PhD student writes published preface to Maltese translation of ‘Monsieur Ibrahim et les Fleurs du Coran’

March 23rd, 2014 by translationataston


Eric-Emmanuel’s Schmitt captivating novella Monsieur Ibrahim et les Fleurs du Coran is now available in Maltese. To date, this short story has been translated in around 35 languages and the Maltese version Is-Sur Ibrahim u l-Fjuri fil-Koran, translated by Toni Aquilina, was published in February 2014. The tale forms part of Le Cycle de l’Invisible, a series of books dealing with the themes of childhood, religion and spirituality. Monsieur Ibrahim et les Fleurs du Coran revolves around an unusual friendship between an old, wise Muslim and a Jewish adolescent who lives with his depressed father. Claudine Borg, a PhD student in translation at Aston, has closely followed the translation process of this literary work in the context of her research project. She has also written the preface of the Maltese translation.


The translator, Prof Toni Aquilina and Claudine Borg during the launch of the Maltese translation


More beautiful poem translations by our final year students…

February 18th, 2014 by translationataston

My Dad


Under your strong exterior

You are loving and tender

A face in front of me

Defence and protection you guarantee


Each of your words is like a caress

Even when they cause distress

When you look at me you see

The baby you created, it was me


Out of all

The men in the world

You’d be the one that I’d pick out

You’re my hero, there’s no doubt


It’s in your support

It’s in your words

It’s in your loving gaze

That forever, for always


I will get through the storms

I will face the worst mornings

I will give you my love

Forever, for always


Happy Father’s day, Dad

Without you I would not exist



My Father


Behind your tough outer shell,

Hides a soft kernel,

A cloak to keep me safe,

Guardian of my being, defender of faith


Sometimes your words hurt,

But into acts of kindness they convert,

For in me you see,

The newborn child, the face of you in me,


Above all,

Of all the men in the world,

You’re my heart’s inspiration,

You’re my flawless champion,


It’s in your eyes,

It’s in your assistance,

It’s in the things that you say,

Forever and always,


I will triumph the storms,

And will face the harsh dawns,

I’ll give you my love everyday,

Forever and always,


Dad, Happy Father’s day,

Without you, I wouldn’t be who I am today…



My father.


Behind his hard shell,

Hides his tenderness as well,

You are a facade before me,

Protector of my life and defender of belief


Occasionally, your words are hurtful,

But they are beautiful,

Because in me you see,

The fruit of the other you, the new-born baby,


Amongst everything,

Of all the men in the world,

You are the model of my heart,

You are the hero, who never falls apart,


It’s in your eyes,

It’s in your support,

It’s in your long stories,

Forever and always,


I would defeat snow storms,

I will confront tough mornings,

I will give you all my love and praise,

Forever and always,


To my Dad, Happy Father’s Day,

Without whom I wouldn’t exist by the way…




My Father


Behind all circumspection

You hide the affection

Before me a façade,

My life’s protector, and defender of faith.


Sometimes I consider your words to be sharp,

But to me they’re endearing, a hug for my heart,

Because I know that you see me too

The baby that was born,


When I take into account

All the men through my years,

You are without doubt, the beat of my heart

The hero who’s caused me no tears.


I can see it in your eyes,

It’s in your support,

In the way that you guide me

For now and forever more


I’ll brave the bad weather

I’ll face the rough days

It’s you I will always adore

For now and forever more


Happy father’s day Clive,

Without whom I wouldn’t exist.

Intuition and translation

January 16th, 2014 by translationataston

“Successful translations are a product of intuition and careful analysis, combined with extensive translation experience. Semi-expert translators may know enough to be cautious in making lexical choices but not enough to be effectively intuitive. Intuitions, however… can be honed through repeated training and practice. Translators’ mindfulness, focus, and tuning-in to oneself can help them become more aware of their thoughts during decision making. Experiencing new learning situations can likewise result in acquiring new domains of knowledge and experience and consequently in developing a more effective use of intuitions.
…different kinds of intuitions should be (re)considered at different stages of the translation process because they can substantiate individuals’ translating effectiveness, especially in complex tasks such as literary translation.”

The above is part of a review of a presentation given by Séverine Hubscher-Davvidson at the ATA Annual Conference 2013. The full review is at

Translation and the Internet: Changing the Face of an Industry

December 19th, 2013 by translationataston

An interesting paper on the consequences- advantages and disavantages- of technology, and ultimately of the internet, on the translation industry.

“Despite Byrne’s (1999) recognition of the profound changes and challenges facing modern translators and discussion the new types of work presented by the Internet, it was still impossible to foresee the full extent of the tremendous developments to come about as a result of the Internet.”

See the paper here:

Translation and Interpretation glossary

December 12th, 2013 by translationataston

In translation, like in any other field, a certain jargon is used.
To help you understand the specific terms you might stumble upon in the future, here are some online glossaries of translation and interpretation terms that you might want to add to your web resources.

Glossary of general translation and interpretation terms:
Babel linguistics glossary:


Translation zone glossary:
Glossary of translation softwares terms: 

The Art of Poetry and its Translation

December 4th, 2013 by translationataston

“Only rarely can one reproduce both content and form in a translation, and hence in general the form is usually sacrificed for the sake of the content”. The translator of poetry aims at producing “on his reader an impression similar or nearly similar to that produced by the original”. In fact “every poem is a poem within a poem; the poem of the idea and the poem of words” (Wallance Stevens). Without idea words are empty, without words idea is empty. The translator is to avoid of the emptiness.” – (Extracts)
Mariam Hovhannisyan.

To read the full paper, go to:

Abbreviations and Acronyms in 23 languages

November 28th, 2013 by translationataston

In the process of translating, you will often find yourself having to translate abbreviations or acronyms and it can sometimes be really difficult either to find what the letters stand for in the source language or to find its equivalent in the target language.

Here is a really useful tool provided by the Interinstitutional Style Guide of the European Union:

It is a list of the main acronyms and abbreviations and what they stand for.

By scrolling down the list of languages on the top right of this guide you will be able to access this list in 23 languages (including of course: French, Spanish and German) and therefore find the recognized translations of these abbreviations/acronyms if they exist.


Letter to a would-be translator

November 21st, 2013 by translationataston

“We keep a blog in Portuguese and often receive messages from would-be translators asking us basic questions about the profession. The following article is kind of an answer to their questions.

So, you want to be a translator! Congratulations, it is a wonderful profession. No, we did not say it is easy, we said it is wonderful. We do not think any profession is easy, but believe all of them are wonderful—provided you like them, of course.

You said you love languages. So do we and you cannot be a good translator unless you do. The point is, however, that a love of languages is far from sufficient to make a good and happy translator. A good translator must lovetranslating, which is something quite different from loving languages.

 – By Danilo Noguiera and Kelli Semolini

To read the full article go to:

Who is listening/reading by Philip Macdonald

November 18th, 2013 by translationataston

Numerous questions may arise when thinking about translation/interpretation. For example, do I translate/interpret a joke by giving an equivalent in the target language for the audience to laugh at, do I translate/interpret it word-by-word, or do I leave it out? Do I translate swear words or will the audience be offended? Who do I translate for?

All those questions are answered by Philip Macdonald, translator and interpreter, who draws on his experienceto present problems a translator/interpreter may face when translating/interpreting. He talks about a large range of difficulties that translators/interpreters face and how to overcome them according to the translation’s ”purpose”.

This paper is a great source of information for any future translator/interpreter for it will open their eyes to the issues of translating/interpreting and therefore make them more aware of what needs to be considered when translating/interpreting.
As he puts it: “Roman Jakobson summed it up by stating that we translate messages and not words. Such an idea may seem obvious but I would argue that we forget it all too often—I know I do.”

Philip Macdonald also compares translation and interpretation in both the challenges they imply and the advantages they present. He focuses mainly on three aspects: context, intention and tone.

His paper presents the Skopos Theory in the context of translation/interpreting as a professional activity:

“The ideas I have outlined in this paper are, to a large extent, in agreement with Skopos theory (skopos is the Greek word for aim or purpose,” cf. “Translating Publicity Texts in the Light of the Skopos Theory: Problems and Suggestions” by Wang Baorong inTranslation Journal, Volume 13, No. 1, January 2009, for a description of this theory). This is hardly surprising since Skopos theory focuses on translation as a service ordered and paid for by a client, in contrast with translation of literature. It therefore looks at the prospective function of the target text as influenced by the customer’s needs and the end-user’s culture, linguistic ability, expectations, and so forth. Accordingly, Skopos theory does not reduce translating/interpreting to striving to achieve equivalence with another text in another language and describes it as a decision-making process—freeing it from the exclusive need to remain loyal to the original speech act and putting the onus on meeting the needs of our customers.”

Take the time to read this paper  thoroughly as it provides great insights on the translator/interpreter’s profession.
It can be found here:

What Do You Look For in Modern Translation?

November 7th, 2013 by translationataston

The famous Iliad from the Greek poet Homer has just been translated by Classical Myth specialist Barry B. Powell. In reaction to his work, Daniel Mendelsohn, writer and translator himself, and Dana Stevens, film critic and writer, discuss the qualities essential to a ‘good’ modern translation in an article called ‘What Do You Look for in Modern Translation?’ published in The New York Times’ Sunday Book Review.
They consider the evaluation of modern translation not only on fidelity or correctness of the vocabulary and grammar but also in the message transmitted- the ‘feel’ that is kept or not kept from the original work to its translation and therefore if the target audience can grasp the characters and events the way they were intended to by the author. Daniel Mendelsohn even highlights the importance of not only knowing the text to be translated but also the author’s work and ideology in order to not ‘betray’ the author’s message.

To read the article, go to: