Westminster schoolboy is Britain’s best young translator

Walker Thompson of London’s Westminster School is this year’s UK winner of the European Commission’s annual translation competition for sixth-form pupils Juvenes Translatores. His translation from French into English was judged by EU translators to be the best of the 295 entries received from the 73 participating UK schools.

In April Walker will join the national winners from the EU’s other 27 countries for an award ceremony in Brussels where he will also have the chance to visit the European Commission’s translation headquarters. We asked the talented teenager for his reaction to winning the competition and to tell us more about himself and his love of languages:

“I was absolutely dumbstruck to find out I had won the Juvenes Translatores competition. Although I put a great deal of thought and effort into my translation, I naturally was startled to discover that I had come first in such a strong and talented field of competitors. As a firm believer in the European project, and having always savoured the challenges of translation, I found the competition to be a deeply rewarding experience. I am also looking forward to meeting the other successful candidates in Brussels in April.

Languages were one of my very first interests, and I have put far more time into them than into anything else in my life. As a result, I can claim experience (if not proficiency) in French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish, as well as Sanskrit, Ancient Greek, and Latin. I also just recently started learning Arabic, which has presented a whole host of new challenges altogether different from the ones I have encountered learning the aforementioned Indo-European languages. I enjoy investigating languages both as systems – that is, striving to understand their grammar and syntax – and as practical tools for communication, and I am passionate about foreign-language literature: my favourite author is, without a doubt, Aleksandr Pushkin.

I am currently studying French, Russian, Latin, and History at school, and have an offer to read French and Russian at Magdalen College, Oxford, starting this October. I have yet to make up my mind about careers, but both the Foreign Office and the City have much appeal: I hope that I would be able put my knowledge of foreign tongues to use in either setting, whether to settle disputes between nations or to secure business deals with clients from abroad.

Finally, I would like to express my immense gratitude to my Russian teacher and Tutor, Mr Geran Jones, for introducing me to this competition and seeing me through it, and to my fellow students at Westminster for the positive peer pressure that they provide on a daily basis.”

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