Dynamic polyglot wins the 2014 McGill Associates Prize in Translation

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Montreal, August 2014 –

According to constructivists, translator competence comes in many shapes and sizes but is not limited to language competence alone.  Much depends on life experiences and the ability to build progressively on these.  Such is the case for Smadar Brandes, the 2014 winner of the McGill Associates Prize in Translation (French-English), which is awarded annually to the student with the best academic record in the Certificate in Translation.

Ms Brandes’s life experiences are rooted in her early childhood in Haifa, where she grew up speaking Hebrew. When she landed in Montreal at the age of nine, she was enrolled in immersion classes and quickly became fluent in both English and French. After finishing her studies at Dawson College, where she studied modern languages, she came to McGill and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Italian and Hispanic Studies, thus bringing her language count up to five: Hebrew, English, French, Italian and Spanish.  Because of her strong academic record, Ms Brandes received the Levitt Family Foundation Award.

During her undergraduate years, she was able to take advantage of a summer program in Puglia, Italy, where she participated as an actor in an international festival touring the region while playing a role in Le Isole Lontane.  But performing in public was not new to her either. Having played the cello since she was nine years old, she continues to perform in chamber orchestras to this day.

As an undergraduate, she learned a sixth language and received the Betty Workman Yaffe prize for academic excellence in Yiddish in 2010.

After completing her B.A., Ms Brandes profited from a language assistants’ program and taught French in a Spanish high school in Soria.  There she polished her Spanish and gave courses in Canadian culture and French.

Upon her return to Canada, she started teaching English as a second language. At the same time, she decided to build on her multilingual competence and enrolled in McGill’s Certificate in Translation program. During that time, Ms Brandes took advantage of her native competence in Hebrew and participated in the Translation Practicum program by translating the Montreal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities from French into Hebrew.

Never willing to rest on her laurels, Ms Brandes has taken on a new challenge and will start the Master of Conference Interpreting program at York University’s Glendon College in the fall.

 “Smadar’s language competence, dynamism and focus on achievement will make her a most valuable asset to Canada’s language industry,” pointed out McGill’s Director of Translation Studies, James Archibald, underlining the links between high-level plurilingualism and community engagement.

McGill University’s School of Continuing Studies offers both a Certificate in Translation and a Graduate Diploma in Translation for apprentice translators interested in the language industry.