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EU translation competition encourages multilingualism - 30/03/2010

Winners of 2009 competition ©EU

The 27 winners of the EU’s 2009 translation competition receive awards for their language skills.

Spring has arrived in Brussels and with it came the 27 winners of Juvenes Translatores (Latin for "young translators"), a competition organised by the commission's translation department. This is the third round of the contest for secondary school students, which has now grown to be a tradition.

The competition was held on 24 November 2009 and was open to aspiring translators born in 1992, who represent both their school and country. Participants had to select one of 23 texts (one for each of the EU's official languages) and translate it into another EU language of their choice.

The participants – and not only the winners – came up with some highly novel solutions to the difficult linguistic issues in the texts, demonstrating their talent for translation.

And let's not forget that behind every promising student there is a teacher. Organising the competition in schools is not simply a matter of teaching languages and arranging the practical details – teachers must also nurture talent. Sometimes this means finding a solution when national schools and post offices are on strike on the day of the competition, like last year in Ireland.

The competition has also – unexpectedly – proven something of a springboard for other linguistic ventures. After the most recent contest, a French teacher working in Gothenburg (Sweden) launched a successful Juvenes Translatores school exchange with France and Spain. The idea has caught on, and other schools are now doing the same thing, with similar success.

Juvenes Translatores aims to promote foreign-language learning in Europe and raise the profile of translation as a profession. As one of the winners said: "There is a difference between French, English and my mother tongue, even if you say the same thing. There is a different feel to it. So I study languages in order to be able to express myself in more ways."

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