The Babylon Best Young Translator Award was founded in 2013, at the initiative of the EU Delegation in Skopje, and the organising of the competition is a cooperative partnership between the Delegation and the Macedonian Translators Association (MATA).
The award was first presented on the European Day of Languages, 26 September 2014, and since then, each upcoming competition has been announced in September, after the current year’s award ceremony.
The award is aimed at young translators, up to 26 years of age, citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia, who translate from the official European Union languages into the languages spoken in the country. It is organised as a competition, whereby the entrants send translations of prose work extracts of their own choosing between 3,000 and 5,000 words in length. According to the competition requirements, the work must have been originally published in an EU member state three years before the application date at the earliest and not to have been translated into the target languages included in the competition. The award is a pilot project of sorts. According to our research, for the time being, it is the only competition of its kind in Europe, and even globally: It accepts translations from multiple source languages—all official EU languages—into multiple target languages, that is, the languages spoken in North Macedonia.
In each competition cycle there may be as many first prizes as there are target languages in which entries have arrived. Since the fifth cycle, the award consists of an attendance of an international event related to literature, publishing, and/or translation in an EU member state (whereas until the fourth one the winners would receive a monetary prize of €500 in domestic currency countervalue); annual active membership to MATA, covered by the Association and is valid for 15 months, until the end of the next calendar year, and having the award-winning translations published, partially or in full, in the Kulturen život magazine, as a first step in the winners’ broader recognition and the development of their professional resumes.
So far there have been seven complete cycles of the Babylon Best Young Translator Award and 12 first prizes awarded, seven of which have been for translations into Macedonian, two for translations into Turkish, and three for translations into Albanian. Moreover, long-term cooperation has been established among MATA, the EU Delegation, and cultural actors in the Republic of North Macedonia.
MATA presents the Babylon Best Young Translator Award at its annual conferences, which are regional and international in scope, as well as at international translator conferences, including the Third International Conference of the International Association of Professionals Translators and Interpreters (IAPTI) in Bordeaux in 2015, and the Annual General Meeting of the European Council of Literary Translators’ Association (CEATL) in Barcelona in 2016, after which MATA became a full member of the council and now submits reports on its activities before the annual general meetings of this important association network. In 2016, MATA nominated Babylon for the 100 best language industry projects, Language Industry Awards. The award was admitted among the final 100, on the twenty-seventh place.