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Instagurus and faking it up

So. I hear you’re diversifying?

That’s right. It’s all the rage these days, you know. Everyone’s got an online course, a membership programme, a coaching scheme or some sideline or other. It’s about time I got in on the act. I mean, how hard can it be? Sounds like a nice little earner.

Sounds like you’re becoming an instaguru, then.

A what now? I don’t think so; I don’t go much for social media.

Not Instagram, you lummox. Instaguru. An “instant guru”. A shiny expert with all the answers* available for a great-value price (hurry while stocks last!).

* The actual experience and expertise underpinning these answers may vary from that implied.

Hang on a sec –

– Because if you are, you might find yourself in hot water. Continue reading

Peer training, peerless value?

Translators need continuous professional development (CPD), and the best people to provide it are often other translators. You might look to a wine expert to add zest to your oenology specialism or turn to an accountant to learn about your tax system. For many other topics, though, peer training can be your best bet, especially if you need help applying the knowledge to your translation business, or simply if the subject is purely translation- or language-related.

e-learning is one of the latest big things, and more and more professionals are getting in on the act. Increasing numbers of translators are providing teaching, training and learning opportunities for other translators, from webinars to workshops and from blog posts and courses to conference speeches. Which is great, right? Continue reading

METM16 in a nutshell

As a translator, what do you expect from a good conference?

A variety of thought-provoking and entertaining presentations and workshops; some productive networking; lots of convivial socialising with friends old and new; cementing bonds with online buddies and teammates; a translation slam (yes, a translation conference with an actual translation slam! Why don’t they all do that?); a beautiful, interesting conference venue; a beautiful, interesting host city; good food; gorgeous weather; the giddy, nerve-jangly highs of getting up there and giving a presentation; and finally coming away with lots of notes, things learned, ideas to implement in your work and business, and the feeling that it had all been a right good old experience?

Well that – apart from the weather at the start – was METM16 in Tarragona. Did you miss out? That’ll learn ya. See you in Brescia 2017, then 🙂.


[shamelessly reblogged (with acknowledgements, etc.) from the METM16 Facebook page]

Cut the coy act, translators!

The other day, the UK Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) re-opened the call for papers for its prestigious 2017 conference, because not enough submissions were “on topic”: honing and toning our core translation skills. It seems we’re keener to talk about marketing, technology, pricing, agencies, ergonomics, social media, or whatever – all pressing and worthy matters, of course – than about what we actually do. Hard to believe? Continue reading

More quality, less speed: translation buyers beware!

Pick any two, they say, from price, quality and speed. Two, not three. Because you can’t have a top-quality translation for an urgent deadline without paying a premium, for example.

It’s true that translators can produce a sublime piece of work in a big rush now and then, when a valued client needs it, but it’s not a sustainable approach. And it’s dangerous to imply that it might be. In the long run, speed and quality are not reconcilable. Continue reading

Translation ethics: an experience at the wordface

What would you do if this happened to you?

We were all brought up to be good boys and girls (probably girls, statistically speaking, given the demographics of the translation ‘fraternity’). We all have our moral compass and our idea of what’s right. And when we join a translation institute, we sign the code of professional conduct, glowing gently with the noble feeling that we’ve just made the world a slightly better place.

Then we merrily translate away in our snug home offices for several years, and nothing of note happens, ethics-wise.

Until one day, something does… Continue reading

Keep going

He’d been waiting for me.

“I say! Laddie!”

The Lord Todd of Trumpington waved his walking stick at me from across the First Court of Christ’s College, Cambridge.

Actually, he’d been waiting for anyone. To aid his recovery from an altercation between his kneecap and a paving stone, his doctors had instructed him to take a tour of the Court each morning. Accompanied, of course. Which was where I, the next undergraduate to walk through the gate at the time, came in.

I forget what we talked about during our laggardly lap of the circular lawn, except his parting words: Continue reading

Championing the translation profession

We translators often lament that the market doesn’t appreciate us: our professional status is low, and getting potential clients to understand what we can do for them is like pulling teeth. Bad translations are rife, perpetrated and perpetuated even by organisations purporting to offer high-quality products and services – organisations that should know better (but clearly don’t).

What is to be done? Beyond ranting, sniggering or becoming embittered, that is. Beyond faintly frustrated, quasi-resentful, badly targeted preaching to the wall. Continue reading

CPD: the Continuous Professional Debate

CPD is about becoming the best translator you can be. Or at least getting closer. It can be exciting and rewarding. It brings better jobs, better clients, more money and more satisfaction. But it’s not just an individual thing.

CPD is also the key to giving our profession a sorely needed status boost by proclaiming a collective commitment to raising our game. To showing ourselves as a professional community that’s serious about standards and about the duty of care we owe to clients. Continue reading

Faithful to what? Accuracy “vs” clarity in translation

What is a good translation if not an accurate and faithful translation? It must say the same thing, fulfil the same purpose, and create the same impression in the target language (TL) as did the original did in the source (SL). Achieving that, of course, can be a tricky old business: concepts in the source text (ST) may not exist in the target culture; TL and SL readers’ cultural norms may differ; and perhaps the translation should recreate not the “same” impression but an “equivalent” one, whatever that is exactly.

But what precisely was the ST author’s intention? And did their choice of words succeed in fully articulating it? For a great many STs are written in commercial settings under time pressure (time is money) by people who are not trained professional writers, let alone literary authors with every verbal nuance at their command. Even academics are not necessarily experts in selecting the words to express their own ideas. Continue reading