Attending online events I’d never manage to go to in person is one of the few advantages of the COVID-19 pandemic. So along with a handful of Group Translation Chats (GTC) members, I signed up for the CopyCon 2020 conference held by ProCopywriters.
Long before we got to the talk on perfectionism, some speakers floated the idea that copy doesn’t have to be perfect. Sandra Wu from Blinkist told us that perfectionists were wasting their time because people skim content and only read around 30% of what you write. Copy doesn’t need to be beautiful and engaging to convert and so rewriting text to make the language better doesn’t pay off.
Let’s be honest, after completing a four-year undergraduate language degree (and spending the previous 15ish years in education), the last thing you probably want to do is go back into education.
That’s how I felt at least. I had just graduated from the University of Nottingham with a degree in German with Dutch and decided I wanted to be a translator. I started to look for jobs in translation, but it seemed as though they all required an MA, so I did some research into Translation MA courses.
In Part 1 of this mini-series on ‘memoQ for the non-tech savvy’, I gave a brief introduction to memoQ and reviewed this CAT tool after switching to using it from Wordfast Classic. That was over three years ago and I’m still getting to grips with all the many features.
If you’re as bewildered as I am by all the tabs and buttons, I hope these posts will help you find your way around memoQ so you can start translating your first document with a minimum of fuss asap (because time is money, right?).
Regular blog readers and site users will already know I recently divided the Useful Links for Translators page into five distinct sections. Today I’d like to share with you my three favourite links in each of those sections. They’re basically the ones I use the most.
One of the challenges many translators face is finding good professional development courses that suit their needs. This is even more challenging if you want to study them in a language other than English or the language spoken in the country where you live.
As an English and Dutch into Italian translator living in Amsterdam, I know the struggle.
Fortunately, the courses by the Italian company CTI – Communication Trend Italia came highly recommended by both fellow university students and renowned experienced translators. They are also recognized by the Italian translator’s association AITI.
It’s not really like me at all. I’m generally a doer, rather than a talker. But when I graduated with my French Studies BA in July 2007, I applied to do a comparative literature masters at UCL the following year and then, when that came around, I deferred another year, then eventually pulled out completely. Then I signed up for the DipTrans preparation course at Westminster, went to a couple of classes, got scared out of my wits at how inexperienced I was, and gave up. Then I just talked about my longing to do a translation MA for years. The problem was, it was never “the right time”.
It’s survey time again on My Words for a Change. Back in 2015 I ran my first survey on adverts on translation blogs (TLDR: don’t have any adverts on your blogs!). The following year I ran one on revisions (thus combining two of my favourite subjects). I spared you all my intrusive questions in 2017 and last year I ran a survey on whether blogging is dead (TLDR: no, it isn’t yet, but it really depends on the blog).
This year I want to quizz you about qualifications. As you probably know if you’re a regular reader, lots of guest posters have written about their experiences of MAs and MScs in translation for this blog, and the vast majority of them have been positive. But taking out a year or two to study a degree at university, even if it’s a distance-learning course, isn’t an option for all of us.
For readers that don’t know the ‘Useful Links for Translators’ page, it basically consists of four main sections that are each divided into several subsections. These are packed with links to help you translate your texts, run your business and even enjoy your leisure time. This post gives you a quick overview of what’s new since the last update in October.
The first main section lists general dictionaries and glossaries. The new subsection here is General Into & Out of Spanish, which I’ve added to make it easier to find resources that are primarily for looking up how to translate words from and into Spanish. As I work from ES to EN, there’s a heavy bias towards this language pair in the first couple of sections. New here is: Diccionario español – mallorquín. The other resources were previous listed under General Multilingual.
After completing my BA degree in German & Spanish with the Open University, I had an idea that I wanted to be a translator but didn’t really know how to become one. I looked online and saw that anyone can call themselves a translator, so ideally a qualification would benefit me. I began hunting online at universities that offer MAs in Translation. Lo and behold, my old university was just about to start an MA in Translation and it would be their first intake of students.
I read about the course on the website – full time study would take just short of 2 years and part time study, up to 6 years. The course was split into 3 modules (more on this later). I knew how the OU worked and so I took the plunge and registered for the first module L801 starting February 2017 ending September 2017. The language combinations are German, Spanish, French, Italian, Mandarin Chinese or Arabic combined with English. You don’t have to be a native English speaker to be on the course!
The course is delivered solely online. Each module has its own website and all of the teaching materials are on the website and easily accessible. There is a forum, dedicated to each study block and language combination, but you can access all forum posts, so you’re not confined to just your language combination. Tutors are available via the forum and email and don’t worry – the forums are checked regularly. All assignments are submitted and returned electronically through the OU’s TMA online service. It’s very easy to use, click the submit button, attach your assignment, check the boxes to agree that you haven’t copied someone else’s work and then it will submit, and you can also download a copy of what you’ve submitted. You also receive a confirmation email.
During L801, we learned more about the theory of translation, from the beginnings where it was linguistics based, all the way through to the cultural turn in the 1990s and 2000s. Then we looked at how technology has come into the profession and the different types of CAT Tools. Three assignments throughout the module and one final assignment (EMA – End of Module Assignment) followed.
The next module (L802) started in October 2017 and finished in May 2018. This was my favourite as we had the opportunity to practise translations. The website for L802 functioned the same way as L801. We could put the theory into practice. We translated many specialisations, e.g. subtitling, finance, legal, tourism, news, literature, humour, marketing, technical and medical. Again, we had 3 assignments throughout the course and one final assignment. To pass the module you need to get over 40% in both the overall score on the 3 assignments and above 40% on the EMA.
In June 2018 to January 2019, we completed our dissertations (L803). This module was slightly different, we had to choose a source text of our choice and then had to choose what we wanted to analyse and research. There are two options: complete a translation with a commentary or conduct translation research. I chose the extended translation with commentary. The first two assignments are plans for the dissertation, which the tutor marks, and they tally up to 30% of the module. The dissertation itself is worth 70% of the module. I chose an excerpt from an autobiography of a former German footballer and analysed the translation of football terminology and player/manager discourse – I won’t bore you any further!
Hearing from the other students about their projects has really shown how far we’d all come and how much we’d all learned from the course. The way the course was structured meant that by understanding the theory behind translation we could then apply it and see it used in practice during L802 and in our dissertations in L803.
I think that this MA has been particularly useful as I haven’t just learned about translation itself but also about the wider scope of things, e.g. what to expect as a freelancer and what potential clients and employers will expect from us. Studying with a distance-learning provider has also proved that with dedication and motivation, you can achieve anything as this course is mainly self-taught. You have the module team and tutors for guidance, but you go through the module materials by yourself at your own pace. Added to this, you can fit this course around your life. On our course we’ve had people who work full time, some work part time with families and children. One of our students attended a webinar with her child asleep on her lap! You can take what you want from the course and adapt it to your requirements. The main piece of advice is, use the forum and ask any questions you may have. Even though you’re studying alone and may feel like no one else is in the same boat, trust me they are. We have our own Facebook group and we’ve all bonded on the forum, I feel like I really know some of the people on the course and we haven’t met. However, we are trying to arrange a gathering. This MA is great value for money and I don’t regret a single penny of it!
What’s more MAs in Translation are important as institutions like ITI and CIOL do like their members to be qualified in translation or interpreting. The Open University is a member of ITI so becoming a student member is straightforward and being a student member of CIOL is free. Lastly, having an MA in Translation can help you stand out from the ‘supposed’ translators who aren’t qualified. It proves to employees, institutions and clients that you are dedicated and understand your profession.
The Open University’s recent advert had the tagline, ‘Life-changing learning.’ This MA has certainly been life-changing for me, as I can now enter my dream profession with a qualification.
This blog post was written by Luke Hubbard, a translator and copywriter based in Surrey, UK. He translates marketing and football texts from both German and Spanish into English, combining both interests and hobbies with his work. He recently finished his MA in Translation with the Open University and holds a Level 4 Diploma in Copywriting. He’s also an affiliate member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting and full member of ProCopywriters. You can find out more about his services on his LinkedIn and ProZ.com profiles.
You have until 4 November to take advantage of special discounts to watch BP conference videos. You can decide to watch just one, all of the BP18 videos, the current library (BP16 to BP18) or everything plus lifetime access to future videos. Your purchase (except buying just one video) will also give you chances to win a ticket to the next conference, BP19 in Bologna, at the beginning of May.