Conference snapshots

My ITI Conference was jam-packed with impressions; here are some short snapshots of events I attended.

Karen M. Tkaczyk provided a thorough and knowledgeable insight into one strand of her work, editing non-native English. As in all areas of this business, managing customers and their expectations comes into play. Karen finds it useful to ascertain whether the writer she’s editing is likely to welcome – and learn from – her explaining the corrections she makes. This saves time all round, as she doesn’t explain to people who won’t listen, but does benefit when receptive customers learn not to make the same mistakes in their next paper.

Alison Hughes provided many helpful ideas for the translator faced with a creative text, including an emphasis on lateral thinking. Flow and style are paramount, and liberties may therefore need to be taken with the individual words. Thus you might end up searching for the right-sounding word, or one that fits with the other words used: there are websites to help you find rhymes or words starting with a certain letter.

Alison’s co-presenter Adriana Tortoriello helped me think of a creative text as multisemiotic, a combination of verbal and visual meaning. In this context, the visual aspect of the words is also important: you might say that in an advert, typeface is to text what intonation is to speech. And tone of voice is key to conveying the ‘personality’ (e.g. brand) which the source text embodies. Again, translators need to ascertain the level of work customers want – a new lick of paint for their vehicle, or a complete overhaul?

I was intrigued by the idea of the ‘TED-style’ talks, new to Conference this year. I heard Richard Davis speak about whether agencies (like his, winners of the ITI Corporate Member Award) are ‘servants of the dark side’. He deliberately defied expectations, and showed the added value agencies provide from an unexpected angle or two. After asking the audience what they thought the ‘point’ of agencies was, Richard explained his view.

I found it interesting to note that agencies build up experience through the sheer volume of jobs they handle, and that experience is retained even when individual employees move on. This enables them (in theory) to foresee and help pre-empt problems. Similarly, agencies with several in-house employees can dedicate resources to managing terminology and other repositories of knowledge which can help achieve the best translation.

I was a Singing Translator once again this Conference. For anyone who missed the show, a video is available here (or search for ‘ITI Conference Day 2 916’ on YouTube). Please note the pun inherent in the choice of song: ‘Memory’ from the musical ‘CATs’!

– This material was originally written up for the ITI French Network newsletter. You can find out more about the French Network here. –

Renewed Interest

I have begun to share some ‘pre-blog’ items that may be of interest:

Here’s an article written for the ITI’s Scottish Network on a renewable energy industry event I attended. Among other information, I gathered a useful overview of developments in Scotland and in UK policy.

This event was held by the British Chamber of Commerce in Germany in 2013, against the backdrop of an impending Scottish Independence referendum. It’s interesting to look back on the uncertainty in the UK constitutional, political and policy landscapes which even then was said to be affecting business prospects. The Chamber is now holding events to help its members prepare for Brexit, including one in London on climate change and emissions trading.

Post-Conference post

For now, I am still reading my notes and reflecting on my many experiences at ITI’s 2017 Conference in Cardiff.

I thoroughly enjoyed sharing some insights into what’s involved in translating advertising material.

I didn’t want to keep you in the dark any longer, so while you wait for a more considered response, here are some images from my talk.

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Thanks to Paul Appleyard of Manzana for the photos.

Conference countdown

The date of ITI Conference 2017 is fast approaching, and the buzz is certainly audible! I’m really looking forward to a second stint as a speaker, this time with a presentation entitled More than meets the eye: translation in the advertising world.

Advertising and promotional material is something I’ve worked on from a variety of viewpoints, throughout my career. I’ll share some insights gained over the years and reflect on how translators can really add value when it comes to creating advertising copy. There are many different facets to the linguistic work behind the scenes.

This is a world that’s constantly changing, as illustrated by my experiences – indeed that’s one reason translators might feel at home here. We’re used to being in learning mode all the time as the world and its words evolve…

What work will the future hold for translators, who will provide it, and in what form? I don’t promise to have all the answers, but I do aim to discuss with my audience how translators can best prepare to meet the demand.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying the series of short programmes Marketing – Hacking the Unconscious on BBC Radio 4.

Love your translator!

Many people in the UK consume translated text without thinking about it. From instruction manuals to classic children’s books, from news reports to foreign films. Languages and cultures other than English tend not to have a high profile, and the same applies to the means of moving between them – including translation.

When prompted to think about it, many people will realise that if the text is from somewhere where they speak a different language, then a translator was probably involved in producing the English-language text. Once they appreciate that a translator played a role, they can start to appreciate the work that went into the translation.

There are several newish ways to raise awareness and show appreciation for translators. It’s important to make sure their name features on the work alongside the author. The translator is in many ways a co-author of the translated material, who writes it in the target language. If a translator’s name doesn’t feature on something and you think it should, you could ask the publisher to #NameTheTranslator.

Imaginative solutions that draw attention to translation include wearing badges and sticker bombing! There are also various social media campaigns, such as targeted hashtags like #IConnectWorlds, Love Your Translator on Twitter or Facebook, or Translated World on Twitter.

These are small steps towards increasing respect for translators’ work: let’s spread the love.


Planning meets social research

I have translated a variety of texts about planning, and this one focused on the discipline’s impact on society. It is a chapter by Jean-Pierre Garnier for Urban Revolution Now. Henri Lefebvre in Urban Research and Architecture, the title of which I translated as: ‘Greater Paris’: Urbanization but no Urbanity – How Lefebvre Predicted our Metropolitan Future.

The quotation below from a translation of Lefebvre’s work provides a flavour of the ideas explored in the chapter, and is quoted at the beginning.

“It is worth remembering that the urban has no worse enemy than urban planning and “urbanism”, which is capitalism’s and the state’s strategic instrument for the manipulation of fragmented urban reality and the production of controlled space”.

Henri Lefebvre, ‘The Survival of Capitalism: Reproduction if the Relations of Production’, 1976, translated by Frank Bryant, New York: St. Martin’s Press.

For further details of the publication, see the table of contents in English. A debate was held when the book was launched, and the audio recording is available here.



Traduire l’architecture / Translating architecture

A volume was recently published on architecture and translation, following a conference series: the Journées d’études ‘Traduire l’architecture / Translating Architecture’ held at the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art in Paris.

I wrote a report about the first conference for the ITI Bulletin. A summary of the book is available, and it can be ordered from the publisher.