Translations are made of visual signs on the page or screen. But they are also made of patterns of sound, with vowels clipped or sonorous and consonants plosive or sibilant, sewn into a linear tapestry of timbres and stresses that we can feel through our sense of rhythm. And we can use to great effect. If we keep our ears open, that is. The ebb and flow of a text, its evocative interlacing of sounds and echoes, can add much to the reading experience. It can make a text more enjoyable and more engaging. And the more engaged the reader,
Dear ACES and Sarah Grey Many thanks for your webcast on editing translations. It contains much of value. (I also enjoyed Sarah’s excellent online course on inclusive language, not least the lavish resources list; I now feel I have a very good grounding in that subject.) I am an editor and a translator (from Italian to English) and a Fellow of the UK Chartered Institute of Linguists, and there are a few points I would like to add, if I may, to qualify and complement the “Editing Translations” webinar content. The phrase “literal accuracy” was used. We must be careful
What strange days we find ourselves living in. What unprecedented days. Days of concern and apprehension, of great threats and radical countermeasures. How are you managing? Staying healthy, I trust? Getting used to life indoors? It’s not so new for those of us who work from home, but plenty of folk are feeling the strain, as we all #staythefhome amid the general siege mentality. But we can take courage from the knowledge that we have several weapons to wield against our common foe. Soap and water, for one, will stop it in its tracks. Social distancing helps us protect the
If a speaker programme’s success can be measured by how many notes you make, then SATT19 was something of a triumph. Nine pages of scrawl was a hefty haul for your correspondent, who had been reduced to a crabbed, jaded figure by sitting through years of talks on valuing yourself, work-life balance, and pricing for dummies at general translation conferences. But this one had a theme. No, a real theme. The School of Advanced Technologies for Translators, on 13 and 14 September in Milan, had talks on how neural machine translation (NMT) works under the bonnet, how universities should be
“‘If I began to think about these things, I was stopped, because so much came back to me, so many desires, so many old affronts’ – OK, let’s look at that first sentence. ‘If I began to think’? The original says ‘Se mi mettevo a pensare’: that’s not exactly began to think, is it? It’s more like ‘If I got to thinking’, or something along those lines. Look, the register is clearly informal in the original, so desires and affronts aren’t right. And I was stopped is supposed to be a translation of ‘non la finivo più’, which means the
I had a rude awakening the other week. (No, not the neighbour’s daughter’s Sunday morning trombone practice again, or at least I hope that’s what that noise is.) After my first half-dozen marketing translations for a new client won a warm reception, the seventh came back with an irate-sounding note. “Wrong tone of voice”. My attempt at elegant and sophisticated – we’re talking luxury yachts, by the way – should have been more edgy and “aggressive”. One of the brands in the portfolio had a different tone, but that hadn’t come across to me when the job was placed. Armed
What’s in a name? Would a translation “slam” by any other name sound as puerile and pseudo-confrontational? A tad harsh, perhaps, but I’m not a great fan of the “duel” rhetoric. Or maybe I was just hoping for a gentle ride, as I girded my verbal loins for my debut slam. My opposite number and I were trying to cultivate a collaborative approach to probe the text, to find the best renderings we could, to explore the various ways to skin a linguistic cat – rather than seeking a rumbustious, rambunctious tussle from which the vanquished slinks away, tail between
When is it done? I’ve wondered out loud more than once in recent months about when we consider our work fit to ship. My broad conclusion, on reflection, is that a translation is done when it meets an acceptable standard. But what does that mean, exactly? The whole notion of “acceptable quality” is highly subjective.
[This is the text of a 5-minute talk with a difference that I presented at the ITI One Day in … event on 16 June 2018 at Gray’s Inn in London. The presentation took the form of a “recital” of a pre-recorded text using my smartphone, but the experiment wasn’t a complete success, partly because the quality of the sound system at the venue, despite my sound check beforehand, wasn’t up to it, and apparently most of the audience struggled to hear any of it, annoyingly. The presentation was preceded by a warm and generous introduction by star organiser Anne
What’s the most important thing you’ve ever written? A couple of weeks ago, I had to craft what for me is probably the most momentous collection of words since I started, at my mother’s knee, to put crayon, pencil or pen to paper. Or loops and whorls to keyboard, now. In recent months, I’ve been banging on about incisive, zestful writing and how to choose your words to better effect – as ITI Bulletin readers, BP17 conference-goers, and the lovely attendees of my own wee clear-writing course may recall. It was time to put my freshly flexed penman’s muscles to
Ah, the serial comma. If there’s one topic that can be relied upon to polarise opinion among language lovers, that’s it. Yet for most people, its niceties are something of a mystery. Also known as the Oxford or Harvard comma, it’s that little flick of the pen or keyboard that some use between the last two items in a list: Tom, Dick, and Harry as opposed to Tom, Dick and Harry. Some insist that you should always use it; others, that you should never. But, if you look closely (and dispassionately), you can see that the truth lies somewhere in
You know those expressions that are a pain to translate to/from Italian? Awkward words that don’t behave, that stubbornly resist your best attempts, that never seem to come out nicely first time. Or second time. Those. Ever wondered if your lovely colleagues have found a quick and elegant way to crack some of them? Well now there’s a chance to find out. The upcoming ITI conference in Cardiff will feature a session for Italianists and Italophiles on the Saturday morning (20 May 2017), where you can compare notes and tap into the collective wisdom of your compagni di viaggio. Over
So. I hear you’re diversifying? Sure am. It’s the way to go 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. You’re becoming an instaguru, then? A what now? Don’t think so; social media isn’t really my thing, although I do have 37 followers on Twitter, you know. Not Instagram, you lummox. Instaguru. An “instant guru”. A shiny expert with all the answers* available for a great-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
As a translator, what do you expect from a good conference? A variety of thought-provoking, entertaining presentations and workshops; a spot of productive networking; plenty of convivial chinwagging with friends old and new; cementing bonds with online teammates; a slam (yes, a translation conference with an actual translation slam! Why don’t they all do that?); a beautiful, atmospheric conference venue; a beautiful, atmospheric host city; good food; gorgeous weather; the giddy, nerve-jangling high of getting up there and giving a presentation; and coming away with reams of notes, things learned, ideas to implement in your business, and the feeling that
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?
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.