What I learned in September 2016

leavesI’m posting this rather late because October has been another busy month for me work- and family-wise. It’s also been quite hectic on the blog with the start of the revision survey results (do check them out if you haven’t already. I’ve included as many comments as I can to show the range of opinions on the topic) and more MA review posts (on Cardiff and Westminster).

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What I learned in July 2016

july-706938_1280Early July I had the immense good fortune to translate a short piece about Grace Jones who gave us one of my all-time favourite songs: ‘Slave to the Rhythm’. Immersing myself in her music again after far too long an absence (I think it’s essential to listen to the music of the artists I translate about to help the creative juices flow in the right direction) was not only uplifting after all the political bad news (Brexit), but also reminded me about her strong personality and how she broke the moulds.

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What I learned in June 2016

calendar-1255951_1280That the free in freelancer means just that. Free to do a test or not. Free to refuse if you feel unwell, have no time, or just don’t like the look of the test (why do some agencies insist on using a cutting from a newspaper that has absolutely nothing to do with the types of texts you will supposedly end up translating for them?). And, of course, as I discussed with Elena Tereschenkova and Dmitry Kornyukov when they kindly invited me to chat with them one Wednesday on their live Blab chat show on translation called Blabbing Translators, free to pick and choose the advice we are bombarded with in this profession on social media without worrying about ignoring something often portrayed as essential.

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What I learned in May 2016

may-1333486_1280Unfortunately, I learned in May, and not for the first time either, that some clients show no respect for me at all. After chasing payment from a direct client for three months and listening patiently to their promises and excuses, I decided to send them another invoice detailing the late interest* now due. This is the second time I’ve had to reissue an invoice and demonstrate to a direct client that I mean business. But it’s also the second time that interest has not been paid.

Although in both cases the new invoice met with an immediate response (agreed new payment date one week later that was met, and same-day payment), I’m rather dismayed that the interest I added (which, let’s face it, is a paltry sum) was totally ignored. Besides complete non-payment and ignoring reminder emails, nothing else feels like such a slap in the face.

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What I learned in April 2016

calendar-1174840_1280April was completely overshadowed by my female greyhound, Lara, being ill from start to finish. We noticed she was limping badly and had a swollen back leg with a strange lump on her foot over the Easter weekend. The vet thought she had an abscess, so she lanced it, but instead it turned out to be a strange case of blood vessels that had somehow clumped together and risen to the surface. As it wouldn’t stop bleeding (she’d cut an artery), we had to take her to the Queen Mother Hospital in north London where she stayed for a couple of days.

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Resources Galore and the Danger of Sweeping Generalisations

Library4Among the scores of posts published on translation blogs every day, very few manage to reach out and grab my full attention as much as Kevin Fernandez’s on The Open Mic. Provocatively entitled Why I Don’t Use Bilingual Dictionaries and Why You Shouldn’t Either, I knew I wasn’t going to agree with the content before I even started reading it. And although he softens the initial impact of his title by assuring us that he isn’t actually advocating that “we should never use them”, the beast had already been unleashed, sending everyone scurrying off to defend their respective corners.

I can appreciate that excessive use of a bilingual dictionary as a prop without exploring whether its suggestions are appropriate for the context in question is not helpful. This is especially true if you are a language student trying to get to grips with the intricacies of a language. But giving impressionable young professional translators the idea that it is wrong to even use a bilingual dictionary for their work is counterproductive.

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