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August this year was a stark contrast to 2015, when I spent three weeks on a working holiday in Malaga and Alicante in Spain. Up at the crack of dawn and work until lunchtime (being two to three hours later than I’m accustomed to) and the rest of the day to enjoy the beach, culture and nightlife.

No such holiday this August as I’ll be getting married in October and having a short break in Rome afterwards, followed by a honeymoon hopefully somewhere exotic next year (this time I won’t be taking the laptop).

Key projects

One project in August covered the subject of corporate diversity, providing an insight into the change that Dutch businesses are striving to instil in the make-up of their workforce.

Diewelle_posterA different and fascinating project made reference to a film called The Wave (Germany, 2008). It’s impossible to study German without covering its modern history, notable the Nazi era, so it’s interesting to discover films that re-stimulate this knowledge. The Wave is based on a true story of an experiment carried out by an American high school teacher on his class in the 1960s to teach them about the dangers of sleepwalking into an autocracy, but this version is set in modern-day Germany.

The teachers’ students failing to believe that an autocracy could be established in the country today, he starts a ‘club’ known as The Wave. Members of the group wear a uniform, create a greeting and come up with a slogan, all as a sign of unity and discipline. But some students show resistance to the group but their criticism is dismissed by the masses. As The Wave becomes a tighter unit, its members begin to promote its ideology to others, but any dissidents are immediately dealt with, this time with violence. The teacher observes how dangerously out of control The Wave has become and assembles the group under the guise of a rally, using the students’ fervour to demonstrate how extreme the group now is. The Wave is disbanded and both teacher and students learn a valuable lesson. Recommended viewing, even if you’re not a German speaker (with the subtitles on in that case of course)!

Another informative project was a translation of industrial kitchen hygiene instructions. Health and safety is not a very sexy subject admittedly, but it is one I’m very familiar with as it is my father’s profession and I once spent a summer working for him when he was the head of H&S at a major fruit juice manufacturer. Isn’t it funny the ways we unknowingly pursue CPD?

Statistics
Words translated: 46,564
Words proofread/edited: 19,350

My workload in August 2016 comprised mostly Dutch for the second month running, as well as a significant amount of German:

French: 993 (2%)
German: 13,363 (29%)
Spanish: 8,318 (18%)
Dutch: 23,890 (51%)

Professional development

2016-08-21 12.17.17I started teaching myself Italian this month in order to prepare for a trip to Rome in November. Despite having some Italian ancestry (we’re going back a few generations here), I’m ashamed to say I don’t know anything past ‘ciao’. Yet having Spanish and French under my belt should serve me well (or completely confuse me – it remains to be seen). I contemplated taking classes and even gave a few language learning apps a go, but I’ve discovered I’m more of a traditional book learner, so a trip to my local library was all that was needed to pick up a grammar book and conversation guide (complemented by a CD to assist with pronunciation). It claims that I can get to level B2 in 12 weeks. This sounds rather far-fetched since it took the first two years of university to reach that level in Spanish. But we’ll see how it goes. Wish me buona fortuna! (I had to look that one up).

In other news

Two new venues were added to the range for the translator co-working days I organise on behalf of ITI Cymru Wales. The recently-refurbished and very swanky The Dock in Cardiff Bay (see right) and Drago Lounge in Newport. In eighteen months of co-working with fellow translators, I’ve found it to be wonderful to work in different surroundings. Having fellow professionals nearby is also handy for terminology or other queries. And contrary to popular belief, we do get work done there!

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Looking ahead

In September, I will be publishing the results of a survey carried out amongst freelance translators regarding which online media and platforms they use to engage with colleagues and to attract clients (and more importantly whether they are successful!). Some hypotheses were confirmed, yet there was a fair share of surprises in the results. Keep an eye out for a two-part analysis in early September.