Conference season

Disappointingly, I did not receive a response to my letter to my local independent cinema suggesting that it might like to show some foreign-language films on 26 September which had been designated as the European Day of Languages (see my post dated 22 July 2010). Undeterred, I decided to bring forward the celebrations by a day and attend the Chartered Institute of Linguists' Members' Day in London instead.

The CIoL had arranged a programme which included six seminars conducted by Members and Fellows of the Institute on topics such as "examining the differences between 'language' and 'dialect'", "Training translators and interpreters in the next 10 years", "Translating the spoken word as opposed to the written one" and others.

These were followed by lunch and then the Threlford Memorial Lecture, which this year was delivered by Professor David Crystal OBE. As the Institute is celebrating its centenary this year, Professor Crystal took as his title "Languages: past, present and future". During his lecture, Professor Crystal outlined the twists and turns in foreign language ability in the UK. It was assumed, for example, that a hundred years ago, the readers of Punch would be able to read the French and Latin captions on the cartoons whereas, nowadays, editors would not expect this level of fluency from their readership. In contrast, children born since 1991 speak the language of the internet as a native language; computer-speak which is sometimes baffling to older generations who are not computer professionals is used as a lingua franca amongst the young and sometimes also across linguistic boundaries. (If you are interested in English language usage Professor Crystal writes a blog on the subject which can be found here.)

The Second Virtual Conference took place a few days later on International Translators' Day, 30 September. As last year, there was a whole day's worth of seminars, pow-wows, prize draws and promotions.  There was a useful  feature allowing attendees, of whom there were approximately 5000 from across the world, to ask questions of the panellists in real time. One slight frustration from the point of view of a relatively experienced translator was the very basic nature of some of the questions. Perhaps Proz could think about naming the seminars to ensure a more targeted approach? For example, Working with Agencies for Beginners, or Advanced Terminology Management. With up to 1000 attendees per session, this would allow people to derive greater benefit from the seminars and ask their questions at an appropriate level. Just a thought!

My third conference of the season was organised by the Western Group of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting and took place at the University of Bath. This event provided the opportunity to meet up with colleagues in the local area which is always pleasant. The morning session consisted of a seminar looking at the important area of work/life balance. After lunch, there was a presentation on another important area of work and life - pensions for freelancers!


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