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Concordia is tops in translation

University takes first place at competitive Jeux de la traduction
March 12, 2014

Concordia's 2014 translation team (Clockwise from top left): Alex Gauthier, Sébastien d'Auteuil, Professor Christine York, Ugo Ellefsen, Émilie Robertson, Juvéna Harfouche, Marla Kennedy and Myriam Gervais-O'Neil. | Photo by Alain Boisvert

When it comes to translation, Concordia is officially tops.

The university’s translation team clinched first place at the ninth Jeux de la traduction this past weekend. Team captain Émilie Robertson was also named the competition’s best French-to-English translator.

The games, which were held March 7 to 9 at Université Laval in Quebec City, drew 12 teams of translators from schools across Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick.

Competition was stiff. The weekend’s final event — a professional simulation — called on participants to translate a 600-word text from English to French, with surprises thrown in along the way. Each team was graded on both the quality of its translation and its ability to work together.

“At one point, we were no longer allowed to use our dictionaries,” says Robertson. “And for half of the event, one of our team members was ‘off sick,’ and we had to deal with that.”

But while a team was crowned a winner, the games weren’t all about competition, Robertson says. This year, each group brought along a small stuffed animal as a mascot, which led to what she calls a definite highlight of the three days.

“We were supposed to try and steal each other’s [mascots] throughout the weekend, and it got pretty ferocious,” says Robertson. “It was all in good fun, and it’s a great activity because it gets you talking and interacting with other teams.”

Team captain Émilie Robertson Translation team captain Émilie Robertson: “Les Jeux gets you talking to people who love words as much as you do.” | Photo by Alain Boisvert

Along with Robertson, Concordia’s team included Myriam Gervais-O’Neill, Sébastien d'Auteuil, Ugo Ellefsen, Juvéna Harfouche and Marla Kennedy. The students were coached by Alex Gauthier, a former team member, and accompanied by Christine York, an instructor from the Département d’études françaises.

Robertson, Ellefsen and d’Auteuil are also members of the Institute for Co-operative Education. Robertson interned at marketing firm Cossette and communications firm Anglocom, while Ellefsen interned at community organization Federation CJA, localization and translation firm Lionbridge and translation firm Idem, where he now works. D’Auteuil, meanwhile, cut his teeth with an internship at Federation CJA and another through Traducta, a program that helped students land intern work at various firms.

For York, the win was a milestone.

“I’m so proud of our team,” she says. “I knew they were really good, but this weekend, they outdid themselves.”

Though the competition was the event’s focus, students also took advantage of networking opportunities with graduates and translation professionals — and, of course, their peers from other schools — at dinners and cocktail events during the weekend.

Robertson is already looking ahead to next year’s games. Because she graduates this April, she won’t be eligible to compete, but she is planning to attend as a volunteer or coach.

“It’s a really important event for developing a community among translators in Canada,” she says. “Translation can be an isolating field because you’re mostly working at a computer, but les Jeux gets you out there talking to other translators — to people who love words as much as you do.”

Learn more about the Institute for Co-operative Education.

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