Translation and Collaboration

by Felicity Pearce

Last week I attended the exciting Translation as Collaboration Symposium at the University of Westminster, to hear a number of speakers discuss different interpretations (see what I did there) of the idea of “translaboration”. I thought it only fitting to share some thoughts from the day here, as the Deep End blog is a result of collaboration among translators, and the event was at the University where we all met. For more information about the translaborate group, click here.

Knowledge sharing image on the front of the University of Westminster welcome pack

Knowledge sharing image on the front of the University of Westminster welcome pack

As a translator, I am positive about the profession and my place within it, but a greater awareness and understanding of the professional job that we do is still sometimes lacking. I’ve noticed recently that “translate” has been captured and is being used as a business buzz-word (similar to “synergy” and “reach out”) and I have sometimes wondered how we can make this work in our favour. Any translation process in business (as far as I understand, people usually want things to translate into results!) implies work and effort, which may be highly skilled and time-consuming, but which seamlessly delivers the desired result. Sound familiar?

Christiane Zehrer, from the University of Hildesheim, presented on “Translaboration in Technical Communication: A Case for Knowledge Communication”, and explained how writers of user manuals and other technical communication were previously employed by the company and worked on-site, being some of the first people to see and touch a new product, in order to effectively write such material. Apparently this applied to translators too! Some companies have changed these practices, but it is clear that knowledge communication is the key to the best end product. The more the writer or translator can communicate with all of the staff involved in developing the product, the better their understanding of said product will be, which will help the end user enormously.

One point that came up is that clients are sometimes concerned about sharing too much information with translators. I think this is where the recognition of membership of professional bodies is key and in this sense the great work of institutions such as the Chartered Institute of Linguists and the Institute of Translators and Interpreters in recent years has facilitated a great deal of progress. I would also hope that we will see more knowledge communication between professions, as we have seen in recent years with the rise of CPD events that are based in other fields but open to translators.

Personally, my favourite translation jobs have been the collaborative ones. Collaborating with a client on exactly how they want their message conveyed and working alongside other translators on large projects (more on that in my next post).

Unfortunately I was on mother duty so I had to rush off and missed the last session (and the drinks!), but I was following on Twitter, and I think this quote from Ros Schwartz sums up the mood of the day, and that of most translators:

“Collaborating in translation equals professional development”


Utilising keyboard shortcuts

by Katharine Mears

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the workshop ‘Advanced Word course for Translators’ run by Galician translator, writer and broadcaster Xosé Castro Roig. This formed part of an ITI Spanish Network training event, which incidentally also proved to be an extremely fruitful day of networking and a great opportunity to put my spoken Spanish into practice!

The Advanced Word session immediately appealed to me as I am the first to admit that I have never progressed far beyond the essential skills required to operate Word as a working translator. It goes without saying that Microsoft Word is an indispensable item (for Windows users) in a translator’s toolkit so it was a no-brainer to take up the chance to master it further.

It will not be possible to cover all the material from the workshop here, so for the purposes of this post I will focus on keyboard shortcuts. Prior to the workshop, I was only making use of five of the most basic shortcuts at the most. As soon as I returned home, armed with many, many more, I decided to make a concerted effort to memorise those I considered most useful. This has proved invaluable to me for two reasons. Firstly, I have recently started to suffer with a painful hand when working a lot with the mouse (despite using an ergonomic vertical model) so I hope that by limiting the use of the mouse as much as possible, by getting to grips with these shortcuts, I will start to see a noticeable difference. Secondly, and something I hadn’t fully taken on board until Xosé pointed it out, is the huge amount of time spent on word processing (rather than translating!) that these shortcuts save. Obviously, the more that can be memorised, the greater these benefits will be.

I have highlighted my top 10 keyboard shortcuts from the session below:

Key combination Action
F4 Repeats the last action taken
Shift + F5 Returns the cursor to its last three positions
Ctrl + Alt + S (Alt + Shift + C to remove split) Splits the document into two windows (so you can view another page immediately above/below)
SHIFT + left arrow/right arrow Selects a character to the right or left of cursor (continue to press arrow key to highlight additional characters)
Ctrl + Shift + left arrow/right arrow Selects a word to the right or left of cursor
Ctrl + Shift + up arrow/down arrow Selects a paragraph
F8 Selects a word (when pressed once)Selects a sentence (when pressed twice)Selects a paragraph (when pressed three times)
Ctrl + K (after highlighting text) Inserts hyperlink
Shift + F3 (after highlighting text) All upper case (when pressed once)All lower case (when pressed twice)Initial letter capitalised (when pressed three times)
Ctrl + Alt + M Inserts a comment

Memorising the shortcuts was far easier than I expected as once I had made the decision to use a certain number on a regular basis and started putting them into practice, I found that I no longer needed a prompt after the third or fourth attempt.

And how about you? Do you make use of keyboard shortcuts and do you have any favourites to add? Let us know in the comments below!

ITI Medical and Pharmaceutical Network workshop on Diabetes


By Sandra Young

This May I attended my second ITI Mednet workshop, this time on the subject of diabetes. For the morning sessions, the group had invited an expert in the field, Dr Shanti Vijaraghavan, a Consultant Physician specialising in this area. The first half of the day consisted of talks in which she outlined the management and complications of the disease, highlighting differences between type I and II diabetes.

The talks allowed me to consolidate my knowledge on the subject of diabetes and its complications, assimilate new terminology and discuss the appropriateness of certain terms. Here are some examples of what I took away with me:

Diabetes and its complications

  • Good blood glucose control is essential for a person with diabetes’ health and to minimise complications. However, a person living with diabetes will develop complications such as neuropathies and retinopathies after living with the disease for a number of years, despite good blood glucose control.
  • Hypoglycaemic awareness fades as a result of damage to the sympathetic nervous system, meaning that symptoms (the warning signs of hypoglycaemia) disappear with time.


  • Charcot joint – complete lack of sensation in the joint, which leads people to injure themselves without realising. This eventually results in a disfigured joint.
  • Claudication – pain caused by too little blood flow, usually brought on by exercise.
  • Hyperosmolar Hyperglycaemic State (HHS) – Incredibly high blood sugar which results in “sludgy” blood.
  • Secretagogue – a substance that stimulates secretion, also a term used for insulin-releasing pills.

Appropriateness of terms – what do the experts really say?

  • Brittle diabetes – to describe someone with a type of severe diabetes characterised by blood sugar levels that are difficult to control.
  • Fundus – the correct terminology for the “back of eye” exam.

A morning of absorbing information was perfectly paired with an afternoon of working in language pair groups on a diabetes-related text. In my opinion, this combination is central to the success of the Mednet workshops and constitutes a fertile ground for learning.

The text dealt with complications of diabetes and its association with oxidative stress. It was a very interesting text to work on in a group of translators with varying backgrounds and experience. Our group, the Spanish to English group, was made up of translators who were originally from scientific backgrounds, pure-linguist backgrounds, editing backgrounds and native Spanish translators.

The input from those with a scientific background was invaluable, as they could use their understanding of the subject to decipher the more ambiguous sentences. The text used acronyms and abbreviations in a haphazard and non-standard way, in most cases failing to give a definition in the first instance. An example of this was the use of English acronyms ROS and RNS for reactive oxygen species and reactive nitrogen species, but then the Spanish acronym was used for nitrous oxide (ON).

There was also a spelling mistake in which “citoaldehídos” appeared instead of “cetoaldehídos”. With an understanding of the context it was clear that it referred to something relating to ketones, not cells, but to the untrained eye this could cause a great deal of confusion. This highlights the importance of having a good understanding of the subject you are translating.

As regards editing, I learned that journals do not like the use of bulleted lists as a general rule. There was a section at the beginning of the article which had a problematic list, which contained a number of pairs of opposing functions. I had considered making a bulleted list of these opposing pairs. However,  advice was that a good solution might be to keep the list in the main body of the text, but to separate the pairs by semi-colons.

Being fairly new to medical translation, the group translations at these workshops are particularly useful for me as I get the opportunity to discuss problematic issues of a text with more experienced medical translators, hear their perspectives on these issues and learn from this. The group session this time helped me not only to better understand the concepts within the text, but also to learn more about editing and terminology within medical translations, all of which I can apply to my future work.

I have listed some resources for medical translations that were recommended during the group session:

The Entrepreneurial Linguist and meeting direct clients

By Claire Harmer

In October 2013 I attended a workshop organised by the ITI’s London Regional Group entitled ‘No Pain, No Gain – Active Marketing to Direct Clients’. The workshop was given by Judy Jenner, who was a truly inspirational speaker. Together, Judy and Dagmar Jenner make up Twin Translations, a boutique translation business which operates from Las Vegas and Vienna, where Judy and Dagmar respectively live.

I bought Judy and Dagmar’s book, The Entrepreneurial Linguist, just after attending the workshop in 2013 and have found it to be an invaluable asset since I started my freelance career in 2012. It provided me with encouragement and motivation during the difficult times (both financially and in terms of morale) when I had not long started my business and it was taking a while for things to get off the ground.

In this blog post I would like to share with you how the twins’ book gave me the confidence to go to trade shows and talk to prospective clients – something I would normally have struggled with and shied away from. I learnt a huge amount from The Entrepreneurial Linguist and from the workshop Judy gave, and hope to summarise some of the things I’ve found most useful when marketing my business to direct clients. These tips only cover a few pages of their ‘Business Development’ chapter, and this post focuses on what they call the ‘trade show strategy’, just one of the five client acquisition strategies Judy and Dagmar discuss in their book.

  • Research the vendors

‘It is not very time effective to simply go to the [trade] show, wander around, and approach random booths. It will not make you look very professional, and it is not the best use of your time’[1]. I booked to go to a trade show in Paris earlier this year and unfortunately, due to work commitments, didn’t have any time to research the vendors beforehand. I still went along as I didn’t want the ticket to go to waste (plus I’d already booked my flights and accommodation!), but I didn’t have the confidence to speak to the people I wanted to since I didn’t know enough about the companies. The trip wasn’t wasted, as I still met some interesting people and managed to fit in some sightseeing (!), but I now know just how important it is to make time for research beforehand!

  • ‘Pre-qualified contacts’

For companies you’re hoping to make contact with at the show, try to get in touch with their marketing director or communications manager via LinkedIn before you attend. Judy and Dagmar mention that ‘if you have a contact in common, the person you are trying to reach will be much more inclined to talk to you’, so look out for 2nd connections on LinkedIn! The twins suggest that if you don’t have a contact in common, you can always try emailing the person, but the chances of you getting business this way are much lower.

How do I start the conversation?

  • Judy and Dagmar recommend checking whether the company you’re targeting is speaking at a session during the trade show. Perhaps this is something you can open up a conversation with? If you’ve contacted them beforehand, open up with that as a way of introducing yourself in person and thank them for replying to you if they did so.

Anyone for tea?

  • Another thing the twins suggest is taking vendors with whom you’ve already made appointments a snack or a tea/coffee. It’s a nice gesture when vendors are too busy to leave the stand or haven’t had a break in a while! In her workshop, Judy pointed out that sometimes vendors can’t actually leave the conference centres during their breaks, and since the food served at these centres isn’t always great, they might be craving a healthy snack!

Follow up

  • When I get home, I send a brief email to anyone I spoke to who seemed interested in working with me, to thank them for their time and for speaking to me. The Entrepreneurial Linguist recommends doing this within a week of meeting a vendor, and including something like ‘Follow-up: XYZ tradeshow from XYZ’ in your email subject line.

There’s a lot to be said for ‘learning through experience’. In addition to getting some great tips from The Entrepreneurial Linguist, here are some other things I’ve discovered about the process of meeting prospective clients:

Take notes to jog your memory later

  • I’ve found that it helps to write down anything that stood out about the person you spoke to on the back of their business card. Just after speaking to a vendor I jot down any key things that will help to jog my memory of them in future. They can also be used as talking points in a follow-up email. Examples of things I’ve written on business cards include ‘from Barcelona but works in Paris’ and ‘coming to London in a few weeks – go for coffee?’. I also take note of what their response was and whether they gave me any other contacts (I find that often people say ‘I’m not sure how our company deals with translations but you can get in touch with our marketing director *insert name here*, they should know’). In this case, make sure you ask them for the contact’s direct email.

Attend a show when it’s quiet (well… as quiet as it can be!)

  • I normally aim to go to trade shows in the morning/early afternoon. Exhibitors sometimes rush off a couple of hours ahead of the official closing time, so you may miss them, and a lot of them are busy packing up their stalls if they’re still around.

Business cards

  • When giving someone your card, ask if you can have theirs too, so you can follow up with them when you get home. Although it may feel weird for you the first few times (it certainly did for me!), this is standard practice at this kind of event.

Take a motivational pick-me-up!

  • Consider taking a motivational book with you (or just download something onto your tablet/Kindle if you find books too old-school!) in case you need a little confidence boost during the day. I take The Entrepreneurial Linguist to any trade shows, conferences or general networking events I attend, just in case I need some inspiration during a coffee break or something to keep me focused on the way there.

Finding trade shows

  • In terms of finding trade shows online, I’d recommend and You can search for shows and conferences by country/date/industry on both of these sites, which is really helpful. Judy and Dagmar recommend signing up for RSS feeds from any local convention centres near you who put on regular networking events or trade shows (here in London I’ve signed up to receive RSS feeds from the Olympia and ExCel centres), as well as checking if your local chamber of commerce has any upcoming events.

To finish off this post, I wanted to share how, in her workshop, Judy mentioned that acquiring direct clients is a lot more time consuming than finding translation agencies to work with, and that the former is more like a long-term investment. ‘You may have to kiss a lot of frogs’! In other words, acquiring good direct clients is very much about trial and error: you may pursue several leads that don’t work out, but some will! Although Twin Translations work solely with direct clients, Judy pointed out that there is a place for translation agencies or language service providers (LSPs) in today’s translation industry, and that Judy and Dagmar’s business model is not for everyone! It certainly seems to work for them, though!

Translators and interpreters: have you attended any trade shows in order to meet direct clients? If so, what have your experiences been like? What do you think has worked when you have approached them, and what hasn’t?

Many thanks to Judy and Dagmar for looking over this blog post before it was published and for allowing me to talk about their book!

Judy speaking at the LRG event back in 2013: 'No Pain, No Gain – Active Marketing to Direct Clients’

Judy speaking at the LRG event back in 2013: ‘No Pain, No Gain – Active Marketing to Direct Clients’

Event attendees, a captivated audience

Event attendees, a captivated audience

[1] Taken from The Entrepreneurial Linguist. Unless mentioned otherwise, all quotes are taken from Judy and Dagmar’s book (with their permission, of course!)