Translators Win Big Across Europe

In early February 2017, the European Commission announced the winners of the 10th edition of its annual translation competition Juvenes Translatores. Over 3,200 secondary students from the EU’s (still) 28 member countries participated. With 24 official languages in the EU, there were 552 language combinations to choose from. Submissions were made in 152 combinations, including Greek into Latvian and Bulgarian into Portuguese, which would probably require relay translation in a real-world Brussels setting.

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation said the contest aimed to “give young people a taste of what it is like to be a translator,” inspiring them “to pursue their languages at university level and to become professional translators.”

Facing the most competitive field was Carolina Zanchi from Bergamo in Italy, whose German into Italian translation bested 360 competing entries. Mariam Kostanian’s Polish to French translation emerged the winner out of Germany’s 351 submissions. An English to French piece by Alexis Lucas won over 348 other contenders from France.

EU wants to inspire students to become professional translators

But even students from smaller countries such as Estonia (25 submissions, winner Laura Schifrin EN-ET), Malta (27, Abigail Callus, EN-MT), Slovenia (35, Maruška Schenk, DE-SL), or Denmark (43, Astrid Ginnerup Jørgensen, DE-DA) faced strong competition.

On April 6, 2017, the 28 winners will travel to Brussels to receive their prizes from Budget and Human Resources Commissioner Günther Oettinger.

German’s Most Generous Prize

The wealthy Swiss city of Zug awarded its 2017 Translation Scholarship to Eveline Passet. The scholarship comes with a tidy sum of CHF 50,000 (USD 50,000), the most generous award for literary translation in the German-speaking world.

Passet received the prize for her translation of the diaries of Russian author Mikhail Prishvin (1873–1954). Born in 1958 near Frankfurt, Germany, Passet graduated in Slavic and Romance Studies and has worked as a literary translator since 1985. 

City of Zug (Switzerland)

A second prize of CHF 10,000 (USD 10,000) was awarded to English-German literary translator Andreas Nohl for his translation of the works of Edgar Allan Poe.

Austria Too

In Vienna, translators Ulla Forsgren Ekblåd and Alexander Sitzmann were awarded a more modest EUR 10,000 (USD 10,580) as the winners of Austria’s State Prize for Literary Translation. The annual prize under the patronage of Austria’s Chancellor is awarded annually for the translation of Austrian literature into a foreign language and to Austrian literary translators.

Ulla Forsgren Ekblåd received the prize for her translation of Austrian poet Friederike Mayröcker’s complete works into Swedish. Alexander Sitzmann was honored for his “outstanding translations” of literary works from Bulgarian, Macedonian, Danish, and Icelandic into German. A further 53 literary translators were awarded prizes totalling EUR 74,400.