Monthly Archives: December 2011


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The Canadian Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters Council, CTTIC, recently launched CTTIC EDU.  It’s a way to improve the Canadian language industry.  CTTIC EDU provides online courses and videos to help translators, interpreters and terminologists adapt and improve their business.  CTTIC Members get the services at a discounted rate but all the courses are available to the general public.

CTTIC EDU was made possible by Federal Government’s Canadian Language Sector Enhancement Program, an $18 million effort to improve the Canadian language sector and takes the form of both scholarships in translation and language related fields, as well as helping private industry develop.

CTTIC EDU seems to be a step in the right direction for the language industry and can definitely help individual translators and interpreters.  What are your thoughts on this new direction for the CTTIC? Tell us in the comments below!

Read about the Canadian Language Sector Enhancement Program here:

And CTTIC EDU here:

A Lesson From the New Mass Translation

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We talk a lot on the blog about how translation is not simple, it’s not just transcribing between two different languages, as is often assumed, and I think a recent event illustrates this well.  Four weeks ago the Catholic Church released the latest translation of the Roman Missal, and I’ve read mixed reactions to it.  Some are in favour of the changes, saying that in tumultuous times it reaffirms and focuses one’s faith.  Others are opposed to any changes, claiming that their faith was with the old words, even if they were less “accurate.”

I’m sympathetic to both views.  But what the existence of any differences really demonstrates is the power of language, and how different wording can have a different impact.  Sure some of this is due to the fact that there was a pre-existing translation which people had become accustomed to in a very deep sense, a religious sense really.  But even if both the new and the old had been released at the same time, and Catholics were to choose which one they preferred, it is unlikely that many people would remain indifferent, or be unable to tell the difference.  The two are different, even if not in meaning or intent, then certainly in style, which has a real impact on the way people relate to and interpret the words.

Style has impact on the message, choice of words has impact on the message, and translation determines this message.  Of course businesses are very busy and it’s incredible appealing to just send the files to the translator and forget about it, but that attitude can have consequences too and you may end up with false economies.

Translator Jailed for Criticizing Thai King

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US Citizen of Thai origin, Joe Gordon was sentenced to spend 2.5 years in Thai jail for translating and posting sections of a banned biography of the popular Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej.  The book, The King Never Smiles, written by American journalist Paul M. Handley, is highly critical of the King and contradicts his carefully crafted public image.  Gordon translated and distributed the translations online back in Colorado, before he visited Thailand in May of this year, when he was first arrested.  Gordon pleaded guilty and as result received a lighter sentence.

While this may offend many Western ideas regarding freedom of speech, or even the justness of prosecuting a non-Thai citizen for breaking Thai laws outside of Thailand, there is historical precedent for translators being punished for translating materials critical of the powers that be.  In fact it goes back almost 500 years to the Protestant Reformation.   William Tyndale translated the New Testament and much of the Old Testament but was ultimately executed for opposing Henry VIII marriage to Anne Boleyn.  Ironically four years later Henry approved four English translations of the Bible all of which were based on Tyndale’s work.  And the most famous version, the King James Bible is said to be primarily composed of Tyndale’s translations.

In these cases of course the translators were opposed to the powers that be and did not act neutrally in translating these materials.  Gordon is said to have also published articles alongside the translations which were critical of the Thai King.

Find out more at:

French Translation Award Highlights Complexities of Translating

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China Daily recently reported on a prize being given out to exceptional translations from French to Chinese.  These translations were apparently exceptionally difficult and the article describes the lengths to which the translators had to go to ensure a high quality and contextual translation.  The two books selected were in the areas of literature and social sciences, one being a novel, Dans le café de la jeunesse perdue, and the other being a major guide to the Enlightenment.

The translators had to do extra work to get a proper translation.  Jin Longge lived in Paris on a scholarship while he translated to get a better sense of the world of Dans le café de la jeunesse perdue.  In addition to this Jin also had to do extensive biographical research to determine what time period the novel takes place in, apparently it’s not evident.

The three translators of the Enlightenment work had to do even more.  They read related books and in some cases had to spend two or three days determining the best word to use as there weren’t any comparable books already in Chinese.

The article is definitely worth reading and it really highlights that translation is not merely transcribing but is instead a far more holistic endeavour.  Even in the simpler business related translations that make up the bulk of translation work, context matters.

The article can be found at