April 20 Leiden Translation Talk on Telops and language learning – Experiences and insights from conducting a PhD study

On April 20 we will have a Leiden Translation Talk on Telops and language learning – Experiences and insights from conducting a PhD study with Eline Sikkema. Join us at 14:30 (CET time) on Zoom to find more about Eline and her PhD journey.

Zoom details:

About the speaker: Eline Sikkema is a language teacher in the School of Asian Studies (SAS) at Leiden University. She holds a PhD in Applied Languages from Dublin City University. For her doctoral research she used a multimodal transcript, eye-tracking technology, questionnaires and field notes to explore Japanese language learners’ perceptions of a Japanese variety show that featured intralingual (same-language) text. Her research interests include Japanese language learning, pedagogy, Audiovisual Translation and multimodality. 


Interview with dr. Eline Sikkema

Telops and language learning – Experiences and insights from conducting a PhD study

Eline Sikkema is a language teacher in the School of Asian Studies (SAS) at Leiden University. She holds a PhD in Applied Languages from Dublin City University. For her doctoral research she used a multimodal transcript, eye-tracking technology, questionnaires and field notes to explore Japanese language learners’ perceptions of a Japanese variety show that featured intralingual (same-language) text. Her research interests include Japanese language learning, pedagogy, Audiovisual Translation and multimodality.

Q: Could you tell us a bit about your research on Telops?

A: The research focused on the learners’ perception of an authentic Japanese show that featured same language text. The approach regarding this subject was based on two concepts: multimodal perception and visual attention, we were trying to cross-check findings on these two concepts by finding out how students look at such materials, what they think is useful for learning Japanese, and also to check their behavior while watching such program in order to understand how they make sense of that. And based off of that the study tries to give suggestions on how you can use these materials for the Japanese language classroom.

Examples of telops from Sikkema (2020), page 19.

Q: You used eye-tracking for this project, how did you start being interested in eye-tracking?

A: Actually, at the beginning I wasn’t necessarily thinking of using eye-tracking. My PhD research was part of a larger project. This larger project used eye-tracking technology in order to research Japanese variety shows and telops, so it was inspired by that study to use that technology, but it also made sense for this kind of perceptional research. All data sets have limitations so you need to consider very early on what you want to research and what kind of data you need in order to answer the research questions. So, people can also report on themselves but it can be influenced by their perception, so they may say things that are not always true. And the same happens with eye-tracking, for example, during the pilot study there were students saying: “you won’t see me looking at the telop” and then you look at the data and they were constantly looking at the telop, so for perception studies it is very good to have the eye-tracking data to cross-check findings. So, the original interest for the eye-tracking technology was sparked by the kind of data that we needed to answer our questions and to make sure that our findings were based on the data itself. I read in another interview on your blog (Sjoerd Lindenburg interview: something that is relevant to this discussion, and which also needs to be considered for any type of eye-tracking study: when you look at the eye-tracking data, it’s pure data, you can’t really say why they are looking at that, there could be a reason or they could just be staring at the screen. This shows that eye-tracking data also has its limitations and that e.g. self-reports can give insights into someone’s viewing behavior.

Q: Where you expecting the results that you got?

A: I was quite surprised by the importance of the number of inputs. Even though it was not completely out of the blue since communication is based to a great extent on non-verbal communication, I was still surprised at how the students could structure their own understanding of the program based on these components, that was surprising. At first, I thought that students at the beginner level would struggle with understanding the program, but they were able to catch up on these components and I thought that was very interesting and it changed my way of looking at subtitles.

Q: Do you think that telops could be used in reality shows in Europe and produce the same effect as they do in Japan?

A: That’s a difficult one because telops very much cater to the Japanese viewing audience. If you look at the research done on telops, there’s a lot of discussion regarding the viewer audience; in Japan telops are also used because people usually look at a program while doing something else, they are not 100% focused on the television, and the telop is a way for people to hear or understand what is being said even if they are not paying that much attention. So, in addition to making the program more interesting it’s also a way for them to stand out against other programs. So, there is a certain usage behind telops that is more catered towards the Japanese audience, and another important thing to consider is that telops don’t necessarily follow the same standards (e.g. display rate, color usage) as those used in Europe. So, I’m not sure it would catch on with the general viewer in Europe but I think that for learning purposes it can be helpful. However, when using them for learning purposes we need to be mindful of the color usage of telops, as telops can consist of more than one color. While the study showed that typography was helpful in understanding affective aspects of the program, it is not clear to what extent these colors can be helpful for understanding linguistic contents as they may not follow meaning or grammar rules.

So, we would need to be careful when introducing them to the general audience as it may take time for viewers to get used to them but it would be interesting to see how students use them for learning purposes.

Examples of telops from Sikkema (2020), page 21.

Q: do you think that telops could be more effective than “normal” subtitles, especially for the hearing impaired? Due to their size, effects, and colors?

A: In the conclusions of my thesis, I do mention SDH, subtitles for deaf and hard of hearing, as they use colors to differentiate the speakers. Telops use techniques that are reminiscent of SDH but they do not seem to use these in a systematic way. In the video I chose for the study there is only one particular telop style that is always used for a particular guest on the show, but all the others aren’t Considering that telops can also employ effects such as moving, shaking etc. I think their design may be more confusing to the hearing impaired and therefore less effective than SDH for this particular viewer audience.

Q: What are your projects and goals for the future?

 A: An interesting path would be to introduce Japanese variety shows and telops in class to see how students react to them. With this feedback we can then start thinking about what kind of learning tasks we can use for such materials. 

Dr. Sikkema’s PhD thesis can be downloaded here: Sikkema, E.C. (2020) Telops for language learning: Japanese language learners’ perceptions of authentic Japanese variety shows and implications for their use in the classroom. PhD thesis, Dublin City University. doi:

Interview and blog post by: Elisa, Elsa, Maria Vittoria, Annalisa and Martina

Pseudotranslation and reading under the bombs in Iran 

An interview with Dr. Esmaeil Haddadian-Moghaddam 

In translation studies, pseudotranslation is considered as translation without or with a weak connection to a corresponding source text. In his presentation on the 5th of april (, Dr. Haddadian-Moghaddam focused on Zabihollah Mansuri (1897-1986), an Iranian translator, pseudotranslator, adapter and journalist whose practice illustrates the difficulty of delineating translation from non-translation. He argued that the study of Mansuri’s practice is necessary for a better understanding of the “rise of literal mind” in Iran. 

Q: Could you tell us more about pseudotranlsation? How and when did your interest for this topic start? 

A: Generally, we consider pseudotranslation as those texts which do not have a corresponding source text. So, if you have a translation and you want to look for the original, you may get frustrated because you find no source text or the translation departs significantly from the original. It is like doing detective work in the field of books. 

When we talk about pseudotranslation in Iran, we need to talk about Mansuri: he was a translator, a pseudotranslator, an adapter and a journalist. In his work, loyalty to the source text seems to have been of secondary importance. He had a magical gift: to produce books that readers wanted to read, books that could reach thousands of people regardless of their education – there were doctors, pilots, engineers among his readers. Mansuri’s body of works proved extremely popular in the years following the Islamic Revolution of 1978 in Iran and the subsequent Iran-Iraq War, specially during the Iraqi’s missile attacks on major cities in Iran. They provided two kinds of escape: on the one hand, an escape from the strict ideological battel waged by the Islamic revolutionaries, and on the other hand, an escape from the horrors of Iraqi missiles. You needed something to forget it all.  

That kind of power is missing in today’s Iran specially in light of the argument that literary language is in decline and the “literal mind” is on the rise. This is a significant argument put forward by Omid Azadibougar (2022) because it tries to explain how a hegemonic system maintains and blocks critical thinking by supporting a non-literal form of reading and thinking. Mansuri might have used a simple language but simple is not necessarily non-literary. To reach a literary regime of reading in Iran where questions about the status quo are asked, you need stepping stones. Mansuri was and remains one of those missing stone. This is a call for a kind of writing that can reach a broad range of readers, some of whom may wish to ultimately explore the ideal literary language. 

Q: In last week’s talk, you mentioned the “lost and found” manuscript trope that was used for many pseudotranslations. Do you know other similar tropes that are linked with pseudotranslation? 

A: In the western tradition of translation studies there are some known cases. If you read some of the literature on this topic, a couple of texts are often mentioned and in recent times I think new cases are introduced but apart from that there are not too many because there is no database.  

Another problem is the problem of method: it’s a delicate and tricky job to delineate between pseudotranslation and translation. Rizzi (2008) is one of very few scholars who has proposed a method, but then not everything is clear there as I said in my presentation. How do writers, translators, pseudotranslators hide their identity behind the texts? Rambelli (2009) says that pseudotranslation is more common in times of social and cultural tensions. This is certainly the case with Mansuri whose practice is marked by significant political, social and cultural changes in modern Iran. That said, despite ongoing crises across the globe, the tendency to use pseudotranslation these days seem to be very little. The reason has to do with access to a huge amount of data; people are more educated, and writers and translators tend not to use this strategy anymore because they can be quickly exposed. For example, let’s look at the case of fan-subbing: these people immediately tell each other if they detect a problem somewhere; they discuss it in their forums, it’s really quick. But this wasn’t the case half a century ago; so,you were safe doing pseudotranslation. If we do more historical research, we come across more pseudotranslation cases, something that remains to be fully explored. 

Q: Changing the subject, could you give us an introduction on your studies on the Franklin Book Programs? 

A: The Franklin Book Programs was an American organization. Franklin itself was not a publisher but was assisting local publishers in the developing countries to publish mainly American books in translation. After the Second World War, there was a tension between the Soviet block and the American block, and each block wanted “to win the hearts and minds” of the people around the world. These superpowers were clashing not in the real battlefield, but in the battlefield of ideas. In the absence of the internet in the 50s, 60s and 70s, things like books and magazines were powerful alternative tools: they were readily available and were comparatively cheaper than other kinds of media. 

While the American Marshall Plan aimed to rebuild western countries and their economy, a similar plan was beginning to take shape in the general field of culture. In the category of Cold War book programs, we can refer to the Franklin Book Programs: it was established in New York in 1952, and in 1953 they opened the first office in Cairo, Egypt. They would recommend titles to the local offices, which were staffed by the locals. They would then set to translate and publish these books by the local publishers. There were no Americans working there, they acted as advisers. Gradually Franklin started to expand, first in the Middle East: in 1954 they opened an office in Teheran, then Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and later they went to South East Asia, and Latin America. They published about a thousand books in Arabic and nine hundred in Persian. They didn’t only publish novels or children’s books, but also textbooks, and the textbook industry in these countries was a powerful tool because the dominant discourse of development was tied with literacy. In order to develop, you needed more literates, and in order to have more literates, you needed more books. The program filled a gap.   

But Franklin had their opponents: mainly the lefties and those influenced by the communist ideology, especially in the Middle East, where it was quite strong. There was a constant clash between the Franklin supporters and its opponents. Franklin closed down in 1978 after 25 years of activity and it left behind about three thousand titles in several languages. Something of Franklin is left in Cairo: they changed the form of the publishing house and it became an association which is still there. Also, the legacy they left in Teheran is very strong. It is an interesting case of cultural diplomacy, in the sense of how governments use culture to win people over; how books as materials objects can be used for certain political aims.  Many people look at Franklin from the perspective of propaganda: I am against this view: you can start from propaganda but then you need to move on. I don’t look at the Franklin case as a black and white case; I like to look at the impact it left, not just in the publishing field in these countries but also on a generation of translators and publishers who were trained and had access to first class technology of the time, mostly unknown in those countries. Thanks to foreign funds and the income generated from their operations they managed to improve the condition of publishing in these countries. One way of illustrating this point in my work is to explore and better understand how the money and knowledge were used by the locals, and how they exercised their agency. In other words, they had the power to localize a foreign product for the use of their own people. This is far more interesting to explore than to write off Franklin as a purely propaganda enterprise. 

Q: The last question we wanted to ask you is why and when did you get the idea of a Journal of World Literature and why is it important to consider literature from this perspective? 

A: This goes back to 2013-14. My friend and colleague Omid Azadibougar and I were two years into our post PhD period, and we had a lot of ideas. One was to start a journal about Persian literature and translation, since we were both interested in translation as an academic field. We had of course the Iranian Studies journal and similar journals but their approach was mainly from an area studies perspective and they were not addressing modern Persian literature let alone translation. During a conference at University of St. Andrew University, I proposed the idea to Brill. The initial idea was further discussed with a number of younger and more established scholars and we gradually realized that there were similar cases to Persian literature, all in need of attention. The shift from Persian literature to world literature was by itself an interesting development. We were lucky to have contact and guidance from David Damrosch, Theo D’haen, and Zhang Longxi and others who supported the idea and make it happen. 

It took about two years until we managed to get the structure of the journal ready. In the last couple of years, we have managed to cover some examples of less known literature such Romanian, Scandinavian and African literature. We are now in the 7th year, and I just got the latest issue which is about the pandemic and how it has affected the way we respond to literature.  

Seven years of work behind the scenes of a journal takes a lot of energy and work. Still, I find the concept of world literature challenging to define: what is exactly world literature? Is it just the canons, the established works? Or is it all the translated books? Is it an exploration of less known works that deserve to be introduced into major languages? And what does reading world literature mean when everything is one click away and how should we interact with it? How should we read the classics? To be honest, my personal impression is that the definition is becoming more and more difficult to grasp, and that is what keeps the journal interesting. 

Interview and blog by: Elisa, Elsa, Maria Vittoria, Annalisa and Martina


Azadibougar, O. 2022. “The decline of literary reading and the rise of the literal mind.” In Book Love, ed. María Angélica Thumala Olave, New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2022 (forthcoming). 

Rambelli, A. 2009. “Pseudotranslation.” In Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, eds. M. Baker and G. Saldanha, 208-211.  Rizzi, A. 2008. “When a text is both a pseudotranslation and a translation: The enlightening case of Matteo Maria Boiardo (1441-1494),” In Beyond Descriptive Translation Studies: Investigations in Homage to Gideon Toury, eds. M. Shlesinger, et al.  Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 153-162.

Leiden Translation Talk 24 May: Creativity in different translation modalities and its reception by readers

On May 24 we will have a Leiden Translation Talk on Creativity in different translation modalities and its reception by readers by Ana Guerberof Arenas. Join us in person at 12:00 (CET time) in the Digital Lab (P.J. Veth, room 1.07) to find more about the CREAMT project.

In this talk, Dr Ana Guerberof Arenas will present the results obtained within the framework of the project CREAMT*. This research project explores creativity in literary texts in different translation modalities: translation (translated by professional literary translators), machine translation using a customized neural engine, and post-edition (machine translation output corrected by professional literary translators). Further, it looks at the impact on readers by looking at narrative engagement, enjoyment and translation reception in two language combinations, English-Catalan and English-Dutch. The objective is ultimately to understand how the use of this technology might or might not constrain creativity in the translators’ process, and how readers engage and receive texts that have been translated assisted by technology.

*Creativity and narrative engagement of literary texts translated by translators and neural machine translation (CREAMT)

About the speaker

Ana Guerberof is a Marie Skłodowska Curie Research Fellow at University of Groningen. Her project (CREAMT) looks at the impact of MT on translation creativity and the reader’s experience in the context of literary texts. Ana is also a Senior Lecturer in Translation and Multimodal Technologies at University of Surrey (UK) where she is a member of the Centre for Translation Studies.

She has worked more than twenty years in the translation/localization industry in roles that ranged from translator to operations manager. She has authored refereed articles and book chapters on MT post-editing productivity, quality and experience; pre-editing and post-editing; reading comprehension of MT output; translator training and creativity and reading experience with different translation modalities.

Effective viewing behavior and viewing strategies: Can we teach foreign language learners to effectively use subtitles?

An interview with PhD candidate Sjoerd Lindenburg

How do language learners read subtitles? Can we use eye-tracking to determine effective viewing strategies? Can we teach students effective viewing behavior to improve language learning? These are some of the central questions in Sjoerd Lindenburg’s PhD project, funded by an NWO Promotiebeurs voor leraren ( and carried out in collaboration between Stichting Alberdingk Thijm Scholen and Leiden University (ICLON & LUCL).

Q: What does your research focus on primarily?

A: My research focuses on second language learners’ behavior. Obviously, you process the information in a certain way, but there is a difference when it is in a foreign language rather than in your first language, especially in the use of subtitling in that context.

Q: What sparked your interest?

A: I completed a Master’s in Translation here at Leiden University and I took one of Lettie Dorst’s courses, Multimodal Translation, which I thought was really interesting. As I wanted to get my teacher’s degree as well, I looked for ways to merge those two interests together. Then it turned out that a lot of research had been done on the use of subtitles for language learning, mostly during the 1970s and 1980s, but with a recent resurgence in popularity from around the 2010s.

Q: Does your research focus on other languages than English?

A: It focuses on English and French, because we want to implement our findings at the secondary school I work at (teaching English). As English has a rather unique position in the Netherlands – most children start learning it very early on, watching English audiovisual content on YouTube or television – we are also looking at French to even this exposure effect out. Most pupils don’t start learning French until they are in high school and most do not watch a lot of audiovisual content in French or listen to French music.

Q: What are your plans for the future? How do you plan on carrying out this project?

A: It is a five-year PhD-project, consisting of three phases: phase one is gaining insight into how people view audiovisual materials with subtitles. That is, whether they are good at the languages that we have, so English and French, and also Japanese for this first part, to see where they look at. To do this, we are using the eye-tracker in the LUCL lab. When do language learners look at certain parts and why do they look at them? How do people watch subtitled material? Part two is hopefully going to be next year, and we will be doing the same thing with secondary school students, to see if they behave differently when watching TV series, as they might not be as interested in learning a language as someone who chose to study it. Then part three is using the information we have gathered to create lessons to teach students how to watch those videos in a way in which they can maximize their language learning without taking away the entertainment videos provide us. Of course, watching Netflix is fun, and it is also educational, but if you make it too educational, will they still do it?

Q: What would you say are the main difficulties? Are there specific difficulties per age group, or is it more difficult if someone is obliged to learn the language rather than if they choose to do so voluntarily?

A: I think that right now, the biggest difficulty has nothing to do with participants, but with the experimental set-up. Technical difficulties have thus far been the worst, because we use such a very specific machine for this research. Another difficulty is with participants. Right now, people view parts of a TV show and afterwards the participant and I re-watch them together to try and get to the bottom of why they did what they did, and to see if they notice anything in their own behavior. As a researcher I have the data there, but I do not know the reasons behind their behavior. However, participants always understand less of their own behavior than I would have liked, even when re-watching their own recordings.

Q: Our last question: Did the pandemic really change the way you work or the duration of the experiment? Were there any delays?

A: No, I had only just started my PhD, and the technical difficulties meant that I could not conduct the experiment anyway at that point. The only issue I had with Covid-19 was that I had it three weeks ago, which then postponed it for a little bit but only very marginally.

After the interview, Sjoerd walked us to the eye-tracking laboratory. There, we could see how the experiment works and we actually took part in it. We took turns in the soundproof booth where a computer screen streamed bits of different TV shows in three different languages. Outside, Sjoerd could see our eyes’ movements on another screen, and he recorded them, creating a sort of map showing which areas of the screen our eyes were focusing on the most. Each one of us had to see three different videos, but only with the last two our eye movements were recorded. The first video had Dutch subtitles, while in the second one the subtitles matched the foreign language that was being spoken, namely English, then Japanese, then French. After each session, participants are usually dismissed, so that Sjoerd can export the video and download the data. Then, the participants are called back into the lab, and they are asked questions regarding their understanding of the plot of the TV show they saw and their awareness of their own behavior when looking at the screen.

We are glad we took part in this experiment, and we hope that we made a small contribution to Sjoerd’s research.

Elisa, Elsa and Maria Vittoria

April 5 – Leiden Translation Talk on Pseudotranslation and reading under the bombs in Iran

On April 5 we will have a Leiden Translation Talk on Pseudotranslation and reading under the bombs in Iran with Esmaeil Haddadian Moghaddam. Join us at 10h (CET time) on Zoom for this very timely discussion.

Zoom details:

Esmaeil Haddadian Moghaddam

Pseudotranslation and reading under the bombs in Iran 

In translation studies, pseudotranslation is considered as translation without or with a weak connection to a corresponding source text. Writers and translators have used it as a strategy, among others, to escape censorship, introduce new literary genres and a marketing ploy. While recent scholarship has introduced more cases of pseudotranslation from non-Western traditions and challenged our understanding of translation theory (see Rambelli 2020), researchers have little in terms of methodological solutions to identify a translation from a pseudotranslation (Rizzi 2008) or an adaptation, for that matter. In this presentation, I re-reflect on the curious and yet challenging case of Zabihollah Mansuri (1897-1986), a prolific Iranian translator whose practice remains to be fully explored. As a modest man of singular habits, his translations/adaptations/pseudotranslations of historical novels, romances and thrillers have remained popular for several generations of Iranians. This was specially the case during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) when Iraq targeted major cities such as Tehran and Isfahan with long range missiles. Readers found solace in Mansuri’s captivating stories of the adventures of the Egyptian physician Sinuhe, the Assassins of the Alamut fort, and the accessible but otherwise complex transcendental philosophy of the 17th century Persian philosopher Molla Sadra as a way to escape the horrors of two wars: one imposed externally and one imposed internally by the post-Revolutionary ideologists. Mansuri’s case can complicate the boundary between translation, adaptation, pseudotranslation and original writing. Connections will be also made to a recent argument on the rise of “literal mind” in Iran (Azadibougar 2022) and what it might tell us about pseudotranslation.  

Azadibougar, O. 2022. “The decline of literary reading and the rise of the literal mind.” In Book Love, ed. María Angélica Thumala Olave, New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2022 (forthcoming). 

Rizzi, A. 2008. “When a text is both a pseudotranslation and a translation: The enlightening case of Matteo Maria Boiardo (1441-1494),” In Beyond Descriptive Translation Studies: Investigations in Homage to Gideon Toury, eds. M. Shlesinger, et al.  Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 153-162. 

About the speaker: Esmaeil Haddadian-Moghaddam is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions research fellow at Leiden. Previously he was at the University of Leuven (Belgium) both as a postdoctoral and a research fellow. His current research focuses on the dynamics, legacy and impact of the cultural Cold War in the Middle East.

Erasmus+ exchange @ Leiden Translation

Our First Month in Leiden

Hi everyone, it’s Elisa, Elsa, and Maria Vittoria, three exchange trainees from Italy working at Leiden University at the Center for Linguistics with Dr. Susana Valdez and Dr. Lettie Dorst. We wanted to introduce ourselves, as we will be posting some articles in this blog in the upcoming months. We are from Genoa University, and we have just graduated in Translation and Interpreting. Since we arrived, we got the chance to get to know the city that will be our home for the next four months. In this first month, we have had some time to get used to Dutch culture and university life. The campus is amazing; the buildings are beautiful and we especially love working at PJ Veth, at the Arsenaal building and at the Law Faculty.

But what do we do exactly for work? The three of us are taking part in an Erasmus+ Traineeship program divided into two distinct branches: Elsa is focusing on medical translation, while Elisa and Maria Vittoria are studying metaphor in machine translation. As you can tell, we are especially interested in studying translation, whether it occurs in specific fields or with the aid of specific tools. Along this research, we are also carrying out various other tasks: namely, we will be organizing Leiden Translation Talks and we will be interviewing prominent personalities studying and working at Leiden University in the realm of foreign languages and translation. As you can tell, we just love learning languages and getting in touch with different cultures! We are Italian native speakers, but, among us, we can speak a variety of foreign languages including English, Russian, German, Spanish, and French. Unfortunately, we have not gotten around to learning Dutch yet – but we are working on it!

Our experience at university is going smoothly, but it began with some technical problems which were promptly resolved by the University staff at the Plexus and at the Lipsius buildings. If you are looking for some technical support, these are definitely the places to go to. Another great service that the university provides is the library and the possibility of retrieving a book anywhere on campus. When we needed to borrow a book, it just took a few taps on our phones, and we could get the book delivered to the building nearest to our home. It was so convenient and helpful! When we are not working, we enjoy taking long walks along the canals and, as we are cat people, we love spotting the numerous cats that live around here. Leiden is such a picturesque town! We climbed up the Burcht, which is a castle on the hill. We were delighted when we reached the top and came across a scenic view of the whole city. Luckily for us, we took this stroll on a bright sunny day, which was really appreciated after being caught in the rain several times. The weather was the main shock for us, because it is so different from what we are used to! It changes so abruptly, and we are always caught off guard. On the very first rainy days we would always try and use umbrellas, but we were the only ones in the streets doing so and we quickly found out why: the wind blows so strong that it is really no use trying to fight it with an umbrella, and so we just gave up – you know what they say: when in Rome…

One thing we have not tried out yet is riding a bike. It may sound silly, but the number of bikes on the streets and the speed at which people ride them kind of confuse us! We come from a mountainous Italian region and people do not really ride bikes there; we do ride scooters, though, but we are not used to the lack of helmets. So, we mostly walk around the town. During our various aforementioned walks, we also stopped for food, and we tried the typical Dutch delicatessen, that is, fries, bitterballen, and Dutch pancakes. We also enjoy sipping a refreshing Heineken sitting by the water, but we are not going to lie: our favorite drink is coffee, and we usually get it at the cafeteria at the Lipsius building. Nothing like a good roast to give our days a kick start! During our lunch breaks we usually head to the Us Bertus bakery, just a few steps away from campus, which offers fresh-made and filling sandwiches, perfect to grab something quick before getting back to work.That is all from us today; we hope our experiences and suggestions will be useful for other exchange students! We will be posting articles and interviews covering a number of topics, mainly regarding translation and language studies, so stay tuned. Bye!

Elisa, Elsa and Maria Vittoria

Subtitle-a-thon Challenge Amsterdam: We have a Winner!

Van 26 september tot 2 oktober 2021 vond de Europeana XX: Subtitle-a-thon Challenge Amsterdam plaats. Tijdens dit online event ondertitelden 12 deelnemers meer dan 62 minuten archiefmateriaal van het Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid. Van oude Nederlandse journaals tot clips over kunst en cultuur. Doel van het project: het audiovisuele erfgoed van Europa te ondertitelen in het Nederlands en Engels, en zo toegankelijk te maken voor anderen. “Het verleden ondertitelen, vertalen voor de toekomst”.

En half oktober werd dan eindelijk de winnaar bekend gemaakt: onze eigen Annemeike van Gaans! Uiteraard zijn de docenten van de MA Translation in Leiden supertrots! Ook op MA Translation-alumna Valerie Brentjes, de nummer twee, en minor-studente Imogen van den Oord, de nummer drie. En uiteraard op alle deelnemers die hun tijd, enthousiasme en vaardigheden aan dit prachtige project gedoneerd hebben.

De winnaars van de Subtitle-a-thon Challenge Amsterdam

We stelden de winnares een paar korte vragen…

“Met wie hebben wij het genoegen?”

Mijn naam ik Annemeike van Gaans en ik ben 22 jaar. Ik kom van de BA Engelse Taal en Cultuur in Leiden, en doe nu de MA Translation. Tijdens mijn bachelor heb ik ook de minor Vertalen gevolgd, wat me heel goed beviel. Ik vind het leuk om met taal te puzzelen, en daarom spreekt deze opleiding me enorm aan. Bij een vak als Multimodal Translation gaan we voortdurend in op de interactie tussen beperkingen en creativiteit in het vertalen van allerlei teksten.  

“Hoe kreeg je te horen over de subtitle-a-thon en waarom heb je meegedaan?” 

Mijn docent Multimodal Translation begon er in de les over. Ik ben geïnteresseerd in ondertitelen en dacht dat het een leuke manier was om te kijken of het bij mij zou passen. Verder sprak het initiatief zelf me ook aan.  

“Wat voor video’s heb je ondertiteld en hoe vond je het?” 

Het waren vooral oude video’s, veel uit de jaren ‘70. De Nederlandse video’s waren vooral korte nieuwsclips, bijvoorbeeld over een nieuwe tentoonstelling in het Museum van Volkenkunde of over een bijzonder warme zomer. Ik ben helaas maar aan één Engelse video toegekomen, maar dat was een ontzettend schattige video over een tehuis voor oude ezels.

Het ondertitelen beviel me goed! Het hielp natuurlijk dat ik zelf video’s kon kiezen die me interessant leken, maar ook de video’s die me minder aanspraken vond ik uiteindelijk toch leuk om te ondertitelen. Het puzzelen met zinnen om de juiste balans te vinden tussen betekenis en lengte was heel anders dan het vertalen dat ik tot nu toe gedaan heb, maar een leuke uitdaging. Het lastigste was dat ik soms de video niet goed kon verstaan en we hadden natuurlijk geen scripts voor deze video’s – je kunt niet even opzoeken wat ze zeggen.  

“Wat heb je geleerd over ondertitelen?” 

Dat het heel anders is dan het soort vertalen waarmee ik tot nu toe heb geoefend! Aan de ene kant had ik meer vrijheid, omdat ik redelijk vrij kon vertalen zo lang de betekenis maar overkwam. Aan de andere kant pasten er maar een specifiek aantal karakters in een regel ondertiteling. Dus je moet soms gewoon dingen weglaten. En ik heb natuurlijk geleerd om met ondertitelsoftware om te gaan.  

“Wat vind je van het Subtitle-a-thon Challenge-initiatief van Europeana?” 

Ik vind het een heel leuk initiatief! Het zijn hele interessante video’s die je een kijkje geven in de wereld van vroeger. Ik zou het zonde vinden als deze video’s in een archief verdwenen, en ik hoop dat ze nu voor meer mensen toegankelijk zijn.  

“Denk je dat mensen vooroordelen over ondertitelen hebben?” 

Ik denk dat mensen stiekem toch slecht over ondertitelen denken. Als het goed gedaan is valt de ondertiteling meestal niet op. Hij valt alleen op als mensen hem ‘slecht’ vinden of denken dat hij niet klopt. Ik denk ook dat het veel moeilijker is dan het lijkt. Dat verbaasde me in het begin ook echt! 

Tot slot…

Ik vond het heel leuk om eraan mee te doen, en ik vond het ook gezellig dat ik niet de enige van onze opleiding was die meedeed! De korte sessie op de campus tijdens de Internationale Vertaaldag op 30 september was gezellig en inspirerend.  

Meer informatie over de MA Vertalen:

Meer informatie over de Subtitle-a-thon Challenges:

#CenturyOfChange #HaDEA #ConnectingEurope #Crowdsourcing #SubtitlingTogether #coeEDL  #20EDL #AV #ondertitelen #subtitling #subbing #subs #AVT #digitalarchives #culturalheritage #cultureelerfgoed #DiscoverTranslation #TranslationMatters #Vertalendoetwatmetje #RoemdeVertaler #Vertaleniseenvak #vertalen #translation #EMTnet #LeidenTranslation #LUCL #LeidenUniversity #mastervertalen #vertaalmaster #vertaalopleiding #translationstudies #mastertranslation #BeeldenGeluid #Europeana