Get into the holiday spirit with me! (Special advent calendar)

Advent calenderWhere did this year go? It feels like we have just celebrated the holidays?! December is upon us but I am not quite sure I’m ready yet. I am pretty certain though that I am not alone with this!

Just to help me and you, my dear readers, get into the holiday spirit, I have planned something special this year: a Hungarian advent calendar! Every day leading up to Christmas, I will post a little trivia or fun fact about Hungary and the Hungarian language on my social media.

Did you forget to buy an advent calendar this year? Or just don’t want to eat chocolate all day? (Erm… wrong question, I know.) Are you thirsty for random facts about Hungary and Hungarian you can impress your friends with at up-coming Christmas parties? Then this alternative advent calendar is for YOU!

If you are not already following me on Twitter, head there right now and click FOLLOW or if you prefer Facebook, just like my page (LIKE HERE) to stay up-to-date with stuff!

Let’s get ready for the holidays together! 🙂

Advancing my freelance translation career

Advancing my freelance translation career

The good priest

There is a Hungarian saying “a jó pap holtig tanul” that basically means “the good priest is learning until the day of his death”.
Well, I do not know about priests but the saying is definitely true for us, translators! Once we get our translation degree, we cannot just rest on our laurels and expect our work to be done. I believe it’s essential that we never stop learning about new translation technologies, learning from others’ translations or the feedback we get about our own translations, improving our understanding of culture-specific issues, keeping our languages up-to-date, growing our vocabulary, etc., so that we can continuously provide excellent translations to our clients.

Webinars galore!

Nowadays the internet makes it so easy to do our continuous professional development (CPD) wherever we are. If you are online (and possibly have a headset), you are all set to learn and improve! I regularly listen to webinars that focus on certain aspects of our profession, for example, I have very recently learnt some secrets about transcreation and got some great tips for making the proofreading process more efficient. These professional courses are all great for learning new stuff and refreshing my knowledge of what I learnt at university.
But unfortunately, being a good and successful freelance translator is not only about linguistic skills.

The one-man (or woman) band

A successful translator is not only a translator. Translators tend to forget that we are also a small business. First of all, we are administrators and office managers making sure everything is well-organised and our equipment is in tip-top shape. Then we are sales people selling our services to the right people. We are marketing professionals who are out there trying to get our message across. We are social media managers looking after our own online presence. Mind-boggling and for translators who – let’s face it – are often introverts, this can be a rather intimidating and overwhelming thing.
I’ve got to a point where I realised that I would need some guidance on the business side of things. Being a good linguist is not everything! I can do all the webinars on how to become a better linguist, hone my translation skills but that won’t cut it. I also need to know about business! The internet is full of great advice, but unfortunately most of them are not really applicable to translation professionals. I needed something that was geared towards translators, giving some translator-specific advice for achieving my long-term professional goal (i.e. world domination through one translation at a time).

ITI, CPD and all the other abbreviations

And lo and behold! As I was looking for something out there to make myself into a businesswoman, the CPD team at the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) were just about to launch a 9-session course entitled “Advancing your Freelance Translation Career” (AFT)! Excellent, I thought as I read the full description, and in the end, I decided to sign up.
The course was an interactive webinar series where we could talk with our tutors, ask questions, etc. The online format was super convenient. For example, this autumn I spent a longer time in Hungary but I could still take part in the webinar and did not miss a thing! Great stuff for translators on the go. Our “class” also got regular homework which you might not find as exciting as I make it sound but it was really helpful to go through all the exercises our tutors set us. They would evaluate our individual assignments every week and give us specific feedback on our work.

Course content

Each topic was covered in two sessions. The first of each pair of sessions was a lecture-type presentation given by our tutors – usually accompanied by good-looking PowerPoint slides, then the following week we had a whole discussion session where everyone could put in their two cents or ask some questions. The topics were all relevant, such as “thinking of yourself as a customer”, “solving customer problems”, “building and maintaining customer relationships”. We covered both sales and marketing. There was some theory with an awful lot of practical advice. Some advice seemed so simple and common sense that all I could think was “why didn’t I think of this”? (Well, sometimes you do need someone to state the obvious.) Other pieces of advice were more surprising and I also had some “a-ha” moments.

…and the tutors

I found the tutors were well chosen, too. I could really tell they knew what they were talking about, building on their own knowledge and experience. If you are on social media or have attended some other webinars or conferences, you might have already heard about them. We had Judy Jenner (entrepreneurial linguist), Tess Whitty (translator and marketing guru), Doug Lawrence (sales and marketing wizard) and last but not least Sara Freitas (translator, copywriter and networking sage). They all brought their unique view to the course, their own theoretical and practical background to help us learn and improve ourselves. At the last session we even had a chance to present our elevator pitch. (In case you are not familiar with the notion of elevator pitches, they are short introductions about who you are and what you do. You basically need to cram everything about yourself in the time it takes an elevator to reach the top floor of a building. Number of floors not specified though.)

The course was well-organised, I regularly got reminders of up-coming sessions, so I never missed any, and there was surprisingly very minimal technical disruption during sessions. All the presentations were relevant, however, at times I felt my mind was going to explode with new information. I nearly filled an entire notebook with my notes, thoughts and comments to revisit later. Luckily, we were always sent a link to the PowerPoint presentations and a recording of each session, so once I have some more time, I can go back to them to make the most out of the AFT course.

All in all

So, would I recommend this course to my fellow translators?
Well, this course won’t make me (or you) an all-knowing, perfect businesswoman (or man) overnight. Most of the work is still ahead of those of us who completed this course. There will be a lot to do on an on-going basis: re-reading notes and handouts, implementing the tutors’ tips, re-working certain marketing bits and pieces here and there, adjusting strategies to see what works the best… This is not a small task by any means and my work is not done now that I have completed the course. I’m sure I’ll spend a lot of time and effort working on these aspects of my translation business in the future.
(And speaking of spending… Depending on your situation, you might find the course fee a bit much but at this point in my career I was ready to spend on high quality and useful CPD. This is after all an investment in my future, just like buying a new piece of software or hardware would be!)

All in all, I am happy that I took this course, it certainly got me inspired to invest more time and effort in improving my business skills besides focusing on my core linguistic skills. I believe what I learnt during these 9 weeks will help me build better, stronger relationships with my existing clients and form good, strong relationships with new clients.  It’s not a bad thing to aspire for as a goal, right?

(Besides world domination. It’s still on the cards.)

Do you regularly take CPD courses? Do you attend webinars? Please share in the comments below or drop me an email via my Contact page. Also, if I got you interested, you can check out the next AFT course on the ITI website, just click here.

Translation and music

translation and music

Earlier this week I attended a super interesting public event that was part of a conference entitled “Women, Language(s) and Translation in the Italian Tradition”, organised by the University of Cambridge.

Translation and music

Although it doesn’t take much to lure me away from my desk for any translation-related event, I was particularly excited about attending this one. It was a talk followed by a concert! And not just any talk for that matter. Professor Jane Tylus (Yale University) talked about her recent research connecting music and translation, more specifically translation and musical accompaniment.

As in my formative years I was very much involved in music and had the chance to act as a piano accompanist to violinists and singers, and well… now I do translate for a living, I was curious to hear what Professor Tylus had to say about this topic.

The talk

She started her talk with a lovely excerpt by Lucrezia Tornabuoni, 15th century writer and political adviser, who translated the life of Tobias into Italian. Tornabuoni starts her work with a prayer asking God to send her something like the angel of translation to accompany her on her translation journey, just like Raphael provided companionship to Tobias on their expedition.

Funnily enough, the Italian word for translator, traduttore, originally meant “to lead over” or “to carry over”. Much like a companion on a long journey, right? From here, it takes just a small step to arrive at the notion of the translator as an accompanist or, if you like, the accompanist as a translator.

Both translators and accompanists are often regarded as secondary or subordinate to the author or the soloist. They are kind of lurking in the background, leaving all the glory to the “more important” person. Sometimes they even worry about overtaking the author/soloist. (Just think of the title of accompanist Gerald Moore’s memoire: Am I too loud?)

Professor Tylus is at the very beginning of her research into this, but I am really  excited to see what conclusions she will draw once it’s complete.

The concert

The concert afterwards perfectly complemented her talk. It started with an excellent Bach solo piece, originally a Partita for violin in D minor, which the performer herself, Joy Lisney arranged for cello. (Ha! Finding similarities between translation and musical arrangements could also be a great topic!) After the Bach, we went on to a beautiful Chopin Cello Sonata performed by Joy Lisney and Naomi Woo. Last but not least, the evening was concluded by Brahms’ Clarinet Sonata in E flat major, performed by Caroline Grint ad Naomi Woo. I very much enjoyed the individual pieces and liked the concept of the whole concert, too.

By starting the concert with a solo piece then continuing with two pieces accompanied by piano, the organisers invited the audience to think a bit about the relationship of the soloist and her accompanist. How do they work together? How does the accompanist help the soloist in her performance? And also, how does this all relate to translation?

During the concert I thought about how translators and accompanists are related. It’s true, their roles might be traditionally regarded as secondary to the main attraction. And sure, they don’t always get the same attention as their soloist or their author. However, I do think of them as partners, rather than just some extra help that makes things less awkward or strange. They both bring real value to the table and they are just as talented/educated/skilled/experienced/etc. as the soloist or the author, and without them, something would be truly lost. They both deserve credit and appreciation! They really do!

Ok, before I get completely overexcited about the role of these two, I’d like to ask you, my dear readers: what do you think about this? Is there anything similar between translators and accompanists? Or translation and music? What would you compare translation to?