Ein Gewinner! (That's German for winner)


For many of us, Google Translate may be the closest we get to speaking to a foreigner in their mother tongue.

But not so Jonah Cowen, a language enthusiast and City of London School pupil.

The 17-year-old from Highgate recently won the UK leg of the European Union’s Juvenes Translatores competition for best young translator of the year, beating applicants from 72 other schools by translating a letter from German into English.

Jonah’s prize included a trip to Brussels where he received his award, alongside 27 other national winners from the European Union. There they attended an awards ceremony hosted by the European Commission’s translation service, which organised the competition.

“I find speaking different languages really broadens my perspective on the world,” said Jonah, who is currently studying for his A-Levels in German, Russian and Further Maths at City of London, as well as Biblical Hebrew outside of school. “German is often seen as a harsh and ugly language, but that’s partly because the German accent is only ever associated with Nazis in old war films.”

The young linguist, who attends Highgate Synagogue, said he hopes to pursue translation as a future career, after studying German and linguistics at university. But first, he plans to go to yeshivah in Israel to study ancient Hebrew and Aramaic.

“I find translation enjoyable,” he said. “It’s a fun challenge to try and really capture the nuance of a foreign language text in English. It makes you understand your own language much better.”

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