Europe’s Best Young Translators Feted in Brussels

March 28, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Multilingualism and Youth, rewarded Irish student Orla Patton with a trophy for winning the irish section of the European Commission's annual young translators' contest, Juvenes Translatores.(Karl Walter/Getty Images)
Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Multilingualism and Youth, rewarded Irish student Orla Patton with a trophy for winning the irish section of the European Commission's annual young translators' contest, Juvenes Translatores.(Karl Walter/Getty Images)

The 27 winners of the EU’s annual translation competition received awards this Wednesday in Brussels.

Twenty-seven youngsters – one from every country of the European Union – were rewarded for producing the best translation in their country in the European Commission’s annual young translators’ contest, Juvenes Translatores.

Irish girl Orla Patton, a student at Mainistir Loreto Deilginis in Co Dublin, is the winner of the Irish section of the contest for her work – translating a text from Irish into English.

Each winner received a trophy and certificate from Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Multilingualism and Youth. Afterwards, they met the Commission translators who drafted the original contest texts and marked the ensuing translations.

The competition was held in November 2011 and was open to 17-year-old school students, who represented both their school and country.

Participants had to select one of 23 texts (for each of the EU’s official languages) and translate it into another EU language of their choice. Although many chose English as a source language, the total number of language combinations used was 148 – the highest since the competition was launched in 2007.

The theme of this year’s texts was volunteering (to mark the European Year of Volunteering 2011). A number of the teenagers who participated in the contest in different countries were clearly inspired by this theme, with some going on afterwards to enrol as volunteers for the Red Cross and other NGOs.

However, the competition organisers were at pains to stress that behind every promising student there is a teacher. Success in the competition is not simply a matter of arranging the practical details, they said – the winners’ teachers had clearly also put in some hard yards, inspiring and nurturing such linguistic interest and flair.

Many of this year’s winners have a special fondness for languages. The winners from the Netherlands and Luxembourg grew up in bilingual families, and have added more at school. The Czech winner prefers reading books in their original language, and the UK winner’s passion is German, which she plans to go on to study.

Juvenes Translatores aims to promote language learning in Europe and raise the profile of translation as a profession. The contest has gained in popularity each year, with entrant numbers last year the highest ever at over 3,000.