Online Training Resources for Translators

Reblogged from The ATA Chronicle, with permission

As chair of ATA’s Translation and Interpreting Resources Committee, my goal is to gather information on resources of all kinds, including those related to professional development. The following discusses short-duration online training that does not lead to a certificate or university credit.

Webinars

Webinars are online seminars—a sort of mini-class on a specific subject. Normally, you pay a fee and receive a link you can use to “attend” the talk live.

When I was chair of ATA’s Translation and Computers Committee (2009–2011), I created ATA’s webinar series after talking to Lucy Brooks, who was running a similar series for the Chartered Institute of Linguists, a sister organization in the United Kingdom. I ran the series for four years, then handed the baton to Karen Tkaczyk, who served as administrator of ATA’s Science and Technology Division (2010–2015). Lucy now runs a for-profit webinar series under her own brand, eCPD.

To provide readers with an in-depth look at how webinars for translators and interpreters are organized, including the selection process for speakers, I decided to interview both Karen and Lucy.

Naomi: What are the advantages/disadvantages of webinars over in-person events?

Lucy (eCPD): Webinars completely eliminate the need to travel. This clearly saves two things: money and time. In-person events can be presented many miles from a translator’s home or office. It takes time to get there, and if the event is really a long way away, accommodation and food are required along the way.

Webinars tend to be offered in bite-sized chunks, ranging from an hour to 90 minutes. It’s easy to block this amount of time in your schedule, even on the busiest days. If you have to miss the live webinar for some reason, you will usually be able to view the recorded event after it’s over (more than once if you desire).

Of course, in a webinar you don’t get the same interaction with the speaker. You cannot see his or her body language, nor do you get to meet your fellow attendees. But if you attend a live webinar, you get a chance to ask questions and join in the interaction that is provided in many webinars.

To participate in a webinar, all you need is a computer with an up-to-date operating system and decent broadband. I find that the best option is a PC or Mac with dedicated Wi-Fi.

Naomi: How do you ensure top quality in your webinars and courses?

Karen (ATA): We contact potential speakers based on their reputation in the industry, conference evaluations, and personal references. ATA divisions also refer speakers to us, with topics they know will be useful to their members. In fact, we encourage all divisions to do that. In particular, we would love to offer more language-specific sessions. We also look for speakers who are knowledgeable in business management for freelance translators and interpreters.

There is no foolproof way to find and select speakers. Some may be excellent at presenting in-person, but not as good at presenting online. The reverse is also true. The skill set is slightly different. Some people can train effectively when looking at a blank screen, whereas other speakers need to see the audience’s energy and become dull or dry without it. ATA’s job is to use all the Association’s resources to find the best of our own, as well as great speakers from outside ATA.

Lucy (eCPD): For our own program of events at eCPD, I personally seek out speakers. I use my extensive knowledge of the industry to get top professionals, such as Gwen Clayton, Jason Willis-Lee, Andrew Leigh, and Joy Burrough-Boenisch, to offer presentations and courses to translators all over the globe. I also look for top professionals in other industries—such as Christopher Barnatt (3D printing), Ken Adams (law), and Ivan Vasconcelos (oil and gas exploration)—to pass on their expertise in their areas and to give translators working in their fields a thorough background in the subject.

Naomi: What kinds of webinars do you have?

Karen (ATA): We have some language-specific webinars, but most of ATA’s webinars focus on business practices and specialty subject areas. Recent business webinars have covered negotiating contracts, terminology management, marketing, and proofreading. Subject-specific webinars have included intellectual property law, patents, the pharmaceutical industry, and medical interpreting.

Lucy (eCPD): We have covered many subjects during the six years I’ve been running eCPD Webinars. We organize them into 10 categories:

  • Audiovisual (covering subtitling, localization, films, etc.)
  • Business (marketing, finding clients, getting paid, getting started)
  • Creative (art world, tourism, gastronomy, transcreation)
  • Financial translation
  • Legal translation
  • Medical translation
  • Science and technology
  • Style
  • CAT tools
  • Research

There are around 150 titles in the library, so there is a lot from which to choose. There is also a section for interpreters. Many of the videos are offered in languages other than English (e.g., Polish law, a French translation workshop, the German legal system, and Spanish law).

Naomi: How do webinars compare to longer courses, like on Coursera?

Karen (ATA): Coursera and other Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) providers are an amazing resource. For subject matter expertise, they are hard to beat. Having said that, MOOCs usually last several weeks and require a much greater time investment than webinars, so they will not suit everyone.

Lucy (eCPD): Because the webinars are short (although they sometimes come in a series of three or five lessons), they are less of a commitment than taking a course on Coursera, for example. But the webinars we produce are made with translators in mind, whereas MOOCs are not.

Naomi: What do webinar attendees say about the webinars after taking them?

Karen (ATA): Post webinar surveys ask attendees to rate content and speaker performance, as well as whether they would recommend the webinar to a friend. On average, 80% to 85% of attendees rate ATA content and speaker performance as “good to excellent.” An overwhelming majority say they would recommend the webinar to a friend. Some presenters draw rave reviews; others get quieter compliments. It’s hard to please such a diverse audience, but attendee surveys show we are getting it right as a rule.

Lucy (eCPD): On the whole, attendees are very appreciative of the medium. It allows people who have home and family commitments or who live far away from a large city to have access to high-quality training tailored precisely to translators and interpreters. Because we keep the quality high, the satisfaction rate is very high. So high, in fact, that eCPD Webinars is now an accredited provider of CPD (continuing professional development, or continuing education), upholding the demanding standards of the CPD standards office in London. We are also an approved training provider registered by the official Dutch government office (Bureau Btv).

Naomi: If someone misses out on booking a live webinar, can they purchase it retrospectively?

Karen (ATA): Absolutely! ATA has a library of recorded webinars available for streaming (www.atanet.org/webinars). There are no limits for how many times the webinar can be viewed, and recordings are available for at least five years.

Lucy (eCPD): We usually make a webinar that was broadcast live available in our e-library a few weeks later. Of course, people who view a webinar this way don’t have the opportunity to ask questions, but they can watch the video as often as they like, and all the handouts are available in the form of downloads. At certain times during the year we offer special promotions of our videos from the e-library, making it a very cost-effective way to accumulate continuing education points.

Naomi: If someone books a live webinar but cannot make it to the live session, what happens?

Lucy (for eCPD and ATA): If you buy a seat at a webinar, whether for an ATA webinar or an eCPD webinar, it’s essential to follow the instructions carefully. We ask you to register for the webinar, but we check the lists frequently and make sure that everyone is registered with GoToWebinar, the service we use to provide webinars, before the start of the webinar. Provided you don’t “cancel” your place, which would mean you wouldn’t show up in the registration database, you will receive a link to the recorded webinar a few hours after the webinar is over. We try to do this within a few hours, but it can take up to 24. In addition, if there is a handout, we send it to you.

Lucy (eCPD): Based in the U.K., eCPD is ideally located to hold live webinars at times that are also convenient to attendees all over the world. Some of our CPD courses start at 10:00 a.m. in the U.K., which is probably not ideal for people on the American continents, but great for people in Asia and Australia. Others begin at 2:00 p.m., and even 4:00 p.m., which is more convenient for those in the western hemisphere. Either way, all our webinars are recorded. Attendees who are unable to make the live event can ask questions retrospectively and receive an attendance certificate, provided they watch the recording within two weeks of the live session. After that, they can watch it, but the opportunity to ask questions and give feedback expires.

Karen (ATA): ATA webinars are usually scheduled for noon eastern time. That suits most people in the U.S. and many ATA members elsewhere who are a few hours ahead.

Naomi: Who runs webinars for ATA?

Karen (ATA): Mary David at ATA Headquarters does all the heavy lifting for the logistics and behind the scenes work. Lucy at eCPD takes care of infrastructure. After last year’s ATA Annual Conference in Miami, I was asked if I would like to pick up the member review portion of the process. (Officially that means I run the Webinar Subcommittee of the Professional Development Committee.) I would welcome other volunteers, should anyone love online training and want to help make the program stronger!

Naomi: How can someone propose giving a webinar? Do speakers receive payment?

Karen (ATA): We’re happy to hear from anyone with subject matter expertise and speaking skills. Contact Mary David at ATA (mary@atanet.org). Speakers receive a stipend of $300 from ATA.

Lucy (eCPD): I’m always happy to discuss proposals from potential trainers and to discuss terms. Proposed talks must meet our quality criteria, and I’m happy to discuss these if you approach me. 

Other online training options not mentioned explicitly above are listed below.

Links to Online Training Resources

Translation and Interpreting Webinars and Courses:
ATA Webinar Series

www.atanet.org/webinars

The ATA Podcast
Episode 8: The ATA Webinar Program with Karen Tkaczyk
www.atanet.org/podcasts

Bundesverband der Dolmetscher und Übersetzer
http://seminare.bdue.de

eCPD
www.ecpdwebinars.co.uk

International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters
www.iapti.org/webinar/

International Medical Interpreters Association
www.imiaweb.org/education/learningseries.asp

National Council on Interpreting in Health Care
www.ncihc.org/trainerswebinars

Societé Française des Traducteurs
http://bit.ly/SFT-training

Translation Automation User Society
Translation Technology Webinars
https://events.taus.net/events/webinars

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)

  • Coursera
    www.coursera.org
    (Provides universal access to the world’s best education, partnering with top universities and organizations to offer courses online.)
  • Edx
    www.edx.org
    (Provides access to online courses from universities and institutions, including Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California–Berkeley, Microsoft, and the Smithsonian.)
  • Class Central
    www.class-central.com
    (Features a directory of MOOCs offered by institutions in many languages.)

Image source: Pixabay


Lucy Brooks has been in business for over 30 years, and for 23 of these has run a small, successful translation business from her office in the U.K. A fellow of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (translation and language services) and a qualified member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting, she translates from German, French, and Spanish into British English, concentrating on technical, publicity, business, and commercial subjects. More recently, she has been providing online training for translators and interpreters through her company eCPD Webinars. Contact: lucinda.brooks@btconnect.com.

Karen Tkaczyk works as a French>English freelance translator. Her translation work is highly specialized, focusing on chemistry and its industrial applications. She holds an MChem in chemistry with French from the University of Manchester, a diploma in French, and a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Cambridge. She worked in the pharmaceutical industry in Europe. After relocating to the U.S. in 1999, she worked in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. She established her translation practice in 2005. Contact: karen@mcmillantranslation.com.

Naomi Sutcliffe de Moraes has a PhD in linguistics (University of São Paulo), a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in physics (University of California, Los Angeles), and a bachelor’s degree in law (University of London). She translates both Portuguese and Italian into English. She is currently a visiting professor at the Federal University of the ABC Region, Santo André, Brazil. She is chair of ATA’s Translation and Interpreting Resources Committee. Contact: naomi.linguist@gmail.com.

Cognitive strategies for the resolution of translation problems

cognitive-strategies-for-the-resolution-of-translation-problems-olga-jeczmyk

Reblogged from the EU’s Terminology Coordination Unit blog, with permission from the author (incl. the images)

The objective of the papers is to draw a panorama of the study of cognitive strategies for the resolution of translation problems, as well as to draw the perspectives of the research.

We consider that translation strategies can be of internal support (cognitive type) and of external support (by the use of resources of documentation of all type), and we focus our interest on the first of these two types. Our interest is to analyse cognitive translation strategies employed in the resolution of translation problems in written translation.

At the beginning, researches in Translation Studies were based mostly on the product with a particular interest in the translated text as object of study. A few decades ago, investigations were redirected towards human translators, investigating the cognitive processes and the skills required to translate properly, proposing theoretical models and experimental research. However, there are still no rigorous empirical studies for cognitive strategies for the resolution of translation problems during the translation process.

In our communication, we will present how the concept of strategy in other disciplines and in Translation Studies has been analysed. Finally, we will draw the perspectives of the research.

  1. Analysis of the notion of strategy in disciplines related to Translation Studies

The notion of strategy has been studied in disciplines such as Cognitive psychology, Language didactics, Psycholinguistics and Pedagogy.

In general, we find a wide nomenclature and large terminological differences with regard to the denomination and classification of strategies:

cognitive-strategies-in-the-resolution-of-translation-problems-by-olga-jeczmyk

  • In Cognitive psychology there is a division of (1) strategies for problem resolution and (2) learning strategies. According to Mayer (1981) the used denomination is: heuristic methods and procedures.
  • In Language didactics there are problem-resolution strategies for second language learning. Oxford (1990) is the author who proposed the more complete definition and a classification. She defines strategies such as: “Strategies are specific actions taken by the learner to make easier, faster, more enjoyable, more self-directed, more effective, and more transferrable new situations.” (Oxford 1990: 8). The author proposes the following classification: (1) direct strategies (cognitive, memory and compensation) and (2) indirect strategies (metacognitive, affective and social), (Oxford 1990: 16-21). The definitions of strategies of others authors serve as a complement to Oxford’s proposals (1990). Strategies are called: techniques, mechanisms, processes, thoughts, actions, plans, operations, behaviours, steps, etc.
  • In Psycholinguistics there is no definition or no exclusive classification for strategies, this is why we find the same type of problem-resolution strategies for second language learning as in Language didactics.
  • In Pedagogy strategies are related to Cognitive psychology since this latter science also studies the processes of learning. There is a distinction between (1) teaching strategies and (2) learning strategies.

All the studied disciplines have a wide terminological nomenclature regarding the denomination of strategies: heuristic methods, procedures, ducts, thoughts, specific actions, behaviours, steps, techniques, decision-making processes, activities or mental operations, conscious and intentional activities, flexible and adaptive procedures, joint procedures of steps or skills, etc. Strategies vary based on the analysis of each author and discipline that are studied. It is important to highlight the distinction of: (1) problem-solving strategies; (2) learning strategies and (3) teaching strategies.

  1. Analysis of the notion of strategy in Translation Studies

From Honig and Kussmaul (1982) and, over the last three decades, the study of translation strategies has been acquiring greater importance thanks to several empirical studies, such as Krings (1986), Séguinot (1991) or Gregorio Cano (2014) among others. There are also authors like Hurtado Albir (1996, 2001 and 2015) with no empirical studies, but she makes a proposal of definition, denomination and classification of the notion of strategy with several examples in order to clarify the existing confusion around this concept.

2.1. Denominations

In Translation Studies there are different terminological denominations for the notion of strategy such as: heuristic methods, procedures, techniques of translation, translation strategies, principles of translation, standards, principles, mental process, mechanisms, etc. Despite the great information regarding translation and cognitive strategies employed in the resolution of translation problems there is a terminological confusion and some different classifications.

cognitive-strategies-in-the-resolution-of-translation-problems-terminology-confusion

2.2. Definitions

Krings (1986: 268) defines strategies as “potentially conscious plans for solving a translation problem” and he is based on the authors Færch and Kasper (1983). Séguinot (1991: 82) proposes the following definition “strategies is a term which has been used to refer to both conscious and unconscious procedures, to both overt tactics and mental processes”. Lörscher is based on Krings (1986) and Færch and Kasper (1983) but he has his own definition “a translation strategy is a potentially conscious procedure for the solution of a problem which an individual is faced with when translating a text segment from one language to another” (1991: 76).  In these three definitions we note that Krings (1986) talks about “potentially conscious plans” and Séguinot (1991) and Lörscher (1991) are using the term of “procedure” in order to define strategies.

Jääskeläinen (1993: 116) proposes her own definition for strategies: “a set of (loosely formulated) rules or principles which a translator uses to reach the goals determined by the translating situation in the most effective way”. The author focuses on “guidelines” or “principles” used by the translator not on “procedures”.

Lachat Leal (2003: 344) defines strategies as “el proceso mental que permite al traductor alcanzar la representación del texto traducido a partir de la representación del texto original“. So the author uses the term “process”.

Gregorio Cano (2014: 82) proposes the term “mechanisms” affirming that “la estrategia de traducción es aquel mecanismo que el traductor ha de poner en marcha para resolver un problema de traducción determinado”.

As noted in some of the analysed studies, in many cases, the notion of strategy is confused with the notions of technique and method. This is due to the lack of a general consensus that serves as a reference point for authors and other studies. Hurtado Albir (1996, 2001) aims to put order in this terminological confusion and to clearly define the differences between method, strategy and technique proposing the following definitions:

amparohurtado

2.3. Classifications

Not all the authors we studied propose a classification of the notion of strategy. Only Krings (1986), Lörscher (1991) and Jääskeläinen (1993) do so.

Krings (1986) classifies strategies in five categories with one subcategory as (1) comprehension strategies, (2) recovery strategies (with the subcategory of semantically related resources), (3) monitoring strategies, (4) decision-making strategies and, finally, (5) reduction strategies.

Lörscher (1991) distinguishes two phases in the translation process: (1) strategic and (2) non-strategic phase.

On the other hand, Jääskeläinen talks about (1) global and (2) local strategies.

Vinay and Darbelnet (1958) and Hurtado Albir (1996, 2001 and 2015) make a proposal based on their own experience.

2.4. Empirical studies carried out

There are some limitations in experimental design in several of the authors who have done empirical studies such as:

  • The selection of small and hardly representative samples
  • The limitations to the use of the TAPs as the technique of data collection since they do not give access to unconscious processes and create artificial situations.
  • The use of inadequate data collection instruments.

On the other hand, problem-solving strategies still need to be analysed.

  1. Research perspectives

We believe that the results of a more detailed research on cognitive strategies for the resolution of translation problems will lead to a best practice for professional translation and for a better training for translators. In this sense, there are two types of research challenges:

  • Progress in conceptual clarification, clearly distinguishing the notion of strategy of other related notions and establishing links with research in related disciplines.
  • Carrying out experimental-empiric research by using large and representative samples of professional translators and translation students with technical and varied instruments (recordings of the translator process, questionnaires, interviews, etc.); this will allow collecting reliable data on cognitive strategies for the resolution of translation problems and for the acquisition process.

This research will allow us to clarify cognitive strategies for the resolution of translation problems.

key-words

To read the paper, please click on: Estrategias cognitivas para la resolución de problemas de traducción.


olga-jeczmyk-author

Olga Jeczmyk

Communication and Terminology Trainee, Translator, Interpreter, Proofreader and Social Media Manager. Olga holds a degree in Translation and Interpreting from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, she is specialized in Economics and Legal Translation with “FR” as her B language and “EN” as her C language. She spent her Erasmus in Paris and Rome. She received her Masters in Linguistic and Cultural Mediation from the Università La Sapienza in Rome and concluded a simultaneous interpreting internship in the FAO. She currently studies Translation Studies and Intercultural Studies at the Universitat Autònoma in Barcelona as PhD candidate. She analyses the cognitive strategies in the resolution of translation problems in writing translation. She speaks Polish, Spanish, Catalan, English, French and Italian. You can read her blog at www.20000lenguas.com and follow her on Twitter at @OlgaJeNo.

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  • Beltrán, J. (1993). “Estrategias de aprendizaje”. En Beltrán, J. y Genovard, C., (eds.) Psicología de la instrucción I. Variables y procesos básicos, Madrid, Síntesis.
  • Canale, M. (1983). “From Communicative Competence to communicative language pedagogy”, en J.C. Richards y R.W. Schmidts (eds.), Language and Communication, Londres, Longman (“De la competencia comunicativa a la pedagogía comunicativa del lenguaje, en M. Llobera et al., Competencia comunicativa. Documentos básicos en la enseñanza de lenguas extranjeras, Madrid, Edelsa, 1995, pp. 63-81.
  • Chesterman, A. (1998). “Communication Strategies, Learning Strategies & Translation Strategies” en K. Malmkjaer (eds.), Translation and Language Teaching: Language Teaching and Translation. Jerome Publishing, pp. 135-144.
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  • Gregorio Cano, A. (2014). Estudio empírico-descriptivo del desarrollo de la competencia estratégica en la formación de traductores. Tesis doctoral. Universidad de Granada.
  • Hurtado Albir, A. (1996). “La cuestión del método traductor. Método, estrategia y técnica de traducción”. Sendebar, 7, pp. 39-57.
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  • Kussmaul, P. (1995). Training the Translator. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
  • Jääskeläinen, R. (1993). “Investigating Translation Strategies”, en S. Tirkkonen-Condit y J. Laffling (eds.), Recent Trends in Empirical Translation Research, Studies in Languages, Joensuu, Faculty of Arts.
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Book review: Revising and Editing for Translators

Reblogged from Amper Translation Service blog, with permission, incl. the image

Recently I came across a reference to a book on editing that caught my attention, partly because I hadn’t encountered many comprehensive guides on editing at that point and partly because this one was specifically aimed at translators. It turned out that the work had been around since 2001 and was now in its third edition (issued by Routledge in early 2014), so it was obviously popular and had been updated, too).

“Revising and Editing for Translators” is written by Brian Mossop, a Canadian who worked for the Canadian Government’s Translation Bureau for many years and now teaches editing/revision and translation at university level. The author’s considerable experience of revising translations and teaching students and teachers alike about revising and editing is reflected in the clear structure, real-life examples and broad scope of this work.

Routledge’s edition of the book is 244 pages long and divided into 14 chapters. These are followed by six appendices (e.g. on assessing quality and grading texts) and a list of bibliographical references and other books and articles for further reading, plus a helpful index. There are a number of practical exercises and tips for further reading at the end of each chapter, which relate to the subject matter covered. This way of presenting material makes the book suitable for self-study as well as classroom use.

What I like about this work is its clarity: the language the author uses is straightforward and lucid (not academic and dense), the chapters are structured well and he employs plenty of examples to make his points understood. He also illustrates different kinds of attitudes and approaches to editing/revising, i.e. proscriptive v. liberal, without dictating the stance the reader should actually take.

I also like the amount of differentiation Mossop uses, which makes it clear how many different levels there are to editing and how many factors play a role in the choices editors make (cf. chapter 2, “The work of an editor”, chapter 3, “Copyediting” and chapter 4, “Stylistic editing”, for example); basically, chapters 2 to 7 all make this point.

Chapter 8 is particularly interesting in my view as it’s concerned with software tools that editors and revisers can employ:

– internet searches to check terms and phraseology using search engines like Google
– looking for definitions of terms online
– using bilingual databases like Linguee and WeBiText and online translation-memory programs
– using editing features that word-processing programs offer (spelling and grammar checks, find & replace, displaying changes, adding reviewer’s comments, comparing different versions of documents, etc.)

Mossop also makes a clear (albeit personal) distinction between editing and revising at the beginning of the book and consequently divides the work into two sections on each area. Chapters 2 to 7 are on editing, while 9 to 14 are on revising. In a nutshell, he takes editing to mean “reading a text which is not a translation in order to spot problematic passages, and making any needed corrections or improvements” (p. 29). As for revising, he regards this as a task “in which [translators] find features of the draft translation that fall short of what is acceptable, as determined by some concept of quality” (p. 115).

In chapter 10, he discusses 12 parameters that play a role in revision, including accuracy, completeness, logic, facts, page layout and even typography (i.e. the use of bold, italicised or underlined text, capitalisation and colouring). Chapter 11 covers degrees of revision (from “intelligible” to “polished”), whether or not full or partial checks should be done and the risks inherent in spot checking. Chapter 12 is about the actual revision procedure (e.g. which steps to take and in which order) and what you can do about any unsolved issues.

There’s a lot more to the book than I can write about here. In short, I’d say it’s essential reading for any translator, not just for editors and copywriters, since every translator has to read their own work through and edit (or “revise”) it themselves before sending it off to the customer. I’m surprised I only discovered the book by chance, but that may be because it used to be published by a very small specialist publisher (St. Jerome Publishing); perhaps word will spread faster now that Routledge is backing it. (Click here for details about the book.)

Top 10 tips for new freelance translators

Reblogged from Translator Thoughts blog, with permission, incl. the image

If you’ve never worked in the translation industry independently before, it can be quite a daunting world to step into. How do I find work? Where do I advertise my skills? What competition am I facing? But do not fret! Help is at hand. Read our top 10 tips for new freelance translators below to get yourself off on the right foot and create the best possible base for your new career as a freelance translator.

  1. Structure Your Days

When I began freelancing, I found it difficult to settle into a “normal” routine. One of the benefits of being self-employed is that you can set your own hours. If you want to work 12 hours every day for 2 weeks so that you can have a couple of extra days off, you can! However, just make sure that you don’t become inefficient. One of the traps I started to fall into was getting up late, sometimes missing out on work and then having to work until the wee hours to complete projects. I would NOT recommend this! Try and be strict with yourself; get up early, have a decent breakfast, exercise, get some strong coffee and then start a productive day. On the other hand, if you are a bit of an over-achiever, make sure you don’t end up working 24/7. You have to allow yourself breaks as well and spend time with your friends and family. Find a healthy balance and you’ll feel all the better for it.

  1. Set Your Rates

One of the most difficult things about starting out as a translator is figuring out what to charge. Try and think about how much you (realistically) want to earn and how many hours you are willing to work per week. This will help you decide what a fair rate to charge your employers could be.

  1. Don’t Undersell Yourself

However, in relation to the above point – do not undersell yourself! Although it is tempting to charge almost nothing at the beginning, most companies will be happy to pay for high-quality work rather than pay peanuts for something that is not up to standard. If you charge a decent rate for your work, you will be more highly respected and as a result, will be more likely to get more work.

  1. Figure Out Your Niche

A great way to get more work as a translator is to have a niche market that you are experienced in. Indeed, the most highly paid translators usually have a degree in another subject such as engineering, medicine or law. However, not all of us have experience in these fields and if, like me, translation and linguistics has been your main field of study, think about what you want to specialise in and work on pursuing that goal. Maybe our previous article about how to choose your specialisation could help.

Keep in mind that to identify your niche you might want to define first who your target clients are.

  1. Study, study, study!

When you’re constantly working and trying to get new clients, it can be easy to forget about what you’re actually offering. Make sure you keep your language skills fresh and up-to-date so that the quality of your translations does not suffer. There are also lots of other blogs (here we listed for you the top blogs in the translation industry) out there specifically designed for freelance translators like us, and these can be a great way to expand your knowledge of the translation industry.

  1. Invest In Your Career

As mentioned above, it can be highly beneficial to specialise in a chosen subject when offering your translation services. Why not invest in some new courses? This will show employers that you are taking your career seriously and want to improve yourself as a translator. Furthermore, a lot of companies want translators to use CAT tools, which make large projects a lot easier and faster to complete. The majority of these are pretty pricey, but when you’re starting off why not try Omega T, which is free. You can then invest in more expensive software when you are more established.

  1. Provide High-Quality Work

When starting out, it can be tempting to take on as many jobs as possible in order to get paid and build up your portfolio. However, it is much more beneficial to take your time in order to provide your best work and please your employers. One thing about the translation industry is that you get back what you put in. So, if you provide a rushed translation that hasn’t been researched properly, you will gain a poor reputation and could even miss out on payment. However, if you provide a high-quality, professional translation, it is highly likely that it will lead to more work and will certainly help you move forward in your career.

  1. Market Yourself

One of the best ways to get work when starting out is pretty simple: get your name out there! Companies can’t hire you if they don’t know you exist after all. Yes, it takes a while and yes, it can be pretty tedious. But spend some time to identify your target clients and contact them. Learn how to use social media to be found by your prospective clients.

It’s essential that you build a blog in order to start building your online presence as a freelance translator (it is so important that we’ve build a free guide for you here). Your clients cannot find you if you’re not out there!

And in the meanwhile, you can also send out letters and CVs to translation agencies until you have some direct clients. Remember, you’re investing in yourself and your career so it is definitely worth putting in the groundwork.

  1. Freelance Websites Are Your Best Friend

So, you’ve sent out hundreds of CVs, studied hard and are ready to work. Sometimes, it will take a while for companies to get back to you so in the meantime why not try out some of the freelance websites that are available. Check out our blog post here to learn about the best ones.

  1. Don’t Expect Overnight Success

For the vast majority of people, full-time translation work does not become a reality for at least a year, and a lot of us actually have to get part-time jobs to pay the bills in order to be able to pursue our dream job on the side. Don’t let this get you down. It takes a while to establish yourself, find the right clients to work with and build up a portfolio of translation work. However, if you’re willing to stick it out and work hard, you will reap the benefits in due course.

 

Focus on: New Translators (Part 1)

Reblogged from Silver Tongue Translations blog, with permission

You know, the title of this blog post is a bit misleading (arrrgh! I’m breaking my own rules!) I’ve aimed it at “new translators”, but really, these tips serve any translators, be they fresh as daisies or been-around-the-blockers, the only requirement is that they want to improve. (This is all of us, right?)

I got asked to mentor two new translators over the summer, and, once I’d finished my bulk order of anti-aging cream, I decided to view it as a positive thing. I also started to think about how I could be of best service. What would my “tips” be? What did I wish I knew at the start of my career? The video at the end of this post, lovely colleagues, is what I came up with.

In a nutshell (as I’m aware that my videos are more coconut shell than pistachio in size), these are my top ten tips (if you can’t be bothered scrolling to the video):

  1. Translate every day

It doesn’t matter if it’s the back of the shampoo bottle you bought on your last trip to your source language country, or whether it’s an extract from an article you loved (I know what I’d go for), translating every day sharpens your translation skills, makes you a better writer and keeps up your source language proficiency (this last one is especially important if you don’t reside in your source language country).

Translating every day has the added benefit of increasing your productivity because, usually, the more you practise, the quicker you get. It doesn’t take a mathematician to work out that if you’re working quickly and accurately you’re able to complete more work in a shorter period of time (which leaves you more time for checking, of course!). Whether you pass these savings on to your client is up to you though….

  1. Work out how much you must earn

….then how much you want to earn. Only you know your essential outgoings every month (I’m thinking rent/mortgage, utilities, phone, food….) so only you know how much you’ll need to cover those expenses. Don’t forget to pay yourself a salary! Then have a look at how many days a week/month/year you’re going to be working. Be realistic.

It is simply not feasible to work 15 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t pretend that it is.

Use these calculations as a basis for working out how much you need to charge. Don’t forget to take into account the total time for a translation – from initial contact, through to translation and then on to editing and checking. It all counts.

  1. Find your “I’m special because…”

Do you have a hobby that you’ve enjoyed for years? How about a part time job or family business you’ve been a part of?

Don’t discount all past experiences which aren’t obviously related to translation as irrelevant.

You have skills, knowledge, experiences and expertise (we all do, we’re not one-dimensional creatures). It might not be sustainable to only work in an area that relates to your interests and pastimes, but if it can form a part of your business it’ll sure make a 25,000 word document more pleasant to pull an (occasional) all-nighter for.

  1. Get yourself a buddy

Friends are important. We know this. In your professional life, it’s no different. I recommend two courses of action for buddying up with a translator:

  1. Find a colleague (perhaps of similar experience to you) who is willing to check your work.

Another set of eyes is always helpful, and you will feel much happier submitting to your client if you know that it hasn’t just been your coffee-fuelled brain working on the document.

  1. Find a mentor.

By mentor, I mean a more experienced colleague who is willing to share some of their knowledge and experience with you. They don’t have to have the same specialisms as you (although that is enormously helpful), their experience in translation and running a business will more than suffice.

  1. Keep moving

It’s easy to stay at our desk. Eat lunch over the keyboard (gross, but we’ve probably all done it), slurp coffee (and probably spill it) over the aforementioned keyboard and generally only get up from our desks when our bladders are threatening to stage a walkout. Take breaks, get outside for fresh air (and perspective, inspiration and Vitamin D). It’s easy to play the role of martyr and say things like “I’ve been translating for 9 hours straight.” That’s not something to boast about. It’s just unhealthy.

Keeping moving means something else too. Keep your business moving. Every day, make some form of forward motion. Some progress. It could be setting your goals for the year. Doing a bit of marketing. Sending out some pitch emails. It might seem that it’s not getting you anywhere, but it is.

Momentum will make a difference.

  1. Give and receive help

I talk about being helpful a lot. I’m a big believer in it. The translation community is open and responsive. Just last week I was having Trados issues and several colleagues (Sheila, Caroline and David to name but a few) jumped in to help me out. David even ended up testing out my document on his version, re-saving the target file for me to use and then later that evening, converting it back for me, just in case I’d had more technical issues. When I thanked him, he said,

“No problem. You shared something months ago and I am a great believer in “pass it forward”.”

This isn’t encouraging you to help people only to get something in return, it’s to say that we’re an appreciative, helpful bunch. And we don’t forget.

  1. Systems are your friend

It might seem like a lot of hassle to have spreadsheets for everything right from the start. It can feel like Excel is mocking you, with your client list filling up only two lines of the cells on the worksheet of your grandly titled “Clients_Master Database”. Equally, calendar reminders for when to invoice may also seem a little…unnecessary for new translators at the beginning. I faithfully set them up and by the time they pinged to remind me to remind the client to pay I had already done it (it’s not hard to remember when you only have one client…)

But you will get more clients.

And when you do, you will be happy to have a list of invoice references, so you don’t have to faff around finding the last one you sent. There are even systems that do this all for you, and link up to your emails and take away the coffee cups from your desk before they walk away on their own (I made that last bit up.)

  1. Sort the essentials

I hate to break it you, but you have to pay tax. You’ll probably also want to retire at some stage with some form of savings and/or a pension. These are two items on the “essentials” list for everybody, not just translators. The difference when you’re self-employed (or even working in a self-employed capacity on a part-time basis) is that you don’t have someone else, i.e. an employer, to handle it for you. Sort this stuff early.

As in the tip above about systems, I know it feels silly to be putting money away for tax when, at the beginning, you don’t feel you’re earning much, but getting into good habits at the start of your career is so much easier than trying to adopt good habits when you’re a more established translator.

  1. Don’t stop learning

Read widely in your source and target languages. Subscribe to magazines in your niche. Talk to fellow translators. Take advantage of CPD offered by colleagues and institutions. Attend events. You never know when a piece of knowledge or a chance encounter will give rise to an opportunity. Apart from the potential business benefits, don’t forget what we all knew as children….

Learning is fun.

  1. Integrity is everything

It’s tempting at the beginning to try and be all things to all people. Accepting that impossible deadline might curry favour with a PM, but it probably won’t be conducive to producing high quality work. Changing your CV to say you’re an expert on quantum physics is only a good idea if you’d somehow forgotten studying for that PhD back in high school.

Some jobs are worth going the extra mile for, some jobs are worth pushing yourself beyond what you’d previously thought you could achieve. But don’t push yourself too far away from what is possible and practical.

Your reputation is worth much more than a single “impossible” job.

Do you have any tips for new translators? Would you be interested in mentoring a colleague? Let me know in the comments!

Image source: Pixabay