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

Clear Writing, Clear Benefits – season 3

Anyone can write. Right?

Well, not exactly.

Sure, anyone who’s mastered English grammar and vocab can string a few sentences together, but it takes much more than that to write clearly and effectively.

Good writing helps readers to get the information they need, quickly and easily. Good writing helps persuade busy people to read your text and act on it, rather than just binning it. And good writing is a marketable skill and a key selling point for translators and editors.

The eCPD Clear Writing course with its lively 3-webinar format gives you: Continue reading

METM15 – networking over natas

Listen to “Tales of Brave Ulysses” first on Cream’s 1967 studio album “Disraeli Gears” then on one of their concert recordings; there’s no comparison. That’s the difference that the live environment makes. Similarly, while you can gain a lot from reading blogs and books, there’s no substitute for the immediacy of “live”. What you learn seems somehow fresher and more vivid – to say nothing of all the networking and socialising.

Which brings me to the 2015 conference of the Mediterranean Editors and Translators, or METM15 for short. Continue reading

How to re-use your existing content to sell more overseas

When you’ve invested time and money in developing effective marketing materials, it’d be a waste not to get the most from them.

Your website content, brochures, videos and blog posts could be working hard to make you more money from overseas markets. Why confine yourself to the domestic scene? Companies that can reach foreign customers can bring their products and services to a much bigger audience.

So can you. Continue reading

How to get total strangers to buy from you when they don’t speak your language

So you have a great product that the overseas market would love, but you’re not getting the sales you deserve?

At least, I assume that second part is true, otherwise you wouldn’t be here. If you already have more customers than you can cope with, all paying a big fat price, then congratulations! Otherwise, the worry and frustration of not selling enough either to the cagey Italian domestic market or to the distant, uncomprehending, seemingly unreachable foreign market will be all too familiar. Continue reading