On 12-14 May, language professionals in the UK and abroad gathered online for the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) conference 2021: Evolving in Changing Times.
Besides keeping up to date with industry trends, the latest technology, and participating in fascinating panel discussions, the event challenged me to reflect on my own translation and editing methods. As a qualified ITI member, I’m committed to continuous professional development to ensure my clients get a great service and this was the perfect opportunity to hone my skills. A couple of sessions highlighted some techniques that are useful for anyone writing content.
Editing tips and tricks
When translating a text, it can be quite hard to distance yourself from the original language and entirely avoid “source language interference” where a German sentence structure is retained in the English. It isn’t always possible to leave a couple of days between translation and proofreading (to ‘forget’ the German), which is why translators work with revisers/proofreaders.
But there are a few other tricks and tips you can use, whether you’re translating or editing a text in your own language. Colleagues suggest reading your text in another font, or on a different coloured background to fool your brain into looking at the text in another light. Another approach is to use the text-to-speech function on software such as Microsoft Word to listen to the text so you can hear any sections that sound a bit stilted.
One of my favourite sessions was the German translation slam. This was a head-to-head context in which two translators translated the same text into English and compared their approaches in front of an audience. A couple of the German texts used were from a Mercedes Benz magazine from a few years ago and provoked a lot of discussion about political correctness and style choices. While each translator put their own spin on the text, they ultimately decided a combined version would work perfectly. However, one critical element was missing: You, the client.
Without having a translation brief, knowing client preferences or style, or what the author/client wants to achieve, there were a lot of unanswered questions. A text could take an entirely different direction, especially in the creative field. So if you have specific requirements, goals, or any other insights into your intended audience for a translation, do share with your translator. It provides excellent guidance when choosing the right phrases and ensures you get the results you want.
A funny finale
At the closing ceremony we enjoyed jokes and a chat with Henning Wehn – the self-proclaimed German Comedy Ambassador to the UK. He discussed language, the non-translatability of jokes and culture and poked fun at both Brits and Germans. The perfect finale for a bunch of language nerds.