I received an invite on my university email address to a free event at Cardiff University, arranged by ITI Cymru Wales ( @ITICymruWales ). The Saturday workshop was to be focussed on technology in translation and I felt it would be an ideal opportunity to get to meet some actual working translators in Wales plus to learn about a specific subject area within translation that I find appealing. If I complete my degree successfully and actually become a professional translator, the chances are that I will be building on existing tech skills and working in some way in the tech side of translation. The workshop was to focus on developing your skills as a translator in the digital environment – we would learn how to use some useful translation tools and think about working with the web as a tool.
I packed my lunchbox and headed out on the train to Cardiff on a wet Autumn International rugby day.
There was a good crowd of about 40 people, filling up the lecture theatre at Cardiff University’s Centre For Lifelong Learning. It was to be the ITI Cymru Wales’ biggest event to date. The costs to attend the convention were free which was an added bonus. I was quite nervous, not knowing anybody there as it was my first foray into the world of professional translators. I felt, as a first year student, that I was a bit out of place and had general newbie nerves.
I’d set up a profile on ProZ.com already but haven’t used the site as yet. Elvana gave us a good hour and a half’s worth of instruction on how to best use this vast translation-specific website. It could be the biggest source of our work as translators and was an invaluable resource. She explored the intricacies on how to best set up your profile and demonstrated the key features of the site. I hadn’t previously understood the Kudoz system on ProZ and can see what a great way it is of exchanging ideas on translation and a great way of building your profile and becoming a real part of the international translator community.
Elvana stressed that she was in no way a salesperson for ProZ but equally I think she was able to convince me of the benefits of becoming a paid member of the site. When my student budget allows I shall be subscribing… I can see how important ProZ is now and whereas I’ve already picked up a little work on Elance and Freelancer, I know that ProZ is where the real action is for translators. I have come away from her talk, feeling enthused about developing my own ProZ account and attempting to get my first professional work in translation.
Second on the agenda was Nigel T Packer ( @NigelTPacker ) with a brief talk on ‘Translating Websites’
Nigel raised some very interesting points in a dynamic and entertaining flurry of a lecture. He stressed how translating websites now accounted for 10% of all translation work undertaken across the globe. He talked of how the very structure and use of websites made thinking about translating them necessary. Websites are not similar to traditional forms of translated media. They are interactive and dynamic. A lot of the talk focussed on what was good and bad about websites and introduced us to the ideas that we need to be taking on should we choose to move into the field of website translation. Knowledge of coding, hypertext, surfing habits in foreign countries, keywords, SEO… all were covered topics. I think that to grasp the cultural translation skills required for website work is a vast area which will require years of training experience and expertise. As a designer and builder of websites, a lot of the material was familiar to me, but to think about websites from a translator’s perspective means having to redraw the boundaries of my existing knowledge. Nigel’s talk was fun and I managed to jot down a number of interesting sites and I know his ideas will provoke changes in my own websites in the future.
The day’s third (and final) talk was the one I was really keen to hear. Lloyd Bingham ( @Capital_Trans ) was presenting a talk on Twitter and its relevance to translators and interpreters.
I’m super keen on twitter and am a big aficionado of what I regard is the web’s best and most effective social network. Although my @dragontranslate twitter is very new, I am running some of the biggest twitter accounts in Wales for my music businesses. I was especially keen to hear another twitter expert’s thoughts, especially in the context of the #xl8 translation twittersphere. Twitter is such a creative medium to work with and new ideas and techniques are always welcome.
We were separated into groups of people according to their experience of twitter… I made it into the green light advanced group despite my status as a novice translator and the relative youth of @dragontranslate – We were able to discuss in our groups our ideas on twitter and it was really refreshing to hear how other people, specifically professional translators viewed the service.
Lloyd introduced me to the #xl8 hashtag which I was previously unaware of. I shall now be filling all my tweets with the convenient tag that is industry-specific. He talked of how twitter was an ideal tool for socialising in the rather lonely world of independently working translators. He talked of how he had acquired jobs through the network and his ideas on how, as twitter users, we can contribute to the wider translation community. There is an obligation to share and disperse knowledge, as well as self-promote. Building networks through lists and interactions is important and we can refine our tweetlines to analyse exactly what is happening in our specialist fields within translation.
It’s really strange gathering in a large group to discuss twitter. Although, when used it reaches out to millions of people across the world, I had never before gathered with so many real people to discuss the topic. Virtual living meets reality.
The day’s work-based activities were over. The lectures were all very valuable and were performed in a fun, interactive, friendly manner. It was now for a bit of socialising so we headed off for the after-event, the #TweetUpCardiff @TweetOutWest meet up in the pub for some grub and booze and a chance to get to know the fellow participants from the more formal lecture theatre. We strolled on down to the Blackweir Tavern where the Wales – Australia rugby match was well underway and relaxed in a pleasant social atmosphere.
I took the opportunity to meet some new people in the local professional network of translators and I found this part of the day to be the most inspiring and productive. I left the event feeling merry and keen on the reality of eventually becoming a translator.
It’ll be back to uni on Monday but the highlight of my reading week was certainly the ITI event. I understand that they meet up fairly regularly and I eagerly await getting further involved with the translating community here in Wales.