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.
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”