What I learned in November 2016

november-1735432_1280I started this post on Christmas Eve after yet another busy month on both the work and home fronts left me with very little spare time to think about writing for the blog. I always find in hard in December to keep up with everything because of the added stress of buying Christmas presents. And Christmas Eve was no exception as I made a frantic dash for the shops only to discover that one of the gifts I wanted to get my husband from M&S was already cellophaned up with a lower price tag for the Boxing Day sales.

But I mustn’t get ahead of myself. This is a post about November. The month that saw Trump elected to the White House. After Brexit didn’t go the way I hoped, I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked. Although I know many think the same way I do, it is still hugely upsetting to see another side win that makes me fearful for the future, because the ramifications of the Brexit and Trump victories will undoubtedly be felt worldwide.

the translation sector has been experiencing a bumpy ride of late

Recent world events often make me feel that we’re living in a ‘house of cards’ just waiting for a trigger to go into free fall. And the translation sector has been experiencing a bumpy ride of late too. High-profile resignations from the IAPTI have underscored the need for associations to be transparent and for proper systems to be put in place and adhered to for elections and to check finances. And as colleagues that have left recover from their disappointment and look for alternatives, they question whether associations that allow corporate membership (which the IAPTI does not) can truly represent their interests.

Then there’s the issue of The Open Mic and Dmitry Kornyukhov’s fundraising campaign. Bizarrely, after intermittent access to the site when it first started, I now cannot see any of the pages at all (I suspect this has something to do with my broadband provider, but I haven’t had time to look into it yet because, frankly, there is so much else to digest in the blogosphere I haven’t felt the need). Simon Berrill’s post on the topic and Kevin Hendzel’s comments list several reasons why asking for money in this way might not prove the best of ideas, especially since the climate in the translation world has shifted to viewing anyone trying to diversify into providing “services” to fellow translators with a certain amount of suspicion.

On the subject of fleecing our colleagues, little did I know when I published my last ‘What I learned’ post just how under fire a much maligned ‘guru’ would become on Facebook just a couple of days later. After Andrew Morris announced that the Standing Out® group would turn into a paid group from January, members began protesting and leaving in droves. Many joined a new group, Standing Up, hoping it could take SO’s place, although some were disheartened by vehement digs at the SO founder and a dismissive tone, which resulted in them hastily clicking the ‘leave’ button. They may even have returned to SO as Morris backtracked on making people pay for access and membership figures have risen again. At the time of writing, I’ve just learned that SO has teamed up with ProZ.com for a new group initiative in 2017.

While I can understand that people want to be paid for the time they spend writing posts, fiddling with websites, preparing CPD for colleagues (webinars, courses, workshops and books), and that requesting a fee for doing so is often a reasonable request, it also always puts you under the spotlight. An oftentimes unforgiving one. Many members of our profession will get out their magnifying glasses and start looking for faults. And given that we are all flawed humans with differing opinions about many aspects, they can sometimes be all too easy to spot and/or exaggerate.

Despite not managing to get to many conferences or events recently, I have met many of the players in the above three stories in person and/or I have chatted to them virtually. None of them strike me as being money-grabbing monsters who need to be brought down at all costs. I might well be proven wrong in the long term, but right now I’d prefer to see how everything pans out.

In the meantime, for full disclosure, I am still a member of the IAPTI, but in light of recent events and the questions they raise, I will think carefully about whether to renew my membership when it falls due. I cannot access The Open Mic so I won’t be supporting the fundraiser. And I have not been a member of any SO group for a while and have no plans to ever join again.

creating us or them sides will only further divide a sector that is splintering into unhealthy factions

I do believe, however, that if people gain something from being members of the IAPTI, The Open Mic and SO, they should be allowed to continue to do so without any harassment. By all means voice your opinion and point out what you don’t like about associations, websites, FB groups, etc., educate the masses if you must, but try to do so in a spirit of tolerance. Creating us or them sides will only further divide a sector that is splintering into unhealthy factions because we feel forced to choose rather than partake of the tasty bits of several pies. Let’s not turn the translation profession into the shadow of the deeply divided messes of Brexit versus Bremain and Trump supporters versus his haters.

5 thoughts on “What I learned in November 2016

  1. Rather than call for a spirit of tolerance, I would urge translators to exercise discernment when they contemplate joining, or remaining in, any one group.
    Although one cannot equate two peripheral social media groups with the kind of association IAPTI aspired to be, all three do have one thing in common: they have been criticised because their ethics have been found wanting.
    Without taking the moral high ground, I think it is a good idea for individual translators to take a good hard look at their own ethics and choose to align with those associations or groups whose ethics in action they can live with. Ours is a serious profession, and if we want to be taken seriously (by clients, I mean), then we have to take serious decisions which reflect, at least in part, the kind of integrity on which good reputations are built.

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    1. I expect that those translators still with SO, The Open Mic and prepared to continue their membership of the IAPTI would tell you that they have used their judgement in deciding to be aligned with them. They probably have reasons for doing so that neither you nor I could even think of. And one thing I’m not prepared to do is tell others which groups or associations they should or shouldn’t be in. Taking a hard line of you’re either with me or against me doesn’t usually bring good results.

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  2. Nice post, Nikki; I knew nothing of either the IAPTI problems or the Open Mic debate, but I was one of those who left SO after being a keen upholder of its alleged principles of positivity, supportiveness and a non-confrontational approach for quite some time. Whilst I fully disagreed with the concept of monetising a group to which so many people had contributed over the years, I left primarily because of the dismissive and denigratory attitude taken to anyone who dared dissent when the proposed charge was announced. I’m not prepared to be a member of a group where well-respected colleagues are verbally abused or used for the founder’s ultimate gain, and no amount of mind-changing would persuade me to go back! I’ve since discovered that I’ve been blocked, along with a number of other like-minded colleagues, which seems a trifle excessive for merely stating one’s opinion in a calm and non-confrontational manner. As you say, no doubt those who have remained or returned have their reasons, and I’ve certainly no argument with them. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to spend less non-productive time on social media, so in a way the whole debacle has done me a favour 🙂 Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

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    1. Hi Claire, thanks for dropping by and Happy New Year to you too. Spending less time on social media is definitely one of my resolutions. Frankly, the atmosphere in many groups can turn toxic pretty quickly and I don’t need that in my life.
      I think it’s been obvious for a long time that Andrew Morris has wanted to earn more and more if not all of his living from SO rather than translating. Given that he’s got where he is today with his translation business, he cannot be as bad as some people make out, IMHO, and if he wants to take his life in a different direction now, that’s his prerogative. I don’t believe that all translators that diversify do so because they cannot make a decent living translating. I understand that they may be drawn to coaching, teaching, writing, etc., and I see nothing wrong with this.
      On the other hand, I fully agree with your feelings about SO as you have described. I don’t understand why people would want to continue supporting the group, but thousands do. Rather than dismissing them, and those that still support the IAPTI and The Open Mic, I’m appealing for more tolerance to try to come to an understanding. Situations are rarely black and white. And if we try to meet in the middle and find some common ground, we might find something we can build on. I just don’t want sides to become polar opposites.

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  3. I agree wholeheartedly, Nikki – everything in moderation is my motto in most things. I’m hedging my bets about Standing Up precisely because some people seem determined to create a them and us attitude and it isn’t quite the non-confrontational space I’d like – but early days yet. I think we’re all united by a love of words and our shared profession and when we meet in person, most of us seem to get on just fine. Here’s to more face-to-face encounters in 2017 and definitely to less trying to dictate what other people should and should not do.

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