Thursday, 11 November 2010

Young Translators' Prizes

Get a bunch of under-35s to translate the same text and choose the best version. What a wonderful idea - so wonderful in fact that all sorts of people are doing it.

The Goethe-Institut New York has just launched the Frederick and Grace Gutekunst Prize for Young Translators - to "identify outstanding young translators and assist them in establishing contact with the translation and publishing communities." You have to be under 35, live in the USA, and translate a particular German literary text available on request from the people at the Goethe Institut. You're not allowed to have published a book-length translation yet.

The UK equivalent for translators from German works in the same way but actually has no age limit - the German Embassy Award for Translators was launched this year and I hope will continue in the future.

Then there's the Rossica Young Translators Award for Russian, and the new Harvill Secker Young Translators' Prize, which will focus on a different language every year.

Such a great way to encourage new talent, particularly in the UK, where language-learning is becoming a rather exotic pastime and university funding - should it continue to exist in future - simply won't stretch to this kind of thing.

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