Last week, I attended Translate in Quebec City, a conference for premium-market French<>English translators. It’s the latest in a series of conferences that began with Chris Durban’s Translate in the Catskills back in 2009. This was my third time attending this master class series (I missed last year’s “Translate in the Townships,” but heard it was excellent!); the instructors are some of the most dynamic translators in the industry and it’s always a good chance to talk shop with other French to English translators. Thanks to Grant Hamilton of Anglocom for organizing this edition!
I live-Tweeted during many of the sessions under the hashtag #TIQC, so if you want the whole shebang, you can read the TIQC hashtag stream. In this post, I’ll focus on some of the overall takeaways from this conference: I had to leave before the Saturday sessions, but I attended:
- Chris Durban and Ros Schwartz’s translation slam (two translations of the same French text)
- Grant Hamilton‘s “One size doesn’t fit all” (how to avoid knee-jerk translations)
- Chris Durban’s “Ringing in the New Year in translation” (translating holiday cards and messages)
- David Jemielity’s “Deixis: the sequel” (using correct expressions for time and space in translations)
- Grant Hamilton and François Lavallée’s “Two exercises, two languages, twice as much to learn” (translating in the opposite direction)
- Chris Durban’s “Working with constraints: reconciling words and images” (translating animations and dynamic content)
- Grant Hamilton’s “Style to the rescue of technical texts” (finding a role for good writing in informational documents)
- Ros Schwartz’s “Literary translation: a hands-on workshop translating two stories by Quebec author Gilles Pellerin” (literary translation workshop with the author in attendance)
First of all, this conference reminded me that every freelancer should be spending at least 5% of his/her income on professional development. I made that number up, but you get the point: I’m guessing that most freelancers spend much less than that. And if you’re not growing professionally, you’re stagnating. So how about this: by what percentage would you like to increase your income next year? Spend that percentage of *this* year’s income on professional development, and I bet that you’ll reach your goal.
Second, mixing things up is a really valuable exercise. At this conference, I did lots of linguistic exercises (translating into French, translating fiction, thinking about philosophy) that I almost never do in my daily work. And no surprise, it really gets the neurons working in new ways, which can lead to some cognitive breakthroughs.
Third, this conference reinforced Chris Durban’s oft-repeated truth that “the gap between the bulk and the premium markets is growing.” The premium market requires a very different mindset. For example, Chris noted that many bulk-market translators spend a lot of their time ranting about clients (clients are idiots, clients don’t respect or understand translators, clients are out to squeeze every last drop of blood out of a translator and then leave them to die in a gutter, and so on). Two problems: this fosters a negative mindset about clients in general (so that you assume *every* client is an idiot), and this takes time and energy away from finding clients who get it, are willing to pay well or even very well, and value your work. And they’re out there, probably looking for someone like you!
Fourth, conferences are tons of fun, assuming that you pick the right ones. They’re as close as we freelancers get to paid vacation, so take advantage of them. Also, don’t skip the social events. I know, when you’re paying a fair bit of money for the registration fee, plane ticket and hotel, it’s tempting to skip the optional stuff. But that’s where you really get to talk to people, instead of just saying hello and goodbye between sessions.
And on that note, don’t forget that the early bird deadline for this year’s ATA conference (November 6-9 in San Antonio, Texas) is October 1! Here’s the information on that.
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