translation festival 2017

There will be games, talks, debates, music and even two translation duels

Exeter to play host to first South West Translation Festival

Authors, language experts, a “Spectacular Translation Machine” and a typewriter called Adélaïde will be the stars of Exeter’s first Translation Festival this month.

The city will play host to a series of free activities to celebrate those who translate foreign texts into English and back again, allowing us to read some of the world’s best literature.

There will be games, talks, debates, music and even two translation duels at Exeter Central Library, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and the Exeter Phoenix.

Older teenagers and adults can have a go at working the Spectacular Translation Machine at Exeter Central Library, whether or not they speak a foreign language. Those who roll up their sleeves and work in the machine’s “engine room” will help to translate Bessora and Barroux’s Alpha, a powerful graphic novel in French, which tells the story of a West African migrant who leaves Ivory Coast to find his family in France.

Also performing at the University of Exeter festival, held on Friday, 29 September, is visiting French poet Hervé Eléouet, who uses just one word as inspiration to create a whole poem—in French--on his faithful typewriter, Adélaïde.

Families can play the 4D Translation Game, an activity showing how translation and foreign languages connect people and cultures from around the world. Players are divided into two teams and have to use clues to discover what is in a mystery box they have been given.

There will be special international editions of the usual Story Time and Baby Bounce and Rhyme sessions at Exeter Central Library.

Award-winning translator Timothy Adès will read his rhythmic translations from Spanish, French and German, and translators Martin Sorrell and Lesley Lawn will show the complexity of translating poetry, by discussing why they produced different translations of one French poem and inviting the audience to give feedback.

The Acclaimed French-Lebanese actress Darina al Joundi, accompanied by her translator Helen Vassallo, will read from her critically acclaimed The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing [Le jour où Nina Simone a cessé de chanter].

Breton poet Anne Jullien will be joined by her translator into English, Michelle Bolduc, and her musical interpreter, jazz musician Fred B. B., for a session that intertwines poetry in English and in French with jazz improvisation.

People can try translation for themselves with industry experts from the Institute of Translation and Interpreting South West Network to discover what happens during the translation process.

British Sign Language translators will talk about their work translating text into the preferred language of over 145,000 people in the UK, including a showing of the popular Lewis Carroll poem Jabberwocky in BSL, and a live poetry interpretation.

International Baccalaureate students from Exeter College will present the work they have created in a workshop run by Italian Australian artist, Angela Cavalieri. Angela will also discuss her multilingual art, print-making techniques and passion for visual art.

Eliana Maestri, from the University of Exeter, will lead a discussion on whether speaking English erases differences, or whether living in multicultural and multilingual communities helps us appreciate our richness and refine our ability to move between languages and cultures.

Immigration experts will show the stories of how Italians made their home in Exeter and Devon using photographs and the personal stories of individuals.

Russian author Alexei Makushinsky, winner of the 2015 Russian Literary Award, will discuss his work, and academics from the University of Exeter will discuss their current work translating Russian texts into English, and the political complexities of this task.

All events will be open on a first come, first served basis.

Professor Michelle Bolduc, Professor in Translation Studies at the University of Exeter, said: “We live in an increasingly global world, meeting people all the time who speak in different languages. Our festival will give people the chance to join in with fun events to try out their language skills. We will also welcome global translation experts, who will lead fascinating discussions on how translation can play a crucial role in migration contexts and whether English, as a lingua franca, really erases differences.”

Timings and locations for the events can be found at

Date: 14 September 2017

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