of the translator’s function and occurred mostly in The Times Literary Supplement. The disputants were Fulton, one of Transtromer’s longest-serving translators, and Robertson, who has described his own efforts as “imitations.” Fulton accused Robertson (who doesn’t speak Swedish) of borrowing from his more faithful versions while inserting superfluous bits of Robertson’s own creation — in essence, creating poems that are neither accurate translations nor interesting departures. Fulton rolled his eyes at “the strange current fashion whereby a ‘translation’ is liable to be praised in inverse proportion to the ‘translator’s’ knowledge of the original language.” Robertson’s supporters countered that Fulton was just annoyed because Robertson was more concerned with the spirit of the ­poems than with getting every little kottbulle exactly right. More.

See: The New York Times

Bilingual dictionaries to promote India’s mother tongues

Source: Deccan Herald
Story flagged by: La Classe

Bangalore: The campaign to preserve vernacular mother tongues and make knowledge accessible to students through translation across the linguistic arc has taken a big stride with a new bilingual dictionary series in Hindi, Bengali, Oriya, Malayalam, Tamil and Kannada from the source language, English.

An initiative of the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), National Translation Mission, Regional Institute of South Asia and Pearson Education, the six bilingual dictionaries is the first lot of the 11 dictionaries that the government is collaborating on with Pearson under its Longman imprint.

“The dictionaries, released in the national capital Saturday, aims to fulfil the National Translation Mission’s mandate to develop translation tools for 22 Indian languages under the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution,” said Aditi Mukherjee, project manager of the National Translation Mission.

The second lot of the language dictionaries that are in the works include Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Telugu and Urdu, Mukherjee said. More.

See: Deccan Herald

Bilingual avatar speaks Mundie language

Source: Physorg
Story flagged by: RominaZ

This week’s Microsoft Big Idea event, TechFest 2012, presented the latest advances on the part of researchers at Microsoft. A bilingual talking head received much of the attention. Called “Monolingual TTS,” the Microsoft research effort involves software that can translate the user’s speech into another language and in a voice that sounds like the original user’s. As Microsoft explains, with the use of a speaker’s monolingual recording, the system’s algorithm can render speech sentences in different languages for building “mixed coded bilingual text to speech (TTS) systems.”

According to the team, “We have recordings of 26 languages which are used to build our TTS of corresponding languages. By using the new approach, we can synthesize any mixed language pair out of the 26 languages.”

The software does this by first “learning” what the user’s voice sounds like. The tool works by using speech recognition, followed by translation, followed by the final output in a different language. The demo at this week used an avatar of Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s chief research and strategy officer, to illustrate the system in action.

A synthetic version of Mundie’s voice, in English, welcomed the audience to Microsoft Research. Then the voice shifted to the same phrase in Mandarin. The words in Mandarin were reported to be recognizably Mundie’s voice. More.

See: Physorg

Bilingual dictionaries to promote India’s mother tongues

Source: Two Circles
Story flagged by: RominaZ

The campaign to preserve vernacular mother tongues and make knowledge accessible to students through translation across the linguistic arc has taken a big stride with a new bilingual dictionary series in Hindi, Bengali, Oriya, Malayalam, Tamil and Kannada from the source language, English.

An initiative of the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), National Translation Mission, Regional Institute of South Asia and Pearson Education, the six bilingual dictionaries is the first lot of the 11 dictionaries that the government is collaborating on with Pearson under its Longman imprint.

“The dictionaries, released in the national capital Saturday, aims to fulfil the National Translation Mission’s mandate to develop translation tools for 22 Indian languages under the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution,” said Aditi Mukherjee, project manager of the National Translation Mission.

The second lot of the language dictionaries that are in the works include Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Telugu and Urdu, Mukherjee said.

“One of the primary mandates of the National Translation Mission, set up three years ago under the ministry of human resource development, is to promote academic education across 70-odd disciplines in 22 languages by translating 100 books in each discipline. The lexicon is an important translation tool – kind of a spring board to push the mother tongues, many of which are threatened with very few speakers,” Mukherjee told IANS.

The Longman-NTM-CIIL dictionaries have over 12,000 words and phrases culled from the British National Corpus. More.

See: Two Circles

Rabbit enrols as court translator

Source: News Today
Story flagged by: Andrea Alvisi

AN INTERPRETER says she has exposed the ‘ridiculous failings’ of a controversial Ministry of Justice backed agency – after managing to enrol her pet RABBIT as a court translator.

Czech interpreter Marie Adamova says she successfully filled in an online application for carrot-chomping Jajo with the company which supplies linguistics to police and law courts.

Remarkably, the rabbit later received emails from the firm welcoming him aboard as a translator-  and he was even invited to an online seminar to learn more about his role.

Interpreter Marie, who is from Erdington, Birmingham, says she pulled the stunt as a protest against a translation agency  for allegedly causing “chaos” after taking over translator services for West Midlands Police and the area’s courts.

According to the translator, the translation agency is not checking the qualifications of people who enrol on their website – meaning interpreters are being sent to court only to find they can barely translate a few sentences. More.

See: News Today

“Swedish is the world’s richest language”

Source: The Local
Story flagged by: Hege Jakobsen Lepri

There are those who say that Swedish is a poor language compared with English, for example, if you count the total of individual words. You can see that Swedish-English dictionaries are often thinner than English-Swedish ones.

But then you’ve not considered the infinite number of words that aren’t in the dictionary: subway, subwaytrain, subwaytrainproblems [she said these in Swedish]. In theory these can be indefinite lengths, but are 3-4 words long max in practice. And we take in loan words and make them Swedish, for example “surfar, chattar and messar”. More.

See: The local

The Multilingual Debate 2012

Source: Heriot-Watt University
Story flagged by: RominaZ

Heriot-Watt University’s Multilingual Debate is an annual event that showcases the interpreting skills of undergraduate students on our Languages (Interpreting and Translating) degree programme, as well as the developing professional skills of postgraduate students on our MSc Translating and Conference Interpeting programmes. The event takes the form of a formal debate with two multilingual teams arguing for and against a motion of topical interest in a range of languages. The teams deliver their views in their various native languages (French, German, Spanish, English, Chinese, British Sign Language (BSL)).

The Multilingual Debate stimulates an interest among young people in the international politics and social issues of the modern world whilst also setting language acquisition in a realistic context. The success of this initiative won a European Languages award in 2006. There was such great demand for the Multilingual Debate that Heriot-Watt now runs two debates in order to allow as many participants to attend as possible, and is looking to provide access and participation online also.

The audience is mainly made up of pupils coming from Scottish and English secondary schools, but also university undergraduate students considering entering the interpreting profession, as well as government and local authority representatives. The audiences participated in the debate by listening to the arguments, putting questions to the speakers in the languages represented and voting on the motion. Electronic voting is used and the audience are able to see clear changes in their opinions before the debate compared to after the debate.

Date: Thursday 22nd March 2012


See: Heriot-Watt University

MultilingualWeb-Language Technology working group launched

Source: Multilingual
Story flagged by: RominaZ

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international community that develops standards to ensure the long-term growth of the web, has launched the MultilingualWeb-LT (Language Technology) Working Group to develop standard ways to support the automatic and manual translation and adaptation of web content to local needs, from its creation to its delivery to end users.

See: Multilingual

Debate on Irish language

Source: Mid-Ulster Mail
Story flagged by: RominaZ

MID Ulster Irish speakers will get the chance to have their say on important matters for the language when POBAL, the umbrella organisation for the Irish speaking community, organises a special public meeting in The Cookstown Library, Burn Road, Cookstown on Monday 12 March at 7 pm.

Janet Muller, CEO of POBAL said: “This is one of a series of meetings being organised by POBAL to consult with the community on updated proposals for the Irish language Act , and also to present the proposals of our Working Group on a Strategic Framework for the language. The meetings are bilingual and everyone is welcome.

“It gives people the chance to discuss the draft proposals for the updated Irish Language Act and the Strategic Framework for Irish. All the documentation will be available on the night, but it can also be found beforehand on our website at”

The meetings are held bilingually and everyone is welcome to attend.

See: Mid-Ulster Mail

CHamoru Language Competition “Inachá’igen Fino’ CHamoru 2012″ MONDAY

Source: Pacific News Center
Story flagged by: RominaZ

Guam – CHamoru language competition as part of the University of Guam’s Charter Day activities on its 60th Anniversary. As in the past competitions, 215 UOG CHamoru language students are assisting.

This year, the competition is called Inachá’igen Fino’ CHamoru 2012. Inachá’igen’s base form in CHamoru is igi that means ‘to beat, to excel, to challenge.’ The Inachá’igen Fino’ CHamoru 2012 theme is I Fino’ CHamoru: Setbe, Såtba yan Sostieni, The CHamoru Language: Serve, Save and Hold on to. This year, also, the competition is two days, Monday, March 12, 2012 from 2:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the UOG CLASS Lecture Hall, and Tuesday, March 13, 2012, at the UOG Fieldhouse from 7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. The Inachá’igen categories on Monday are: elementary school spelling and storytelling, and middle and high school oratorical and poetry recitation. On Tuesday, students will compete in: elementary school children’s choir; high school proficiency, dramatic cultural interpretation, song with dance and male and female singing; and middle school chant and choral reading. All winners will be announced after each competition except for drawing and essays. These will be judged earlier and winners will be announced on Tuesday. More.

See: Pacific News Center

Orange prize for fiction longlist shows diversity of historical novels

Source: The Guardian
Story flagged by: RominaZ

Historical fiction – from love among heroes in ancient Greece to bickering jazz musicians in Nazi-occupied Paris – forms a significant chunk of this year’s Orange prize longlist, which has been revealed to coincide with International Women’s Day. Twenty novels made the list for Britain’s only annual prize for fiction written by women, including books by Emma Donoghue, Anne Enright, AL Kennedy and Ali Smith.

There were five books by debut novelists and four from writers with their “tricky” second novel. Joanna Trollope, the chair of judges, said the breadth of subject matter was particularly striking.

“It is the diversity that really characterises this longlist,” she said. “Yes, there are a fair number of historical novels, but they vary hugely from a gay cabaret artist in Berlin in the second world war to a preacher going off to deal with lost souls on a Hebridean island in the 1830s.”

A total of 143 novels were submitted for the prize, many dealing with historical subjects and many set during the second world war, said Trollope. “It is because, I think, it is just so unresolved. Writers inevitably go back to unfinished business and try and work it out somehow, so it is a very natural topic.”

Many serious subjects had been tackled, she said, which was a good thing. “There’s an extraordinarily unafraid quality in women when it comes to both emotions and writing. Fiction is a way into life’s great dilemmas and it is more than justified that serious stuff gets aired in fiction – quite apart from the fact that comic fiction is unbelievably hard to write.”

The list for this year’s prize, the 17th, consists of eight British writers, seven American, three Irish, one Swedish and one Canadian author. More.

See: The Guardian

New version of World Wide Navi

Source: Multilingual
Story flagged by: RominaZ

Kokusaika JP, Inc., a software and web internationalization company, has released a new version of its software internationalization tool, World Wide Navi. The latest version supports PHP and JavaScript.

See: Multilingual

Public speaking for interpreters

Source: The Interpreter Diaries
Story flagged by: RominaZ

The following excerpts are from the Interpreter Diaries blog:

“The website of the National Network for Interpreting (NNI) is a lot like the Interpreter Training Resources site and Lourdes de Rioja’s video blog, A Word in Your Ear: no matter how often you visit, you always seem to find something new. Aren’t we interpreters lucky that these people take the time to prepare and compile all of these resources for us!

Two resources prepared by the people at NNI to help train interpreting students in public speaking skills.

The first is a slide presentation called Good public speaking – specific skills that walks students through the skills required for good public speaking. The best part comes on the fourth slide, where we are shown two short videos – the first is a case study of how NOT to present a consecutive interpretation, and the second is, of course, an example of how to get it right. The whole exercise takes only about 15 minutes to run through, and it is great for new students who might not have thought about the importance of communication skills in interpreting before.

The second resource, called Good public speaking – register, is a series of slides looking at the use of register in speaking. Here, students are asked to listen to a few short speeches given in different registers, and then given a short quiz (well, two, actually) about what they’ve learned.  I won’t tell you how I did on the quiz part because it’s too embarrassing – maybe if I had actually listened to the speeches, instead of just skipping stright ahead to the questions, I might have done a bit better. Anyway, try it out for yourself and see how you do.” More.

See: The Interpreter Diaries

Students at Washington’s Catholic University part of revival of Irish language

Source: Washington Post
Story flagged by: RominaZ

Fifteen students gathered inside a basement classroom at Catholic University on a recent evening to ponder a laminated vocabulary list that looked like some language instructor’s cruel joke.

The words were jumbles of seemingly random letters, strings of unpronounceable consonants, like the work of a touch typist who inadvertently plants his fingers on the wrong keys.

As the Irish diaspora prepares for St. Patrick’s Day, the Hibernian tongue, once at the brink of extinction, is enjoying a modest revival. A 2009 survey by the Modern Language Association found enrollment in Irish-language classes in the United States numbered 409 students, compared with 278 in 1998, 58 in 1990 and 28 in 1980. Classes at Catholic University drew 18 students this year and 20 last year, the largest enrollments in recent memory.

Catholic may be the only college in the Washington region that has ever mounted a significant Irish language program. The effort is one of the oldest in the nation, funded through an 1896 gift of $50,000 from the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

Irish, or Irish Gaelic, has resurfaced as a subject of scholarship in classrooms and social conversation groups after gradually disappearing from everyday vernacular in pubs and homes. More.

See: Washington Post

Providing Understanding Between Cultures

Source: College of Arts and Science
Story flagged by: Well Translated

Well Translated LLC partnered with the University of Colorado, Boulder to provide interpretation services for their Dialogues on Immigrant Integration project.

Through Dialogues, students gain academic knowledge about immigration while forming relationships within the immigrant community, whose members they see every day. Immigrant staff members further integrate into their workplace and become visible for more than the service they provide at the university. Faculty advance academic goals and build ongoing and meaningful relationships with immigrant service staff.

See: College of Arts and Science

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