This post focusses on language development and maintenance (source languages). Language exchanges, newspapers, podcasts and Tweeting: that’s the last you’ll see of these options here. What other ways are there for professional translators to keep their source languages shiny and bright? The third in an occasional series on CPD.
Today I’m looking at maintaining and improving your translation skills. Ongoing development of your existing translation skills is quite distinct from initial translator training, and needs to be approached differently too.
The second in an occasional series on CPD. First one: What is CPD?
I’ve come to the conclusion that unprofessional and/or unskilled translators aren’t awarded work just because they are cheap. They are awarded work because they are willing to do whatever it takes to give the client what they want.
St Jerome: a man as relevant to translators today as he was in 420AD!
International Translation Day has been promoted since 1991 by the FIT. The day coincides with St Jerome’s Day, who was recognised by the Catholic Church as the patron saint of translators, scholars and editors, as well as libraries and librarians.
Check out this post for a full run-down on the man who was “no admirer of moderation, whether in virtue or against evil”.
Incidentally, this year’s theme for the day is translation quality for a variety of voices. (And no, I’m not entirely sure what it means either.)
So without further ado, let me point you to some special posts in honour of International Translation Day’s past:
- Jill Sommer has a great post on St Jerome here.
- Corinne McKay encourages us to thank a terminologist here.
- Aquí un artículo sobre San Jerónimo para mis amigos hispanohablantes.
- Julia James discusses some interesting challenges facing the field of translation here.
- Finally, English PEN have released an anthology with extracts from some of the best international writers of our time in translation, so get your free download here.
Celebrate in style, colleagues and friends. I know I will.
Guerrilla marketing involves taking a non-traditional approach to conventional marketing goals. Best of all, it’s a way for us small fry to successfully compete with the big players by applying a toolbox of tricks that no self-respecting freelance translator should be without.
The best thing about a guerrilla approach to marketing is that the question of whether to use [insert preferred web 2.0 tool here] is no longer relevant. Instead the question becomes what exactly do these online tools offer, and how can you apply them to meet your offline goals.
Here are two great resources to help focus the mind of the most marketing-allergic translators:
- Guy Kawasaki makes available a free one-page template here, which he calls The World’s Shortest Marketing Plan (although when completed it comes in longer).
- If you want to read a little bit more about guerrilla marketing, I recommend downloading this free pdf called Guide to Guerrilla Marketing for Consultants (not least because it advocates a 7-sentence marketing plan)
Here’s a tip from a previous post that’s worth another airing:
“There are companies out there who are willing and able to pay for excellent professional services. So put a price on your time, and stick to it – it will pay off.”
Two years and one GFC after writing these words I’m pleased to report that, based on my experiences at least, this still holds true.
There are lots of fantastic clients out there, direct clients and translation companies alike, who are desperately seeking mutually beneficial, long-term relationships with good, reliable professionals. As a freelancer, you need only 2 – 3 of these to make good living. No, they’re not always easy to find but you will find each other. The real challenge lies in staying in the game until that happens – so keep on keeping on!
Read here for more: 4 tips on pricing to attract clients you’ll want to keep
This book gets my vote as what I imagine must have been the most fun translation job of 2010. It’s called Schnittmengen, and is the German version of Jessica Hagy’s English-language book Indexed, based on her blog of the same name.
I’ve been a big fan of Jessica Hagy for a couple of years now, and featured her work on my blog as far back as 2007. So I was pretty excited to see her book translated into German, with a nifty little set of cultural notes for the German reader here.
Some careful sleuthing revealed the translator was Vivian Cullis (*I think*?)… but it’s a shame she doesn’t get a listing on Amazon, or even on the copyright pages of the book itself. So sadly, it’s a boo hiss on that score for the publisher, Goldmann Verlag (Random House).
But that aside: Can you imagine being tasked with this translation job? Cultural references abound, and as the very nature of this work involves comparing random things and finding an unexpected common point, the context wouldn’t offer very many clues to meaning either. Plus, it’s surprising and insightful in itself. Could this be the most fun translation job of 2010?
The translation activities you carry out as a language student are a far cry from those carried out as a translation student. The objective of the former is to improve your language skills, the latter to refine your translation skills to a professionally acceptable level. When you join a translation degree at postgraduate level, for example, it is usually assumed that your language skills are already up to the job, or at the very least, that you have the ability to get them there – and keep them there – yourself.
The question of whether initial training for professional translators should take place at undergraduate or postgraduate level is an interesting one, with practice often informed by the realities of a country’s education system. But one advantage of a clear distinction between programmes for language learning learning and initial translator training is that it helps to re-enforce the difference between studying to learn a language and studying to become a professional translator.
In other words, translation competence is distinct from language competence. Researchers at Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften, Zurich’s University of Applied Sciences, describe it well below:
The translation process (and thus the training of future translators) is not only based upon the bilingual competence of the translator but also on his/her capacity to analyze the relations between the source text (ST) and target text (TT) in order to produce a translation which, on the one hand, is as close to the ST as possible and, on the other, meets all necessary linguistic and cultural conventions of the target-language community. Additionally, the translator must possess specialized knowledge concerning the subject or field covered by the ST itself (e.g. law, computational science, biology etc.).
Extract from: Susanne J. Jekat & Gary Massey. The Puzzle of Translation Skills. Towards an Integration of E-Learning and Special Concepts of Computational Linguistics into the Training of Future Translators. Linguistik online 17, 5/03. Accessed 6 July 2010.
If all language learners and teachers were to understand this difference, I’m sure it would go a long way towards raising the status of the profession. It would also ensure that students considering translation degrees would have a more realistic picture of the kind of activity they are likely to undertake, both as part of their degree and afterwards.
Hello to fellow AUSIT members who are dropping by after yesterday’s professional development session on building a strong professional presence online.
I will upload my slides, along with some additional resources, by the end of the day today. In the meantime you might find the following posts interesting:
- A 5-minute video on how I use WordPress for this blog. This is the same system I use for my website.
- Some 5-minute videos with demonstrations of how I use LinkedIn and Google Reader for professional purposes.
- A half-hour presentation on social media for translators, which looks at Tweetdeck (co-presented with Philippa Hammond – check out her blog for a great guest post on search engine marketing (SEO) too).
- Finally, here is a list of 107 blogs by (mainly) freelance translators. (There are also plenty of blogs by interpreters, but these can be a starting point for finding them if you wish). If you’re thinking of starting a blog, it’s a good idea to know what’s out there already. If blogging is not for you, that’s fine too: but you might be interested in keeping up-to-date with what other professionals are writing.
Thank you very much to everyone who attended last night, and for your interesting and insightful questions.
Blogging isn’t for everybody. But if you’ve considered blogging but are too shy to press “Publish”, here are some translator-specific tips to help you over the hump. Remember, the more translators who blog, the larger the pool of expertise we have to draw on, and the more we all learn as a result. And y’all know I’m about the learning, right? 🙂 [Read more…]