Showing posts with label translation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label translation. Show all posts

Thursday, 4 February 2016

How translators can find comfort in their specialisation


As  a translator, have you ever thought of specialisation as something that can provide you with comfort?

If you ask experienced translators, they will tell you that specialisation is key for success. While this is very true, I also believe that specialisation can give us also a sense of comfort.

One of my fundamental needs as a person is to be around familiar things. Familiarity gives me a sense of security. That's why when I take on jobs within my specialisation I feel very comfortable.

For example, I never hesitate to accept a difficult project when it belongs to my specialisation. In this case my specialisation makes me feel relaxed and confident. What's more, since there will be many aspects of the project that will be familiar, I know I won't waste time or effort on them. Thus I will be able to focus on the more difficult aspects of the project and this will certainly show on the final product in terms of quality. Besides, I am sure that accepting such projects can only make me more productive in the long run.

Finding comfort in our specialisation does not mean that we should stay within our comfort zone and refuse to try anything new. What I am saying here is that when we build a freelance business we need a place where we can feel comfort and safe. This place can be our specialisation. And from there, we can start experimenting. In other words, in order to get uncomfortable, we need to start from a place where we feel comfortable. Do you agree?

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Translators and criticism


About your translation… Well, I don't know, something's wrong with it, I can't really tell you what it is, it's so hard to pinpoint… Well, first of all, your words, they weren't exactly wrong, but I wouldn't use these words you know, and overall, looking at your translation I feel that something doesn't feel well… I know it's subjective but… isn't everything subjective in life?

How would you respond if someone said this to you?

Some people find it hard to deal with criticism. Is it because they are sensitive? Or selfish? Is it because they think they know better? After all, criticism can make us work harder and so achieve better results. We should be more open-minded. We should stop being wimps. We should embrace criticism.

Now, what is criticism? The above comment isn't criticism. Criticism can make us better. In which ways the above can make you better? Does it contain specific examples of things that went wrong? Does it clarify certain issues? Does it provide other, more suitable options? Does it justify what it says? The above comment makes you feel bad precisely because it is so vague. And that's why you can't say anything against it. You can't stand your ground.

That's exactly why it's useless, too. It can't help you at all. This just criticises you for the sake of it. Now, if someone really wanted to help you, they would structure their criticism in a different way:

Hey, about that translation, just wanted to pinpoint a few things. First, you translated X as Y but as you can see here in this online dictionary (reference), there is term Z which is more appropriate in this context. Y is more general, right? Second, why did you keep these long sentences of the original? I say you split them up to a point, as it will make the translation easier to read. Overall it was quite good!

This piece of criticism is not bad, right? What do you think?

Now, you may disagree with these changes. But here it would be much easier to respond and defend your case.

Translators are sensitive to criticism for many reasons. First of all there is this 'translator-traitor' mentality, which makes us anxious to translate precisely. Moreover, the struggle with every single detail, which is part and parcel of our lives as translators, often goes unnoticed, whereas a tiny mistake is easily spotted (and frowned upon) by everyone.

Always ask for constructive criticism. When they respond in vague terms, ask them to elaborate. Do the same when you give criticism. Give references and explanations. Be precise and objective. And always make sure that your feedback has constructive value. Criticism can make us better translators. We shouldn't be afraid of it when it is done right.

Thanks for reading :)

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

5 things translators do better



After a long day's toil, having worked hard on difficult translations, sometimes I really feel like reading a pick-me-up blog post! Don't you agree? That's why I chose this topic. Indeed, we should never forget what makes us special. We are versatile, diligent, and indispensable; we are translators! And here are the 5 things that we do better. Ready?

#1 WE PLAN BETTER

Since we always have to deal with a deadline and a bulk of text, we have learned to plan better. So, what do we do? We break the goal into small, manageable goals which seem less overwhelming. What's more, we are used to think in terms of deadlines, which makes keeping track of our goals much easier.   

#2 WE COMMUNICATE BETTER

As translators we know very well that it's not always possible to communicate everything with words. We are very much aware of the importance of the things that are left unsaid. Moreover, translation has made us always communicate clearly and concisely because we understand very well the importance of using the right word.

#3 WE WRITE BETTER

We also write clearly and concisely, making it easy for the reader to follow what we want to say. Since we have struggled so many times with obscure texts, we know very well how hard it is for the readers to follow a difficult text. That's why we always make sure that our texts are readable.

#4 WE READ BETTER

This sensitivity of ours regarding the nuances of writing makes us also better readers. We always read carefully and deeply. Besides, we usually try to work out how certain sentences would be translated into another language! This procedure is what I call deep reading! There's no deeper reading than this!

#5 WE COPE BETTER

We cope better because we are dealing with the impossible. Transforming a text into a text which reads as if it were written originally in another language, for some seems an impossible task. And here we are, the most diligent workers of words, transforming the impossible into the possible. Who is more able to cope better with difficulties in life than us translators?

What do you think? :)

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

It's better late than never for freelance translators

You may find it strange that this post seems to invite freelance translators to stop worrying because 'it’s better late than never'. Freelance translators always have some deadline that should be respected at all costs. However, this blog post is not about such deadlines. Rather, it is about the deadlines we set to ourselves, according to popular beliefs and the latest trends.

These deadlines usually go like this: we have to have finished university by the time we reach [certain age]; we have to get a real job by the time we reach [certain age]… and so on and so forth. Some people are actually building their lives around these beliefs, without paying any attention to what they truly want. That’s what leads, in my opinion, to the so-called mid-life crisis: you enter the rat race, you keep up with the Joneses in terms of life decisions and one day you wake up, half of your life has passed and you wonder: did I really want this?

I saw a very nice film recently, and its last lines reminded me of something that had happened to me when I was a kid:

When I was eight years old, some people from the Ministry of Education came to our school to inform us about a certain sports contest that was to take place the following Sunday. As it seemed, they wanted to discover whether any kids with tremendous aptitudes (athletically speaking) could be found among my classmates and me.

I was helpless at sports. I was precocious in Greek and English; I was very good at math and music. But I was really, really helpless at sports. Even today, I can’t understand any kind of sport; I am not able to comprehend the rules to save my life. But the authority of these people hinted that it was obligatory to show up.

I had to show up.

Even now that I am writing these lines I can clearly recall how terrible I felt standing among my classmates in that field on that chilly morning and preparing myself… well… to run a race. Okay, let’s do it, I told myself. I started running and my stomach ached from the effort. Oh dear. After a while it was impossible to go on. So I began to walk away, when suddenly a young gym instructor appeared to my side.

She said: “You have to finish. It doesn’t matter if you finish last, what really matters is to finish”. She even ran with me, at my side, encouraging me to go on. No other teacher had done something like that for me before.

I finished last. My name was actually written in a list which was pinned up at school for everyone to see. It hurt so much! But after all these years, I feel that on that Sunday morning the only kid that actually learned something from the whole experience was me. It became obvious to me that it doesn’t matter at all if you finish last, what is important is to finish.

There are a few things that I did ‘late’ in my life, and many things that I haven’t done yet. For example I got my second degree much later in life and at that age I became a translator as well. It doesn’t matter at all if I have started late. The satisfaction I get from my profession is enormous. Instead of spending my time regretting, I chose the path of ‘better late than never’. And regarding translation as a profession, I think it is not so bad after all to have started a bit later. So, if you have some wild dream, consider whether it falls in the category of ‘better late than never’, and go for it!

“No, what matters is to finish it. Films have to be finished, even if you do it blindly.
─Mateo Blanco (Lluis Homar), Broken Embraces

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

5 ways a freelance translator can use the Internet in a more positive manner



It  was back in early 1998 when I was first introduced to the Internet: there was this friend of mine who was telling me again and again how you can find everything online (“Wanna come upstairs to show you my Internet?” seemed to be the perfect pick-up line for the nerdy gal I was in those days).

So, what was the first thing I wanted to look up on the Internet?

Song lyrics! There were so many English songs I was absolutely curious to look up and find out at last their exact lyrics. It was obvious from the very first moment that I wanted to use this new medium in a way that was meaningful and relevant to me.

But it is not always easy to do so.

Sometimes I find it quite hard to balance my online presence and my regular life. I am using the Internet in a way that is not always meaningful and relevant: it is becoming a burden.

So I decided to sit down and reflect upon what had possibly gone wrong.

First I realised that my relationship with the Internet these past few years has somewhat changed. Now I use it also as a professional tool. As a freelancer I am interested in networking with fellow professionals as well as with potential clients. And that’s the main reason I use social media, too.

And it was then that it came to me: if I am to use the Internet more positively, I have to re-examine the way I use it on a professional level. And that’s exactly what I did. So now I’d like to share my thoughts with you and give you a few tips I came up with in order to use the Internet in a more positive way. Hope they can help you as much as they helped me!

#1 PEOPLE ARE MUCH MORE THAN THEIR ONLINE PROFILES

One of the first thoughts I had was that I was objectifying myself on the Internet. I was doing it mainly through comparing and contrasting myself with the other professionals. But we are not just a part of the machine: each of us has their own special value as a person and as a professional. And we obviously are a lot more than the sum total of our qualifications: our true essence as human beings can never be reduced to an online profile. Yet when we see the abundance of professionals out there it’s easy to imagine that clients are able to pick and choose. That’s not always true. We are not interchangeable. Each of us is special and worthy in our own way.

#2 GOALS CAN HELP US FIND OUR WAY

The Internet is so vast it can become a total time waster. Unless you have a good compass that helps you find your way. For me this compass is my personal goal. When I try to avoid causes that are irrelevant to my goal I use the Internet more effectively. Besides, my goal helps me beat procrastination because this way I become more focused on what I want to do. But most importantly, sticking to my goal has helped me meet people that share my interests. Again, the advice that works is to always use the Internet in a way that is relevant and meaningful to you!

#3 A GOOD SCHEDULE IS KEY

I came to the conclusion that we should schedule our time online because I had a feeling that the Internet is taking over my life. And why was that so? Partly because I felt compelled to answer every single email or message immediately. The Internet gives us the feeling we are living in a total ‘present’, that’s why while we are online we tend to forget about the future and we want to do everything right now. Maybe it will work for you to make a deal with yourself and check what’s happening on the online world every thirty, sixty, or ninety minutes (I am not able to make this deal yet. But I will try). In any case you should never forget that our time online needs to be scheduled because otherwise it can get easily out of hand. 

#4 WE CAN’T ALWAYS BE AVAILABLE

Sometimes the client does not see us translators as complete people with own life and needs. For example, when we respond almost immediately to an email or to a DM, clients tend to assume that we are always available. We should NEVER identify with this image. Rather, we need to balance our professional with our personal lives. And if there are some freelancers who work constantly, without even a small break, and who are always available for everyone, that’s very fine (for us, obviously not for them). It is impossible to compete in these terms. Forget about it and move on.

#5 ENRICH YOUR LIFE, NOT JUST YOUR PROFILE

For me, but I believe for others as well, the Internet has started to give me the uncanny feeling that it is ‘unreal’. I don’t know how to explain this. I’ll just say that sometimes I feel the Internet is somehow disconnected from real life, as if it’d got a life of its own. So I decided to do the following: I thought about real people and tried to imagine a fictitious online profile for each of them. And then I suddenly realised that an online profile, however detailed, would never do these people justice. It would always somehow ‘reduce’ them. Why? Because online presence acts just as an appendix to our real life. Yet we sometimes forget. Sometimes we even use our real life to enhance our media presence! The Internet should supplement real life, not the other way round. If you feel you are spending too much time online, that certainly means something. Think whether you’re not satisfied with your regular life, and if not, try to do something about it. Finally, do not waste your time on creating the 'perfect' profile. In any case, it will not do you justice. Instead, try to interact more with fellow professionals and potential clients with the aim of meeting them at some point in real life (but always in a safe context). That’s what I am going to do from now on! What about you?

Thanks for reading!