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Wiebke Acton

Wiebke Acton is a Popular Culture Translation Alumna

I chose this course because it was the only one in the UK that deals entirely with genre-specific translation.

My main interest has always been dialogue translation, and this course allowed me to tailor some of the modules to my demands. For example, in the Crime Fiction module I picked a murder mystery play to translate for my coursework assignment. Similarly, my dissertation involves children's theatre translation, combining dialogue with the module 'Translating Children's Literature'.

Why did you choose to study at City, University of London?

Initially, I was looking for a university that offered a distance learning course in translation which would allow me more flexible study times while continuing my other job. A number of universities offered distance learning courses, but they usually took three years- too long for me. Back then, City ran a 1-year course called 'Principles and Practice of Translation' granting a PG certificate at the end which was just what I wanted.

I took the course and tasted blood.

Translating gave me so much joy that I decided to pursue this further and do a master's. With my PG certificate I could automatically enter an MA course at City without having to apply for it again. I knew I wanted to do literary translation, but with a focus on particular genres, and in 'Translating Popular Culture' I found a course that met my every demand.

What did you enjoy most about your course?

I liked that the course did not deal solely with theory. Although research and writing assignments played an important part, the course also had a strong practical focus, preparing the students for the industry of literary translation. Guest lectures from publishers and professional translators of the different genres (e.g. crime, comics, children's literature, computer games etc.) gave a valuable insight into the profession. Company visits to the leading subtitling and voice over studios in London were a great experience and provided me with first contacts when applying for work after graduation.

The course included great guest lectures from industry professionals as well as inspiring visits to translation companies in London.

The subtitling software used in the class is that of industry standard and learning to use it allows me now to work for different subtitling companies. The course effectively guides the student on their way from the classroom into the 'real translation world'.

What was your favourite module and why?

I don't actually have a favourite module. Before I started the course I thought that my favourite modules would be 'Subtitling' or 'Dubbing and Voice-Over Translation' as I was generally quite interested in audio-visual translation. I found, however, that translating children's books or fantasy literature were the modules I enjoyed most being as they are less concerned with technical restrictions but required more creative thinking.

What was a highlight of your course?

One highlight was definitely going to the London Book Fair. We were shown around and introduced to publishers, editors, translators and other industry professionals who gave us an overview of their daily work. Being part of this book fair and networking with all these people was certainly an inspiring, thrilling experience.

What are your plans after graduation?

I wrote my dissertation on Theatre Translation and my main aim is to translate stage plays for both adults and children. Alongside that, I would like to translate screen plays, radio plays, dubbing and voice-over scripts; any form of scripted dialogue is what I enjoy most in translation. As a freelance translator I will constantly look out for new projects.

During my year at City, I was introduced to future employers- important contacts that already bear fruit. Currently, I work for a London audio-visual translation company translating voice-over scripts for corporate purposes and film trailers. I'm also planning to contact German theatre publishing houses hoping to get my foot in the door.