Recently in Continuing Professional Development Category

A busy time of year for networking

The beginning of autumn always seems to be a busy time of year for networking, updating skills, becoming acquainted with what's new in the world of languages and generally getting more involved.

I am very much looking forward to the BDÜ's 2012 conference "Interpreting the Future" from 28-30 September. If the conference three years ago is anything to go by, it will be a wonderfully enriching experience. Contact me in advance if you are going too and we'll meet up for a coffee!

And if you can't attend this event....BDUe_Konferenz_2012_Plakat_DE_RGB_oR.jpg...then perhaps the Proz virtual conference will be easier to attend from your desk or laptop...

There is a week of events for freelance translators from 24-28 September. Check out the details here.

The next event is for all those interested in languages: teachers, tourists, students as well as translators and interpreters.  The Language Show Live is making its annual appearance at Olympia, London from 19-21 October. It is always packed with interesting stands, engaging seminars and presentations and fascinating languages for people at all levels of ability. The Institute of Translating and Interpreting (ITI) will be running a seminar on The Day in the Life of a Translator. I must say, I'm intrigued!


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Bath Literature Festival

The Bath Literature Festival's programme has been published and it is proving popular. Two events I thought I might attend have already sold out!  So get your skates on if you want to attend.

Two other events for which I believe there are still seats available and that will be of interest to translators and other linguists in Bath are these:

Translating Tolstoy on Tuesday 6 March with Rosamund Bartlett who is currently translating  Anna Karenina. She will be in conversation with the Artistic Director of the Festival, James Runcie. It will be interesting to hear about how she tackles her work.

All fans of correct punctuation will be delighted to hear that Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves will be talking on that subject on Sunday 11 March. I wonder what her position is on the recent decision by Waterstones to drop their apostrophe?

There are lots more events too! I can't wait.

independent-logo_335.jpg(Image copyright of Bath LitFest)

Improving your spoken language skills - Part II

Traditionally in the UK, the new school year begins on September 1st or thereabouts. And it is also the time of year to enrol on evening classes and other activities to dispel the gloomy prospect of long dark winter evenings. Since I moved to Bath six years ago, I have been involved in the Bath German Society and have had the privilege of being Chair of the Society since April 2009. 

Bath German Society meets once a month and offers its members the opportunity to chat informally in German before engaging in the evening's main activity. The Society's members range from native speakers to enthusiastic learners of the language. It provides a forum for the latter to hear the language without being locked into the intricacies of grammar and for native speakers to speak their own language which they may not do very often as they live and work in an English-speaking country. There are benefits for all!

The committee endeavours to provide a programme covering a wide range of interests. In addition to lectures on topics from Engineering to Literature and Japanese culture, in recent years we have introduced a book group style meeting allowing everyone to read a specified novel in advance and then chat about it of lectures on a wide range of topics and for the musical amongst us we have assembled a small but enthusiastic choir to sing German carols at Bath's German Christmas Market.  This autumn, we are planning to visit the theatre to see a production of Goethe's Iphigenie auf Tauris, newly translated into English by Meredith Oakes - a rare opportunity to see a German play without having to leave the country!

In addition to our monthly meetings, the Society also hosts a Stammtisch on Wednesday mornings in the Strudelbar in the Hansel and Gretel shop on Margaret's Buildings in Bath. This conversation group is run on a "drop in when you can" basis. It starts at 11.30 am and often runs until after 2 pm. It is attended by a mixture of people ranging from shift workers with a morning off (nurses, catering staff, etc), to retired people (who often stay for the whole morning) to office workers using their lunch break to polish up their German whilst eating some delicious strudel and drinking coffee.

New members of all ages are always welcome to all our activities. We hope you will be able to join us!

Improving your spoken language skills - Part I

When I meet new people and tell them what I do for a living they often react with something bordering on awe. I find this rather embarrassing as I am all too aware of my own shortcomings no matter how impressive others think it is to be able to speak two foreign languages.

As a translator who specialises in certain fields, it is possible to forget vocabulary in other  areas of life because, as with everything, one has to keep in practice. One way of practising skills that are likely to get rusty from lack of use is to join a conversation group.

Many classes at adult education colleges have been victims of spending cuts in recent years and this seems to be true of courses in foreign languages. However, all is not yet lost! It costs nothing to chat and so about 15 months ago, I put an advert (in French) in the village newspaper announcing my intention to set up a French conversation group in a local pub. I had little idea of how many people would come and was delighted when about 8 people, including a couple of native speakers, turned up eager for a French conversation workout.

The group agreed to meet once a month and has a number of core members now. In addition to the native speakers, who also value the opportunity to keep their mother tongue in good shape, there are people from all walks of life ranging from retired people with property renovation projects in France, to a couple of translators to people who have spent a little time in French-speaking countries on a professional basis. The group also includes the local handyman (who was determined to learn a foreign language and whose vocabulary, grammar and idiomatic language are second to none), people who studied modern languages at university and need to brush up and school students determined to boost their grades and others whose native language is neither French nor English.

How is the group organised? This group is delightful in that it runs itself.  I hold an e-mail list of participants and send a message a week in advance as a reminder of the date of the next meeting. Members arrive at the pub, order a drink, sit down and start chatting! The subjects discussed are wide ranging including visits to the vet with the cat (it turned out to be quite a drama with the poor cat dying in the car on the way home), problems with restoring antique motorbikes, and new job applications. We have a big bi-lingual dictionary on the table to help with words that aren't in our everyday vocabulary such as "sump", "breech birth" or "dove-tail joint" and the Grammar Police are nowhere in sight. If someone needs help with formulating a sentence correctly, help is given but no one automatically corrects lapses in grammar. Purists may find this a bit shocking but as long as the sentence is comprehensible, the flow of the conversation is not interrupted. Members can study grammar books at home and hope to apply the rules more accurately next time.

Such a group is easy to set up and run - and our reputation has spread beyond the village with people coming from other areas to join us. We do not restrict our ability speak French to Francophiles; we have been known to generously share our knowledge with the local community. For example, we participated in the pub's annual "Beer and Carols" night in December last year. The regulars were treated to a rendition of carols in French - with tunes familiar to the audience to encourage some to join in with us. We hope to establish this as a tradition and do it again this year.

With the autumn on the horizon, a traditional time of year to think of evening activities, why not set up a group in your area? It is an ideal opportunity to start to dispel the myth that the Brits are "not interested in languages" and get plenty of practice before your next holiday!


A bit of drama

Isn't it wonderful when your chosen profession dovetails nicely with your other interests?  I spent a pleasant hour on Sunday afternoon visiting Bath's Museum of Fashion and taking the opportunity to do a little light Continual Professional Development.  The museum is a fascinating place for not only is it located in the city's famous and beautiful Assembly Rooms, it has an ever-changing programme of exhibitions.

I indulged my love of costume dramas by visiting the latest exhibition called Dressing the Stars: British Costume Design at the Academy Awards.  I was fascinated to see costumes from some of my favourite films including the wedding outfits worn by Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman in Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility, the fabulously evocative cloak and dress in which Meryl Streep, as the mysterious Sarah, wraps herself when she stands on the wind-lashed Cobb in Lyme Regis in The French Lieutenant's Woman, and the clothes worn by Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. (It almost looked as if he was actually in the costume!)

Although visitors were not allowed to touch the costumes, there were samples of fabrics to feel. It's good to remind oneself of what certain fabrics are like to touch especially if called on in a translation to describe a type of material. I shall have to do a little research on a term used to describe a dress worn by Kiera Knightley in her role as Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (scenes of which, incidentally, were shot in the Assembly Rooms and in the town). It is called a "drunk dress". Does any one have any ideas what this means? Here's an image of it taken by Aylwen Gardiner-Garden and can be found with other images from the exhibition on her blog .

KK drunk dress.jpgIt was good to see costume designers getting a bit of well-deserved acknowledgement as they are an integral part of film-making and can often be overlooked. Perhaps there are parallels with the role of the translator whose contribution when performed seamlessly (pun intended) can also go unrecognised. If costume designers put an actor in the wrong clothes for the period, or a translators use the wrong word for the context of the piece, it can jar and audiences in both cases notice the faux pas. If we do our jobs well, we blend into the background and our role is unacknowledged. So I, for one, am pleased that there are Oscars for costume design. Perhaps we should have them for translation too?

The exhibition continues until 29 August so there's still time to see it if you're interested.

Conference season

There is always something going on in the world of languages and the early autumn is no exception.

This year, the European Day of Languages will fall on 26 September. Check out the website for further information and inspiration., the translators' portal, is in the throes of organising its third virtual conference to co-incide with International Translators' Day which also falls on 26 September. The conference has been extended from a single day event to one that runs until 30 September. All call for speakers has been issued - so if you have some insights to share with the professional translation and interpreting community this is your chance to put your name up in lights! More information is available here.

The Great Translation Debate also organised by Proz is scheduled to take place on 29 September. Amongst other topics there will be a live panel discussion considering the motion: Translation automation is good for the translation profession. 
This promises to be a lively session and if you want your say or wish just to hear what others have to say, then register here.

If you prefer a non-virtual experience, then perhaps the Language Show Live will be up your street. Held this year at Olympia London from 21 - 23 October there will be hundreds of language-related exhibitors' stands to visit, language taster sessions, short foreign films to watch, career opportunities to investigate and cultural shows to watch. Registration for free tickets is now open.

Handbags and gladrags

I have not posted any new entries on the blog recently but this does not mean that nothing has been happening here at TrànslationWörks. Far from it. Much has been achieved in two of my specialist areas of Immigration and Travel and Tourism.

In addition to the conventional translating and proofreading aspects of my work, I have also been out and about.

As last year, I visited a local secondary school to talk to students at the Careers Fair about translation. Once again, I was delighted by the enthusiasm of the young people for languages in general and hope that all of them will be weave their language skills into their future careers, even if they decide not to become translators.

Earlier in the month, I attended a couple of events at Bath in Fashion Week. It is important for translators to keep up to date with the latest developments in the subject areas they translate and so this was a perfect opportunity to combine a bit of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) with some fun!  Bath has been a fashionable place for several centuries. The rich and famous of past eras have visited the town for its spa and entertainments. And nothing has changed in this respect. The town seemed to be really buzzing with greater numbers of the fashionably dressed, and all the shops also appeared to be putting their best foot forward. I learned more about what happens behind the scenes in this world that has a cachet of glamour. Like many professions, the end result is a culmination of hard work and creative thought and lateral thinking all working together to look effortless.


This blog has been receiving inordinate amounts of spam comments recently. All seem to be promoting the benefits of purchasing replica designer bags (also known as "genuine fake" as I once saw on a sign in Turkey!). I say "seem" because the English is so mangled that it is actually not always clear what the comments are trying to convey.

Here is an example: "If you're serious about buying Cheap [designer brand name] Replica Handbags at discounted prices, you should be the ads in the newspapers of the season slip and tend to the shops, we know that selling big brands buy, offer authentic reproductions and a price of more than his actual value."

One day, I may blog about machine translation. I suspect the above is the product of machine translation and an excellent example of why everyone should employ a well-qualified human translator if they want to promote their goods and services to a discerning market.

For the time being, I have disabled the Comments function. I hope normal service will be resumed in due course.


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!


Celebrating International Translators' Day

Once again, it is International Translators' Day today.

I wish all my fellow translators a happy day as they reflect perhaps on what they have achieved since last year. Many will no doubt be attending the Proz virtual conference as indeed I shall be.

I hope you all have a fruitful time - and I look forward to virtually bumping into you there!

The Language Show 2010

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At the end of last October, I reported on my visit to the Language Show at Olympia, London.

The show will be staged again but this year the venue is Earl's Court and registration has just opened. This is sure to be a great day out for anyone interested in all aspects of languages with language taster sessions, foreign-language film shows, careers advice, seminars and much more.

logo_languageshow.gifFree entry is available with prior registration. See their website for more details.