Merry Christmas and blogger update!

A very Merry Christmas to our followers from all of us at the Deep End!

We would like to take this opportunity to let you know that Katharine Mears and Paula Pitkethly are currently on maternity leave so will be taking a break from blogging until they return to work later in 2016. Katharine had a baby girl called Ettie in October and Paula’s baby is due in January. Don’t fear, however, as it will be business as usual for the blog, with plenty of posts and updates from Claire, Felicity and Sandra, as well as some guest bloggers in the early part of next year.

We look forward to continuing to engage with you in 2016!


A Review of the London Investor Show 2014

by Katharine Mears

With this year’s Investor Shows taking place later this month, I thought this might be an appropriate time to post about my experience of last year’s London Investor Show, how I prepared for the event and what I got out of it.

I started out working as a freelance translator a little over four years ago. Specialising in the international development field was an obvious choice for me; I worked in this sector in a previous career and had a network of existing contacts in place. My focus on financial translation has developed more gradually however, and I have built up experience working with language service providers in the investment fund and financial accounting fields in particular.

Approximately 18 months ago, I decided to start targeting direct clients in the financial sector and began researching UK-based financial trade shows, conferences and events. Many proved to be extremely expensive or restricted to those working in a particular financial field. I was therefore delighted to stumble across the London Investor Show, taking place at Olympia London in October, at the bargain price of £25!

The exhibitor list featured some interesting prospects, including a French bank, a Swiss brokerage company, numerous wealth management firms and some investment research companies. I was also attracted by the extensive seminar programme on offer. The Investment Workshops carried a £25 entry fee per workshop, but there were also plenty of free seminars on a wide range of subjects throughout the day.

In the week prior to the event, I read through the exhibitor list in detail and noted down the companies I wanted to ensure I met with on the day. I then conducted some further background research into these companies to familiarise myself with the latest company developments that I could potentially draw on in conversation. I also decided to prepare a short elevator pitch in order that I could be confident about describing my services succinctly and the benefits of working with me.

Upon my arrival at the Investor Show, the first thing I noticed was the stark lack of women! Having attended the Language Show at the same venue in the past, it was also clear that this event was significantly smaller with far fewer exhibitors. Nevertheless, the prospect of walking up to the stands and engaging the company representatives in conversation was still a little daunting. The exhibitors were there to meet potential investors, so my main concern was finding a way to turn the conversation to translation without appearing overly pushy and off-putting! After an initial conversation, in which I launched in with my elevator pitch a little too hastily and left the man in question (who knew nothing about the translation process at his company) looking a little perplexed, I realised that this approach wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I quickly changed tack and decided to simply explain that I worked in financial translation and ask whether they had any materials that I might be able to use to assist me with terminology and in my translation research. Many were more than happy to pass on fund reports or financial statements or point me in the direction of glossaries on their websites for example. This proved to be an extremely good icebreaker and made a subsequent enquiry as to whether they had any call for translation services in their company seem much more natural.

I attended four seminars on the day, one paid and three free of charge. The paid seminar was on stock selection techniques, presented by Stockopedia. The content aside, one of the most useful aspects was listening to the presenter’s use of stock-related terminology and jotting down any terms and concepts I was unfamiliar with. Another seminar I attended was titled ‘A Perspective on European Equities in Q4 and Q1’. The overview given by the speaker, Chief Market Strategist for IG, provided a fantastic testing ground for gauging how comfortable I felt with a discussion on equities at this level. I was pleased that I was largely able to keep up, again noting down a few key concepts and terms for further research at home. The only downside to the selection of free seminars was the heavy focus on crowdfunding and trading, neither of which are my particular areas of interest, but that said there was still enough on offer to keep me busy for the entire day.

The week after the conference, I sent a follow-up email to five of the company representatives I had spoken to that I felt were genuine prospects. I was pleasantly surprised that all of them responded, and three went on to provide me with the contact details of a colleague responsible for translation. From past experience, I know that it would have been virtually impossible to have identified this individual through a cold call or email, and without this valuable introduction. Two of these contacts referred me to the agencies they already work with (a source of potential work nonetheless), one of whom I have carried out fairly frequent work for since. The other called me to discuss their upcoming translation needs, largely out of English unfortunately, which resulted in them adding me to the list of freelance translators they were compiling at the time. Although I am yet to secure any work from a direct client as a result of the show, the event did lead to me securing one new agency client in the financial field and was an invaluable learning experience regardless. I will certainly feel much more confident about attending a similar financial event in the future.

Please note that this year’s Investor Shows will take place in Leeds on 15 October and in London on 23 October.

My first Jelly

by Katharine Mears

A couple of weeks ago I attended my first Jelly; an informal co-working event where freelancers and small business owners can bring their laptops, and work, chat and collaborate with others. The UK Jelly website defines co-working as, “Meeting up with like-minded people to work together in a different environment, to exchange help and advice, and maybe come up with a new idea to collaborate on”. It differs from a networking event in that the primary purpose of a Jelly isn’t to find new clients or promote your business, although of course this often happens indirectly.

The Jelly I attended was held in a local pub in St Albans (which is, conveniently, the city I live in!). It was free to attend, in line with Jelly’s ethos that their events are accessible to all. We had our own room allocated to us so we weren’t disturbed by other customers and we were given free use of the Wi-Fi. The only thing that needed to be paid for was food and drink.

So, how did I find it?

The highlight for me was undoubtedly having the opportunity to meet other local freelancers and getting to know them as we worked. Any co-working I have undertaken in recent years has been solely with other translators, so I did wonder whether there would be as much scope for discussion with freelancers from other fields. I couldn’t have been more wrong! There were around ten people at the Jelly, including the founder of Popdance, an IT consultant, a PA and a children’s outdoor activities coordinator. I was also pleasantly surprised to see another local translator that I had recently met, as well as an old friend I had worked alongside in my previous career in the charity sector. A friendly and chatty atmosphere quickly developed between all of us. There are so many advantages to freelancing from home but this event really made me realise how much I’d missed having colleagues to chat to on a day-to-day basis. It was also clear that some real friendships had developed among those who had been attending for a while.

St Albans Jelly event

It wasn’t only the social aspect and the novelty of getting out of the house that appealed to me. I also found I learned a great deal from others that may prove to be of use to my business. I was introduced to Periscope, a live video streaming app, and we even conducted a live Periscope broadcast from the Jelly! I also found out about an active Facebook page for local businesses in St Albans and about other Jelly and networking events. Tapping into this local knowledge was extremely useful and something that can be hard to come by at translation events.

The only downside to the morning I spent at the event was that I only got about half the amount of work done that I would normally have achieved. I think this was partly because it was the first Jelly I had attended and I was keen to get to know people. There would have been little point in going if I had just tapped away on my laptop all morning without speaking to anyone! Should you decide to go along to a Jelly near you, I would recommend having an admin day rather than taking along a translation you really need to focus on or working to meet a deadline, as it can be difficult to concentrate. That said, perhaps I have just got too used to the silence!

What about you? Do you attend co-working events? Is there anything similar on offer where you live? Let us know in the comments below.

For those interested in a more regular co-working arrangement, take a look at Claire Harmer’s blog post on the subject from back in April.

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!

A Review of The Sound of Music: an ITI Conference masterclass by Ros Schwartz

by Katharine Mears

The Tyne Bridge, Newcastle

At this year’s ITI conference in Newcastle, I attended the masterclass The Sound of Music, run by renowned literary translator Ros Schwartz. The aim was to explore the overlap between literary and commercial translation to give ‘non-literary’ translators (such as myself) the confidence to draw on their creative writing ability in their day-to-day work.

Ros began the session by talking about the difference between ‘source-orientated’ and ‘target-orientated’ texts, explaining that every translation falls somewhere different on this scale. One example of a source-orientated text is a book, where the author has given careful thought to every word. Target-orientated texts are those required to do a certain job such a selling something or getting certain information across.

We were then provided with some practical tips on how to improve our target translations, some of which I have highlighted below:

  • THINK ‘WRITE’ (as opposed to ‘TRANSLATE’): Highlight the key ideas to be expressed, put the source text aside and write the paragraph in your target language.
  • THINK AGAIN: Beware of complacency – don’t make do with the first solution that pops into your head. Lapses of attention result in “translationese”. E.g. don’t translate the French “produits que respectent l’environnement” as “products that respect the environment”. We have a specific word for this in English: “eco-products”.
  • PRUNE RUTHLESSLY: Beware of “padding words” that give rhythm to the source language but have no function in English, e.g. the French use of decided to. A literal translation of such a sentence might be “In 2013 the company decided to invest in…”, when what they actually mean is simply “In 2013 the company invested in…”
  • BREAK AWAY: Liberate the translation from the sentence structures of the source text.
  • LATIN vs ANGLO-SAXON: If you are translating from a Romance language, avoid using too many Latinate words, which can make a text feel awkward and be overly formal and academic. E.g. “consulter” should rarely be translated as “consult”, and such words can often be substituted.
  • DIFFERENT CONVENTIONS: Be aware of these, e.g. French uses significantly more exclamation marks; English tends to favour the imperative.
  • A FRESH LOOK: Take a break before doing the final read-through; always print out your translation, ideally in a different font, and check a hard copy; try working with a colleague and revising each other’s translations.
  • BE BOLD: It’s all about confidence. See yourself as a writer, not as a humble servant.

We then went on to look at three texts of varying quality that had been translated from French into English. In groups, we considered where and how we felt they could be improved, as well as any positive aspects, focusing in particular on the points outlined by Ros above and whether the rhythm and flow (music) of the text had been disrupted by their being overly meaning-orientated. This proved to be an extremely helpful exercise, which I have already started applying to my own translations.

The Sound of Music was an invaluable masterclass that has really made me reflect on my own translation work. I came away with a host of concrete tips that I have been able to put into practice immediately with the aim of injecting more ‘music’ into my translations. I would like to thank Ros Schwartz for such an interesting and practical session and hope these tips will be useful to you also.



Productivity Matters

by Katharine Mears

Last week, Marie Jackson of Looking-Glass Translations featured an interview with me as part of her Great Productivity Project series. The post deals with questions such as how I manage my time and how I take advantage of the flexibility that freelancing offers, as well as discussing my biggest productivity challenge and my favourite productivity tools.

You can read the interview here, and why not share some of your own productivity tips or challenges in the comments below.