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Pick of the week

My June diary is turning out to be unusually heavy on the continuing professional development front. For someone like me who gets giddy at the prospect of just one course, this is like all my birthdays have come at once.

First up was ‘EU Terminology and other EU Reference Material‘, jointly organised by the ITI office and Fiona Harris from the DGT. I attended this course yesterday afternoon at the European Commission Representation office near St. James’s Park.  On the agenda were presentations by Professor Margaret Rogers of Surrey University, a well known terminology expert, and Timothy Cooper, senior terminlogist at the DGT, and chair of the committee that oversees IATE. We discussed topics such as the importance of maintaining a terminology database, even if it means investing a little time in maintaining it. Professor Rogers argued that not only is it important to maintain a well organised terminology database, but that each entry should ideally also contain ‘metadata’ (e.g. definitions, context, register etc.) in order to be truly useful for a translator.

Most of the attendees were already very familiar with IATE, so Timothy Cooper focused on introducing some of its finer points, such as its quite powerful search and star functions. He also gave a brief history of IATE and how it was developed, in addition to the DGT’s famous style guide, and the ‘Fight the Fog’ style guide, which many attendees hadn’t seen before.

I’m now on my way, as I write, to the ITI Scotnet’s ‘Style Matters’ workshop in Perth. This event offers an opportunity for creative exploration and exchanging ideas with some of the best names in the business. It always surprises me how much I can learn just by working with colleagues on a translation – there’s not always a ‘right’ answer in translation, after all. The tutors are Chris Durban and Ros Schwartz, so we’re guaranteed a first class workshop. Next week I’m attending City University’s ‘Commercial and Corporate Law’ course, to hone my legal translation skills and general knowledge of this area of law. I think I can safely say I’ll have covered quite a few CPD bases by the time the month is out! I’ll write a couple of short posts about these events too.

If you’re a translator on LinkedIn and/or Twitter, you’ve probably noticed that a bit of a firestorm broke out earlier this week after LinkedIn put out a survey to professional translators with profiles on its site asking whether they’d be prepared to help translate their website into other languages for free (with a token amount of PIE – not the edible kind – thrown in). Within minutes, the Twittersphere was ablaze with fury and a group called ‘Translators against crowdsourcing by commercial companies’ was rapidly set up within LinkedIn itself, where members vented their increasingly angry thoughts about the very suggestion that LinkedIn would crowdsource free translation of its site from among its members. A couple of translators have already written very well-argued blog posts about it here and here.

This mini-drama has made it clearer than ever that as a professional community we are concerned about having an image problem, about being taken for a ride, about being the ‘little man’ against big business. I couldn’t agree more that offering our translation services for free is really only appropriate for a client with a very good cause but minimal budget – the latter is certainly not the case with LinkedIn – but perhaps we should now turn our considerable collective energy to showing The Big Wide World just why they would get  a better service from a professional translator paid a professional fee. It’s not enough to complain and say “pah, you obviously don’t know how great we are as professionals”, we must *demonstrate* this somehow. A professional service really is worth its weight in gold, so let’s focus on the positives and on all the great things we *can* do for the money we charge. We really showed what we can do when we unite as a professional community this week – let’s put that to good use.

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June 19, 2009

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