Meet the speaker: Dominique Defert, right out of the underground bunker Reply

Dominique Defert -a literary translator with twenty-five years of experience, translator of best-seller authors such as Stephen King, John Grisham and Dan Brown, screenwriter, film director, Calibre Prize winner, you name it!

Dominique was one of the translators who was selected to spend nearly two months in an underground bunker in Italy, translating Dan Brown’s latest novel for simultaneous release in different languages (learn more »). He will be presenting on the topic of “Inferno: Translating in the Bunker” at the upcoming international conference in Pisa, Italy, on June 28-29.

The interview

How did you get started in translation?

I came to translation through writing. I was a writer of science fiction short stories. One of my short stories had been published by Denoël in the “Présence du futur” collection.

Gérard Klein, a well-known French science fiction writer I greatly admired, read my stories. At that time he was the literary editor for the “Ailleurs et Demain” collection at Robert Laffont. He offered me to translate for this renowned collection.

The first translation he entrusted to me with was a new edition of Pavane by Keith Roberts, an English science fiction author. Pavane had been my favorite book during adolescence and I had been searching in vain for a copy for a long time. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect gift. I was twenty-five years old and that’s how it all began.

What was the most important obstacle for you to overcome in building your career as a language professional?

Ironically, the greatest challenge early in my career was to detach myself from the author’s words to find the real meaning within the text. Prioritizing fidelity and accepting that the only fidelity that really mattered was to be as close as possible to the author’s intentions: that was the most significant challenge. Together with the need to always love one’s translation. To claim each word, each sentence.

What is the greatest issue facing translators working in France or with the French language?

In France, literary translators are the authors of their translations. This means that they are “writers” of their texts. The editor wants to read a novel in French, not a translation.

I see three basic principles, three simple, obvious and sometimes strangely neglected cardinal rules:

1. Understanding. Understand the text: meaning, context, situation of the character. Know what you are telling.
2. Writing. Write in French. Erase English. Completely. Phrases, syntax, rhythm. Everything must disappear!
3. Giving. Give the gift of wonder. Give something special to read. Write literature. This is what I call the quest for Intrigue, Surprise and Enchantment.

What is your prediction for the future of human translation?

I must admit that I don’t really understand the debate on the future of human translation (related to literature, of course).

A translator tells a story. Actually, he re-tells the story. He tells the story as he has experienced it. And this is the story he’ll write. In literature you must be biased, subjective, radical and monomaniac: this is the way to tell a story.

Choosing a word represents one’s vision of the world. Machine translation software can give the general gist but it will never give the text a soul. Especially since machines will never be human, and vice versa.

As one of the translators who spent nearly two months in an underground bunker in Italy, translating Dan Brown’s latest novel, Inferno*, you will be presenting in the upcoming international conference in Pisa, sharing your experience with attendees. What can they expect to learn or know from your presentation?

Work in the bunker compressed the average everyday working conditions a translator experiences. Drastic conditions, intense work and lack of comfort simply highlighted the issues all translators face. When you are a professional translator, when translation is your only source of income and when you translate every day -as I do- there is one precious magic concept which must never be lost along the way: ENJOYMENT.

Enjoyment for the body, enjoyment for the soul.

As for the body, when I was in the bunker, I resorted to certain tips and tricks.

For my soul, this meant finding enjoyment in writing and in telling a story. So I strove to love what I was writing, despite the stress, the looming deadline and the terrible hours. My simple threefold mantra “Intrigue, Surprise, Enchantment” guided me during this adventure.

The importance of really enjoying the translation process is what I would like to illustrate during my presentation. international conference in Pisa, Italy

Join Dominique and other language professionals on June 28-29 in Pisa, Italy, for the 2014 international conference.

Visit event page »            View event program »            View related social events »


See “Translator, kindly step into my dungeon, I have a project for you…” T.O. blog post (May 9, 2013) »

Thanks Daniela Zambrini, 2014 international conference organizer, for the translation of Dominique Defert’s interview answers from French into English!


Guest blog post: “Videogame translators: 4 simple tips for a great LocJAM competition” by Alain Dellepiane, team GLOC Reply

Today’s guest post is written by Alain Dellepiane of team GLOC in preparation for an upcoming event in videogame localization called LocJAM 2014. In this post, Alain shares some tips on how videogame translators can use their time to stay up-to-date about what’s going on in the industry. 


As you might have heard, LocJAM 2014, the first global game translation contest is ready to start this 5th of April 2014.

Anyone with a computer and internet access to the website will be able to participate in order to translate a small open-source game from English into French, German, Italian, Japanese, European Spanish or South American Spanish.

It doesn’t matter if you are still studying, you have little experience or you are a long time professional: everyone is free to join and there are no entrance fees.

15+ of the largest game localization agencies in the world will then nominate their favorite and everyone will have a chance to win yearly licenses for translation tools, which is always nice.

Of course, your language skills are better than ever, but did you have the chance to prepare specifically for games?

The videogame industry is remarkably fast moving and, in order to be competitive, you need to dedicate part of your time to keep updated on the latest trends and developments. Here are a couple of recommendations: you might not be able to do all of them in these last few days, but you might discover that training for videogame localization is easier (and more fun) than you imagined.

3 minutes per day: online news sites

A long time ago, gaming websites used to be amateurish and unreliable. Not anymore. Online magazines have gradually taken the role once reserved to their paper counterparts, and can now boast the same level of professionalism and support from publishers.

With online readership constantly on the rise, websites tend to multiply and diversify. On one end of the spectrum, we have official sites like the PlayStation blog with obvious promotional aims. On the other, trade websites like Develop geared towards professionals. Anything in the middle will have a different balance between hype and information.

With time, you will probably find your favorite news source but, as a translator, you should try and read a bit of everything. After all, the vapid copy of some promotional websites could prove a goldmine the next time you need to translate some packaging, while the jargon in trade pages could allow you to decode the latest puzzling instructions from the developers!

10 minutes per week: let’s play videos

Let’s play videos are an increasingly popular form of playthrough. Very dedicated fans with screen recording systems play one game from start to finish and offer their running commentary while doing it. The result is then split into small episodes and uploaded on Youtube. Nowadays it’s fairly easy to find videos for all major titles, even in their localized versions. All you need is a quick Google search like “call of duty” ”let’s play” ITA or ”pokemon” ”gameplay” german. If you are feeling courageous after that, you can jump into the maelstrom of Good luck!

I will not hide that some of these videos are absolutely cringeworthy, but the benefits still manage to outweigh it.

    • While they can’t replace playing a bit on your own (more on this later) these videos are the easiest and fastest way to know a title, especially if you aren’t very skilled with its genre
    • You will have an insight on how the game is played and enjoyed by its audience
    • If you are (un)lucky enough to find a title you have localized, the video can turn into a focus group of sorts, with your solutions constantly tested (and commented) by real and unaware targets.

Obviously, the opinions in these videos belong to a dedicated minority but, taken with a pinch of salt, they can help you to build a better text for everyone (and will allow you to say, with a pained sigh, that you really do listen to your audience).

Note: if you feel that hearing one more whiny teenager voice might sink you into madness, try watching professional videos like Unskippable or Eurogamer’s previews instead.

2 hours per month: playing demos

As a videogame translator, your text is not only meant to be read, but to be used. Your words will become cogs of the game mechanics and it is your duty to have at least a basic understanding of how they work.

Playing a large number of complete game is not always feasible for a full time translator, but with an Xbox360 or a PlayStation 3 and an internet line you can simply download hundreds of localized demos for free, from all makers and genres. Each takes at most two hours to finish, and will give you a clear insight on the mechanics and terminology of that genre.

One day per year: attend a game show

Freelance translators tend to have busy and hectic lives. Making it even more hectic just to attend a game show seems hardly worth it.

We know; every year we make an effort to attend our local shows and every time our quality of life plummets.

Why do it, then? To be part of the industry. For the whole year you will be just a tiny speck in the far borders of gaming. For one day, go to the core and soak up the culture. It will make the rest of the year much much easier!

Thanks for reading and see you all at the LocJAM 2014 competition!


Thanks to Alain for sharing this guest blog post with us. For more information about LocJAM2014, you can visit the event’s website at 2014 regional event in Porto, Portugal: tools and strategies Reply

After the great success of the 2013 international conference in Porto, Portugal, and event organizers Paula Ribeiro and Maria Pereira are organizing a regional event again in the city of Porto for language professionals with years of experience as well as for those who are just starting out in the translation business.

This regional event, scheduled for May 24th, 2014, will offer attendees an entire day of presentations, a pre-event powwow on Friday night and the possibility to learn, network and have fun with colleagues.

The program

The event program includes four sessions, two coffee breaks and one lunch. With the purpose of discussing and learning more about tools and strategies freelancers can use to cope with industry challenges, presentations will cover topics such as project management, personal branding and business issues. To see a full version of the event program, click here.

The speakers

This regional event will have the presence of five well-known speakers of the translation community:

125715_r52cf3322971eeRui Sousa

Holding a Degree in Translation Studies (English/French branch) at the Instituto Superior de Línguas e Administração (ISLA-Gaia), Rui Sousa collaborated with several Portuguese and international companies as an in-house and freelance translator. Between 2010 and 2012, he worked as a project manager at a translation agency in Porto, being directly involved in the agency’s day-to-day business. In October 2013, he created Mind Words® venture in partnership with her colleague Luísa Matos, offering services in translation, specialized training and linguistic consultancy. He is a certified trainer and a member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (IoL), reputed translators association based in London. In his free time, he loves travelling and hanging out with friends. He enjoys cinema, sushi and bossa nova.

23970_r511fdbdd6a8bcLuisa Matos

Luisa holds a Degree in Specialized Translation (English/German branch) at the Instituto Superior de Contabilidade e Administração do Porto (ISCAP). She is a freelance translator and a certified trainer since 2001, and worked as a translation project manager for twelve years. In October 2013, she created Mind Words® venture in partnership with his colleague Rui Sousa. In her free time, she practices Tai Chi, Lu Jong and plays the violin. Also loves reading and music.

1302197_r5106369d6ee1aMarta Stelmaszak

Marta is a Polish-English translator and interpreter specializing in law, IT, marketing, and business. She is a member of the Management Committee of the Interpreting Division at the Chartered Institute of Linguists and a Co-head of the UK Chapter of the International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters. She is also an Associate of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting, a qualified business mentor, a member of the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship and the Chartered Institute of Marketing. She is currently studying for master’s degree in Management, Information Systems and Innovation at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Recently, she’s been awarded with the Higher Education Social Entrepreneurship Award. Marta runs the Business School for Translator, a blog for translators and interpreters with an entrepreneurial angle recently turned into an online course. Marta is active on Twitter and Facebook where she’s sharing information related to the business side of being a translator or interpreter.

783740_r478376bd9b1fbValeria Aliperta

Valeria, member of IAPTI and Head of External Relations, Associate of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting, Member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists, member of ASETRAD, is a conference interpreter and translator working from English, Spanish and French into her native Italian. Her fields of expertise are IT, fashion, design, marketing, legal and advertising. With a soft spot for blogging and social media (she organised the Tweet‐Up at the 2010 ITI Conference), she was listed as 15th Top Twitterer and 21st Top Facebook Page in the Language Lovers 2012 contest. She runs monthly gatherings of colleagues, the London TweetUps, in London. Along with talks and webinars, she writes articles and guest posts on branding / corporate identity and regularly contributes to the ITI Bulletin. In 2013 she has launched Rainy London Branding, an all‐new sister site to Rainy London Translations, entirely dedicated to branding and identity consultancy. Along with Marta Stelmaszak, she runs The Freelance Box, a series of hands‐on, no-nonsense, in‐person courses on the practical side of the freelance translation business.

12742_r4fb7bb01c2c39João Roque Dias

João is a mechanical engineer and technical translator. He discharged several duties in engineering, consulting and construction companies in Portugal, Israel, Denmark, United States, Bermuda and Mozambique. He is a member of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM International), an independent translator since 1989 and a corresponding member of the American Translators Association (ATA) since 1993, also certified by them in English-Portuguese. João was also an ATA Accreditation Exams Grader from 1994 until 2001 and Vice-chair of the Organizing Committee of contrapor2006 – 1st Portuguese Translation Conference. He also acted as a scientific advisor and speaker at the 2007, 2009 and 2010 TRADULÍNGUAS Translation Conferences (Lisbon, Portugal). A well-known speaker in translation related events around the world, João is also a trainer of mechanical engineering translation and professional development for translators, and author of several articles and glossaries related to technical translation and mechanical engineering. More about Joao can be found on his website or via Facebook.

The event

The event will take place on May 24th at the HF Ipanema Porto Hotel from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM CET. To register for this event, visit the event page and click on “Sign up now”. To save your seat, just click on “Buy now to register” in the pricing box.

What tools do you use to cope with industry challenges? What strategies have you applied (or are you planning to apply) to improve the way you manage your translation business? Share below!

Meet the speaker: Alejandro Moreno-Ramos Reply

Alejandro_MorenoMeet Alejandro Moreno-Ramos – aka “Mox” – a full-time technical translator and former electrical engineer. Alejandro is also the creator of Mox’s Blog – a series of comics depicting the misadventures of a fictional freelance translator, based loosely on the experiences of the author himself. Alejandro will be presenting at the upcoming conference in Biarritz, France, on the subject of “Automatisation de tâches – Laissez l’ordinateur se charger du « travail sale » afin de multiplier votre productivité.” Attendees will have the chance to meet the creator of Mox’s Blog and purchase signed copies of his books featuring comics from the blog.

You can learn more about Alejandro and his stick figure alter-ego by visiting Mox’s Blog at

The interview

MK: What was the most important obstacle for you to overcome in building your career as a language professional?

AMR: Previously to working as a freelance translator, I worked as an electrical engineer for a big company and the fact of quitting a good and secure job was difficult.

Once I made the decision, my setting up as a full-time language professional was reasonably easy. It’s fair to mention that being a member helped me a lot at the beginning, both for attracting new clients and for learning the state of the art of the industry.

MK: What is the greatest issue facing translators working in France or with the French language?

AMR: I’d say that social contributions, and to a lesser degree, the tax burden in France are a real challenge. In 2008, the French government introduced a new sole-ownership type of business, called auto-entrepreneur, which is an amazing invention because of many reasons, but it is not a good solution for most freelance translators. As of today, freelance translators in France typically spend more than half of their revenue in social contributions and taxes.

Regarding the French language, I do not translate into French, but I think that Frenchmen are gradually losing their traditional love for their language. For example, it is deplorable seeing people with postgraduate degrees making so many spelling mistakes.

MK: Any client horror stories? (without naming names)

AMR: Via my website, I get many requests for free translations from individuals I don’t know.

MK: What is your prediction for the future of human translation?

AMR: I can’t imagine a computer translating accurately gas turbine maintenance manuals in the near future, so I guess that I’ll have translation work for a long time, but on the other hand I do fear that the progress of machine translation decreases further the prestige of our dear profession.

MK: At the upcoming conference in Biarritz, France, you will be presenting on the topic of “Automatisation de tâches – Laissez l’ordinateur se charger du « travail sale » afin de multiplier votre productivité.” What can attendees to this session expect to learn?

AMR: To take advantage of sheer processing power of modern computers. I’ll try to show how to earn more money while avoiding the most tedious tasks.


The event

The conference in Biarritz kicks off this Thursday with a pre-conference powwow at the Miremont Bellevue restaurant, the theme of this gathering being “Hints and Tips: best tips, tricks and/or practices to make our lives as translators easier.”

You can check out all of the activities surrounding this event by visiting the “Social” tab of the conference page:

If you’re interested in attending this event, it’s not too late to register here:

Meet the speaker: Nicholas Rose 1

Nicholas_RoseMeet Nicholas Rose – a chemical engineer by education, former freelance translator, and current Translation Manager with Datawords’ branch in Paris. Nicholas will be presenting on the topic “Optimize your collaboration with a translation agency” at the upcoming conference in Biarritz, France, which will kick off next Friday, September 27.

The interview

MK: What was the most important obstacle for you to overcome in building your career as a language professional?

NR: One might expect the answer to be lack of qualifications. (I have a degree in chemical engineering and only o-levels in languages.) But in fact this has not been the case, though I think it would be a barrier for entry into certain lucrative sectors, such as working for the EU. I have come across no real barrier since becoming a salaried translator but when I was freelance, my biggest problem by far was payment. I spent as much time on chasing payments as in carrying out the work. The culprits were generally smallish companies, but well known – and supposedly of good repute – in  their sectors and therefore not in any financial difficulties. Just accountants “trying to be clever”…

MK: What is the greatest issue facing translators working in France or with the French language?

NR: Understanding (the) French! :)

A Portuguese colleague in a previous (non-translation) job dryly summed up working in France: “Why make things complicated when you can make them… very complicated?”

More seriously, a few years ago I would have replied without hesitation: the URSSAF? But my main dealings with that body were in 1994 and 1999 and already, in those five years, the improvement was considerable, so maybe things run smoothly today for freelancers. However, a problem that persists with the URSSAF, as with French institutions in general, is their tunnel vision in thinking that other countries’ administrations are mirror-images of their own. You come across this everywhere, from the five-box postcode spaces on preformatted envelopes to requests for SIRET numbers and APE codes in official information requests concerning foreign countries. The consequences for us as an agency, in concrete terms, have been the imposition of hefty fines for “not having made sufficiently exhaustive checks” on freelance translators who were cheating the system (living in France but declaring themselves resident in Germany to avoid charges). Worse than the fines has been the setting up of such checking procedures, in which the URSSAF provides no assistance whatsoever but just expects those wonderful “justificatifs” à la française. Apart from the endless hours lost in trying to identify equivalents in various countries, this has even cost us some translators.

Biarritz_conferenceMK: Any client horror stories? (without naming names)

NR: In general, the translation business is pretty civilized, suffering only from a general ignorance on the part of the clientele about what translation involves, and thus unrealistic expectation in terms of price and delivery. I encountered far more horror stories in my other life as an engineer. One event did strike me, though. I was working late one evening trying to clear up a few jobs, when a stressed project manager rang me with a translation “request” from a (household-name)  client, just received (at 8 p.m.): an hour’s work, for delivery that same evening or the client would stop working with us!

MK: What is your prediction for the future of human translation?

NR: In certain fields, those where people appreciate the work involved and are prepared to pay, I believe human translation has a solid future. Neither global languages (with the possible exception of simplified English in restricted high-technology/high-risk sectors) nor machine translations will pose a serious threat, because neither will live up to expectations. However, in fields where people want price at a price (industry, instructions for use, downmarket catalogues and brochures, etc.) human translators might be squeezed out as rates become downright offensive and the quality of machine translations improves to become tolerable to those for whom money counts more than image or quality.

MK: At the upcoming conference in Biarritz, France, you will be presenting on the topic of “Optimize your collaboration with a translation agency.” What can attendees to this session expect to learn?

NR: Helping freelance translators to:

  • gain a better understanding of today’s agencies (translation yesterday => localization, CMS, SEO/SEM, online media, e-reputation etc. today) and their expectations, perhaps revising a few preconceived ideas
  • adapt their working approach accordingly, if necessary, in order to improve client satisfaction and relations
  • appreciate the health risks associate with working in front of a computer and thus avoid problems that can ruin a self-employed worker.

The event

Benefit from presentations like Nicholas’ at the upcoming conference in Biarritz, France, which will take place on September 27 and 28.

The list of speakers for this event can be found here:

You can register for this event from the main conference page:

Meet the speaker: Valeria Fucci 2

Meet Valeria Fucci – a freelance translator who will be speaking on some of the challenges and opportunities of medical translation in a two-part presentation entitled “La langue spéciale de la médicine : les défis de la traduction médicale” at the upcoming conference in Biarritz, France.

Valeria_FucciThe interview

MK: What was the most important obstacle for you to overcome in building your career as a language professional?

VF:   I live in a town in southern Italy, thus far from the main industries which could be interested in my service. When I started my career, the Internet was still a dream, cellular phones were items for rich, “snob” people, and only some technologist-addicts knew what a modem was. The only way to look for customers and build a database was to get lists from the Yellow Pages and the Chamber of Commerce and the only way to contact them was the telephone, the fax and the mail (not e-mail), of course. So I think that the greatest obstacle I met was the difficulty to find clients and establish connections, since I                                                                        was determined to work as a freelancer.

MK: What is the greatest issue facing translators working in France or with the French language?

VF: For decades, I would say for centuries, the French language has been a very important means of communication and also a sort of status symbol for those who knew, understood and spoke it. Unfortunately, this prominence has been “stolen” by the English language, mainly due to technological development. Personally I feel better with French than with English, but I work mainly with the latter. I don’t know exactly the situation of translators working in France or translating into French, as far as my experience is concerned the percentage of translations from French into Italian has been falling down year after year. Perhaps this depends on the fact that I mainly translate in the medical and pharmaceutical fields, where anyone writes in English. Once I translated a patent from English into Italian, which had been written by an Italian scientist! On the other hand, I think, for example, that literary translations from French is quite flourishing, especially novels by francophone, “exotic” authors. But we all know that, at least in Italy, literary translation is a world apart.

MK: Any client horror stories? (without naming names)

VF: Luckily, I have never had bad experiences with my clients. Our relationships have always been clear and friendly.

MK: What is your prediction for the future of human translation?

VF: I don’t want even imagine what a world of machine translation would be. I mean, when I translate, I visit many websites to understand certain things and find exact terminology, and more and more often I fall into machine-translated sites and I think that this is anti-ethical especially for those sites which are devoted to human health and life. I can’t imagine the reaction of a person who finds a site describing a disease he/she has and the possible treatment for this disease, and he/she understands nothing or, which is worse, changes one thing for another. No, definitely I am for human translation, machine translation could help, but it always needs to be revised, proofread, verified, checked by a human.

MK: At the upcoming conference in Biarritz, France, you will be presenting on the topic of “La langue spéciale de la médicine : les défis de la traduction médicale.” What can attendees to this two-part session expect to learn?

VF: I love my job and I would like to extend this love to newbies and whatnot. I think that when you love someone or something you take care of them. That’s the first objective of my presentation: to learn how to take care of a translation job, in this case the translation of medical documents, which are delicate items themselves and deserve special care. So what the attendees should expect is a conversation about the cures a document should receive when it “leaves” its own language and get transformed into another.


The event

Join Valeria and other freelance language professionals on September 27 in Biarritz for the 6th conference in France.

You can learn more about this exciting event by visiting the conference page:

Meet the speaker: James Brian Mitchell Reply

James_Brian_MitchellMeet James Brian Mitchell – one of the many talented speakers who will be sharing their knowledge and expertise with attendees of the upcoming conference in France, set to take place on September 26th through the 29th. James is a technical translator and the author of over 120 scientific papers, as well as co-author of a textbook on experimental physics. He has been a professor of physics both in Canada and in France, where he has lived for the last 16 years.

The interview

MK: What was the most important obstacle for you to overcome in building your career as a language professional?

JBM: I really cannot say that I have found obstacles to overcome. I have found that being a member of ProZ has been invaluable and I believe that the work that has come my way has been mainly through this site. Since joining, I have been very active in making Kudoz contributions and I believe that this has helped me. Being a native English speaker also is an advantage as many agencies insist on this. On the other hand, as a freelance translator, I have not been able to work directly with an original customer so have always worked through agencies (or occasionally through another freelance translator).

MK: What is the greatest issue facing translators working in France or with the French language?

JBM: France is an expensive country to work in with social security contributions being so high. This means that to make a living, a translator has to charge rates that are often higher than in other countries and so often one is not competitive. This is a complex issue as you get what you pay for and France has an excellent social security programme. Indeed it is a national issue.

Regarding the French language, France is a country where engineering is the second most respected profession (Chef being first!). The French technical language is very rich and often more rich than English in this respect. Thus one needs to understand how to navigate through this territory. This is one problem but really the worst is the predominant use of acronyms. I recently received an e-mail from a colleague which contained 24 of them. I demanded (and got by return) a list of their meanings. This is a very risky and frustrating area for a translator and my advice is to “Ask the client!”.

MK: Any client horror stories? (without naming names)

JBM: Again I cannot really say that I have horror stories to tell. What can be a bit frustrating is that in general, translators come from literary backgrounds and for them, style is all important. Style in NOT so important in technical translations. Accuracy in terminology is the key factor here, yet one is reproached if your translation does not read like a bestselling novel or worse still, like an ad campaign. This can be frustrating and this is all the more so when the material to translate is a list of items where the noun should come first followed by the adjectives(s). I had an example where the client (a translation agency) thought I had used a machine translation since it seemed so literal. I always remember, when I was in the army, how things were listed. One beautiful example was:

Pot, chamber, white, Delft, emblazoned, officers, for the use of!
Try explaining that to a translation manager!

Actually, the most “dangerous” translations or rather proofreading jobs to take on are when the original client has decided to go cheap and to use his or her rudimentary knowledge of English, but of course backed up by a machine translation (no names given), to give what they think is an excellent translation which will be polished by an agency for 2 cents a word. This can be a nightmare and it would have been better to start from scratch. Of course such jobs are also URGENT. Proofreaders beware!

MK: What is your prediction for the future of human translation?

JBM: If you are talking about boilerplate legal translations, the future is not so good because of (a) machine translation and (b) competition from countries where salaries are low. Indeed Law Firms themselves are being faced with this issue where boilerplate contracts can be farmed out to India for example where there are many well qualified individuals who can provide this type of drafting for a fraction of the cost, let’s say, an American law firm would typically charge its clients.

On the other hand, a technical translation can NEVER be done with confidence by a machine. Would you like to fly in an aircraft where the Pilot’s operating manual had been translated from German or French using a machine translation? One could say, of course it will be checked by an engineer or an expert, but they cost money. Time is money. Better to get a good (human) technical translator to do the job. Which brings me to the next question.

MK: At the upcoming conference in Biarritz, France, you will be presenting on the topic of “Technical Translation: Finding the Right Words.” What can attendees to this session expect to learn?

JBM: Technical translation is a minefield where one is often confronted with choosing the right word from a list of ten possible choices. How do you make that choice? How can you avoid making a mistake in terminology because you have used what you always would when translating a word that you have known all your life, but that in fact may have a totally different meaning in a given context? I shall use as an example of this, the French word “Piste” that appeared in an aeronautics translation I did recently. You cannot have an in-depth knowledge of every field that you will be asked to translate? If you did, you might make better money as an engineer or a pilot. So how to get into the mindset of the person who has written the original document?. I shall try to help the attendees get around this problem using generic examples from translations I have worked on.


The event

Stay tuned for more interviews featuring speakers of the upcoming conference in France. This regional event is the sixth of its kind, and is scheduled to take place from September 26th to the 29th in Biarritz.

You can learn more about this exciting conference, have a look at the program, and register to attend, by visiting the event page: