This week, I completed the Society for Editing and Proofreading (SfEP) proofreading mentoring programme, the final module of the SfEP’s proofreading training. As with the two previous modules (which, it should be noted, have since been restructured into a total of three courses), in this post I’d like to briefly summarise what others considering the course can expect and what I got out of it.
Earlier this week, I got some exciting news: I was officially confirmed as the coordinator of the ITI German Network (GerNet). GerNet is a subgroup of the ITI, the UK’s main professional organisation for translators and interpreters. It runs an online discussion forum as well as CPD, networking and social events, and over the years has built up a lively and supportive community. As coordinator, I will be responsible for chairing the volunteer committee that manages the network and its activities. I joined GerNet in 2014 at the start of my freelance career and have found it an indispensable source of support and guidance ever since, so I am glad that I now have the opportunity to give something back.
In the role, I hope to build on the excellent work of my predecessor, Cherry Shelton-Mills, by continuing to organise stimulating, rewarding events for our members. I’d also like to expand GerNet’s mentoring scheme, which allows mentees to gain valuable feedback and advice on their work from more experienced translators. It’s particularly beneficial for translators in early stages of their careers, and thanks to the subsidised fee is far more cost-effective than many other training schemes out there (I’ve participated in the scheme myself not just once but twice, so I can attest to its benefits). Another thing I’m considering is regular virtual “translation slams” where any member who wants can produce their own translation of a short text and then compare their version with those submitted by other members – something that can be a highly instructive experience.
Above all, I’d like to recruit more members to the GerNet community. At just £6 per year, it’s outstanding value, with benefits including an online forum for terminology queries (with extensive archives) and a regular newsletter. Membership is open to all members of ITI (any category). At the discretion of the committee, members of similar organisations (such as the CIOL, BDÜ or UNIVERSITAS Austria) can also be admitted as “Friends of GerNet”, with access to most of the benefits enjoyed by full members.
Interested? Why not get in touch and join up?
With just a few working days left before I close up shop for the year, I wanted to take a brief moment to look back over the past 12 months. From a professional perspective, it’s been a very eventful year, and I’m left with lots of food for thought heading into 2018. Below, I reflect a little on some of these developments.
Anglophoner Tag is an annual event for German–English and English–German translators and interpreters that brings together members of several different professional associations. This year, it was the ITI German Network’s turn to host. The beautiful city of Chester in north-west England was chosen as the location for a one-day workshop on the theme “Food for thought”. The programme also included various social events throughout the weekend, such as a cheese-tasting session and a tour of the city (neither of which I attended, unfortunately). I only dabble occasionally in food-themed translations, but I’d heard good things about previous editions of the event, so I took the train up from Cardiff to join around 20 other translators at the workshop, which was held at Chester Racecourse.
Translating academic texts is an area I’ve been increasingly concentrating on in my work. Due to my own interests and academic background, I enjoy working on such texts and feel more confident that I can produce good translations, even if German academic language can sometimes be rather daunting (to put it mildly). However, it’s a field that’s often neglected within the translation industry and translation associations. This is especially true at the humanities/social sciences end of the spectrum, which tends to be bundled together with literary or arts translation if it’s taken into consideration at all (it’s not covered by any of the ITI subject groups, for instance).
One notable exception is the Facebook group SOS!-Academic Translators, which was set up specifically to cater for this gap in provision and brings together translators specialising in various academic fields. It was through this group that I was alerted to a BDÜ event that sounded right up my street: a two-day workshop on “Die Übersetzung (populär-)wissenschaftlicher Texte im Sprachenpaar Englisch-Deutsch” (translating academic texts for general and specialist audiences in the language pair English–German). It sounded like a great opportunity both to improve my skills in one of my preferred fields of work (building on my mentoring from earlier in the year) and to meet other translators working in this area, including members of the SOS!-Academic Translators group. So last week, I travelled to Osnabrück in northern Germany to attend the seminar.
Until this year, I’d been to lots of translation workshops but never to a big conference. I’ve always been uncertain whether the investment of time and money would be worthwhile. I was particularly sceptical about the Elia Together conference, whose stated aim is to bring together freelance translators and translation agency project managers, since I am more interested in acquiring more direct clients than in expanding my work with agencies. However, friends who had been to the previous edition of Elia Together in Barcelona were enthusiastic, and so when I was invited to speak on a panel at the 2017 conference in Berlin I thought this would be a good opportunity to see what the fuss was about.
Last year, I wrote about my experience of the ITI German Network’s mentoring programme, where I was mentored on the topic of legal/contract translation. I found it a very useful experience and decided to complete a further course of mentoring, this time in one of my areas of specialisation: academic translation. My reasoning was that in many ways it would be even more useful to have some input with regard to an area that I do more work in.
Dr Michael Loughridge, an academic and translator who has even written a book on the topic of translating from German, very kindly agreed to act as mentor. In a procedure modelled on the German Network mentoring scheme (although it was not officially part of that scheme), Michael provided three short texts that he had previously translated himself and gave comments on my own translations of these texts. Below, I discuss some of the things I learned from the experience.
In February, I attended the Elia Together conference in Berlin to speak on a panel about the working relationship between freelance translators and translation agencies (or "independent language professionals" and "language service companies", if you prefer). I'll be writing a full report on the event as a whole for the next ITI Bulletin, but in the meantime my fellow panel members have put together a summary of the main themes from our presentation.
In the autumn of last year, I completed the course Proofreading 1: Introduction offered by the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP). I blogged about the course here. I’ve now also completed (and passed) the SfEP’s second online proofreading course, Proofreading 2: Progress. In this post, I briefly describe the experience and what I learned.
Proofreading 2 is similarly structured to Proofreading 1, though longer: it is divided into nine different sections, each with study notes, a proofreading exercise and a model answer (except for the assessed exercises, on which more later). There were three main differences. Firstly, while the proofreading tasks in Proofreading 1 were closer to the types of text I normally work on, the tasks in Proofreading 2 were more unusual and challenging, such as comparing proofs against marked-up copy or checking that programming code had been transcribed with absolutely no errors. The one area that was rather more familiar was proofreading bibliographic references. Secondly, there was a much stronger emphasis on proofreading on paper using BSI marks. Again, this is something I don’t do in my normal work (though I have previous experience of marking on paper using a different set of symbols). I would definitely not have been able to manage this aspect of the course without having received a grounding in the use of the symbols in Proofreading 1.
On both these points, it was nice to be stretched and try out something new – and to reassure myself that I was able to cope with new types of proofreading task. In some cases, I deliberately limited how long I spent on the exercises so as to test my accuracy, and was pleased to find that I generally picked up everything on a single read-through (in real-world jobs, I generally do two read-throughs).
The third and most important difference is that, unlike Proofreading 1, Proofreading 2 is assessed. The first two exercises are checked to ascertain that the person taking the course is of a sufficiently high standard, while the final exercise determines whether they have passed the course overall. It was a considerable advantage to have this sort of direct feedback on my work, with more detailed explanations of better ways to correct certain errors and discussion of cases where the correct approach is not entirely black and white. I was also able to raise specific queries, to which I received helpful answers. I scored 90% on all three tests: funnily enough, I did particularly well on the use of the BSI symbols despite not having used them much before, but was less good at spotting “layout” errors such as alignment, spacing and “widows” (as mentioned in my previous post, such errors were emphasised less in my previous in-house proofreading training, so this is clearly an area I need to work on).
Having passed the course, I feel more confident in my abilities going forward, and also that I could tackle types of proofread that I don’t currently work on (even if, as the examiner acknowledged, proofreading against copy is increasingly rare these days). Passing the course also entitles me to register for mentoring with the SfEP, which could be a very useful next step in sharpening up my skills.
As the year draws to a close, it’s time to take stock of the past 12 months. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a steady stream of work, including some very interesting projects and new clients, and have enjoyed regular networking events with fellow translators. At the same time, it’s also been a rather exhausting period, as I’ve regularly found myself working long hours and grappling with difficult translation problems in seemingly almost every text I encounter, so I’m more than ready for some time off to rejuvenate my energy and regroup for the coming year.
This time last year, I wrote a list of “resolutions” for 2016. In this post, I’ll look at how much progress I made with those goals, and take a brief look ahead to 2017.
Dr Andrew Godfrey, MITI