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…]
I don’t normally like to use my blog as a platform to criticise others. But today I’m making an exception.
[edit 30 October 2009: Scroll to the end for an update]
Are Gen Y committing the cardinal sin of believing our own hype? I’m afraid we might be. Blogging may be a great way to get noticed in our respective fields, but let’s not allow our mastery of fancy technology to lull us into thinking we’re achieving something we’re not.
In a radio interview a few years back*, career advisor Penelope Trunk said something that made me think, “No, no, no, NO!”. She said:
The people who are blogging about their careers are the top performers, because it is so hard to blog. It’s so hard to be constantly thinking about your profession and to be gathering new ideas and putting out new ideas and having conversations about it, that only the best people, only the best employees are blogging and following blogs…
There are lots of things that make someone a top performer – hard work, talent, experience. But blogging? I really don’t think so. It may be a common denominator among successful or highly motivated employees, but I bet it’s also common among employees who are bored, or disillusioned, or really, really ticked off too.
Penelope does a great job of giving a voice to a sub-culture and I really admire the time and effort she puts into helping young bloggers find their voices. But in this particular case, I think she’s in danger of mis-managing expectations. I think it’s dangerous to believe that just because someone blogs, they’re a top performer or the best kind of employee. And it’s especially dangerous for younger bloggers to believe this, as it plays into all the worst kind of stereotyping of Generation Y-ers.
There’s no doubt that it’s hard to be constantly thinking about your profession, and formulating ‘new’ ideas. But who’s to say we’re coming up with anything really new? An idea or concept might be new to me, but that doesn’t mean it’s new to everyone else in my field too. I’d be embarrassed if anyone thought I was under the illusion that I was contributing to my field in anything other than a general way. (And by general I mean that if someone learns from my mistakes, then all the better).
The main issue here is that we’re in danger of confusing style with substance. Blogging is just a tool we can choose to employ for any number of purposes. Personally, I blog to learn, not because I’m any kind of ‘expert’. Blogging is simply one way to consolidate all the information I come into contact with everyday. It doesn’t in itself make me any different to another professional translator who might choose to use a different set of tools to track their development.
Blogging with an authoritative voice is an accepted means of writing for the web, but let’s not fall into the trap of believing our own hype. That’s just setting ourselves up to look dumb when it turns out that we’re only learning what a lot of other people have already worked out for themselves – and in a much less painful and self-absorbed way. I’d heartily advocate using blogging as a means of developing professionally, but I’d also recommend being clear on how sure you are of your ideas, and at what stage you’re at in the opinion-formulating process. Anything else and we’re just giving blogging a bad name.
Thanks for dropping by. See my more recent, updated page listing these translation blogs and more at
There’s been a huge increase in the number of translation blogs over the past year or so. When I started blogging (very sporadically) in 2006, it felt like there were very few of us out there – now there’s a vast community and it’s very exciting to be a part of it!
Here’s a list of translation blogs that I follow from my feed reader. Some of these are more active than others and there’s a definite bias towards my own language combinations of French, Spanish, German and English. But if they’re in my feed reader, it’s because I like reading them.
I normally prefer to synthesise this kind of information before posting it to my blog. So I normally only include certain blogs in my blogroll, for example, or I run occasional blog round-ups. But my list of blogs to write about has gotten so long that I don’t know where to start! So until I catch up, here’s the raw data – happy reading.
What’s New – Language Translation
ÜBERSETZER IM INTERNET
Translation, Language, Culture
Translation Quality Blog
Translation Journal Blog
Translation in the Trenches
Translation For Lawyers
Translating is an Art
Traduction technique, interprétariat et coaching en anglais
Tips for Translators
Thoughts On Translation
There’s Something About Translation…
The translator’s cafe
the court interpreter
Switch Off And Let’s Go
Spanish Translation Blog
Sabela Cebro Barreiro Traductora profesional
Poetry for Vadney
Pasión por la traducción
Nouvelles News de Zesty Dormouse
Musings of the Mad Wordsmith (and other things)
Musings from an overworked translator
Mac For Translators
luke spear online
life in translation
Las palabras son pistolas cargadas
LA TRADUCCIÓN AL DESCUBIERTO
Irma Ferran Teacher of Languages and Freelance Translator
Into Spanish Translation Blog
In Other Words
ICE Upcoming Events
How To IFL Freelancer’s Blog
Estudiantes de Traducción e Interpretación
Elisabeth Hippe Heisler
eel in the air
Dispatches from an environmental translator’s desk
De traducciones y otras rarezas lingüísticas
Brave New Words
Around the world in 80 Mays
Algo más que traducir
A World of Translation Work
A Translator’s Blog
“la parole exportée”
¿Se habla English? Life of a Translator
31.08.08 Update: thanks for all the link-backs and positive feedback to this post! I’ve added hyperlinks and tidied up the list ofr ease of use.
Here’s a couple more to add to the pot. It’s a bit of a mixed bag this time (much like my metaphors). There are lots of great sites out there, but the exciting things about blogs is that they’re immediate and personal. They’re also a lot more interesting than static websites as they have the potential to become dialogues as you can chip in with a comment and add your tuppence worth.
The Masked Translator: fairly new as only started in February 2007, but is already looking to cut a dash through the translation blogosphere. I usually prefer to keep an eye on new blogs for a while before recommending them, but The Masked Translator has already covered lots of interesting topics that I haven’t seen addressed elsewhere. Let’s hope it can keep tapping into those rarely discussed issues in an non-bitchy way, and without letting its masked status go to its head.
Language Realm blog*: a blog devoted to language, translation, interpreting, language learning and linguistics. So far so the same, but what makes this blog especially interesting is that Roger Chriss discusses the kind of day-to-day things that happen around and about the day of a translator but that still have an impact on our working lives (check out his Language Realm website for more static but still extremely informative info). So for example, there are posts in there about multi-language keyboards, about newly coined terms and best of all, about language learning for advanced learners. Something for everyone, but especially if you have Japanese or Chinese as a source language.
Lingua Franca: this is kind of a cheat as it’s actually a blog for a podcast which you can also listen to via your browser. Published every Saturday, this show runs for approx. 15 minutes and looks at all aspects of language through interviews and prepared talks with various experts who analyse a single topic of interest. The show is run by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation so has an obvious bias to people and issues Down Under, but the topics discussed are relevent to anyone with an interest in the popular culture of English speaking countries.
Freelance Writing for Nonprofits: OK, another sideball but bear with me. Billed as a blog with tips and ideas on publications, marketing and PR, I reckon this baby has plenty of gems for the freelance translator too. Check it out and let me know what you think.
* UPDATE 08/09/07: My link to the Language Realm blog was actually incorrect (oops) and when I went back to doublecheck it, I found it’s been shut down. There does seem to be a new blog which can be linked to via the Language Realm website however, so I’ll keep my eye on that and may review that in my next blog round-up.
I’ve been pretty busy with work these past few days (and battling a cold, boo hoo!), but have been giving quite a bit of thought to this blog.
It’s been a pretty big leap for me to start posting on a regular basis. Although I’d had this blog set up for a while, I felt crippled by what I didn’t want it to be. What if I messed it up, insulted key opinion leaders in the profession or irritated every buyer of translation in the world?? How would I ever leave the house again?!
From a technical point of view, I knew it would be pretty painless. As a typical twentysomething, I’m already connected in my personal life through my profiles on sites like Bebo, Flickr and del.icio.us. But I didn’t see how I could translate that to my professional life in a way I was comfortable with. After much thought, I eventually decided to suck it and see, to give it a bash, to just do it.
And it’s been great! I’m surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed being able to comment on a range of things relevant to my everyday working life. I’ve been pretty chuffed with the responses too, reflected in the emails, comments and ever-addictive Google stats I’ve received.
So it’s still not perfect, and I’m still not sure I’ve truly found my “professional voice”. But I’m armed with bags of enthusiasm and a couple of ideas to help steer things in the right direction. Which is to produce something I feel proud enough to put my name to.
Interesting article on value of blogs as a networking tool, including building social networks – finally, someone who’s NOT trying to sell me blog space, content or tools!!
UPDATE: Bah! The link is gone! I’ll have a search and see if I can come up with it somewhere else… shame, it was the best article out of literally hundreds that I’d read on blogging!