Translation Games | Jeux de la traduction

Want to learn more about this friendly competition?
Here is timeline of the Games from 2006 to 2020!

The Translation Games were created in 2006 by the Association des étudiants en traduction de l’Université de Montréal. Only five universities participated in the first year: Concordia University, Université de Montréal, Université du Québec en Outaouais, Université Laval and Université de Moncton.

Even in this first edition of the Games, participants sunk their teeth into challenges that have now become a staples of the Games, like literary, song and audiovisual translation. The first Games also included other well-known challenges, including comic strip translation, relay translation, the revision challenge, and back-translation, which involved figuring out the original source text sentence based on a weird, inaccurate translation.

Teams could also collect points at the basketball and dodge ball tournaments, as well as a trivia game.

Five teams faced off in the 2nd annual Translation Games in Québec City: the host team, Université Laval, along with Concordia University, Université de Montréal, Université de Moncton, and Université du Québec en Outaouais.

Université Laval repeated the classic challenges, while also introducing new ones such as defining neologisms. This was also the first time that the Gerry-Boulet prize for team spirit ("The Gerry") was awarded. Why Gerry-Boulet? Well, rumour has it that the Université Laval team, having forgotten to prepare their group sketch for the first Games, had managed to adapt the lyrics to a Gerry Boulet song, called Les yeux du coeur, on the spot. The adaptation, called Les yeux du traducteur, was such a success that the chorus quickly became the Games’ anthem. As for Gerry Boulet, he subsequently became the mascot of team spirit and solidarity showcased by the Université Laval team.

The 3rd annual Translation Games took place at Concordia University and featured seven universities from three Canadian provinces – newcomers Glendon- York representing Ontario. Université de Sherbrooke also debuted at this year’s Games. The 2008 Games were also uniquely identified by the logo, a hybrid of the historic Tower of Babel and a conch, a mythical instrument used by the Tritons and other legendary sea creatures for communication. The Games also introduced an equal number of translation challenges in both language pairs, taking advantage of the participation of non-francophone provinces. Thanks to past committees, the 2008 organizers were able to find time to increase the number of participating teams and to fine-tune official Games documents. They also introduced a new, but short-lived, challenge: instantaneous translation, where the source text is dictated and teams have to transcribe a translation instead of the original text. Likewise, “translator’s telephone” was played for the first time. The game was invented by participants and operates similarly to “broken telephone” – the difference being that the message is translated between each person. 2008 was also the year that the Translation Games were featured on the show L’Union fait la force, and the team won by a landslide. This source of much-needed funding was called upon again in 2010.


Six universities joined Université du Québec en Outaouais for the 4th Translation Games: Concordia, Laval, McGill, Montréal, Moncton and Ottawa. On Sunday, the students took part in Tai-Chi and improv. In sports, had to tackle their way through all the hasbeens. 2009 was also the year that the term hasbeens, was first used to refer to former participants who still wanted to attend the Games. Hasbeens had, in fact, attended Games before here and there, but in 2009, dozens of hasbeens showed up. McGill left its very first Games with the coveted Gerry-Boulet prize and the task of organizing the 2010 Translation Games!


Organized by McGill University, the 5th Translation Games welcomed nine delegations from all over the country: Université de Saint-Boniface, Concordia University, Université Laval , McGill University, Université de Moncton, Université de Montréal, Université de Sherbrooke, University of Ottawa and Université du Québec en Outaouais. The 9 universities faced off against a series of individual and group challenges in English and French: literary translation, translation of general texts, dubbing and subtitling, specialized translation, localization, advertisement adaptation and songs. This was also the only time the Games were held entirely at the hotel since it was impossible to book enough spots on campus!

The 6th Translation Games, hosted in Ottawa, challenged translators to become detectives, or rather “transleuths”, to solve language puzzles and lead an investigation into ways of translating texts. Teams from McGill, Concordia, Laval, Montréal, Moncton, Sherbrooke, Université du Québec en Outaouais, Saint-Boniface, Glendon-York and Ottawa took on the usual translation challenges like advertisement adaptation, song translation and back-translation, but also a new one: the translation tools challenge, where participants had to draw on their knowledge of translation tools. The University of Ottawa also came up with the idea of a literary translation contest where teams of six had to translate two texts written by authors from the university.

The 2012 Games, organized by l’Université de Sherbrooke, welcomed nine teams for a weekend that put its participants’ neurons to the test. The 7th Translation Games incorporated the revision challenge once again, and introduced a new challenge, constraint translation, where participants have to work with various restrictions, such as a limited number of words or characters, a restricted register or specific page formatting. The Sherbrooke Translation Games also marked the beginning of the Université de Hearst’s participation: they sent representatives to observe this huge event.

The organizers of the 8th Translation Games at the Université de Moncton in New Brunswick, promised us a weekend “filled with surprises, acadianisms, chiac and translation traps” and they delivered! Chiac was also featured in a guest lecture by author Georgette LeBlanc and a translation challenge involving an acadian literary text. All in all, eleven universities were represented: Sherbrooke, McGill, Concordia, Montréal, Laval, Saint-Boniface, Ottawa and Université du Québec en Outaouais, Moncton, and for the first time the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières and the Université de Hearst. The Moncton Translation Games left indelible memories in the heads and hearts of many participants, particularly the Quebec universities. Due to the 15 hour bus trip, the McGill, Concordia, Sherbrooke, Montréal, Laval and UQO teams became very close. If you happen to see someone clinking glasses and belting out « CHAISE! », you can be sure they were at the Moncton Games.
The 9th Translation Games took place at Université Laval, in Quebec City. They were the first to host the competition for a second time. In 2014, eleven universities participated in the challenges: Université du Québec en Outaouais, Université de Montréal, Concordia University, Université de Sherbrooke, Université de Moncton, Université de Saint-Boniface, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, McGill University, Université de Hearst, University of Ottawa, Glendon-York and obviously, Université Laval.

In 2015, the Translation Games organizing committee challenged 10 universities to translate masterpieces! They invited the students to get their creative juices flowing to take on mystery challenges. This year, Concordia was the star of the Games: they won the Gerry-Boulet prize for best team spirit, as well as prizes for best individual translation into French and best individual translation into English, as well as the Translation Game’s cup for the team with the highest points. It was the first time a single team won the top prizes in every category.

Nine universities participated in the 11th Translation Games: Concordia, Glendon-York, Laval, McGill, Moncton, Montréal, Ottawa, UQTR, and Sherbrooke. The 2016 Games in Trois-Rivières featured a party on Saturday at Musée Pop, and a tour of the Old Prison of Trois-Rivières.
The 12th Translation Games took place at Concordia University in Montreal, where 12 universities faced off: Concordia, Glendon-York, Hearst, Laval, McGill, Moncton, Montréal, Ottawa, Saint Boniface, Sherbrooke, UQO, and UQTR. As usual, there was a friendly vibe throughout the events, including the karaoke, dance and the competition itself. It was a winning formula that was made better with the exuberance of the teams. Ending Concordia University’s three-year winning streak, the Université de Montréal claimed the throne and took the coveted Gerry cup.
The 13th Translation Games took place in Ottawa, and teams from 10 universities faced off in conditions that were somewhat… different. The organizing committee decided to turn things upside down and bring a breath of fresh air to the Games to make things more exciting for everyone–not just the participants!
There were many firsts at the 14th Translation Games: they marked Glendon College’s hosting debut, Spanish made its entrance in the competition… and a jousting tournament was even held! No doubt about it: we certainly were Glendon-touched!
It is in Sherbrooke that were held the XVth Translation Games. Eight teams from universities across Quebec and Ontario came together for a weekend to get to know each other, laugh, celebrate and last but not least, compete in a series of challenges. In 2020, translation with constraints was replaced by a novelty, term creation. Professional simulation also made a comeback after a two-year absence, as did the team from the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, which was warmly welcomed. The Université Laval team took home first place and the Université du Québec en Outaouais team was awarded the Gerry-Boulet prize. An honorary Gerry-Boulet prize was also unanimously given to the unknown septuagenarian who “danced his life away” at the Chat Noir bar on Saturday night. If anyone finds him, let him know!
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