• 30th September 2014 • International Translation Day

• Giornata Mondiale della Traduzione • 

Nel 2012, Alessandra Martelli scriveva così nel suo post celebrativo di questo giorno speciale: “I traduttori sono in mezzo a voi: vi facciamo compagnia quando leggete l’ultimo romanzo di Kathy Reichs sull’autobus, vi spieghiamo come utilizzare il frullatore nuovo, ci assicuriamo che possiate comprendere i rischi legati all’assunzione di un farmaco, traduciamo attentamente termini e condizioni d’uso dei servizi internet che usate ogni giorno (sì, anche le clausole scritte piccole piccole!), vi siamo accanto sul divano quando vedete lo spot di un’automobile tedesca in TV … […] Siamo in mezzo a voi. Pensateci, almeno ogni tanto”.

▷ Grazie a tutti i traduttori che svolgono ogni giorno un mestiere difficile, silenzioso ed a volte solitario.
▷ Grazie a tutti i linguisti e funamboli della parola; piccoli e grandi acrobati che camminano su quel filo sottile che separa le culture, cercando di non inciampare sulle sfumature di ogni lingua.
▷ Grazie per la dedizione, l’impegno e la voglia di comunicare con cui ogni giorno si affrontano dure giornate di lavoro o di studio.

▷Grazie a noi, eredi di San Girolamo.◃
Non vi deluderemo.

• Happy International Translation Day! • 30th September 2014 •
• Happy International Translation Day! • 30th September 2014 • 国际翻译日快乐!

• International Translation Day •

In 2012, in the post she wrote to celebrate this special day for translators, Alessandra Martelli stated, “Translators are all around you. We keep you company while you are reading the last novel by Kathy Reichs travelling on the bus, we explain you how to use your new blender, we make sure you understand risks associated with medication, we carefully translate usage terms and conditions of the Internet services you use every day (yes, even those clauses that are in very small print!), we sit next to you on the sofa when you are watching a German car spot advertising on TV  … […] We are among you. Think about us, once in a while.”


▷ Thank you to all of the translators who perform a very hard, silent and (sometimes) lone job.
▷ Thank you to all of the linguists and funambulists performing with words. You are young and mature acrobats who perform the tightrope walking on the thin line between cultures, trying not to trip on the nuances of every language.
▷ Thank you for being so devoted, for your wholehearted commitment and the longing for communication, which are the strenghts that make you successfully deal with though working days and studies. Every day.

▷ Thanks to US, translators and heirs of Saint Jerome.◃
We won’t disappoint you. I promise.



One Sec Translations

One Sec Translations

One Sec Translations – working on rebranding 🙂

[Repost] If you could learn any EU language, which would you learn, and why?

If you could learn any EU language, which would you learn, and why?


As someone who decided to study Japanese, French and Irish (not the most typical of language combinations), I have always been fascinated by the reasons why people choose to learn certain languages. Because they enjoy the food and culture of the country where the language is spoken? Because their family or friends speak the language? Because speaking the language will get them a better job?

I got the opportunity to formally examine the reasons why people learn languages, language learner motivation, while writing my MA thesis last year. I studied an MA in Conference Interpreting at NUI Galway and throughout the year-long course we were regularly visited by staff interpreters of the EU institutions who came as pedagogical assistants to give us advice and feedback. I was always fascinated by the different language combinations these experienced interpreters had and frankly, envious that the EU institutions encouraged them to learn more languages by providing language classes and leave for study abroad for priority languages. I started to wonder, did staff interpreters learn languages that they were really interested in, or did they learn languages that were in demand and therefore beneficial to their interpreting career?

In order to investigate this question, I drew on research in the field of second language acquisition and, in particular, learner motivation. According to Noels’ self-determination theory, learner motivation ranges from extrinsic orientations of motivation to intrinsic orientations of motivation. According to self-determination theory, there are two general types of motivation, one based on intrinsic interest in the activity per se and the other based on rewards extrinsic to the activity itself (Noels et al 2000, p. 38).

On the extrinsic end of the scale, learners are under external pressure to learn the language; because it is a compulsory subject, they need it for their job, they need to learn it to avoid some negative outcome, etc. On the intrinsic end of the scale, learners want to learn the language out a sense of personal interest and enjoyment. Various orientations of motivation are at work in the case of each individual language learner. However, according to research by Noels, successful learners are more likely to be those who display more intrinsic orientations of motivation.

A person who is intrinsically motivated to perform an activity does so because it is inherently enjoyable and satisfying. In the context of second language acquisition, the learner may be interested in the language and culture, enjoy the sounds and rhythm of the language or simply enjoy acquiring new knowledge and mastering a difficult task. This form of motivation is associated with greater success in second language acquisition (Noels 2001, p. 45).

I set out to test this theory, taking staff conference interpreters who have added another working language as models of successful language learners – after all, knowing a language well enough to interpret it is an example of highly successful language acquisition! I used a self-report questionnaire, which I distributed via email and social media, to gather information about staff interpreters at the European Commission’s DG SCIC who had added another language to their combination since started to work there, and asked them to rank and rate the factors that had influenced their decision to learn the language in question.

61 interpreters responded to the survey. The results of the online questionnaire show that a wide range of languages were added by the participants; 18 out of 24 official EU languages were added by the survey sample; Dutch, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, German, English, Swedish, Polish, Russian, Danish, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Croatian, Estonian, Lithuanian, Maltese and Romanian. Languages added range from very widely spoken languages such as Spanish and English, to minority languages such as Maltese and Irish.

In 87% of responses, interest in the language and associated culture were identified as being either a very important or important factor in the participant’s choice to learn a particular language.


When asked to rank various factors in order of importance, personal interest was ranked most important in 59% of cases:


In 68% of cases, respondents agreed or strongly agreed that enjoying visiting the country/countries where a language is spoken was an important factor in their choice to learn the language in question, and in 68% of cases, respondents agreed or strongly agreed that enjoying the culture of the country/countries where a language is spoken was an important factor.

The survey data showed evidence that the main factor affecting the participants’ decisions to add a working language was intrinsic motivation. However, this was not the only factor at play. Respondents displayed a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, with more motivation from the intrinsic end of the scale playing an important role in the decision to add a working language. Some respondents had an interest in the language they learned but also cited the benefit to their career of another language as a motivating factor. Some respondents chose to learn certain languages not only because they had an interest in the associated culture, but also because of similarities between that language and a language they already knew. High levels of externally regulated orientations of motivation were also identified among some respondents, and some reported feeling pressure to learn another language, but these respondents were a minority. The high level of intrinsically oriented motivation displayed by these successful language learners supports Noels’ theory that intrinsic orientations of motivation are more likely to result in successful language acquisition.

So what can we conclude from this? Well, if you are thinking of learning a language, learn one you are genuinely interested in! You’ll learn Chinese far quicker if you have passion for Chinese culture and an interest in the country, than if you are purely learning it for the career benefits. If you have lots of Croatian friends and you want to be able to speak their language, go for it! If you love travel and want to backpack around South America meeting new people and experiencing new cultures, why not learn Spanish? If you are genuinely interested and intrinsically motivated, learning a language is that little bit easier.

Interpreting Studies and Second Language Acquisition Terms

active language: language into which an interpreter is capable of interpreting (Jones 1998, p. 131).

A language: ‘The interpreter’s mother tongue (or its strict equivalent) into which they work from all their other working languages in both consecutive and simultaneous interpretation’ (AIIC, 2012).

B language: ‘language in which the interpreter is perfectly fluent, but is not a mother tongue. An interpreter can work into this language from one or several of their other working languages, but may prefer to do so in only one mode of interpretation, either consecutive or simultaneous’ (AIIC, 2012c).

C language: language ‘which the interpreter understands perfectly but into which they do not work. They will interpret from this (these) language(s) into their active languages’ (AIIC, 2012).

conference interpreting: interpreting in multilateral communication, for example in international conferences, using either consecutive and/or simultaneous modes of interpreting (Pöckhacker 2004, p. 16).

consecutive interpreting: the interpreter listens to the totality of the speaker’s comments, or at least a significant passage, and then reconstitutes the speech in another language with the help of notes taken during the original (Jones 1998, p. 5).

DG SCIC: Directorate General for Interpretation, also known as DG SCIC. the European Commission’s interpreting service and conference organiser (European Commission, 2013).

interpreting: immediate oral translation of an utterance from one language into another (Pöckhacker 2004, p. 11). 1.

L1 (Also referred to as ‘mother tongue’ or ‘first language’): language or languages that a child learns from parents, siblings and caretakers during the critical years of development, from the womb up to about four years of age (Ortega 2009, p. 5).

L2 (Also referred to as ‘additional language’ or ‘second language’): any language learned after the mother tongue (Ortega 2009, p. 5).

language combination (also referred to as ‘linguistic combination‘): ‘sum of an interpreter’s active and passive languages’ (Jones 1998, p. 133).

passive language: language out of which an interpreter is capable of interpreting (Jones 1998, p. 132).

simultaneous interpreting: the interpreter begins interpreting while the speaker is still speaking. The interpreter is speaking simultaneously to the original, hence the name (Jones 1998, p. 5).

working language: language which an interpreter can interpret into, or out of, or both (Jones 1998, p. 133).


AIIC (2012) Working languages (Online). Available at: http://aiic.net/node/6/working-languages/lang/1 (Accessed 07 July 2013).

Deci, L. et al (1991) ‘Motivation and Education: The Self-Determination Perspective’, in Educational Psychologist, 26(3 & 4), pp. 325-346 (Online). Available from: http://selfdeterminationtheory.org/SDT/documents/1991_DeciVallerandPelletierRyan_EP.pdf (Accessed 24 July 2013).

Dörnyei, Z. (2001) ‘New themes and approaches in second language motivation research’, Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 21, pp. 43-59 (Online). Available from: http://journals.cambridge.org.libgate.library.nuigalway.ie/action/displayAbstract?fromfrom=online&aid=100729 (Accessed 4 July 2013).

European Commission (2013) About DG Interpretation. Available from: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/scic/about-dg-interpretation/index_en.htm (Accessed: 03 June 2013).

Jones, R. (1998) Conference interpreting explained. Manchester: St Jerome publishing.

Ortega, L. (2009) Understanding second language acquisition. London : Hodder Education.

Pöchhacker, F. (2004) Introducing interpreting studies. London: Routledge.

Noels, K. (2001) ‘New orientations in language learning motivation: Towards a model of intrinsic, extrinsic and integrative orientations and motivation’, in Dörnyei, Z. & Schmidt, R. (eds) Motivation and Second Language Acquisition. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, pp. 43-68.

Noels, K. et al. (2003) ‘Why are you learning a second language? Motivational orientations and self-determination theory’, Language Learning, 53 (1), pp. 33-63 (Online). Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.libgate.library

Article written by Sarah O’Farrell, translator and terminologist at the Terminology Coordination Unit.


Cf. http://termcoord.eu/2014/03/learn-eu-language-learn/

T.G.I.M. (Inspired by Nora Torres – Translartisan)

We are the lucky ones.

T.G.I.M. by Translartisan
T.G.I.M. by Translartisan

Sometimes we forget about the treasure we hold in our hands. It’s easier to complain rather than thank for what we can do everyday. I know, it’s a habit and it’s useless to say, but maybe even harder to accept. I’m sure that anybody is in denial, but it’s a true fact. I usually create ecards about Mondays. So, we complain for our bad Mondays when there are people outside without a job, looking for inspiration, and trying to find their way. Yes, we are freelancers and we face hard times as well; our happiness is closely related to our attitude towards clients, in order to get an assignment.
Eventually, we work. We have a job, something we put a lot of effort in. We are a proud group of people from all over the world; we do what we love; we share our thoughts and fears; we try to help each other (until it’s possible – because I know “we are not alone”, and we live on this planet together with bad creatures, who try to bring us down in many different ways).
Yet, we are a big family living in the social media world. We reply to posts and tweets to feel like we are co-working, all together, in a digital open plan office.
As far as I’m concerned, I feel very lucky, because I’m surrounded by precious ladies and men I can talk to, while I am completing those assignments and managing schedules and agendas.

We are the lucky ones. I want to thank God for my dreadful, but very lucky Mondays.

[Repost] Accents and dialects: a thorny issue for translators by Hayley

Accents and dialects: a thorny issue for translators

Cf. original post http://www.languageinsight.com/blog/2013/01/24/accents-and-dialects-a-thorny-issue-for-translators/

January 24th, 2013 by 

translation, book, literature

Translation is a tough enough discipline at the best of times, but when accents and dialects are factored in it becomes a real test of a linguist’s skills. Anyone hoping to use free software to translate something where accents are involved should give up now.


You may think that producing translations where the source includes a variety of dialects is something you’ll rarely be called upon to do, but everything from classic works of literature to Disney films make use of accents as a way of fleshing out characters. By simply wiping this out and making all of the characters speak a standardised version of the target language, the translator significantly alters the way the character is perceived by the reader.

Tackling dialects

document translation, book translation

Literature and translation lecturer at the University of East Anglia BJ Epstein has written an interesting paper on the translation of dialects, focusing primarily on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. The book was published in 1884 in the UK and a year later in the US and is one of the first works of literature to be written in the native dialect of the narrator. It also features a variety of different dialects among its characters; a feat Twain himself said he worked on “painstakingly” to get right.

Rather than speaking in the standardised American-English of the time, the characters in Twain’s novel speak in numerous different dialects. However, when translating this into another language, these dialects can prove difficult to handle.

In her research, BJ Epstein examined seven passages of text in 15 Swedish translations of the novel. In 60 per cent of cases, language standardisation was the preferred method employed by the author. This means all the characters in the book speak the same common form of Swedish no matter where they are from or what their background. Unfortunately, this can strip away much of the texture from the book.

Another option is to assign different Swedish dialects to the various characters. Yet because The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’s source language originates from the American South of the early 19th century, Epstein concludes it would “probably have been odd” to replace this dialect with a regional Swedish one, given the reader knew it was set in America. However, she suggests that the translators could have employed a greater use of non-standard spelling and grammar along with errors in the characters’ speech that mirror the original. By not accounting for how the characters speak and instead focussing on the literal meaning of the words in the text, Epstein concludes some of the atmosphere has been lost.

Another issue she came across was how translators dealt with individual characters and their way of speaking. The narrator of the novel is Huck himself. Despite the character being only around 13 years old, and living like a vagabond, Huck’s narration is translated into standardised Swedish in 73.3 per cent of cases. His father is also seen to speak standardised Swedish in the majority of translations (53.3 per cent), although he is described as being so anti-education he makes his son leave school. However, the dialect spoken by Jim, the slave that Huck runs away with and the novel’s main black character, is only standardised 6.67 per cent of the time.

Rather than being given a foreign accent or a regional Swedish accent, Epstein claims that in many of these translations Jim is made to “seem deficient” as a result of how he talks in the target language. This is particularly the case in the earlier translations, although many of the more recent editions standardise Jim’s dialect. In the original, Jim’s dialect is defined as an African American Language, and reflects the different history, social standing and peers of the character, rather than suggesting he is mentally “deficient”. However, the way it is handled by some translators has the unwanted effect of making him appear less intelligent than the white characters.

How to handle accents

document translation, book translation, localisation, translator

Accents used in literature can cause just as many problems for translators as dialects. Let’s for a moment consider how many accents there are in the UK alone that could feature in an English language novel. From Cockney to Brummie and Scouse to Glaswegian, Britain has a wealth of accents. Indeed, it’s not unusual for people to struggle to understand one they’re not familiar with as much as if they were listening to someone speak a foreign language.

Take Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, the 1993 cult novel adapted for the movie starring Ewan McGregor. Most of the book is narrated by someone with a thick east Scotland accent, while much of the dialogue is even stronger. Even someone whose mother tongue is English will find it a challenge to get to grips with this book, leading some to claim it is untranslatable.

Choosing how best to handle accents when you’re producing a translation is something of a minefield. Giuseppe Manuel Brescia, an Italian literary translator, reveals in his blog Smuggled Words that it is common for authors to use accents as a way of describing characters, by altering the spelling of their speech so it can be read phonetically – such as Welsh does in Trainspotting. So how does he tackle translating them?

“First of all I translate the character’s lines correctly, given that any accent, twisting single phonemes, will obviously affect different words in English and Italian,” he explains. Brescia adds: “Then, in order to determine which ones, I simply start sounding off that character’s lines with the relevant accent, and change the spelling accordingly.” The linguist credits his talent for accents as the key to his success. Essentially, he puts on the accent and says the character’s lines in Italian, before working out how to spell the dialogue in a way that reflects that accent.

This is a technique Brescia uses when describing the accent of a character with a different mother tongue to the others in the book. However, on the subject of tackling regional dialects he admits it can be trickier. In answer to a reader query, he says: “[In the case of uneducated or working-class characters I use] a variation of the standard language which is determined by social factors, as opposed to the geographical factor defining a dialect. It is a massive loss, but unfortunately an inevitable one.”

Because accents and dialects are so often used as a way of portraying the character’s social standing, using the standardised form of the target language in a translation can remove much of the texture of that character. Yet, when you’re worried about misleading or even offending the reader this can seem like the only option.

Have you had to tackle an accent or dialect when producing a translation? Why not share your tips below? You can also find out more about document translation here.

Semiotycs: il gioco-tool by Giuliano Pascali

Qualche mese fa ho fatto un “repost” relativo alle parole simili nelle lingue europee. L’articolo era accompagnato da una serie di mappe dell’Europa in cui venivano identificate le analogie e le differenze nell’utilizzo di alcuni termini specifici nei vari Paesi presenti.
[Cfr. https://onesectranslation.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/repost-la-mappa-delle-parole-simili-nelle-lingue-deuropa/]

Qualche giorno fa, invece, ho trovato un’email nella posta elettronica che richiedeva la mia attenzione. Il mittente era Giuliano Pascali. Informatico ed appassionato di lingue e materie umanistiche, mi ha informato di aver sviluppato un “gioco-tool” utilizzando proprio quelle mappe e, in cerca di un po’ di visibilità, mi ha domandato se fossi interessata a divulgare il suo progetto.

Così… eccolo qua! 🙂


Cliccando sul link vi ritroverete direttamente alla mappa delle parole.

Di seguito vi lascio la presentazione scritta da Giuliano.

Buona lettura!

La mappa delle parola in Europa
(semiotica comparata)

Somiglianze e diversità delle lingue.

Ecco un sito che ci permette di indagare su come si dice una parola nelle principali lingue europee.
Scegli una parola e clicca traduci, in pochi istanti avrai la traduzione sulla mappa in più di dieci lingue.
E’ un gioco divertente che ci permette di indagare sulla diversità, la somiglianza e provenienza dei termini scelti. Alcune parole hanno una radice universale, e una traduzione molto simile. Altre invece sono completamente differenti a seconda del ceppo di appartenenza.
Sito delle lingue nella mappa


Il ceppo latino, francia, italia, spagna. Il ceppo slavo del centro est europa, il ceppo scandinavo e quello anglosassone della zona anglotedesca. Fantastico il caso della parola ananas che ha un tipo praticamente universale, fatta eccezzione per le due grandi storiche potenze coloniali, che curiosamente hanno un suono diverso da tutti le altre nazioni, ma simile tra loro. Che sia solo un caso ?
E’ bello osservare le contaminazioni, avvenute nella lingua per vicinanza geografica francia spagna italia, ragioni storiche e circostanze commerciali militari e marittime. L’inghilterra trova vicinanza linguistiche con i paesi del mare del nord, con la norvegia, mentre la finlandia risente notevolmente della presenza russa. La polonia pur geograficamente dislocata, rientra tra le lingue slave e ha suoni molto prossimi ai balcani. La romania invece che rimane in quella zona, ha un impronta latina e i suoi termini spesso risuonano come quelli dei paesi mediterranei.


La germania che a volte divide suoni con gli anglosassoni della gran bretagna, influenza la zona dell’olanda a sua volta della svezia. Le tre repubbliche baltiche denotano una forte identità anche linguistica, mentre il portogallo a volte svela tutto il suo legame con la spagna, fino al cinquecento erano un unica nazione, d’altro canto sorprende con suoni nuovi e bellissimi che raccontato la sua storia di grande potenza del mare, alternativa (anche come terre di interesse) a spagna e inghilterra. La turchia ponte tra l’europa l’oriente, porta con se un timbro linguistico del mondo arabo oltreuropeo. L’islanda senza dubbio terra di mare e del nord, mantiene non solo geograficamente la sua unicità. E che dire dell’italia ? Centro della lingua di origine latina, al centro del mediterraneo, con influenze arabe francesi spagnole normanne. Le lingue: affascinante dinamico contenitore della nostra esperienza e della nostra vita raccontano in maniera incantevole, segreti misteriosi o lampanti che nel corso dei secoli hanno raccolto e compreso.

Buon divertimento, buona esplorazione. Il gioco traduce in tutte le lingue ma anche da tutte le lingue, quindi se avete amici estoni francesi o polacchi beh ..buon divertimento anche a loro!

Vai a Semiotycs, il gioco delle lingue sulla mappa
Il gioco è ispirato a una serie di mappe etimologiche comparse su alcuni siti, segnaliamo http://www.linkiesta.it.

Giuliano Pascali