Government spending on translation soars by 40% in UK

Tougher language tests for new immigrants have again been called for after Government spending on translators rocketed by 40 per cent in two years – despite a drive to cut costs.

In 2007, Labour laid out £100million on translation services across Whitehall and the justice system before pledging to slash the bill. Last year, however, translating information for non-English speakers rose to an astonishing £140million.

Critics branded the costs a waste of money and demanded that immigrants moving to Britain be given stricter language tests.

The criminal justice system, including police, courts and prisons, last year spent £34million on translators.

NHS Direct translates its documents into 200 languages including Esperanto, which is spoken by just 2,000 people in the UK. Read More...


Colleges see 16% increase in study of sign language (U.S.)

While the number of college students studying Spanish, French and German increased only modestly from 2006 to 2009, enrollment in American Sign Language — the fourth most-popular language — surged more than 16 percent, according to a new report from the Modern Language Association.
Sign-language professors suggested various reasons for the rise. They said it reflected the growing acceptance of American Sign Language to meet college foreign-language requirements, and its usefulness as an employment credential — not only for interpreters, but also for cognitive psychologists, educators, nurses and even scuba divers.
With the deep budget cuts of the recession, some universities have cut back their language programs. Even so, enrollment in foreign-language classes grew 6.6 percent from 2006 to 2009 — compared with 12.9 percent from 2002 to 2006 — according to the report, “Enrollments in Languages Other Than English in United States Institutions of Higher Education, Fall 2009.”
Foreign-language enrollment in 2009 was 1,682,627, an all-time high. But language courses accounted for 8.6 percent of college classes, the same as in 2006. In 1965, the percentage was 16.5. Read More...


Estonians add neologisms to the dictionary

December 2 marks the finish of a word contest initiated by the President on Re-independence day, August 20, to come up with new words that better express foreign concepts in the Estonian language
The winning neologisms will be deemed real Estonian words with full legitimacy alongside other words in the dictionary.
Organizers drew up 11 concepts for which the Estonian language currently either lacks a proper translation, has a complicated expression, borrows a foreign word, or causes confusion due to numerous definitions, reported ETV.
There were 593 participants and 2,123 word proposals. The winner of the contest is Andres Valdre, who proposed the word taristu, meaning infrastructure. Until now, the borrowed word infrastruktuur has been in wide use. Other words that were proposed include kestlik (sustainable), peavoolustamine (mainstreaming), toimeabi (humanitarian aid), tundetaip (emotional intelligence) and penipaun (doggiebag).
At the awards ceremony, 59 participants will be recognized for creative solutions that smoothly preserved the nature of the Estonian language.
The entries were evaluated by 30 judges from the Office of the President and the Institute of the Estonian Language.


Translation as literary ambassador

The runaway success of Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium” trilogy suggests that when it comes to contemporary literature in translation, Americans are at least willing to read Scandinavian detective fiction. But for work from other regions, in other genres, winning the interest of big publishing houses and readers in the United States remains a steep uphill struggle.
Among foreign cultural institutes and publishers, the traditional American aversion to literature in translation is known as “the 3 percent problem.” But now, hoping to increase their minuscule share of the American book market — about 3 percent — foreign governments and foundations, especially those on the margins of Europe, are taking matters into their own hands and plunging into the publishing fray in the United States.
With limited budgets and even more limited access to mainstream media, foreign cultural agencies have also come to look upon the Web as an ally in promoting their products. They spread the word not only through sites of their own, Catalonia and Romania being typical examples, but also by using American sites established specifically to champion literature in translation. Read More...


Independent bookseller sets up a website to campaign against Amazon, despite being a judge for the Best Translated Book Award sponsored by the online retailer

An American independent bookseller has set up a blog “Against Amazon”, despite being a judge for an award sponsored by the online retailer.
The move re-ignites a row which erupted in October over Amazon’s sponsorship of US literary prize the Best Translated Book Award, run by the University of Rochester’s translation website, Three Percent. Melville House, a US publisher whose work has previously won the award, declared it would be boycotting it in future because Amazon had agreed to give the award $25,000 in sponsorship, enabling the award to carry a cash prize for the first time.
But award organiser Chad Post said that he wouldn’t be making any changes to the Amazon sponsorship deal. “Jeff Waxman, of 57th Street Books, is one judge of nine for fiction, and as a young, outspoken bookseller, he’s entitled to his opinion,” he said. “My goal – as it was in 2007 when I started the Best Translated Book Award by myself with absolutely no funding – is to bring attention and admiration to translators and the beautiful books they translate. The fact that this April we’ll be giving $5,000 apiece to two international authors and two translators makes me very happy. The books and the translators are the most important thing here … In the end all the Melville House and Jeff Waxman stuff will hopefully bring more attention to the awards. But I wonder how they’d feel if their complaining about a minor piece of a massive pie ended up hindering the possible readership for these books. That wouldn’t be all that cool.”
The 25-strong shortlist for the 2011 Best Translated Book Award is due to be announced at the end of January.
Amazon.co.uk did not respond to a request for comment.