Comic strip

Students were given a blank strip from the comic Paper Girls and were asked to fill in the speech bubbles in groups. Their objective was to look carefully for clues in the images that could translate into speech, such as where the strip is set and what action is taking place, the relationship between the characters, their expressions, the size and spacing of the speech bubbles, etc. 

Translating poetry: Rilke Shake

This workshop involved a two-part leap of faith: students who had never worked with Portuguese found themselves not only translating from it but translating poetry to boot – all in two hours, or less. We discussed what makes poetry poetry, and we established a ‘poetry translation toolkit’ to apply in all circumstances. Then we experimented with whole-group translation of a poem, ‘Rito de passagem’ from Brazilian poet Angelica Freitas’ collection Rilke Shake. Discussions included how we could translate Freitas’s queer politics and how Brazilian nosey parkers can be recreated in English. Finally, having gained confidence, students or pairs of students ventured their own translations of another of Freitas’ poems, ‘Fim’. The results are dazzling: already students are finding their voices as poets in translation.

It's all Portuguese to us! (Part 1)

During this workshop we demonstrated that foreign languages are not codes that are entirely closed off until you’re ‘fluent’. In fact, students are pretty good at understanding and translating from Portuguese, though they may not think so. 'It's all Portuguese to us!' is all about giving students confidence to dive into the linguistic unknown and dare to find a way, even without previous knowledge of the language, simply by making the most the clues provided by the context and by the languages they do know.

Part 1 of this workshop drew on a scene from the popular Brazilian telenovela Avenida Brasil to introduce strategies for translating any language one doesn't officially know. Students picked out names of things they recognised; words that were similar to words they knew in English or other languages; question signs; structures that are similar to sentence shapes they knew, etc. The result was a series of nuanced translations from Portuguese that would stand students in excellent stead for the principal activity of this workshop. (See Part 2).

It's all Portuguese to us! (Part 2)

During this workshop we demonstrated that foreign languages are not codes that are entirely closed off until you’re ‘fluent’. In fact, students are pretty good at understanding and translating from Portuguese, though they may not think so. 'It's all Portuguese to us!' is all about giving students confidence to dive into the linguistic unknown and dare to find a way, even without previous knowledge of the language, simply by making the most the clues provided by the context and by the languages they do know.

The principal activity from this workshop drew on a scene titled ‘Tufão pede Monalisa em casamento’ (Tufão asks for Monalisa’s hand in marriage), from the Brazilian telenovela Avenida Brasil. Having discussed the various ways they could make sense of the Portuguese text, from picking out similar words and finding structures familiar from other languages to making sense of punctuation, proper nouns and exclamations, students were given the text of the script only, to try to brave their way to as complete a translation as they could manage. Only at the end of the workshop did they watch a clip of the show and see how well they had understood and translated the text.

Dangerous translations

Following a rapid introduction to the world of Les Liaisons Dangereuses and in particular to the characters of its two protagonists, Mme de Merteuil and Viscomte Valmont, we homed in on a key early scene, recounted through letters 4 and 5 in the novel. Having critiqued a contemporary translation of letter 5, students were encouraged first to conceive and then to conduct their own updated translation of the letter. Concept was key: the updates ranged around the world, and settings and characters took in all ages, nationalities, professions and backgrounds. Students started to see translation as a capacious art, able to encompass centuries of change and still make sense of classic texts today.

Dangerous translations

Following a rapid introduction to the world of Les Liaisons Dangereuses and in particular to the characters of its two protagonists, Mme de Merteuil and Viscomte Valmont, we homed in on a key early scene, recounted through letters 4 and 5 in the novel. Having critiqued a contemporary translation of letter 5, students were encouraged first to conceive and then to conduct their own updated translation of the letter. Concept was key: the updates ranged around the world, and settings and characters took in all ages, nationalities, professions and backgrounds. Students started to see translation as a capacious art, able to encompass centuries of change and still make sense of classic texts today.

Dangerous translations

Following a rapid introduction to the world of Les Liaisons Dangereuses and in particular to the characters of its two protagonists, Mme de Merteuil and Viscomte Valmont, we homed in on a key early scene, recounted through letters 4 and 5 in the novel. Having critiqued a contemporary translation of letter 5, students were encouraged first to conceive and then to conduct their own updated translation of the letter. Concept was key: the updates ranged around the world, and settings and characters took in all ages, nationalities, professions and backgrounds. Students started to see translation as a capacious art, able to encompass centuries of change and still make sense of classic texts today.

Translating poetry: Houellebecq

This workshop was developed for use in monolingual and bilingual classrooms, so students had a range of levels of French and English competence. First we discussed what makes poetry poetry, and we established a ‘poetry translation toolkit’ to apply in all circumstances. Then we experimented with whole-group translation of a poem from by French poet and novelist Michel Houellebecq. Discussions included Houellebecq’s gloomy, anti-religious outlook and what duck-feet might have to do with his worldview. Finally, having gained confidence, students or pairs of students ventured their own translations of another of Houellebecq’s poems, ‘Un moment de pur innocence’. The results were inspiring. Students are already finding their voice as poets and translators.

Dangerous translations

Following a rapid introduction to the world of Les Liaisons Dangereuses and in particular to the characters of its two protagonists, Mme de Merteuil and Viscomte Valmont, we homed in on a key early scene, recounted through letters 4 and 5 in the novel. Having critiqued a contemporary translation of letter 5, students were encouraged first to conceive and then to conduct their own updated translation of the letter. Concept was key: the updates ranged around the world, and settings and characters took in all ages, nationalities, professions and backgrounds. Students started to see translation as a capacious art, able to encompass centuries of change and still make sense of classic texts today.

Translating poetry: Houellebecq

This workshop was developed for use in monolingual and bilingual classrooms, so students had a range of levels of French and English competence. First we discussed what makes poetry poetry, and we established a ‘poetry translation toolkit’ to apply in all circumstances. Then we experimented with whole-group translation of a poem from by French poet and novelist Michel Houellebecq. Discussions included Houellebecq’s gloomy, anti-religious outlook and what duck-feet might have to do with his worldview. Finally, having gained confidence, students or pairs of students ventured their own translations of another of Houellebecq’s poems, ‘Un moment de pur innocence’. The results were inspiring. Students are already finding their voice as poets and translators.

Dangerous translations

Following a rapid introduction to the world of Les Liaisons Dangereuses and in particular to the characters of its two protagonists, Mme de Merteuil and Viscomte Valmont, we homed in on a key early scene, recounted through letters 4 and 5 in the novel. Having critiqued a contemporary translation of letter 5, students were encouraged first to conceive and then to conduct their own updated translation of the letter. Concept was key: the updates ranged around the world, and settings and characters took in all ages, nationalities, professions and backgrounds. Students started to see translation as a capacious art, able to encompass centuries of change and still make sense of classic texts today.

Translating poetry: Rilke Shake

This workshop involved a two-part leap of faith: students who had never worked with Portuguese found themselves not only translating from it but translating poetry to boot – all in two hours, or less. We discussed what makes poetry poetry, and we established a ‘poetry translation toolkit’ to apply in all circumstances. Then we experimented with whole-group translation of a poem, ‘Rito de passagem’ from Brazilian poet Angelica Freitas’ collection Rilke Shake. Discussions included how we could translate Freitas’s queer politics and how Brazilian nosey parkers can be recreated in English. Finally, having gained confidence, students or pairs of students ventured their own translations of another of Freitas’ poems, ‘Fim’. The results are dazzling: already students are finding their voices as poets in translation.

Dangerous tweets

Students looked at the first six tweets from Olivier and Livingston's translation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses into a novel composed solely of tweets and discussed how each letter had been distilled and compressed into a single tweet. They followed up ideas of personal interpretation and appropriate, idiomatic language to compose their own tweets, translations of the key 'bet' scene in the films Dangerous Liaisons or Cruel Intentions, aka letter V from the original novel. The results were diverse, smart and often hilarious.

It's all Portuguese to us!

During this workshop we demonstrated that foreign languages are not codes that are entirely closed off until you’re ‘fluent’. In fact, students are pretty good at understanding and translating from Portuguese, though they may not think so. 'It's all Portuguese to us!' is all about giving students confidence to dive into the linguistic unknown and dare to find a way, even without previous knowledge of the language, simply by making the most the clues provided by the context and by the languages they do know.

The principal activity from this workshop drew on a scene titled ‘Tufão pede Monalisa em casamento’ (Tufão asks for Monalisa’s hand in marriage), from the Brazilian telenovela Avenida Brasil. Having discussed the various ways they could make sense of the Portuguese text, from picking out similar words and finding structures familiar from other languages to making sense of punctuation, proper nouns and exclamations, students were given the text of the script only, to try to brave their way to as complete a translation as they could manage. Only at the end of the workshop did they watch a clip of the show and see how well they had understood and translated the text.

It's all Portuguese to us!

During this workshop we demonstrated that foreign languages are not codes that are entirely closed off until you’re ‘fluent’. In fact, students are pretty good at understanding and translating from Portuguese, though they may not think so. 'It's all Portuguese to us!' is all about giving students confidence to dive into the linguistic unknown and dare to find a way, even without previous knowledge of the language, simply by making the most the clues provided by the context and by the languages they do know.

The principal activity from this workshop drew on a scene titled ‘Tufão pede Monalisa em casamento’ (Tufão asks for Monalisa’s hand in marriage), from the Brazilian telenovela Avenida Brasil. Having discussed the various ways they could make sense of the Portuguese text, from picking out similar words and finding structures familiar from other languages to making sense of punctuation, proper nouns and exclamations, students were given the text of the script only, to try to brave their way to as complete a translation as they could manage. Only at the end of the workshop did they watch a clip of the show and see how well they had understood and translated the text.

Interpreting Masterclass

Led by guest collaborator Jaciara Topley Lira, an experienced interpreter at the UN, this workshop provides an introduction to the skills needed for professional interpreting at international level. The key skills of memory and sight translation are discussed and then practised through exercises modelled on those used for training professional interpreters. Common assumptions and pitfalls such as the question of note-taking and how best to remember as well as what to remember are discussed. Then Jaciara wraps up with an on-the-spot interpreting demonstration and a final Q&A about the nature of the work as a career choice.

Subtitling Masterclass

For this Subtitling Masterclass we were very pleased to welcome the professional subtitler Clémence Sebag to lead the workshop. Clémence gave a introduction to the skills and software needed to subtitle a wide range of media. Students were then asked to watch and listen carefully to a section of Kanye West's song 'Through the Wire'. After rehearsing the skills they would need to use - compression and distillation of each line to within the character limit for subtitles - they wrote their own subtitles for the track. Not only did they interpret in order to compress and distill, they also brought to bear their skill with register, bringing Kanye's idiosyncratic style into a more formal English. 

About register: translating slang

Students watched the video of grime artist Kano's 2016 song 'Garage Skank'. They were shown a transcription of the chorus and invited to translate it from Kano's East-London slang into a formal register of English. No easy job for a first piece of fully-fledged translation, the students had not only to work out what was happening in the song and find a new language for it, they had to keep in mind elements of rhyme, rhythm and form, so that their translations also worked as lyrics. 

Dangerous tweets

Students looked at the first six tweets from Olivier and Livingston's translation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses into a novel composed solely of tweets and discussed how each letter had been distilled and compressed into a single tweet. They followed up ideas of personal interpretation and appropriate, idiomatic language to compose their own tweets, translations of the key 'bet' scene in the films Dangerous Liaisons or Cruel Intentions, aka letter V from the original novel. The results were diverse, smart and often hilarious.