Archive for the ‘Translation & Interpreting’ Category

What I learned at the MICATA conference…

April 4, 2009

I have been asked to provide the insights gained from the MICATA conference I attended two weeks ago. I am sure you expect something more coherent than “It was AWESOME!” Please keep in mind that I am working from memory and not a program.

I attended a conference on CAT software, which didn’t teach me much I didn’t already know, and another where I picked up some tips on TRADOS. Despite a few years using that sucker, there was one function I was completely unaware existed. I’ll spare myself some embarrassment and refrain from disclosing.

There were other sessions that were quite interesting, such as working with agencies and issues in medical/legal interpreting. After the lunch (quite good, actually, despite the presence of decaf coffee), I attended a session on technology. I was tempted to call it “All the Gadgets that Would Make Your Interpreting Career More Profitable (If You Could Afford Them!)” Apparently, in addition to the basic computer and cell phone, you need a GPS device. And your cell phone should be a SmartPhone. While the lecturer enumerated the advantage of a SmartPhone (you could, for instance, take a picture of a text, e-mail it to yourself, and start working right then and there!), electronic dictionaries, I could not help but think about two things:

  • My cell phone at the time didn’t even work all that well. I had functioned for months without the camera function, but the display had gone blank.  It has been upgraded by now, thanks for asking.
  • If I had been a little smarter, I would have brought that piece of primitive technology known as a legal pad so I could take notes.

My dad sends me a news clipping

January 4, 2009

The other day, I got a letter from my dad, featuring two newspaper clippings from the December 24, 2008 issue of El Nuevo Día (for the unfamiliar, a Puerto Rican newspaper). One featured an autistic teenager who had learned how to make jewelry from an artisan. As my daughter is autistic, he figured (correctly) that this would be of interest to me. The other one featured the following headline:

Ayuda francesa a defensa de Brasil (French aid to Brazil’s defense)

And of course, I was left to wonder as to why my dad felt the need to send me this particular news item. Until I flipped it over, and read the following headline:

Tribunales de EE.UU. necesitan más intérpretes (US tribunals need more interpreters).

The original article, a very good translation of the original article written by Jean Ortiz, not only features one of my fellow certified interpreters (I sent her a copy)  but it outlines a rather important point: how, in a place like my home state of Nebraska, which used to have a rather homogeneous population until recently, there is a growing need for interpreters.

Unfortunately, I cannot provide a link to the Spanish-language article from El Nuevo Día (their archive requires a subscription), but I can provide a link to the one that appeared in the Lincoln Journal-Star.

My rules for a good translation blog

December 27, 2008

This was going to be a post about a certain translation blog I stumbled upon. So that I would have something worthwhile to say (seriously, what kind of post would it be if all it said was “Cool!” ? Even worse, spelled “Kewl!” and/or with a few extra exclamation points?),  I tried doing an Internet search on this blog.  It turned out to be from a translation company. Not an individual freelancer, mind you. A full-fledged company.

And in retrospect, the blog didn’t meet two of my no-so-strict standards.

  1. Post every once in a while: I can’t criticize anybody for not posting everyday – I don’t. If I did, my own posts would go something like this:January 2: I am a translator with a day job. Those two keep me busy. On occasion, I do housework and motherly/wifely things.

    January 3: The same thing as January 2.

    January 4
    : Pretty much the same as January 3.

    If I manage to put in a couple of posts per month, I think I am doing well. But seriously, more than two months between posting? It’s an afterthought blog. Not worth my time.

  2. Be interesting to at least somebody. Interesting is a very subjective term. Are you all that interested in the posts tagged “Conversations” that I write? Perhaps not. They are written to represent a slice of my life as a translator, as in, what happens when I encounter other people who are not translators. Then again, they might give you a little chuckle and make you nod your head and say, “Been there!” Likewise, I don’t necessarily find the blogs about SDL TRADOS tips to be all that fascinating, but you know what? Somebody is going nuts trying to make their expensive software work and will be delighted.

That’s pretty much all I ask of a blog. Put some thought into it, and be of interest to somebody.

Look what I found: Another translator’s blog

September 18, 2008

I was curious as to my blog’s visitors (both of you hold a warm place in my heart), and somehow landed on Jill Sommer’s blog, Musings from an Overworked Translator.

Why I recommend: it contains a good mix of practical and entertaining content. You can justify visits to this blog because you are bound to find something actually beneficial (such as her post on 10 top rules for working from home). And because it offers glimpses into her life outside of translation. Well-rounded individuals make for better translators, don’t you think?

Edited to reflect the actual title of the blog. Thanks, Jill.

This one is for little George

April 7, 2008

My local paper, the Lincoln Journal-Star, featured an article on its Sunday edition about George, a little boy with Cockayne syndrome, and his loving family.

It also contained a smaller article from the perspective of the medical interpreter who assisted the family in their doctors’ visits.

A word from Freek…

November 18, 2007

Mr. Freek Lankhof, he of InTrans Book Service, he whose first name rhymes with “brake”, has written a letter to the editor for the October 2007 issue of The Chronicle on the subject of independent booksellers.

It is your independent bookseller that gives you personal service and attention, who makes the effort, and pays for the trip to the conference or seminar in your region so that you can check out dictionaries and books before buying them sight unseen.

 Something to think about the next time you want to rush to

A to-do list for my next assignment

October 21, 2007

There are some things I need to do in preparation for my next interpreting assignment. Of course, I am leaving out the obvious such as studying terminology likely to come up. I am just mentioning the smaller yet important items:

  1. Assemble and iron (if necessary) a suitable outfit. It must meet the following parameters:
    • Consist of layers, as I have no idea what the location will do with the thermostat. Chances are, it will be freezing outside but roasting on the inside.
    • Include suitable footwear. It must be comfortable, because there will be a lot of of standing involved; look professional, to add to credibility; and be subdued enough not to call attention to itself, because the perfect interpreter is invisible. I guess this adorable pair doesn’t meet the third criteria.
  2. Pack appropriately. My normal tote (crocheted and felted, multicolor, and delightfully quirky) will not get the job done, sadly. I will have to steal my daughter’s overnight bag, which is really a more subdued tote.
    • What to include: a notebook for notetaking. A couple of pens in working condition. A copy of Holly Mikkelson’s The Interpreter’s Companion. Some snacks. Water. A watch.
    • What to exclude: the digital camera I carry around on an everyday basis. Anything that could be mistaken for a weapon, such as my aluminum knitting needles. This is not much of a problem, because I prefer bamboo needles, anyway. 

Wish me luck.

Handwritten materials

October 15, 2007

I recently translated some handwritten materials. Lengthy handwritten materials. Without disclosing identifying details, I can share the following:

  1. The benefits offered by the spellchecker in a word-processing program cannot and should not be underestimated.
  2. For me to criticize anybody else’s handwriting would be a big fat case of the pot calling the kettle black. Eight-year-old boys produce more attractive cursive than I do. At least this text was legible.
  3. If the writer of the handwritten text appears to have written it as a transcript of a conversation, try reading it out loud and treating it like a sight translation.

International Translation Day

September 29, 2007

Tomorrow, September 30, is International Translation Day (read about the history of that day).

 So tomorrow, take pride in your profession and celebrate. Cake optional.

Cold season

September 18, 2007

I am currently going through yet another cold. Sneezing, headaches, inability to sleep, and at least during Friday, the inability to speak above a squeak.  This proved rather interesting. While I had no interpreting work that day, I did have to go to my day job.  And that requires me to spend most of the day on the phone.

For interpreters, their voices are just as valuable as their language skills.  Nobody wants their interpreter’s speech interrupted by sneezes and hacking coughs, even if he or she is lucky enough to be able to sustain speech. So review these tips.

And if you are sick right now, my sympathies.