6 May 2021 (Stephen Spender Trust)
The Stephen Spender Prize is an annual competition for poetry in translation, with categories for young people (14-and-under, 16-and-under, and 18-and-under) as well as an open category for adults. All entrants must be UK or Irish citizens or residents, or pupils at a British School overseas. Translate into English any poem from any language – ranging from Arabic to Uzbek, from Danish to Somali—and win cash prizes!
This year the prize will open for entries on 6 May and close on 16 July 2021.
Each year also features a Spotlight Prize encouraging young people to engage with community languages. For 2021 the focus is on Urdu.
More information about both competitions can be found on the Stephen Spender Trust website.
1 April 2021 (University of Oxford)
The Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators is a brand new competition for MFL learners aged 11-18. The scheme is inspired by the life and work of the great translator Anthea Bell. It aims to promote language-learning across the UK and to inspire creativity in the classroom. By providing teachers with the tools they need to bring translation to life, we hope to motivate more pupils to study modern foreign languages to National 5, Highers and beyond.
In its first year, the prize is for learners of French, German, Mandarin and Spanish.
All interested teachers receive teaching packs for the prize, with ready-made resources designed to be used in class, for home learning or for extra-curricular activities.
See the attached document for more information and visit the website to register.
Posted in: S1-S3
, Senior Phase
, Celebrating Languages
, Language Learning
, News from language & education organisations
25 February 2021 (Heriot-Watt University)
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 Interpreting and Translating 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, Arabic, Chinese, British Sign Language (BSL)).
The Multilingual Debates 2021 will take place online via Zoom on Wednesday 24 March and Friday 26 March.
Visit the Heriot-Watt Multilingual Debate webpage for more information and to register for the free event.
Posted in: Chinese
, Celebrating Languages
, Language Learning
, News from language & education organisations
17 September 2020 (University of Oxford)
The Queen’s College Translation Exchange is inviting expressions of interest in our new competition for schools, The Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators. The prize launches this month with ready-made resources designed to be used around European Day of Languages (26 September) and International Translation Day (30 September). The competition is for students of French, German, Mandarin, or Spanish across four levels in Key Stages 3-5.
The competition is inspired by the 'Juvenes Translatores' competition run by the European Commission, for which UK students are no longer eligible.
More information can be found on the attached document or on the competition website.
Posted in: S1-S3
, Senior Phase
, Celebrating Languages
, Language Learning
, News from language & education organisations
13 May 2020 (RSA)
Gitanjali Patel FRSA believes that translation is a force for change, as well as an untapped resource for teaching students how to harness their linguistic abilities to become critical, yet responsible, global citizens.
Earlier this year, five translators delivered five original workshops in two north London state schools – William Ellis and Camden School for Girls – as part of a Shadow Heroes series supported by the RSA’s Catalyst fund. Our aim was to demonstrate the power of translation in teaching critical thinking and as a socially inclusive endeavour, highlighting the fun, varied and cross-disciplinary nature of working with languages. Following on from our earlier introduction to the series, here are some of our reflections.
Shadow Heroes workshops aim to introduce students to a range of languages and perspectives from outside western Europe, and this series was no exception. Our opening workshop, got students thinking about how our different perspectives, interests and worldviews influence the way we read and interpret, and what effect this might have on our translations. A second workshop on translating Arabic comics, led by Nariman Youssef and Sawad Hussain, introduced concepts of foreignisation and domestication, helping students to make self-aware decisions as they adapted translations for different audiences. Next, Ayça Türkoğlu’s workshop used Turkish pop songs to offer an in-depth look at voice, idiom and onomatopoeia. This emphasis on the complexities of translating voice continued throughout the series. Yuka Harada-Parr guided students in their retranslations of the Japanese dialogue of a Dragon Ball Z trailer, and the final session, on translating slang, drew on the skills built during previous workshops to highlight the power structures evident in the language(s) we use.
The workshops drew on contemporary fiction, film, music and art from across the world. Each looked to shift the idea of language as simply a system for communication and emphasise its grounding in people and societies, cultures and politics. Feedback showed an enthusiastic response from students and teachers at both schools to a broader presentation of language learning.
[..] We would love to hear from teachers and educational practitioners who are interested in getting involved with future iterations of our project, or who have questions about this one.
28 April 2020 (Stephen Spender Trust)
The 2020 Stephen Spender Prize for poetry in translation and the Polish Spotlight are now open for submissions! There are some exciting changes this year – as part of our aim to make the prize more inclusive and vibrant than ever, we are welcoming translations from rap and spoken word, as well as from BSL poetry. There will also be more prizes and commendations in our youth categories.
Stephen Spender Prize
Translate into English any poem from any language – ranging from Arabic to Uzbek, from Danish to Somali—and win cash prizes! There are categories for young people (14-and-under, 16-and-under, and 18-and-under) as well as an open category for adults.
The ‘Polish Spotlight’
This is a special strand of the Stephen Spender Prize for the translation of Polish poems. Open to all UK or Irish citizens or residents, or pupils at British Schools overseas, there are usually three age categories for entrants: 18-and-under, 14-and-under and 10-and-under. Additionally this year there will also be a 16-and-under category. This year, we are inviting entrants to translate one poem from our curated selection of Polish poetry.
Visit the website for more information about both strands of the competition and submit entries by 17 July 2020.
21 February 2020 (BBC)
Put crottin de chèvre into Google Translate, and you'll be told it means goat dung.
So if it appeared on a menu, you might pass. Alas, you would be ruling out a delicious cheese made of goat's milk that is often served as a starter in France.
Such misunderstandings are why Google admits that its free tool, used by about 500 million people, is not intended to replace human translators.
Tourists might accept a few misunderstandings because the technology is cheap and convenient. But when the stakes are higher, perhaps in business, law or medicine, these services often fall short.
"Using Google Translate can lead to some serious errors, especially when words have multiple meanings, which is often the case in fields such as law or engineering," says Samantha Langley, a former lawyer who is now a court-approved French-to-English legal translator based in Meribel, France.
That is not to say professional translators do not use computer assisted translation (CAT) tools. More sophisticated applications can help them take the donkey work out of repetitive translations.
CATs are even used as part of modern language degree courses these days. So how good are they?
10 February 2020 (Slator)
The European Commission announced the winners of the 2019–2020 edition of Juvenes Translatores on January 30, 2020. Twenty-eight winners bested a field that saw 3,116 students from 740 secondary schools participate.
It was the first time since its inception in 2007 that Europe’s annual competition for young translators was conducted completely online. The students, who were given the option to translate between any two of the EU’s 24 official languages, used 150 of 552 possible language combinations.
As in most other years, the highest number of participants came from Italy and Germany. This time, however, the United Kingdom dislodged France to take third place in terms of number of entries, in a year that marked the UK’s leaving the European Union the day after the contest winners were announced.
7 February 2020 (SCILT)
We have a variety of job profiles on our website showcasing careers where languages are in use. The latest addition to our collection comes from Cassandra Scott, an independent translator based in Edinburgh.
Cassandra tells us in a competitive job market it's pays to stand out from the crowd with a skill that not everyone has. So if offered the chance to learn a language, her advice is take it!
Teachers share her profile with your pupils to support the Developing the Young Workforce initiative and highlight the benefits of language learning as a life skill.
21 January 2020 (Heriot-Watt University)
Heriot-Watt University's Multilingual Debate is an annual event that showcases the interpreting skills of undergraduate and postgraduate students. 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, Arabic, Chinese, British Sign Language (BSL)).
The audience is mainly made up of pupils coming from Scottish and English secondary schools, along with university undergraduate students considering entering the interpreting profession, as well as government and local authority representatives, The audience participates by listening to the arguments, putting questions to the speakers in the languages represented and voting on the motion.
The Multilingual Debate 2020 will take place on Wednesday 25 March at Heriot-Watt University's Edinburgh campus. Two sessions are available and bookings are now being taken. Schools can book up to 15 tickets free of charge.
Visit the website for more information.
Posted in: Chinese
, Language Learning
, News from language & education organisations
10 January 2020 (SCHOLAR)
The next online tutor sessions for Higher and Advanced Higher Modern Languages take place on Monday 13 January 2020.
- 6:00pm - Higher Modern Languages: Interactive translation
- 6:45pm - Advanced Higher Modern Languages: Interactive translation
Visit the SCHOLAR website for further information.
9 October 2019 (BBC)
When a family arrives in a new country, often the children are first to pick up the new language - and inevitably, they become the family translators. Researcher Dr Humera Iqbal describes what it's like to be a child responsible for dealing with doctors and landlords, bank staff or restaurant suppliers.
"Baba! Baba!" calls out the driving instructor. Thirteen-year-old Jiawei sits at the back of the car while her dad takes his driving lesson. Father and daughter exchange confused glances, then burst out laughing. The instructor, who has heard this Chinese word during one of Jiawei's father's previous lessons, looks puzzled.
"Doesn't 'baba' mean 'move forward' in Chinese?" he asks.
"No," says Jiawei. "It means 'father'!"
Jiawei was in the unusual position of acting as an interpreter for her dad as he learned to drive. She took notes and repeated in Chinese exactly what the instructor said in English - things like "Turn left at the roundabout," or "Slow down at the junction." She's proud that she helped her father pass his test.
"It was quite fun and I thought I was doing something to help my family," she says, looking back. "I was also learning how to drive myself without knowing it, doing something that other kids didn't get to do."
A year earlier, Jiawei's family had moved from China to the UK and while she had managed to pick up basic English at school, her father was struggling. Jiawei became a crucial link helping him find his way in a new country.
Thousands of migrant children in the UK translate for their families every day. My colleague Dr Sarah Crafter and I have come across child interpreters, some as young as seven, helping their parents communicate in shops, banks, and even police stations. It can be stressful for them, especially when adults are rude or aggressive.
23 August 2019 (European Commission)
The European Commission's Directorate-General for Translation (DG Translation) runs Juvenes Translatores 2019, an online translation contest for secondary schools in the European Union. Up to now, we’ve been asking Juvenes Translatores contestants to put pen to paper. Now we want to bring them closer to the real world of professional translation world by going digital. This time round, contestants will be translating online for the first time.
Interested schools can enter 2-5 participants who must have been born in 2002. Schools can register on the official website between 2 September, 12 noon (Central European time), and 20 October 2019, 12 noon (Central European time). A random electronic draw will be held to select schools for the contest from among those that have registered. The contest will be held on 21 November 2019.
Visit the Juvenes Translatores website for more information.
20 August 2019 (BBC)
Google says it has made it possible for a smartphone to interpret and "read aloud" sign language.
The tech firm has not made an app of its own but has published algorithms which it hopes developers will use to make their own apps.
Until now, this type of software has only worked on PCs.
Campaigners from the hearing-impaired community have welcomed the move, but say the tech might struggle to fully grasp some conversations.
29 September 2018 (Daily Record)
Teen classic Diary of a Wimpy Kid is to get a braw makeover - being translated into Scots for the first time.
Jeff Kinney’s best-selling book series has been given a Caledonian re-vamp by Itchy Coo, the Scots language imprint for children at Black & White Publishing,
The first book in the series is “Diary o’ a Wimpy Wean”, re-worked by Scots writer Thomas Clark.
In the translation, twelve-year-old hero, Greg Hefley, tells the reader all about his life in modern Scots patter.
25 September 2018 (BBC News)
Translation apps are getting better, but they're still not perfect, particularly for minority languages. Can artificial intelligence and deep neural networks help iron out the glitches?
18 September 2018 (BBC)
Digital translation apps were put to the test by the One Show on Tuesday 18 September, but guest Michael Palin expressed the view that there was no substitute for trying to speak the language on your travels. The programme is available on iPlayer until 18 October 2018 (NB - registration required. View from 13:54).
13 September 2018 (British Council )
Tony Calderbank has been translating from Arabic to English since 1992. He shares some of the knowledge he has acquired along the way.
1 September 2018 (European Commission)
The European Commission has just launched Juvenes Translatores 2018, a translation contest for schools in the European Union.
Schools wishing to participate must respond by registering electronically on the website between 1 September and 20 October 2018.
Selected schools will be able to enter between two and five students, who must have been born in 2001. Each student can choose to translate from any official EU language into any other official EU language.
Further information, rules and criteria can be found on the Juvenes Translatores website.
Posted in: French
, Celebrating Languages
, News from language & education organisations
7 June 2018 (Stephen Spender Trust)
The "Polish Spotlight" is a new strand of the Stephen Spender Prize for 2018, with entries in three categories: 18-and-under, 14-and-under and 10-and-under. You do not have to be fluent in Polish to enter the prize: it is open to all those interested in trying their hand at translation. To enter translate any Polish poem into English.
Resources for teachers to introduce poetry translation as a classroom activity, and suggestions of Polish poems for translation, are available on the Stephen Spender Trust website.
Entries should be submitted by 5 October 2018.
1 March 2018 (The Sun)
According to Yahoo News, several sources "familiar with the matter" have confirmed Amazon's plans to turn Alexa into an expert linguist.
It means that people who own Alexa devices – like Amazon Echo speakers – might not need to learn new languages in the future.
1 March 2018 (Guardian)
In 2017, working with the Society of Authors and with support from the British Council, I established the TA first translation prize, using my €25,000 (£22,000) winnings from another award, the International Dublin literary award. Its aim was to highlight the work of translators new to the profession, and of the editors who work with them.
9 January 2018 (Writing Chinese)
The University of Chinese Writing Chinese Network runs an annual translation competition. This year it is open exclusively to secondary school students. The winning writer will be mentored by a professional translator and have their translation published in a journal.
The competition deadline is midnight (GMT) on 26th February 2018.
28 November 2017 (The Conversation)
Language learning will be vital for the future of the UK economy in a post Brexit world. This is in part why employers are desperately looking for graduates with language skills – and, more importantly, intercultural awareness and empathy.
According to a CBI Pearson Education Survey 58% of employers are dissatisfied with school leavers’ language skills. The survey also found that 55% of employers would like to see improvements in students’ intercultural awareness.
Similarly, the British Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Survey of International Trade states that a large majority of non-exporters cite language and cultural factors as barriers to success.
10 November 2017 (The Scotsman)
The first book in the Harry Potter series has been translated into Scots. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stane marks the 20th anniversary of the first publication of the boy wizard’s adventures.
The first book in the series introduces Harry as he discovers that he is a wizard and leaves his family to go to Hogwarts and study magic.
Matthew Fitt, who translated the novel, said: “I wanted tae dae this for a lang time but kent I wanted tae get it richt. I’m that honoured tae be the Scots translator o this warld-famous Harry Potter buik and chuffed tae ma bitts that Scots speakers, baith young and no sae young, can noo read the novel again, this time in oor gallus braw Mither Tongue.”
17 October 2017 (THE)
Language is often cited as one of the main obstacles to universities’ internationalisation efforts, blamed for everything from the low number of UK students studying abroad to Japan’s lagging behind on numbers of foreign academics and internationally co-authored publications.
So could new technology allow students and academics to transcend language barriers – and therefore transform international higher education?
Earlier this month Google launched Pixel Buds – a new set of wireless earbud headphones that deliver real-time translation between 40 different languages using Google Translate on a Pixel smartphone.
Bragi’s Dash Pro earbuds deliver the same feature using the iTranslate app on an iPhone.
Colin Mitchell, learning technologist at Leeds Beckett University, said that the technology has the potential to benefit scholars and students.
10 October 2017 (European Commission)
Juvenes Translatores is the annual translation contest for 17-year old students (those born in 2000). The 2017 contest will take place on 23 November.
To participate, schools must register first — between 1 September and 20 October 2017.
The materials for the Juvenes Translatores are available to download on the day of the competition so that schools can make use of them even if they are not selected to take part. Perhaps you may wish to use them to organise a competition in your own school?”
See the website for full details.
5 October 2017 (The Independent)
Google has built a pair of headphones that can translate foreign languages in real time.
The Pixel Buds are like a real-world equivalent of the Babel fish, the famous fictional creature from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
They both translate and enable you to speak in foreign languages, and worked incredibly impressively in a demo at Google’s launch event this week, enabling an English speaker to hold a smooth conversation with a Swedish speaker.
28 June 2017 (The Scotsman)
As the literary world celebrates the 20th anniversay of Harry Potter first hitting the bookstands, a new version of the first book is to be published in Scots language. ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stane’ will become the 80th translation of the global phenonenon, telling the introduction to the world of JK Rowling’s wizard hero.
20 June 2017 (The Independent)
A new device that delivers foreign language translations directly to your ear almost instantly has just gone on sale.
The Translate One2One has been hailed as a real-world equivalent of the Babel fish, the famous fictional creature from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
It’s powered by IBM’s supercomputer, Watson, and takes between three and five seconds to complete a translation and play it to you.
It currently works across English, Japanese, French, Italian, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, German and Chinese.
However, both people in a conversation need to be wearing one.
Lingmo International, the company behind it, claims the Translate One2One is clever enough to avoid common translation stumbling blocks.
6 June 2017 (NBC)
Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, the dream of speaking to anyone regardless of language is closer to reality than ever.
Scientists say there are more than 6,900 languages in the world, and anyone who’s traveled abroad knows how hard it can be to get even simple points across in a foreign tongue.
Breaking down language barriers has long been a dream of science fiction — “Star Trek” had its Universal Translator to help the Enterprise crew understand exotic alien speech, and C3PO from “Star Wars” knew more than 6 million forms of communication from across the galaxy.
Now, thanks to advances in real-time translation software, the dream of speaking to anyone regardless of language is closer to reality than ever. Experts say human translators won’t be out of work anytime soon — they’re vital for legal proceedings, diplomatic discussions, and scenarios when exact word choice and tone are necessary — but new inexpensive digital tools allow people to speak easily in situations where communication once seemed impossible.
With software from the Austrian-based tech company iTranslate and a compatible set of wireless earphones, you can now have nearly 40 languages translated directly into your ear. But the tool doesn’t help users understand everything they’d hear on a crowded street yet. Currently, it’s focused on letting people speak with someone else using connected smartphones tethered to iTranslate-enabled earphones. It can facilitate basic transactions and everyday small talk between people who until recently couldn’t exchange a word.
9 May 2017 (Stephen Spender Trust)
The 2017 Stephen Spender Prize is open for entries. Entrants are invited to submit an English translation of a poem from any language, ancient or modern. As always, there are prizes in three categories – Open, 18-and-under and 14-and-under – and the competition is open to UK and Irish citizens and residents.
Entry deadline is Friday 26 May 2017.
Visit the website for further information and submission guidelines.
30 March 2017 (ALL)
The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, the French Embassy in London, the Institut Français du Royaume-Uni and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) are looking for the next generation of translators into English.
Higher Education Institutions across the UK are being invited to nominate their most promising undergraduate student(s) to take part in a one-day exclusive Masterclass in Translation to be held at Magdalene College, University of Cambridge, on Thursday, 27th April 2017 with the opportunity for two Masterclass students to visit the Frankfurt Book Fair this year.
This call is open to undergraduate students only. Students must have a proficiency in either German or French (Level B1 and higher, according to CEFR). A combination of the two languages is very welcome but not required.
The candidates and the nominators are asked to complete the application form and send it electronically to email@example.com
by Tuesday 18 April 2017.
For full terms and conditions, visit the Association for Language Learning (ALL) website.
3 March 2017 (Goethe-Institut)
Literary translators – and translators more generally – are often forced to spend the majority of their time alone, glued to their computers and/or dictionaries. Though many translators are very sociable creatures who enjoy passionate discussions about foreign languages, native tongues, culture, society, politics and (even) grammar! The Translators’ Stammtisch [German; a regular’s table, usually in a pub] is offers a monthly opportunity for literary translators (mainly working into English, though open to translators of all language combinations) to get together and discuss their work and other joys and issues related to literary translation. The theme of the (first) three meetings is “Dialects, vernaculars and other localisms”.
The Translators’ Stammtisch is open to all translators and will meet on Tuesday 7 March 2017 (with a talk by Donal McLaughlin), Thursday 27 April 2017, and Tuesday 16 May 2017, from 6.30pm to 8pm at the Goethe-Institut Glasgow.
Visit the website for more information and to register for these free events.
17 February 2017 (Alliance Française)
The Alliance Française de Glasgow will be running a new translation course specifically designed for students who are currently studying French at University. This course will increase language skills and should greatly help prepare for exams where translation is involved.
This new 5-week course will take place on Wednesdays between 3.45-5.45pm starting Wednesday 1 March.
Visit the website for more information and to enrol by Saturday 25 February.
12 December 2016 (Heriot-Watt University)
Heriot-Watt University's Multilingual Debate is an annual event showcasing the interpreting skills of undergraduate and postgraduate students.
The 2017 Debates will take place on Wednesday 22 March with two multilingual teams arguing for and against a motion of topical interest in a range of languages. There are two Debates; one in the morning, one in the afternoon.
The Multilingual Debates are open to schools, colleges and universities and aim to stimulate interest and dialogue among young people in the international politics and social issues of the modern world whilst also setting language acquisition in a realistic context.
The topics for the 2017 Debates have just been announced and can be viewed on the YouTube video.
Visit the Heriot-Watt website for further information.
Posted in: Senior Phase
, Cross-Curricular Working
, Promoting Languages
, News from language & education organisations
23 November 2016 (Wired)
Google has previously taught its artificial intelligence to play games, and it's even capable of creating its own encryption. Now, its language translation tool has used machine learning to create a 'language' all of its own.
In September, the search giant turned on its Google Neural Machine Translation (GNMT) system to help it automatically improve how it translates languages. The machine learning system analyses and makes sense of languages by looking at entire sentences – rather than individual phrases or words.
Following several months of testing, the researchers behind the AI have seen it be able to blindly translate languages even if it's never studied one of the languages involved in the translation. "An example of this would be translations between Korean and Japanese where Korean⇄Japanese examples were not shown to the system," the Mike Schuster, from Google Brain wrote in a blogpost.
The team said the system was able to make "reasonable" translations of the languages it had not been taught to translate. In one instance, a research paper published alongside the blog, says the AI was taught Portuguese→English and English→Spanish. It was then able to make translations between Portuguese→Spanish.
11 November 2016 (Washington Post)
The extraterrestrial “heptapods” at the center of the new sci-fi thriller “Arrival” aren’t the only strange, poorly understood creatures in the film. The other aliens, it turns out, are linguists, represented by Amy Adams’s Dr. Louise Banks, an academic field researcher who is recruited by U.S. military intelligence to help communicate with a race of seven-legged E.T.s that have descended on Earth, with intentions unclear, from another world.
“A lot of people don’t know what linguists do, or even that we exist, apart from some idea that we just translate lots of languages,” says Jessica Coon, an associate professor of linguistics who consulted on the film and provided a loose model for Louise. Coon unsuccessfully lobbied the filmmakers to change a line describing Louise, arguing that it misrepresents what linguists do: “You’re at the top of everyone’s list,” Forest Whitaker’s Army colonel says to Louise, “when it comes to translations.”
2 October 2016 (The Guardian)
Author Lauren Collins explains how she and her French husband translated their feelings without resorting to Franglais.
29 September 2016 (The Herald)
An author has translated Roald Dahl's iconic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - into Scots.
Novelist Matthew Fitt translated the children's classic because there are too few books for young Scots to read in their own language.
Scots is a West Germanic dialect spoken in Scotland.
It was the language of the medieval Scottish court, spoken by Mary Queen of Scots and James VI.
Now there are 1.6 million speakers of Scots.
Although Roald Dahl's works have been translated into 58 different languages worldwide, this will be the first time the book has been available in Scots.
29 September 2016 (BBC)
To celebrate International Translation Day, we asked translators from across the globe to tell us their favourite expressions. Here are 11 of the most surprising.
1 September 2016 (European Commission)
Juvenes Translatores is our annual translation contest for 17-year old students. The 2016 contest will take place on 24 November — it will be for students born in 1999.
To participate, schools must register first — between 1 September and 20 October 2016.
Visit the website for full details.
28 June 2016 (BBC News)
Imagine a far flung land where you can catch a ride from the Jackie Chan bus stop to a restaurant called Translate Server Error, and enjoy a hearty feast of children sandwiches and wife cake all washed down with some evil water.
If such a rich lunch gets stuck in your gnashers, you'll be pleased to know there are plenty of Methodists on hand to remove your teeth.
And if by this point you've had enough of the bus, fly home in style on a wide-boiled aircraft. But whatever you do, please remember that when you land at the airport, eating the carpet is strictly prohibited.
No, I haven't gone mad. These are all real-world examples of howlers by auto-translation software.
Joking aside, poor translations can have big implications for firms who run the risk of offending customers and losing business, or at least looking very amateurish.
21 April 2016 (Southern Reporter)
Borders language expert Brian Holton is launching his 16th book this evening in Melrose – unveiling a collection of Chinese poetry translated into Scots.
Staunin Ma Lane is a fairly unique specimen, in that the author translates classic Chinese poems into not only English, but also Scots as well.
In fact, Brian is listed in Wikipedia as “the only currently-publishing Chinese-Scots translator in the world”.
“One of my aims is to show Chinese poetry is not necessarily as serious as people might expect,” he says. “There are a good range of voices to be heard.”
It turns out that there are social similarities between Chinese poets of the eighth century and Scots of today, and their poems can bring to light an affinity with alcohol, loneliness and philosophical meandering.
26 February 2016 (Alliance Française)
Improve your translating skills at the Alliance Française!
They will be running a new translation course specifically designed for students who are currently studying French at University. This course will increase your language skills and should greatly help prepare for exams where translation is involved (version & thème).
This new course will take place on Wednesdays between 3.45-5.45pm and will start on Wednesday 2nd March for 5 weeks.
The cost to enrol is £60 per student.
Please visit or contact AF Language Office if you wish to enrol.
13 February 2016 (The Independent)
"Language barrier" may be a phrase lost in translation to the next generation.
By 2025, when someone speaks to you in a foreign language, an earpiece will be able instantly to translate their words into your native language, Hillary Clinton’s former innovation advisor Alec Ross has written in The Wall Street Journal.
[...] The earpieces won’t necessarily spell the end of foreign language learning, however.
“I can't imagine a time when we don't value the ability to communicate in languages other than our own”, Mr Ross told The Independent. “But I can't help but think that this will have some kind of impact for the future of foreign language learning. Exactly what, I don't know.”
2 February 2016 (Stephen Spender Trust)
The 2016 Stephen Spender Prize is open for entries. Entrants are invited to submit an English translation of a poem from any language, ancient or modern. As always, there are prizes in three categories – Open, 18-and-under and 14-and-under – and the competition is open to UK and Irish citizens and residents.
Closing date: Friday 27 May.
7 December 2015 (The Language of Football)
Marc Joss is a London-based football translator and interpreter. He speaks Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and English.
Marc has been involved in a host of high-profile translation projects including Guillem Balagué’s Messi, Barça: The Official Illustrated History of FC Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo: The Biography, as well as translating for the English version of Marca.com. He also works with Premier League clubs as an interpreter.
In the first of a two part interview, we talk to Marc about his translation work.
26 October 2015 (European Commission)
Congratulations to the Scottish schools selected as part of the UK's representation in this year's Juvenes Translatores contest.
The Juvenes Translatores is an annual translation contest for 17 year old students and takes place this year on 26 November.
Good luck to pupils from Bishopbriggs Academy in Glasgow, George Watson's College in Edinburgh, Inverclyde Academy in Greenock, Morrison's Academy in Crieff and Plockton High School!
22 October 2015 (EuroTalk blog)
Interview with Alexandra Turner – translator, writer, editor.
12 October 2015 (Goethe-Institut)
DAAD Translation Competition is open to secondary school pupils, undergraduates, postgraduates and anybody else who feels up to the challenge of translating a passage of German literature into English.
1 October 2015 (ZDNet)
Student Hadeel Ayoub has invented a smart glove which converts sign language into text and speech.
Those with difficulties with spoken language or hearing can find communicating difficult. This problem may be intensified if others do not understand sign language, which replaces words with gestures. However, a student from Goldsmiths, University of London has decided to tackle the problem with a glove that converts these gestures into understandable text on a display or audible dialogue.
30 September 2015 (Oxford Dictionaries blog)
To celebrate the International Translation Day, we called on several translators and asked them what their favorite thing about translating is.
17 September 2015 (Central European University)
If you want to help with ad-hoc and short-term translations for refugees, there is a Facebook Group you can join.
3 September 2015 (THE)
Dale Salwak explains why he focuses on the people carrying out the translation process and their effects on the text we read.
28 August 2015 (European Commission)
The annual translation contest for 17 year olds will take place on 26 November. This year’s theme will be the ‘European Year for Development’.
Schools must register between 1 September and 20 October.
Full details are available on the Juvenes Translatores website.
13 August 2015 (Edinburgh International Book Festival)
The Edinburgh International Book Festival kicks off this weekend with a varied programme for all ages bringing brilliant writers from around the world for events, workshops and performances, with a big focus on translation and language.
- Trading Stories - Truly great stories are carried from culture to culture, across languages, over national borders and down the generations. This year’s globetrotting Book Festival presents great stories from a spectacular range of cultures. Follow the think to access the full programme.
- Talking Translation - Events with writers and translators who investigate issues of language, identity and writing, both here and abroad.
- Mexican Writing - Three workshops with Gabriel Orozco exploring Mexican fiction, essays and poetry.
- British Sign Language Events - A list of events currently scheduled to have British Sign Language interpretation.
Full details of all the events on offer at this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival and how to book can be found on the Festival website. The event runs until 31 August 2015.
4 August 2015 (TES)
Translation is often dismissed by language teachers, particularly at school, as irrelevant, absurdly esoteric, an indulgence of academics. They prefer to focus on listening and speaking, which is somehow deemed more 'real'. But the practice of translation is what teaches us to know language intimately, and is one of the most efficient methods of learning the craft of writing. Translation requires us to read closely, to read repeatedly, to consider context but recognise specificity, to mull over alternative readings and weigh them in the balance, to exercise judgement, to discriminate and make informed decisions. It provides disciplined parameters for creative writing, and an invaluable principle of exclusion, rather than the no-holds-barred anything-goes randomness of 'free composition'.
11 June 2015 (THE)
Scottish institution strengthens its identity as a centre for singing and languages with pioneering new course.
4 May 2015 (Edinburgh International Book Festival)
Tickets are now on sale for the Edinburgh International Book Festival Baillie Gifford Schools Programme, with lots of exciting events running from 24 August to 1 September 2015.
This year the programme has a real focus on languages and internationalism, featuring authors with stories from afar; events about translation and adaptation; and an exploration of the different ways that stories can be told. We’ve also got some language-themed CPD events running throughout the Festival. Find out more through the following links, or visit the website to see the programme and booking details.
- The Gift of Bilingualism
Thursday 20 August, 7.00pm – 8.00pm
How can bilingual families be supported and each mother tongue acknowledged and respected?
- Poetic Translation with the Scottish Poetry Library
Thursday 27 August, 5.00pm–6.00pm
Think you can’t translate a poem from one language into another? This event will prove you wrong. Piloted in Edinburgh schools, this is a flexible approach to primary school language learning and creative writing with fun, fast-paced exercises.
Event for primary schools:
20 February 2015 (Microsoft UK teachers blog)
With Skype with its real time translation feature (Skype users to get real-time language translating tool, BBC News, 16 December 2014) and other software that offer translation into language and even Klingon. Is there a need to teach languages in schools?
Helene Fyffe, one of our ex-interns is looking into that very question through her dissertation. She would like to get your thoughts and ideas. Please take some time to complete her survey.
10 February 2015 (Heriot-Watt University)
In response to feedback from students, graduates, and the profession Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh has introduced several new language programmes for September 2015 entry:
- MSc Interpreting
- MSc Translating
- MSc Arabic-English Translating
- MSc Chinese-English Translating
- MSc Cultural Resource Management (delivered in English)
More information is available on the Heriot-Watt website.
14 January 2015 (BBC News)
Google says its Translate app can now act as an interpreter, with the addition of a real-time voice-translation mode. It said the updated app would automatically recognise languages being spoken and translate them.
The update, launched on Wednesday, also allowed users to instantly translate messages using their phone's camera. But one academic said it would fail to understand the more complex linguistic tools.
23 December 2014 (The Courier)
Internet giants Google are being urged to add the Gaelic language to the database of its widely used online translation service.
It follows a successful campaign in New Zealand which resulted in the search engine service agreeing to include Maori to its translator app, despite a core number of just 30,000 speakers.
Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser called on the Scottish Government and the taxpayer-funded Gaelic Board to work with Google to feature the centuries-old Celtic tongue alongside Welsh and Irish.
16 December 2014 (The Guardian)
Don’t know your bonjours from your buongiornos? You’re not alone: three-quarters of British adults can’t speak a foreign language competently. But the benefits of being able to communicate with overseas clients, suppliers and buyers are huge – as are the costs of lacking that facility.
4 November 2014 (CBS News)
Skype gives its users a way to easily communicate between two countries. Its new feature, Skype Translator, could soon make it easy to communicate between two languages.
Microsoft announced Monday that Skype is accepting applications for a limited number of openings to preview, test and comment on the translation service, due later this year.
The translator is being developed by Skype and the engineers behind Microsoft's automatic translator, which is integrated into various Microsoft products, including Office, Internet Explorer and Bing.
19 September 2014 (The Guardian)
Could Microsoft’s Star Trek-inspired translation service ever replace professional human translation?
2 September 2014 (European Commission)
The eighth Juvenes Translatores translation contest for 17-year-old students in secondary schools will be held on 27 November 2014.
To participate, schools must register first — between 1 September and 20 October (see the rules on the website for details). This year's theme will be "European identity".
The winners (one per Member State) are invited to Brussels in spring the following year to
attend an award ceremony at the European Commission's headquarters.
The winners' teachers are also invited to the award ceremony, in recognition of their work in
motivating their students to learn languages.
For further information about the competition and to register visit the Juvenes Translatores 2014 website. An information sheet with the key details can also be found on the attached letter from Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.
11 April 2014 (TESS)
Students debate European politics at multilingual event.
“I can’t see any hands going up. No one has a question for the speakers? I would really like you to ask some questions!”
No translation was needed for the brief awkward silence at the end of a multilingual debate in Edinburgh as the chairman opened up the discussion to the floor on the impact of Scottish independence on the future of the European Union.
But it was soon clear that the fast-approaching referendum in Scotland was fuelling young people’s interest in languages and politics. The occasion, hosted by Heriot-Watt University last week, attracted more than 400 secondary school students from across the country.
13 March 2014 (The Herald)
The Royal Yacht Britannia now has the world's most translated audio tour, with 27 different languages available for visitors. In response to customer demand, Brazilian, Portuguese, Turkish, Thai, Cantonese and Punjabi were all added this year to the list of languages on offer at the Edinburgh-berthed ship.
7 February 2014 (Guardian - The case for languages learning series)
In languages news this week, strong reactions to the Super Bowl advert, coding might be re-classified as a language and a London sixth former is named Europe's best young translator.
30 January 2014 (Alliance Française)
Improve your translating skills at the Alliance Française!
From Wednesday 19th February, we will be running a new translation course specifically designed for students who are studying French at University. This course will increase your language skills and should greatly help prepare for exams where translation is involved (version & thème).
This new course will take place on Wednesdays between 3.45-5.45pm and is due to start on
Wednesday 19th February for 5 weeks.
The cost to enrol is £60 per student.
Please visit or contact the Language Office before Wednesday 12th February if you wish to enrol. Places are strictly limited and cannot be reserved until payment has been received.
Visit the Alliance Française website for further information and to download the enrolment form.
25 January 2014 (Stephen Spender Trust)
The Times Stephen Spender Prize for poetry translation 2014 has been launched. Entrants should translate a poem from any language, classical or modern, into English to enter this competition. Winning entries will be published in a booklet and cash prizes will be awarded. The closing date for entries is Friday 23rd May 2014.
Translation agency Lingo24 reports strong rise in sales
20 January 2014 (BBC News)
Translation agency Lingo24 is planning further expansion after reporting strong sales growth last year. The Edinburgh-based company said it hoped to make an announcement on a fundraising exercise before the end of March but did not elaborate. It follows a year of solid growth, with revenue climbing 12% to £7.5m.
8 October 2013 (The Guardian)
The number of British universities offering specialist modern-language courses is in sharp decline. Is it possible that this collapse might be partly down to the rise of free software such as Google Translate? After all, why waste several years of your life perfecting every last conversational nuance of a second language when you can listlessly prod "CAN I HAVE SOME CHIPS?" on to your phone and then wave a screen reading "POSSO TER UM POUCO CHIPS?" in the face of a disappointed Portuguese waiter?
25 September 2013 (The Guardian)
While useful for communicating the basics, machine and online translation tools still can't grasp the nuances of language.
8 August 2013 (REAL)
Amid ever-growing interest, the European Commission will run its Juvenes Translatores translation contest for the seventh time in 2013.
The contest is organised for 17-year-olds in secondary schools throughout the European Union. They will translate a 1-page text between any 2 languages from among the EU's 24 official languages. This year the theme of the texts will be "citizens".
The authors of the best translation from each EU country will be invited to Brussels to receive an award, meet the Commissioner for multilingualism and see how professional EU translators work.
Schools can register for the contest from 1 September to 20 October 2013.
Follow the link to the website for more information.
24 April 2013 (The Guardian)
German president Joachim Gauck's cost-cutting proposal has been welcomed – but not by all.
2 April 2013 (The Economist)
Translation and interpretation in matters of diplomacy is tricky. Language enthusiasts particularly enjoy the story of the Treaty of Wuchale, signed between Ethiopia and Italy in 1889. The text didn’t read the same in Amharic and Italian. The former guaranteed Ethiopia’s king Menelik II a good measure of autonomy in conducting foreign affairs. The latter established an Italian protectorate with no flexibility. The culprit: one verb, forming a permissive clause in Amharic and a mandatory one in Italian. Six years later, the differing interpretations led to war. Ethiopia won.
If only the Ethiopians and Italians had modern translators at their side. Treaty translation is big business today.
12 March 2013 (The Telegraph)
The Communities and Local Government secretary said translating documents was a “very expensive and poor use of taxpayers’ money”. Mr Pickles told MPs in the House of Commons he was concerned that the costs were being driven by human rights and equality laws and actually served to divide communities rather than unite them.
26 February 2013 (EurActiv)
A new translation engine that can cut faster through the rarefied vocabulary of Brussels technocrats in 23 European languages will be rolled out by the European Commission in July in an effort to cut costs.
7 February 2013 (THE)
(Relates to England) Imperial College London is consulting on plans to move or close its Translation Studies Unit. The options follow a review that found that the unit's activities were "not integral to the delivery of Imperial's academic strategy". Management has proposed exploring plans to move the unit to another institution or, if this is not feasible, to close it.
28 January 2013 (European Commission)
The names of the 27 winners of the European Commission’s annual EU Young Translator Juvenes Translatores contest for secondary school pupils are published today (28 January, list of winning pupils/schools below). More than 3 000 pupils from 750 schools sat the contest in November 2012. The winners – one per EU country – will be invited to an award ceremony in Brussels on 11 April to receive their prizes from Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou and will also have the chance to see the Commission's translators at work.
“The contest is an excellent way to promote language learning and translation as a possible career. Language skills are a fantastic asset: they broaden the mind and can boost employability, something which is especially important in the current economic environment," said Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.
25 January 2013 (Virtual Strategy Magazine)
The European Parliament is to cut its translation services to reduce costs by approximately €8 million per year.
16 January 2013 (The Telegraph)
A guide to avoiding some common foreign language mistakes.
8 January 2013 (Stephen Spender Trust)
The Times Stephen Spender Prize for poetry translation 2013 has been launched. Entrants should translate a poem from any language, classical or modern, into English to enter this competition. Winning entries will be published in a booklet and cash prizes will be awarded. The closing date for entries is Friday 24th May 2013.