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October and November tend to be a time to switch the afterburners on and get some hard work done before pulling the throttle back to wind down for Christmas. This year was no exception, not just in terms of projects taken on, but a couple of professional events, plus a wedding!

Key projects

Major projects in October and November included training materials for an expanding fast food company and blog posts for a cloud solutions provider. Through the latter, I learn a great deal about new developments in the cloud technology sector, specifically the emergence of a ‘hybrid’ solution; this is in contrast to the existing binary model of private (high security but high cost) vs. public (low cost but low security) cloud services. The new hybrid cloud model offers companies the best of both worlds by using private elements for certain aspects, while using public for others, making the solution more affordable. From discussions with other translators, cloud services are a touchy subject in the translation sector. While they clearly offer benefits in terms of flexibility and data back-up, the confidentiality issue is the stumbling block. In fact, some clients outright forbid translators to use cloud technology when handling their data. It remains to be seen whether this new hybrid model, promising to offer security of the highest level, will win them over.

I also continued work on content for a Dutch university business course, specifically on cultural awareness. Last month focused specifically on India and China, whereas in October the content was centred more on Europe and the Anglosphere. In a cruel twist of fate in the midst of the Brexit fiasco, much of the lecture’s material was dedicated to the EU and, while balanced in presenting the pros and cons of membership, served as a reminder of the trade and security benefits (not to mention other benefits, of course).

Statistics: October

Words translated: 31,504
Words proofread/edited: 45,129

French: 2,097 (7%)
German: 239 (1%)
Spanish: 2,885 (9%)
Dutch: 26,283 (83%)

Statistics: November

Words translated: 38,883
Words proofread/edited: 5,500

French: 1,698 (4%)
German: 5,780 (15%)
Spanish: 4,914 (13%)
Dutch: 26,491 (68%)

Professional development

In October, I started a MOOC (massive open online course) for the very first time. Working with Translation: Theory and Practice is a free four-week course provided by Cardiff University. MOOCs have started to revolutionise professional development for translators, as longer courses on specialist subjects become available for free. As someone who has not formally studied translation and instead learned everything on the job working in-house, this is a highly-anticipated topic for me. While I don’t expect a free course to go into too much detail, I do expect a selection of valuable points to be covered or at least to have my own theories validated (or rejected) by academics.

In November, I was involved in organising the ITI Cymru Wales seminar ‘Finding customers in your chosen industry’ in Cardiff. We invited translator and sales expert Irina Perry to share her experience of working in international sales. Irina has 10 years of experience working in a sales role for various international companies – exactly the kind of practitioner we were looking for. The seminar was very active and much of it was spent by Irina asking the audience questions so she could find out about their individual circumstances and thereby tailor the information to them.

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Much time was dedicated to prompting attendees to think about their target market and build a profile of their ideal customer (in terms of sector, size, turnover, volume of sales, etc.) in order to seek out customers who fit that profile. Irina shared plenty of advice on approaching a prospect, right down to which day of the week is best (Friday – as they tend to be more relaxed in anticipation of the weekend, then down to business on Monday). She also gave a tip on coping with a common stumbling block for translators, which is how to deal with a company that has a badly or machine-translated website: stress that their sales depend on the quality of their sales materials; we can also compare and contrast a prospect’s website translation with their competitor’s and discuss the outcome with the prospect. And of course none of this works unless you draw up an action plan with monthly/quarterly targets and KPIs.

Language Show Live 

I attended the Language Show Live in London for the fifth consecutive year in October. The three-day free event aimed at language learners, teachers and professionals features a solid programme of seminars, plenty of which are directed at translators. On Saturday 15 October, I chaired a panel for ITI on Career opportunities in Translation and Interpreting. I was impressed by the high level of questions asked this year, not the typical ‘how do you become a translator?’, rather ‘are you threatened by new developments in machine translation?’ and ‘how do you think Brexit will affect the profession and your business?’. While the former was easy to answer (no), the latter was somewhat trickier and all four panellists were unable to give a definitive answer. The weak pound is indeed a short-term benefit for UK-based translators who charge in euros, but in the long term, much will depend on the conditions of Brexit and how attractive it remains for clients on the continent to do business with suppliers in the UK.

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On Saturday afternoon, I spent a few hours on the ITI stand, talking to aspiring and established translators about the benefits of membership of the UK’s foremost professional association for translators and interpreters. And the cherry on top was meeting a large number of students on ITI’s online Setting Up as a Freelance Translator course in person, whom I had recently taught a module about building a professional online presence.

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On Sunday, I gave my own presentation entitled Translators: If You’re Not Online, You’re Invisible, stressing the need for translators starting out in this day and age to get their professional online presence right from day one. Lots of interesting questions from the packed audience here too, about SEO, translating your website and copyright.

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And to top it all off, I had the pleasure of meeting several colleagues in person whom I had only conversed with on Twitter beforehand. This happens at practically every professional event I go to, but even more so at the Language Show, which after all typically attracts 10,000 people over the three days. A visit is highly recommended if you’ve never been. LS Live returns to London next October 2017, but an edition will also be held in Glasgow in March.

Top articles discovered

Looking ahead

On 1 December, I’ll be taking part in a webinar on Finding mistakes in your translation, and another on 8 December which will be more informative than formative as it will discusses the results of the  UK Language Services Market 2016 survey.

Planning continues for the Elia Together conference in Berlin in February and the ITI Conference in Cardiff in May. I’ll be attending both as a member of the programme committee and organising committee respectively. The programme has been published for Together, whereas programme details are still being finalised for ITI Conference, though registration is open for both at the time of publication. If you’re thinking of attending the latter, check out a previous post on Getting to and around Cardiff.