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Past Initiatives

Moving Words

Initiative Moving Words

Final report (in German)

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Swiss Translation Programme 2009 – 2012

Literary translations play a substantial role in the cultural exchange between different linguistic regions in Switzerland, and they are a precondition for spreading Swiss literature in countries where the original languages are not spoken. Such were the reasons for Pro Helvetia to launch its «Moving Words» programme in 2009 and thereby commit CHF 2.4 million to the promotion of literary translation. The aim of the support programme was to increase the number of Swiss books in translation both in Switzerland and abroad, to make a sustainable contribution to the professional qualification of Swiss translators, and to raise public awareness and appreciation of the art of literary translation.

In its four years of existence, «Moving Words» made a considerable impact:

  • 9 Swiss literature book series have been launched by renowned publishing houses worldwide (e.g. in the USA, China, Turkey and India).
  • 14 two-year support agreements with Swiss publishers have intensified literary exchange between the country’s linguistic regions.
  • Over 60 symposia and workshops took place at which literary translators were able to network and deepen their professional knowledge.
  • More than 70 international translators were given the opportunity of a residence at Translation House Looren in order to work on Swiss literature projects.
  • New instruments for the support and promotion of translation were developed.
  • Pro Helvetia raised the rate for literary translation by 25% (from CHF 40 to CHF 50 per standard page of 1,800 keystrokes).
  • «12 Swiss Books», an annual promotional magazine, was launched by Pro Helvetia.

All these activities and promotional measures were realised and financed by Pro Helvetia in collaboration with a number of institutional partners at home and abroad, such as the Swiss Authors’ Association ( AdS), which also functions as association for translators, the Centre de Traduction Littéraire at the University of Lausanne (CTL), Translation House Looren, the three Swiss publishers’ associations SBVV, ASDEL and SESI, the Swiss National Library, the S. Fischer Foundation and Literarisches Übersetzerkolloquium Berlin.

Outlook on translation promotion in future

Tried and tested promotional instruments developed as part of «Moving Words» are to be continued: the increased rate of payment for Swiss translators, residencies at Translation House Looren, project grants for Swiss literary translators, the Young Translators Partnership mentoring scheme, events on and with translations, and Swiss book series issued by international publishers. Besides the translation of fiction, plays and works of non-fiction on Swiss topics, the Swiss Arts Council will also specifically promote the translation of children’s and youth literature.



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