Monday, October 31, 2011

52nd ATA Conference: 3rd (and final) day

This was the third day of the conference, and I was a bit nervous, as I had two different presentations to give, one in the morning, and the other in the afternoon.
The first presentation I attended was How to Read a Prospectus, presented by Francesca Marchei and Barbara Arrighetti: another excellent presentation from the Italian Language Division – technical, but very useful for English into Italian and Italian into English financial translators. The two presenters focused mainly on certain terminological niceties about different types of investment funds, and on changes to Italian law aimed at providing investors with information in an easier to understand format… that, however, may throw unexpected hurdles in the translator’s path.
The second presentation I attended in the morning was Out, Damned Theory, by Mark Freehill. I’ll have more to say about this frustrating presentation later. Its aim, seemingly, was to show how no theory is necessary in teaching or learning translation, or in translating. This, of course, is itself a theory of translation of sorts. (And it did include the “ten commandments of translation”: Freehill condemns theory, but has no problem with prescribing what should or should not be done.) But, as I said, I’ll criticize this presentation later.
After Freehill’s presentation, it was time for Corinne’s and my presentation on blogging for translators. I believe the presentation went well; we had a good audience, and I think they found our material interesting. As soon as I’m back in Denver, I’ll post here the most up-to-date version of our presentation (meanwhile, you can still download the old one). I’ll also add an open post to answer any question from people who did not have time to ask them at the end of the presentation.
After the lunch break, it was time for my second presentation of the day: a detailed introduction to Xbench. Again, there was a good audience, and the presentation went well. It was only marred by a flaky microphone: the people in the room probably heard me well enough, but I’m afraid the session’s recording was not of good quality.
The last session of the day was Corinne McKay’s, Judy Jenner’s and Chris Durban’s Smart Business Panel – good advice for all translators, but especially for those who feel insecure marketing their services.
A good presentation, all in all. Nina and I will remain in Boston for a couple of days more, to sightsee and visit at least some of this city’s many attractions.

Friday, October 28, 2011

52nd ATA Conference: 2nd day

I skipped the plenary session to put some finishing touches to my presentations – and was also late for the first presentation I had selected for today (Corinne’s and Eve’s session on how to work successfully with a translation partner). Nina had arrived before me, and told me the session had been very good and well presented. Nina than stayed for a second presentation on a similar subject (cooperation between translators in virtual workgroups), this time by Friederike Butler and Jeana Clark – again, a very informative session.

The second session I attended was Overview of Editing Basics for the Translation Professions, by Literary Division’s Distinguished Speaker Greer Lleud. Lleud has many years of professional experience in the publishing in various capacities, and provided clear explanations of the various types of editing professionals and what they do: what distinguishes line editing, for example, from copy editing. Although the content mostly concerned editing in the publishing world, it was also useful for translators and translation editors.

In the afternoon I went to two Italian session: Translating Style, by Tim Parks, and Class  Action (Italian Style), by Barbara Arrighetti. Both very interesting presentations – in particular Parks’, as he provided several examples of good (and bad) work from English into Italian and from Italian into English, from translations of Henry Green, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Elsa Morante and Niccolò Ammaniti, proving how style in translation may get all the more difficult precisely in apparently simple passages.

Barbara Arrighetti presentation on the differences between common law class actions and recently introduced apparently similar actions under civil law was technical, but very clearly explained, and certainly useful to all Italian legal translators.

All in all, another interesting day at the conference.

52nd ATA Conference: 1st Day

We arrived in Boston on Wednesday, escaping the first winter storm in Denver (just two days earlier it was still shirtsleeves weather). Yesterday was our first day at the conference, with two interesting presentations.

The first one was by Tim Parks, the Distinguished Speaker for the Italian Language Division. In addition to being a well-known writer, Parks is a translator and teacher of translation. In his first presentation, Retranslation of Classics for an Authentic reading Experience, he spoke of the challenges of translating such a well-known and politically loaded book as Macchiavelli's The Prince. The presentation was excellent, with several interesting examples from older translations as well as Parks' own recent one - and also from translation from Macchiavelli's Italian into modern Italian.

Parks will have another presentation this afternoon, Style in Translation (speaking, this time, on the translation of modern Italian authors).

The second interesting presentation of the first day was by Tuomoas Kostiainen, on Working with Non-Trados Studio Clients/Translators, i.e. which workflows are available for translators who work in Trados Studio, but have to deliver translations to customers who are not working with Studio as yet.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Don’t worry: MT is not exactly perfect yet

While I believe that for certain applications MT will keep on improving (and will become a useful tool even for many translators), the sky is not falling on our profession. At least not yet:


The verb “Switch”, in “Switch your TV to the corresponding Component Video input to view your XYZ video playback” is translated in opposite ways by Google Translate and by Bing Translator – and both of them are wrong. Google translates “switch” as if it were “switch on”; Bing as if it were “switch off” – when of course the meaning is neither the former nor the latter.

This is just anecdotal evidence, of course, and by itself means little, but it underlines the fact that a machine translation program does not understand the text, and that relying on MT can lead to some disastrous errors.