The ATC (Association of Translation Companies) annual conference took place on Thursday 15th September at the University of London. The conference was attended by over 100 delegates, including Roevin’s Liz Athey and Alan White. Translation companies from across the UK and Europe were represented.
John Wheen, Chairman of the Association of Translation Companies
Seminar topics from the conference included the proposed new European Standard for translation services being finalised by CEN (the European Committee for Standardisation) due to be launched in 2006, and the nationwide expansion of the Translation Graduate Apprenticeship Scheme pioneered by the University of Salford of which Roevin is a keen supporter along with CILT.
TALKING TURKISH by Simon Wiles MA MIL MITI, freelance translator
Not surprisingly, the Turkish language is a member of the Turkic group of languages; but it is also a member of a much bigger family, known as the Ural-Altaic group, and within that big family Turkish has some surprising relatives. All the members of this group, which includes Hungarian and Finnish, originally came from Mongolia. The Turkic peoples are known from archaeological monuments to have been well established in Mongolia in 650 A.D., but in 1072 they arrived in what is now Anatolia, the modern Republic of Turkey. What prompted them to migrate is not clear, but on their way westwards across Central Asia smaller groups of people, probably in the form of tribes or clans, separated off from the main body and settled in lands which in modern times have developed into states such as Kazakhstan, Kirghizstan, Uzbekistan, and so on, where Turkic languages (of which there are estimated to be about 25) are spoken.
What makes Turkish different?
On the surface, there seems very little to link the Turkic languages with its distant relatives like Finnish, Estonian, or Hungarian; but, in fact, all of them have three features which make them totally different from any language born and bred in Europe. They have no grammatical gender (no “le” or “la”, or “der, die, das”); they are agglutinative, which means that every element of a verb or noun is stuck on the end of the word and can build up into a long – sometimes very long – snake; and they have something called “vowel harmony”. This, in a way, goes together with the “agglutination”. What it means basically is that all these languages have two kinds of vowels (English vowels are a, e, i, o, u), which English grammarians call “front” and “back”, based on whereabouts in the mouth most of the action takes place when the vowel is pronounced (more with the lips, or more at the back of the throat).
Here’s an example from Turkish of these two principles at work:
So “evlerimizdeki” means “which are in our houses”.
Here we see what are called “front” vowels going together (e and i; the others are ü and ö, pronounced as in German).
Here’s another example:
“Yurtlarda” means “in the (nomad) tents”. The vowels here are ‘u’ and a’, which are the “back” vowels (the other one is the “dotless i”). Ideally, pure Turkish words do not mix up front and back vowels, but over the centuries the language has borrowed many words from Arabic and Persian, and more recently from European languages, which break the rules (as all languages do).