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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22 more reasons why an agency might stop working with you

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.

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Revision: a Can of Worms?

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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?

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The Thorny Subject of Revisions

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.

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My Master’s Degree in Translation and Language Industries at ISTI (ULB)

Celine LemaireI started my translation studies at ISTI (the Institut Supérieur de Traducteurs et Interprètes, which is now part of the ULB, the Université Libre de Bruxelles) in Brussels, five years ago. After three years of a Bachelor’s degree in this department and an Erasmus at UEV in Valencia (Spain), I had fallen in love with translation and decided to continue my Master’s degree at ISTI (ULB).

At the beginning of the first year of the Master’s programme, students can choose between a career in translation or interpreting. Personally, having always loved writing, I made the decision to study an MA in translation.

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A few words about using another’s translation for repeat texts

IMG_0898I’m sure many of you can identify with this scenario: an end client sends an agency similar documents on a regular basis and most are largely the same with just a few tweaks needed here and there to incorporate new information. Sometimes this work is handled by agencies that farm the job out to the first available translator, provide them with a TM and tell them not to touch 100% matches (which they don’t pay for). Sometimes the agencies are quite happy for you to alter the TM and pay a sliding-scale revision rate for matches. Other times the agency sends the work to the same translator year after year, who can then use his or her own TM to do the job. However, in the latter case, the one I’m most familiar with, the preferred usual translator is inevitably not always available, so the document is sent to another translator to process along with copies of previous translations.

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Strawberries, cream and sparks of genius: Tennis parallels to help us be the best we can become

As I start to write this post, the second week of Wimbledon is underway. The initial 128 men and women playing in their respective championships have been whittled down to just 16. Inevitably, the majority were seeded anyway, but some non-seeded players usually get through the first week as well. They are often the ones that have had the toughest battles, knocking out players with much higher world rankings than themselves. At this stage in the competition, however, it seems highly likely that the trophies will be lifted by one of the top seeds, although it’s not unheard of for an outsider to storm through and surprise us all (Becker in 1985, for example).

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The Latest Trend in the Translation Industry: PEMT

PEMT2Have you heard of the latest trend in the translation industry? It’s called PEMT* and it stands for post-editing machine translation. This is when clients use a program to translate their text before sending it to a translator for the final edit. Some clients use more sophisticated MT (machine translation) than online offerings, but in my experience Google Translate is the most popular translation tool, and, therefore, the one clients use more often than not to get a translation for the price of a revision, usually around 50% of the cost.

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The Premium, the Bulk and the PEMT

Littlehampton3There’s been a lot of talk recently about the bulk and premium market and whether ranting or complaining about the poor conditions found in the former will ever do any good, especially as what everyone should actually be doing is following the lead of the gurus, getting out there and grabbing the best jobs, charging a fortune, earning a six-figure salary and flying first class. Because then there wouldn’t be anything for them to complain about, now would there?

If only this were so easy or possible. The translation sector encompasses as many markets as there are language combinations and specialisms. How you fare or how much you might earn probably depends more on the market you operate in than where you live. It also depends on the subjects you have studied and your specialist knowledge, how good you are at translating and your personality; whether you have the drive, get-up-and-go and belief in yourself that will enable you to land direct clients and charge decent rates rather than relying on an agency to do that for you. So many factors are involved that it’s almost impossible to generalise. And it’s also impossible for anyone to know what it might be like for a colleague in a totally different situation to their own.

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Pay special attention to this translation or else

A translator is many thingsDon’t you just love it when the agency says in the very last email of the exchange about a job, when the conditions are supposedly already done and dusted: “Oh, by the way, the client says this translation is extremely important so please make sure you pay special attention to doing it well.” Even when they sweeten this a little by adding “We know you always do”, it still exasperates me no end.

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