Thursday, September 30, 2010

Happy International Translation Day!

Today is International Translation Day, which is celebrated annually on the feast day of the patron saint of translators, St. Jerome.

So today is a great day to appreciate the art of translation and the translators who make it possible.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Social Networking for Translators

Has anyone tried out social networking site for translators and translation agencies? Is it any better than facebook or other such sites?

For example, I’ve heard about Langmates, which describes itself as a “community of freelance and in-house translators, translation project managers, human resource managers, and other industry experts.” Is this useful at all?

Personally, I rely on repeat customers and word-of-mouth, so I don’t do much in the way of advertising or networking, but this could be helpful for translators who are just starting out.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Job in Translation

There is a one-semester vacancy in my department for a lecturer in literature and translation. It would be a great opportunity for a recent PhD graduate or for someone looking for more experience teaching literature and translation at the BA and MA levels.

Here is the info:

University of East Anglia
School of Literature and Creative Writing

Ref: ATS420

£29,853 to £35,646 per annum

The School of Literature and Creative writing is hoping to recruit a Lecturer to cover for a colleague's study leave during the Spring Semester 2011 and the following summer period.

The Lectureship will involve teaching in the areas of Literature and Literary Translation, and will also include administrative and enterprise and engagement work relating to these areas.

This is a full time, fixed-term appointment available from 1 January 2011 to 31 August 2011.

Closing date: 12 noon on 15 October 2010

Further particulars and an application form can be obtained by calling (+44) 01603 593493.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

Creating a Dictionary during the Holocaust

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum sent me a calendar for 2011. It has quotes from diaries written during the Holocaust and is very moving. The quote for December 2011 caught my eye because it is from a Dutch Jew, Selma Wijnberg, who fell in love with a Polish Jew, Chaim Engel, and together they created a dictionary so that they could communicate with one another. In other words, during World War Two, as they were in a concentration camp, they were still living and loving and thinking about language.

The quote from her diary, written on 21 June in 1944, says: “This little book is for me…about the time that my man and I are hidden in a hayloft somewhere in Poland. I have the hope that I will live free again.”

The information about Ms. Wijnberg (happily, later Mrs. Engel) says: “Selma Engel, a Jewish woman born in the Netherlands, met her future husband, Chaim, a Polish Jew, when they were imprisoned in the Sobibór killing center. Young and in love, they made a daring escape with other prisoners during the camp uprising and found refuge with a farmer until liberation. In her diary Selma writes about Sobibór and her deepening relationship with Chaim, with whom she created a translation dictionary so the two could communicate with each other.”

Sunday, September 05, 2010


I just learned about a new dictionary and thesaurus, Wordnik. It’s a really handy reference tool because it offers a number of sentences for each word, so you can see how the word is employed in various contexts. Wordnik was founded by Erin McKean, the former editor-in-chief of The New Oxford American Dictionary, and it already contains more than four million words.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Entrepreneurial Linguist

The translating twins, Dagmar and Judy Jenner, who also run a great blog, have recently published a book, The Entrepreneurial Linguist.

The premise of their book is that translators need to run their business as though it were, well, a business. Too many of us translators view ourselves as freelancers rather than businesspeople and we act accordingly, so the Jenner twins provide a lot of helpful advice and practical suggestions for how we can act more business-like. They discuss what it means to have a business and how said business can work best for both the owner and the customers.

They start the book with the basics, such as what you should buy for your office and how you can save money on necessary goods. Then they use case studies, as is done in business school, to look at what a customer wants, what the translator and business-owner wants, and how a compromise can be reached. They also look at a variety of related topics, such as how a translator can make use of blogging and Facebook, how to negotiate and decide prices, marketing and media coverage, how to find and work with customers, why conferences and other types of professional development are useful, how to keep a good work-life balance, how to avoid isolation as a translator, why volunteer work is good to do, how to work towards and reach goals, and much more.

This is not a book about the linguistic aspects of translation or about translation theory or other such issues. Instead, The Entrepreneurial Linguist is a very detailed and thorough book about how to “run a business like a business,” even if your business is just a small one. It’s a perfect book for people just starting out in the field, but it also has useful information for more experienced translators. The Jenner twins have hit a very important point: translators must be professional, if we want to be successful and to have other people respect our profession, and this book gives tips on how to accomplish that.