Middlebury Institute student Jem Walker MATI ’21 won first prize in the UN organized St. Jerome Translation Competition - Student Category, for his translation from French into English.
“I’ve always loved languages, but it wasn’t until my final year of undergrad at the University of Leeds studying French and Politics that this passion really crystalized into an interest in translation as a process,” shares Walker. He says he knew he wanted to continue his studies in the United States, and that the name Middlebury kept popping up when he was doing his research. “To be honest, I almost looked elsewhere because I found the prestige of the place quite daunting, but applying here was one of the best decisions of my life. It’s been an absolute revelation and I’m really looking forward to next year.”
Regarding the competition, Walker says the “text was a tricky one!” It was a blog post by a writer named Laurent Sagalovitsch about the joys of air travel. “It had some pretty colorful vocabulary and plenty of long, French sentences but the biggest hurdle was probably the generous servings of sarcasm with which Sagalovitsch made his point. At some points it was actually quite difficult to decipher exactly what he meant behind the irony, and how best to render the target text as a whole in order to reflect that attitude.”
The recognition of winning a prestigious competition like this is terrific, Walkers say. “In translation as well as in interpretation, you always hope that your work is at least “good enough”. I’ve no doubt that my work wasn’t perfect (even doing a parallel reading now, I’ve spotted some things that I would reconsider!) but it’s reassuring to know that you did a good job. It was great fun to participate.”
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