Monday, 22 May 2017

ITI Conference 2017

Conference buzz is the positive vibe you get from sharing a dedicated space with 340 like-minded, super friendly people over 2 days, to borrow an #ITIconf17 tweet by Aletta Stevens MITI. I’m sure anyone who’s just returned from the ITI Conference in Cardiff, or indeed any previous ITI Conference, will be able to relate to this!

This year’s ITI Conference was held at the Mercure Holland House Hotel in the centre of Cardiff from 19th until 20th May 2017 and was entitled “Working our core: for a strong(er) translation and interpreting profession”. There had also been the option of attending a negotiation training workshop on the pre-conference day.

Conference buzz: sharing a dedicated space with 340 like-minded, super friendly people

Delegates had come from all over the UK and beyond. I'm based in Bristol, so travelling for me this time just involved cycling to the station and then embarking on a 45-minute train journey to Cardiff on Thursday evening.

The programme, as expected, was once again packed with talks, workshops as well as opportunities galore for networking and the exchange of profession-related experiences in an open and convivial atmosphere. It focused on issues faced by more established translators, with the second day’s agenda as varied as the first.

Throughout the conference I was constantly reminded of a comment by Cate Avery FITI in an edition of ITI Bulletin several years ago that conferences tend to open a window into current trends because of repeated references to particular topics. Cate, who incidentally was among the excellent line-up of speakers this time, had pointed out that you pick up on trends in our industry that way, perhaps without even realising it. So true!

One common theme that was running like a thread through some sessions was the relevance of collaboration as an emerging trend. It crystallised that the way forward seems to lie in collaboration in an environment where translators are working less and less in isolation or “in a bubble”, as Hugh Fraser put it in his session “Who’s afraid of feedback?”.

According to Hugh, all translators crave more feedback because it ultimately makes our work better. We should therefore embrace and welcome feedback as it’ll make our translations shine! Having said that, many of us flinch when receiving feedback since the idea of making mistakes can be scary. Hugh recommended that if you’re a feedback giver, you should regard the translator you give feedback to as a member of a team.

Collaboration was mentioned explicitly by Chris Durban FITI in her talk entitled “Scalability – headache, hurdle, Holy Grail”. Chris encouraged us to create and promote collaborative environments and to team up with others. Collaboration is key!

Collaboration obviously also is at the core of revising and editing others’ work, which was the theme of Marga Burke-Lowe MITI’s practical session on tips and tricks for improving our skills in this area. She talked us through many of the thorny issues that revisers and editors often face, either in the revision of translations or the editing of non-native writing.

The latter topic incidentally also was covered by Karen Tkaczyk FITI  in her talk entitled “A lucrative sideline: editing non-native scientific writing”. I did not attend the talk myself, but have heard that it was excellent. Check out the slides in this tweet by Rebecca Hendry MITI:

As a keen runner I'd been particularly looking forward to the conference run, which had been organised by Trinidad Clares MITI. Exercise, fresh air and some lovely sunshine were just what I needed after a very intense and stimulating first conference day! I enjoyed my run through Bute park in Cardiff in the company of fellow professionals.

Thank you to everyone involved in organising the conference for working so diligently to put together the programme, arrange the venue, find speakers, invite delegates and sort out fringe events. I realise a lot must have been going on behind the scenes! I feel that thanks are owed in particular to Anne de Freyman MITI, our chief executive Paul Wilson and Sarah Griffin-Mason MITI as well as the local organising committee, consisting of Lloyd Bingham MITI, Trinidad Clares MITI and Elvana Moore MITI.

It strikes me that the positive vibe that I referred to above will likely carry us along in our daily work lives and will help us, to quote from the conference programme, continue to improve and thrive for some time to come!

And finally, given the theme of the blog you’re just visiting, it will probably not surprise you that I was pleased to even encounter two references to minimalism at the conference:

Firstly, Marga Burke Lowe MITI mentioned in her revision/workshop session that Brian Mossop, who has written a book about revision for translators, in general advocates a minimalist approach. I published a short blog post on minimalism in revision last year here. For an in-depth look at revision for translators do check out Nikki Graham MITI’s blog post series on the topic here.

Secondly, minimalism was implicitly also referred to by Sarah Silva MITI in her brilliantly and entertainingly delivered TED talk entitled “Uncork your potential”. Sarah suggested we set ourselves an exercise in which we pare down the long list of aims for our businesses: first by listing what’s most important to us (one word per aim!) and second by picking just the three most important. It reminded me of a similar approach to to-do lists, which I described in a blog post here.

Claire Cox MITI, Alison Hindley MITI, Richard Lackey and Chloe Jones from Surrey Translation Bureau have also blogged about the event. Check out their articles here:
- A Truly Capital Event (by Claire Cox)
- Beyond Words and Back Again at the ITI Conference: 18 – 20 May 2017 (by Alison Hindley)
- Co-working (by Richard Lackey)
- ITI Conference 2017 An in-house translator's view (by Chloe Jones)

And Alexander Drechsel has produced a brilliant video on the ITI conference 2017! Watch it here:

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Dispelling the myths: Translation and minimalism

“You’re a what?” When I say to people “I’m a translator”, I often receive the same funny, incredulous, but also curious looks as when I say to them, “I’m a minimalist”. Myths and misconceptions about both translation and minimalism are very widespread.

Let me set the record straight: being a minimalist does not mean that I own just 100 things. This is perhaps the most widespread misconception about minimalism. There are, in fact, very few minimalists out there who do own just 100 things.

Minimalism is about reducing excess and living mindfully

There are so many aspects to minimalism that if I wanted to list them, I wouldn’t know where to begin. So I’ll give just a few examples: minimalism is about reducing excess in all its guises, reclaiming our time, pursuing our greatest passions, and living mindfully. Minimalism is all about efficiency, clarity and simplicity. It offers fantastic tips for decluttering our homes and offices, but it is also about “decluttering our minds”.

As for translation, note this: being a translator does not mean that I translate speech orally for parties who converse in different languages. Translation and interpreting are similar activities. However, they are also fundamentally different in that an interpreter handles the spoken word, whereas a translator works with the written word!

There are so many aspects to working as a translator and the complex matter of translation that I wouldn’t know where to begin if I had to list them. To give a basic definition: translation is about deciphering and understanding the meaning behind words in both general and specialised texts, and expressing it clearly in the target language.

And no, human translators have not been replaced by computers: it is actually looking more and more likely that they never will be. Human translators are very busy people. Only humans ultimately are capable of tackling the linguistic, grammar, research or cultural challenges that typically arise in translating for the professional world.

Misconceptions about both translation and minimalism abound. But there is indeed so much more to translation and minimalism than meets the eye! Hence my motivation to blog about translation and minimalism here.