Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Guest Post: The Translating Twins

In February, I was lucky enough to meet the delightful translating duo of Dagmar and Judy Jenner. Together they run Twin Translations and the blog Translation Times. They graciously agreed to write a guest post about working together as translating twins.

The Translating Twins

We frequently get asked if we are really twins or whether we are using the business name Twin Translations just because it sounds good. We are indeed identical twins. Judy is older by ten minutes.

A little bit about us: We were born in Austria and grew up in Mexico City, which makes for two native languages. After high school, Judy went to Las Vegas for college (yes, there’s a university in Vegas!) and has lived and worked there for 14 years. She’s a recovering former in-house translation manager for a big Spanish-language travel website and has an M.B.A. in marketing. Dagmar studied French and communications at the University of Salzburg/Austria and at the University of Tours/France. She is currently finishing her degree in translation and interpretation studies at the University of Vienna. Judy is on the board of directors of the Nevada Interpreters and Translators Association, and Dagmar serves on the board of UNIVERSITAS Austria, the Austrian Translators’ and Interpreters’ Association. Our translation practice focuses on marketing, e-commerce, tourism and travel, IT, legal and financial texts. Our working languages are German, Spanish, English, and French. We run Twin Translations (www.twintranslations.com) and Texterei (www.texterei.com) from both sides of the Atlantic. Dagmar is based in Vienna, Austria, and Judy is based in Las Vegas, NV.

How did you decide to work together?
Even back in high school in Mexico City, we knew we had an affinity for languages and always envisioned working together. When we were 15, we talked about having a business called “Jenner + Jenner Cross-Cultural-Communications”. Our current business is somewhat similar to what we envisioned more than 15 years ago, and perhaps at some point we will offer language consulting services as well. We always wanted to work together because there’s no one we trust more than each other. And it’s no surprise that we work very well together. And no, we can’t read each other’s minds. However, as twins, we know each other so well that we are usually pretty certain about what the other one is thinking.

How can you run a business on two continents?
It actually works to our advantage because of time difference: we are available for our clients almost 24 hours a day, and the two of us work together around 10-12 hours a day if needed. When the other person needs to proof a document, we oftentimes do this when one of us is sleeping, so one can wake up to a fully edited translation. Our American clients are usually quite delighted to hear that if a project is due, say 9 AM PST, that Dagmar has all day to work on the project, as Vienna is nine hours ahead of Vegas.

How do you decide who does which project?
It depends on the subject matter and language combination. We leave translations into German mainly to Dagmar, as she’s lived and worked there for 15 years, while I have lived in the US since I was a teenager. Ergo, I do more of the into-English translations. In terms of subject matter, Judy is the marketing/press release expert, and Dagy has substantial legal translation experience. We are a good fit. For translations into Spanish, we mainly work together. I don’t have French as one of my working languages, and Dagmar translates from French into German, English, and Spanish, so those translations are always hers.

What’s your editing process like?
It’s pretty thorough and includes at least 3 - 5 steps, depending on length and difficulty. One of us does the initial translation and consults with the other during that process. Once the first draft is finished, it goes to the other person for an in-depth review and revision, which usually takes a few days (we are not the fastest translators and don’t accept unrealistic deadlines). The changes/suggestions/comments are added via track changes in Word. After that second step, the original translator thoroughly reviews the changes and accepts or rejects them. The final product then goes to both of us again. We both print out a hard copy and edit it on paper.

How are you different from each other? Is one better at something than the other?
Dagmar is, without doubt, the better negotiator. I tend to be a bit too accommodating, but she usually sets me straight and tells me to stick to our prices, which are non-negotiable. Dagmar is also more creative than I am when it comes to marketing ideas, even though I am the one with an M.B.A. in marketing. Last but not least, my twin is the queen of the new German spelling. Nothing in German ever leaves my desk without a thorough re-work from Dagmar.

Dagmar: Judy is the more outgoing of the two. She loves meeting new people, going to networking events of all types, and follows up on all leads. We are both not natural salespeople, but Judy has a knack for telling everyone she meets what we do and how much we love it. Through that, many times business follows. Judy has also built an impressive circle of business acquaintances through social networking and blogging (http://translationtimes.blogspot.com).

How do you handle international payments?
We try to make it as easy as possible on our clients. For European clients, Dagy does the billing in euro and receives payment to her account in Vienna. Judy bills the American clients and receives payment to her American account. If one did a project for the other, we simply log that as a business expense on the respective account. Judy has a registered company in the U.S., while Dagmar’s business is registered in Austria. We could both be registered with our businesses in both countries, but that adds a whole new dimension of tax difficulty, so our accountant did not recommend that.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Call for Papers

Some of you might be interested in submitting papers to or simply attending the following conference:

Between Cultures and Texts: Itineraries in Translation History
April 9–10, 2010, Tallinn

Scientific Committee: Marie Vrinat-Nikolov, Kristiina Ross, Hannu K. Riikonen, Antoine Chalvin, Peeter Torop, Stefano Montes, Ülar Ploom

In reader's experience translations are often literary works in their own right, and as such they've often functioned in culture, shaping histories. Cultures and texts have been more open to the foreign than the rigidly indexed academic studies oftentimes reveal: from national literary histories translations as texts of vital significance have been frequently excluded to find their place in separate histories of literary translation only recently when scattered studies have been assembled in the five-volume Oxford History of Literary Translation in English (publication in progress), or the Finnish Suomennoskirjallisuuden historia of 2007, to give just two examples.
With histories being written and methodological issues on the agenda for some decades already, the list of possible empirical techniques and theoretical approaches is long enough to maintain enduring academic interest. As Anthony Pym in his 1998 „Method in Translation History" says, „translation history could be an essential part of intercultural history". There are different possibilities to frame translating that need not be understood only as a representation of the foreign but also as transmission, transfer and transculturation, borrowing critical instruments from linguistic and literary studies but also from semiotics, critical sociology, postcolonial or gender studies.
The Estonian Institute of Humanities and the Institute of Germanic-Romance Languages and Cultures of Tallinn University, in collaboration with the Paris INALCO Centre d'étude de l'Europe médiane and the University of Tartu, will host a conference in Tallinn, Estonia, on April 9–10, 2010 on these themes. Papers could address each of the terms "culture", „history", „method", and "translation". Possible subjects may include:
* Getting data for translational histories
* Theoretical and historical approaches – an opposition?
* Critical review of existing monographs or experience reports by authors
* Criteria of periodization in translation histories
* The role of translators in cultural histories
Confirmed keynote speakers at the conference will be Nikolay Aretov (Sofia), Jean Delisle (Ottawa), Theo Hermans (London), Peeter Torop (Tartu).
In addition, Marie Vrinat-Nikolov (INALCO) speaks of the methodological problems she encountered with her book about translators' discourse in France and
Bulgaria, and Jean-Léon Muller (INALCO) gives a survey of studies in the history of
translation in Hungary.
Proposals for papers (in either English or French, no longer than 200 words) should be submitted before September 30, 2009 to one of the following e-mail addresses:

Notification of acceptance will be sent out no later than October 30, 2009.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Translation Studies Summer School

If you are interested in getting into translation studies, you might want to attend the following program:

The HONG KONG TRANSLATION RESEARCH SUMMER SCHOOL – TRSS (HK) – is a new initiative based at the Centre for Translation, Hong Kong Baptist University. TRSS (HK) provides a parallel programme to the well-established UK-based Translation Research Summer School, and is organized in close collaboration with the three British institutions that run the UK programme – the Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies at the University of Manchester, the Centre for Intercultural Studies at University College London (UCL), and the Translation Studies Graduate Programme, at the University of Edinburgh. TRSS (HK) offers a two-week course in Hong Kong, providing intensive research training in translation and intercultural studies for prospective researchers in the field.

It is now open for application. For details of the Hong Kong Translation Research Summer School, please refer to the website http://www.researchschool.org/. For enquiries, please email ctn@hkbu.edu.hk.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Visit to a Museum

On a trip to Vienna last month, I spent a lovely cold afternoon at the Kunsthistorische Museum. I noticed that I was much more interested in paintings of St. Jerome and of the Tower of Babel than I was of many of the other works. Obviously, being a translator has affected all aspects of my life, including my taste in art!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

More Metaphors

A few weeks ago, I was teaching a class on the history of translation theory. So many different metaphors were mentioned during our discussion of material about Sir John Denham and John Dryden. I will name some of them here.

  • Transfusion. In the sense of an alchemical reaction, transfusion was a fairly common metaphor some centuries ago, though perhaps the word today would make us think instead of a blood transfusion. In either case, the idea of infusing new spirit and new life into something applies.

  • Shell and kernel. Latham gets a across a similar idea (i.e. of preserving the general meaning if not the exact wording) with his comment "I used the freedome of a Translator, not tying myselfe to the tyranny of a Grammatical consruction, but breaking the shell into many peeces, was only carefull to preserve the Kernell safe and whole, from the violence of a wrong, or wrested Interpretation." (as quoted in Venuti's excellent The Translator's Invisibility).

  • Clothing. This is a very common metaphor. Rider (also cited in Venuti) used this metaphor: "Translations of Authors from one language to another, are like old garments turn'd into new fashions; in which though the stuffe be still the same, yet the die and trimming are altered, and in the making, here something added, there something cut away." In other words, you use the author's material but refashioned and reshod.

  • Tight-rope walker/dancer. In the introduction to his translation of Ovid's Epistles, Dryden wrote: "'Tis much like dancing on ropes with fettered legs. A man may shun a fall by using caution, but the gracefulness of motion is not to be expected, and when we have said the best of it, 'tis but a foolish task; for no sober man would put himself into a danger for the applause of escaping without breaking his neck."
  • Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    Books from Finland

    Books from Finland is a publication about, well, books from Finland. They've recently stopped publishing the magazine in print and have now gone over to web-only. Check out the site.

    Friday, March 06, 2009

    Visiting Libraries

    I have already mentioned how much I like the smell of books, but I don't think I've written about the other senses involved in a visit to the library. There are some libraries that are just so stunning that it is hard to believe you are allowed to sit there and partake of the books, the building, and the atmosphere. I certainly would like to visit the libraries pictured here at some point.

    Sunday, March 01, 2009

    In Praise of Nerdiness

    On a recent trip to Austria, I attended a reading with two friends and afterwards, we met up with several more of their acquaintances at a bar. It transpired that all six of us around the table were translators. Over drinks, we proceeded to discuss language, authors, translation, the translation industry, translation studies, having inter-lingual relationships, and much more. It was supremely nerdy, but in a great way, and I had a lot of fun.

    Sometimes, when I complain about the poor English on signs or in articles or when I enthusiastically mention plans for learning another language, friends tease me for being too much of a dorky linguaphile. Once in awhile, it can be wonderful to hang out with other word nerds, gleefully chatting about all aspects of language and translation.