The word is out: having your translations revised is THE way to grow as a translator. If you continue to work in your bubble without any feedback, you’ll make the same mistakes again and again, your word choices will remain narrow, you’ll never learn to think outside the box and your translations might never ever sing.
“I am not sure that one gains too much useful knowledge from a course on revision. Experience of being revised (whether monolingually or via translation) and revising is what makes you a better revisor. The interaction involved in close translator/reviser collaborations on big projects can be an abundant source of learning.”
“I work in a team of three where one person translates, another revises the translation (and the translator accepts/rejects the changes) and a third colleague does a final proof. This system generally works well and we all learn from each other too.”
“My case is special, because we are essentially an in-house team (some of us off-site), working for a host of departments/divisions as our ‘clients’. We have the same cycle for nearly all projects: translator – content reviser – translator – language reviser – translator – final approval (head of team). Therefore the translator has the final say in what to accept or reject from the reviser’s changes. But again, it is generally based on discussion and consensus.”
We started working as freelancers in the translation industry just over a year ago. As we both have a similar background (we graduated with the same master’s degree, TSM—Traduction Spécialisée Multilingue—from Université de Lille 3, North of France) and we completed an internship in the same SME, we thought this post would be a good opportunity to look back and see to what extent our studies have impacted (and still impact) on our daily professional lives/careers.
To illustrate this point, we have decided to mainly focus on the second year of our MA, for the following three reasons:
As I sat on a boat to Hvar, Croatia, knowing that I wanted to leave my job and mulling over the options available to me, I had my lightbulb moment: “I know,” I thought, “I’ll go back to university to study for a Masters in translation.”
After returning to the UK, I set about researching my options (part-time vs full-time study, distance learning vs attending lectures and the like), but what was always clear in my mind was that I wanted to become a translator and I wanted to be ready to delve into the profession as soon as I left university. I settled upon the University of Westminster’s MA translation programme as it seemed to me the best and the most practical course out there – and I wasn’t disappointed. Here’s why:
In 2011, I found myself in the same situation as many other students: nearing the end of my undergraduate degree – in my case, a BA (Hons) in French and Spanish – and unsure of what to do next. I had really enjoyed the translation modules during my course, so I decided to continue down this road, and, a few months later, began my year-long MA in Translation Studies at Cardiff University.
In August I rediscovered what an exceptionally beautiful part of the world the Lake District is (we were blessed with sunshine throughout our stay, however). Now that Brexit has probably scuppered my plans of moving back to the Continent to retire near the lakes in northern Italy to be close to family, I might just end up in the Lake District instead.
This guest post cannot possibly say everything about revision and does not need to. Nikki Graham has already grouped together a number of revision-related blogs worth reading here for your convenience.
This means I am free to skip all the usual definitions and give you instead a hotch-potch of impressions and experiences which might give you some food for thought about how you approach revising your own work, how to refine your response to revisions by others of your work, and how you, perhaps, perform revisions on the work of others. I have written from the perspective of a revisor; a revisor whose own translation and revision work has come under harsh scrutiny where some revisions made and conclusions drawn have been justified, and others not. I continue to hope that insights thus gained serve to make me a better translator and a better revisor.
Early 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.
Back in October 2014 on my old blog I wrote about some reasons why an agency might stop working with you. As both the original post and the republished version on this blog on WordPress, My Words for a Change, amassed a lot of interest and comments, I’ve highlighted some more reasons below why you might suddenly find an agency no longer calls or emails you. They are based on the feedback and a few of my own observations.
Although this and the previous post focus on working with agencies, some of the points are equally valid for working with direct clients. I hope you find them useful.
When does a revision go too far?
When is a translation not a translation?
Revision is a very thorny subject, as I mentioned in my previous post on the topic. It can generate a lot of bad feeling if you think the changes made to your work were unnecessary and if the reviser’s opinion could mean you lose a client.
But what if the reviser screams “too literal” at every turn and changes the sentences so drastically they not only no longer resemble the original translation, but barely reflect the author’s ideas either?
Receiving a translation back covered in tracked changes and comments is never a nice experience because it mainly signals that the client is unhappy with your work. A mistake is a mistake and has to be owned up to and corrected. It’s something you have to learn from to improve your skills and ensure you don’t repeat. And you have to hope that the consequences won’t be too serious and that you don’t lose the client as a result.
But when there are no errors and the red highlights differences in opinion between the translator and the reviser/editor, it’s a whole other ball game. The ensuing argument can turn into a battle between who is right and who is wrong. And although one may emerge the victor, as in table tennis, points can be won by either player along the way.