MA translation linguistics

Luna Chiaverini and Megumi Sakata both study MA Translation at SOAS University of London, however their research interests could not be further apart.

Luna has recently received the Paper of Excellence Award at the APFTIS (Asia-Pacific Forum on Translation and Intercultural Studies) Conference for her research paper on video game localization, while Megumi was awarded first prize in the Democracy Now competition for a subtitle script to accompany the video clip “Year of Woman”.

Luna and Megumi talk about their time studying at SOAS:

Luna, how did you come to submit a paper at the APFTIS conference?

Luna: “This is actually a funny story.  When I gave my availability to volunteer at the conference to Dr. Sato-Rossberg months ago, I considered submitting a paper for the award, but then I decided otherwise, as I knew that many PhD students were going to participate and, being myself only a MA, it did not seem a good idea.  It felt a bit arrogant of me to think I stood a chance.  Then, on the very day of the conference, Dr. Sato-Rossberg asked me to submit the paper anyway.  I was a bit hesitant, but as my tutor and mentor, I trust her very much, so I did.  And, oh well, eventually (and to my great surprise) I won!

“The subject of my research is game localization.  I argue that the in-game lexicon (that is all those nouns indicating weapons, tools, creatures, techniques and moves specific to each video game world) should be considered and translated as a technical terminology.  I know, kind of nerdy.”

And, Megumi, what was your winning entry for the Democracy Now competition?

Megumi: “Dr. Nana Sato-Rossberg informed us of the competition hosted by an independent news programme, Democracy Now.  As I was engaged in translating news articles as an intern and subtitling for TED talks as a volunteer at that time, the competition was ideal for me to try out what I had learned through those activities and, of course, the course at SOAS.  My entry was a subtitle script for the video clip of ‘Year of Woman’, which was one of the options they provided and is about the protests that took place on International Women’s Day 2018.”

What have you most enjoyed about the MA Translation course?

Luna: “To be honest… everything.  SOAS is like a second home to me.  I love to study and to research.

“I have never felt that I belong more to anywhere than to this university!”

“So yes, I enjoyed everything, from essay writing to note taking, from going to lectures to spending entire days in the library.  And before you start thinking I am some kind of mythological creature (or I am being very, very sarcastic), I am not saying that it is not hard sometimes, and that on some days I wish I could just sleep all day, but notwithstanding tiredness and pressure and obstacles, I love every minute of university life.”

Megumi: “I enjoy doing weekly assignments with my classmates.  We discuss a lot about meanings, topics and nuances from both English and Japanese perspectives.  Even though translation tends be lonely in general, this reminds me of the importance of listening to other people’s opinions and seeing things from different perspectives.”

What was it that made you choose this course over any others?

Luna: “I wanted a course that could help me to apply my language skills in a more practical and job-spendable way.  I don’t think it worked much, because now I am more determined than ever to keep studying.  Moreover, I was already familiar with translation, after five years of translation from Latin and ancient Greek in high school.  Finally, I always enjoyed how translation makes you focus so carefully on a text… translating your favourite novel (or subtitling your favourite movie or TV show or providing translation for your favourite indie video game) is such a proof of care, understanding and ultimately love for them!  Plus, it often feels like solving a riddle, which makes the process challenging.”

Megumi: “I wanted to obtain translating and communication skills to be able to utilise English for my career.”

What do you hope to do in the future?

Luna: “If it wasn’t clear from my previous answers, I want to keep studying.  I have applied for a PhD here in SOAS and (finger crossed) I will be able to continue with my research and hopefully many others!  In case this plan does not work out though, I am not going to give up and I will try to save enough money working to pay for another MA…  I have just to decide in which subject, but it is difficult, because there are at least a couple I would like to study.”

Megumi: “I would like to continue to improve my translation skills.  As I immersed myself in such an international environment at SOAS last year, I would like to work as a communicator among different cultures, ideally as a translator.”

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