A new initiative at Birkbeck for training translators offers opportunities for both students and publishers.
Translator training - a winning formula
2011 saw a new initiative at Birkbeck in training Anglophone translators and editors. Use your language, Use your English is a joint project organised by the Translators Association of the Society of Authors and two universities, Birkbeck, the University of Westminster and (from November 2012), City University. It was supported until October 2012 by funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
Use your language, Use your English offers free online training, which now has over 800 users from around the world, and also events at which leading professionals run workshops in translation into English and in editing. After a successful Taster Event in April 2011, the first Summer School was held in July the same year, with leading translators of seven languages tutoring the students, who included undergraduates and postgraduates, professional translators and many others.
Several publishers dropped in during the week or participated as speakers. Jane Aitken of Gallic Books contributed an untranslated novel by Pascal Garnier for the French group to tackle during the workshop sessions. She then held a competition, offering a publishing contract for the winning translation. Nine of the students entered, and the prize was awarded to Melanie Florence, who produced an outstanding translation of the selected extract.
Winner Melanie France Florence states: 'I can't recommend the Summer School highly enough. It was easily the most worthwhile and intellectually stimulating week I have spent in a very long time. To have been chosen to translate Garnier's A26 at this point goes far beyond anything I had hoped for, and I am delighted and very thankful to have been given this opportunity.'
Naomi Segal, one of the two academic organisers, comments: 'Spurred by the success of the first Summer School, we held another in 2012, adding Chinese and Polish to the languages offered. Again one of our students was commissioned to do her first professional literary translation: Zoe Perry was selected by Stefan Tobler of And Other Stories to co-translate a novel by Brazilian author Rodrigo de Souza Leão. You can read more about the publishing competition here.
The third Summer School will take place at Birkbeck 22-26 July 2013, with one or two further languages, additional training in academic translation and a full unit on Editing skills. For more information, see the Use Your English, Use Your Language web pages or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For 2012, we invite publishers to 'take a leaf out of Jane's book' and contribute novels written in some of the eight other languages (Arabic, Chinese, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish). Another way for publishers to be involved is to offer a bursary or to give a talk at the Summer School.