Translating Chinese Whispers

We all know the hackneyed expression “lost in translation”. Yet, some seem to expect translation to work like an exact science.

I was recently working on an exhibition catalogue and one of the texts, written by a German artist, had been translated into English for me to translate into French. Not having been offered to see the German text, and my German being limited anyway, I had to Continue reading

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When Translation Gets Emotional

If the tone or content of a text can affect how you feel when reading, the work of translation goes further still as you must somehow absorb the author’s ideas as your own, feel the tone of the text and process them to recreate them faithfully. While the majority of assignments (in my case anyway) may be engaging at an intellectual level only, some documents can affect the translator emotionally too.

Predictably, I encounter this aspect of translation most when Continue reading

Translating with Design in Mind: the Space Challenge

When working on texts destined to be published in a strongly visual context (e.g. website, magazine, brochure, illustrated book, etc.), one of the challenges is space. Because the same story in two different languages will always result in two different lengths, the layout, font size, and other visual parameters need to be adjusted significantly.

English is concise, flexible and snappy. So much can be said with so little. In comparison, Continue reading

Give the Cream to Those who Want it Most

Out of the blue, a Toronto-based artist contacted me, asking whether my MA dissertation (on J. M. W. Turner and the Industrial Revolution) was available for purchase. Who would have thought! The artist is currently doing some research on Turner and found my details in the Association of Art Historians’ member directory.

While my translation services are irrelevant in this case, this anecdote illustrates that translators are everywhere, even where you might Continue reading

Cheaper, But at What Cost?

Last month I was commissioned by a translation agency to proofread an English-to-French translation for an art centre. I was simply told that the end client wanted to make sure that the text was impeccable. The proofreading task turned into an editing one.

While all translation agencies claim to focus primarily on quality, the reality from a supplier’s experience is often, well… Continue reading

Volunteering: Good for You, Good for Business

Working from home can be a little lonely at times. For this reason, some translators choose to do a bit of volunteering work. It’s a chance to meet fellow human beings and, while you’re busy helping out, it may help your business too.

Volunteering offers the obvious benefits of being a change from the office, keeping your social skills alive, supporting a cause that you believe in and care about, meeting people from all sorts of backgrounds who don’t care about translation (so you have to Continue reading