ProZ.com translation contests »
25th translation contest: "Alien first impressions"

Preparing
Submission phase  
Oct 26 '20Nov 24 '20
Hybrid phase  
Nov 24 '20Jan 11
Finals phase  
Jan 11Feb 11

About the Submission phase

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About the Hybrid phase

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About the Finals phase

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Competition in this edition of ProZ.com translation contests is finished. Winners have been announced in 18 language pairs. Click here to view the winners »

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Source texts — Jump: English, French, Spanish

The following are the source texts for this edition of the ProZ.com translation contests. Contest participants are given the opportunity to submit translations of these texts into the languages of their choice. If three or more translators translate a text into a given language, the contest is "on" in that language pair. To learn more about the source texts, see the "About the source texts" section below.
English
– "How to talk to aliens" from The Economist
Imagine dining in a European capital where you do not know the local language. The waiter speaks little English, but by hook or by crook you manage to order something on the menu that you recognise, eat and pay for. Now picture instead that, after a hike goes wrong, you emerge, starving, in an Amazonian village. The people there have no idea what to make of you. You mime chewing sounds, which they mistake for your primitive tongue. When you raise your hands to signify surrender, they think you are launching an attack.

Communicating without a shared context is hard. For example, radioactive sites must be left undisturbed for tens of thousands of years; yet, given that the English of just 1,000 years ago is now unintelligible to most of its modern speakers, agencies have struggled to create warnings to accompany nuclear waste. Committees responsible for doing so have come up with everything from towering concrete spikes, to Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”, to plants genetically modified to turn an alarming blue. None is guaranteed to be future-proof.

Some of the same people who worked on these waste-site messages have also been part of an even bigger challenge: communicating with extraterrestrial life. This is the subject of “Extraterrestrial Languages”, a new book by Daniel Oberhaus, a journalist at Wired.

Nothing is known about how extraterrestrials might take in information. A pair of plaques sent in the early 1970s with Pioneer 10 and 11, two spacecraft, show nude human beings and a rough map to find Earth—rudimentary stuff, but even that assumes aliens can see. Since such craft have no more than an infinitesimal chance of being found, radio broadcasts from Earth, travelling at the speed of light, are more likely to make contact. But just as a terrestrial radio must be tuned to the right frequency, so must the interstellar kind. How would aliens happen upon the correct one? The Pioneer plaque gives a hint in the form of a basic diagram of a hydrogen atom, the magnetic polarity of which flips at regular intervals, with a frequency of 1,420MHz. Since hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, the hope is that this sketch might act as a sort of telephone number.
French
– Un parfum "à l'odeur de lune" from franceinfo
Michaël Moisseeff est un Nez habitué des effluves inexplorées. Il a créé un parfum qui reconstitue l'odeur que les astronautes ont pu découvrir quand ils sont allés sur la lune.

Il se dit "sculpteur d'arômes". Créateur de parfums, Michaël Moisseeff, un Nez, est le premier à avoir reconstitué une odeur bien particulière : celle de la lune. Il s'est basé pour cela sur des témoignages d'astronautes. "Ils sont avec le scaphandre sur la tête, avec la tenue et la surtenue, et bien évidemment ils ne sentent pas d'odeur. Par contre, ils vont rentrer dans leur module, enlever le scaphandre, et là en enlevant tout, l'odeur de la cabine a changé et ça sent cette poudre noire cramée" dévoile-t-il.

Michaël Moisseeff dévoile ensuite les mystères de son parfum lunaire. "On est dans le minéral, donc charbon dessoufré, et puis des dérives de calcium. Une odeur c'est une matière, des molécules qui circulent dans l'air, qui sont rentrées par les narines, où est le capteur. Et dans celui-ci, il y a des petites serrures, et il faut considérer que ces petites molécules d'odeurs sont des petites clés", explique-t-il.

L'odeur de la lune est à retrouver à la Cité de l'espace à Toulouse (Haute-Garonne). Le but étant de "permettre au visiteur une expérience aussi originale que les astronautes ont pu vivre sur la lune", selon Xavier Penot, médiateur scientifique à la Cité de l'Espace. Une sonde chinoise a déjà aluni en janvier 2019 tandis que les programmes lunaires de la Corée du Sud et du Japon visent la fin 2020 et 2021. Les Etats-Unis préparent leur retour sur le sol lunaire à l'horizon 2024.
Spanish
– "Alien, ¿so vo?" por Juan Cruz González Allonca
Hace décadas, la humanidad viene buscando señales de inteligencia extraterrestre. Barrimos el cielo tratando de encontrar algún tipo de evidencia que confirme que no estamos solos en el Universo, inspirados en la infinidad de películas donde se realizaban los primeros contactos, visitas, o invasiones. Pero, ¿alguien se detuvo a pensar qué pasos se deberían seguir si llegara a darse ese contacto? ¿A quién debe comunicárselo primero? ¿A la prensa? ¿A la comunidad científica? ¿A una tía sorprendidísima por Facebook? Y ni hablar del interrogante que nos recuerda a una madrugada de domingo, uno más conocido por nuestra especie: ¿es buena idea responder este mensaje?
[...]

Mejor prevenir que curar. O, mejor dicho, mejor saber cómo actuar frente un ET antes de que venga uno, no tengas idea de qué hacer y te lo lleves a tu casa. El comité SETI de la Academia Internacional de Astronáutica (IAA) comenzó a debatir posibles acciones posteriores a la detección de inteligencia extraterrestre a mediados de los años ‘70. Entendieron que las primeras pruebas de detección podrían ser ambiguas o incompletas, por lo que era necesario un análisis cuidadoso para su confirmación. Por esta razón, el SETI de la IAA acordó con la comunidad científica una serie de principios para difundir información sobre la detección de inteligencia extraterrestre.

[...]

Ahora bien, una vez confirmada la señal ET, el siguiente paso sería determinar quién tiene que responder y en carácter de qué. La cuestión de designar la autoridad que debería representar a la civilización humana en una futura relación Alien-Humano fue siempre un campo de grandes debates y aún no está definida. Ojalá pudiéramos votar por Sagan.

En el artículo XI del Tratado del Espacio de 1967 –núcleo jurídico del Derecho Espacial– se reconoce de forma implícita el rol del secretario general de la ONU como representante de la humanidad (tranca el cargo). A su vez, otro tratado de la ONU, el Acuerdo que debe regir las actividades de los Estados en la Luna y otros cuerpos celestes –aprobado en 1979– señala en su artículo 5, inciso 3, que los Estados Partes informarán al Secretario General de la ONU cualquier fenómeno que descubran en el espacio ultraterrestre que pueda poner en peligro la vida o la salud humanas, así como de cualquier indicio de vida orgánica. Tenemos leyes para todo, queridos extraterrestres. Podrán escapar más fácilmente de las leyes de la gravedad que de las leyes del Derecho Espacial.
Por todo ello, y pese a que no existe un documento internacional que directamente ponga en la cabeza de la ONU las relaciones con los extraterrestres, desde la perspectiva del derecho internacional no es una locura determinar que, si algún día llega la señal, el secretario general de la ONU sea el mejor candidato para limpiar la voz, agarrar el micrófono y, en nombre de la humanidad, preguntar ‘Alien, ¿só vó?’.

About the source texts

The source texts for ProZ.com translation contests are typically selected by ProZ.com members with a goal of providing interesting and challenging material that enables top translators to show their talent.

To ensure a fair competition, efforts are made to avoid texts for which published translations exist. If you know of the existence of a published translation of any of these source texts into any language, please notify the site staff with a support request.

The views expressed in these texts should not be considered representative of the views of either ProZ.com staff members or the members of the ProZ.com community who have selected the texts.