Tired of the memes where the freelancer translator is the only one staying up late or working during the weekend? Yes, they might be funny, but on the flip side of the coin is the cold truth. This is how the public sees us: as poor language nerds, working from home in their sweat suits and woolly socks, doing this for the love of language.
It’s time to change this. How can language professionals position themselves as experts commanding respectable fees? A Finnish initiative by 10 experienced professional translators, ‘The Translator’s Guide to the Industry’, offers practical advice on networking, brand image and management, marketing price negotiations, and much more. The initiative has also spawned cooperation between the authors and universities that train translators, which has resulted in guest lectures, workshops and articles.
We hope to empower other self-employed and freelance language professionals to position themselves correctly as experts in the language market and to benefit from others’ best practices. We aim also to establish and strengthen professional networks both to boost sales and to provide back-up and additional language services for clients.
Tiina Kinnunen is a Finnish professional sub-titler and translator who has been working in the field for more than 30 years, and also training and mentoring numerous translators. A co-author of the Translator’s Guide to the Industry, she’s spreading the word of best professional practices at various events. She’s an active participant in translation conferences and a contributor to the university education of translators in the form of guest lectures and university visits.
To ensure the money keeps rolling in, freelance language professionals must keep their skills up to date but also follow changes in the market and in clients’ needs. Adjusting the way we run our businesses sometimes means learning new skills and even branching out into new areas. However, as freelancers we are not necessarily well equipped to make such changes on our own, and we must therefore make use of others in our network – be this in the form of a mentor or of sharing with others who are going through the same process.
In this presentation I will share with you how an increase in clients’ requests for writing services led me to get interested in medical writing. I will recount how I got in touch with others in this field and helped set up a network for science and medical writers in the Netherlands. Organising and attending events for the network has led not only to new contacts but also several new clients. I’ve also learned a lot more about using social media platforms. An additional discovery along the way is that many young scientists with language skills are looking to move away from academia and into writing jobs in the Netherlands – a move that may need the support of organisations such as SENSE.
This session will probably be of interest to language professionals – freelance or otherwise – looking to move into new areas. I hope to give you pointers on how you can use your network to explore new options, discover new talents and expand your business. Those interested in learning more about medical writing and the newly formed Netherlands SciMed Writers Network are also very welcome to attend.
Sally Hill studied biology at the universities of Sheffield and Nijmegen. A former research scientist, she works as a freelance medical writer, editor and trainer in scientific writing at Dutch universities. She finds her experience in education sometimes slows down her editing work, though using the comments function to educate her non-student clients about good writing is not necessarily a bad thing. She is a keen networker and helps organise meetings for other Netherlands-based science and medical writers. She’s also a contributor to and editor of the SENSE blog.
Translators and editors face a conflict between business pressures to produce quickly and professional pressures to achieve adequate quality. There is no easy way to resolve this conflict, but I will present some food for thought on the matter, giving special attention to two factors: attitude to the job and the difficult concept, ‘quality’. My presentation will be punctuated at intervals with opportunities to make comments or ask questions.
Brian Mossop was a French-to-English translator, reviser and trainer at the Canadian Government’s Translation Bureau from 1974 to 2014. He continues to lead workshops and webinars on revision in Canada and abroad. Since 1980, he has also been a part-time instructor at the York University School of Translation in Toronto, teaching revision, scientific translation, translation theory and translation into the second language. For more, visit www.yorku.ca/brmossop.
Simplicity. Accessibility. Readability. Is the writer’s intention understood at first reading? These are the battle cries of the Plain Language Movement. But what exactly can the editor or translator do towards making texts meet these requirements?
When editors exercise their craft, they often tend to think of the standard facets of editing: copy-editing, substantive and structural editing, perhaps with some degree of formatting or styling for consistency. The need also to apply Plain English principles seems to be overlooked far too frequently, to the neglect of the target readers. In this day and age, conveying messages simply has become an important consideration.
During this session, I shall share some of the fundamental elements for adapting texts following Plain English principles. For those unfamiliar with them, this is an undoubtedly useful skill to acquire and cultivate, because it will gain them a reputation for transforming turgid writing into attractive, accessible and readable text that readers will delight in reading. And which will reflect well on its originators. These principles include:
Thanks to the many examples of unplain and plain English to be shared with them in an accompanying handout – and some audience participation – the participants in this session will leave with a Plain English ‘toolkit’. That kit is bound to equip them with the approach and skills needed to implement such a reader-oriented approach to improving texts. That’s the plain truth.
An author and a passionate copy-editor with some 40+ years’ of manuscript improvement behind him, John Linnegar is a former teacher of English at secondary school and undergraduate levels. His specialty as an editor is law. In 2009 he published a book on common errors committed by writers in English in South Africa (NB Publishers, reprinted 2013); in 2012 he co-authored Text Editing: A Handbook for Students and Practitioners (UA Press) and in 2019, together with Ken McGillivray, wrote and published grammar, punctuation and all that jazz … (MLA Publishers). He contributes regular articles on the usage and abusage of the English language to professional bodies.
I share, in the form of accounts of a number of short tips, how I deal with being a digital nomad editor: someone without a dedicated home office who often spends periods of time away from her home base. While having the freedom to work from anywhere is an enormous privilege, it also brings potential mental and physical health problems such as loneliness, isolation, burnout, back or neck problems from staring at a laptop screen all day, and a lack of exercise because you can’t commit to classes, for example.
I share practical ways in which I have dealt with these problems, such as joining digital support communities, using ergonomic tools with my laptop, using apps to block my email account after working hours, finding a way of exercising that is not dependent on where I am located at that moment, and much more.
Marieke Krijnen is a former academic who left academia in 2017 to become a full-time copyeditor. She has since completed a number of training courses and is a member of SENSE and the SfEP. She has edited hundreds of dissertations, monographs and journal articles and is loving the freedom of freelancing while belonging to the warm and welcoming editing community.
|12:45–13:00||Welcome and opening annoucements|
Be(a)ware of (round) brackets (especially ‘Dutch’ ones)!
“I just moved on.” – Museum translations
Future competence profiles of EU translators
How much time does quality require?
|17:10–17:40||Jennifer de Beyer
Making reporting guidelines more useful in biomedical science and beyond
Using your network to branch out into new areas
Fair Trade Translation in an unfair world
From whining to shining
Honing skills through near-peer exchange
Editing in the era of digital nomadism: How I look after my mental and physical health
Setting up shop: newcomer perspectives on the translation industry
Language interference: Forewarned is forearmed
Writing effective comparisons in scientific articles
|15:20–16:40||Ashley Cowles et al
Panel: Maintaining productivity as your family grows
The plain truth: Applying Plain English principles to improving texts
|17:30–??||Closing announcements and networking time|
N.B. Programme subject to changes.
Tip! On your smartphone, scroll left and right to see all the columns.
The translation industry is changing, meaning that aspiring freelancers and recent graduates need new skill sets and different strategies to set up shop properly. If you’ve ever wondered how recent newcomers to the profession deal with game-changing developments such as PEMT, globalisation, Brexit, GDPR, cloud tools, and the ever-downward pressure on rates, don’t miss out on this panel discussion.
The panellists will discuss a broad range of topics, including acquisition, marketing for freelance translators, diversification, standing out from the crowd, and much more. In addition, we will compare today’s market with the professional starting point, back then, of the more seasoned translators and editors in the room. Has it really become more difficult to start a successful business nowadays? Or have the technological advances made everything so much easier? Finally, we’ll discuss how SENSE members can help their newest colleagues and what new recruits have to offer in return.
Jasper Pauwels is a full-time freelance translator, translating from English and French into Dutch for many translation agencies across Europe. His translation and proofreading services cover a wide range of topics, with a strong focus on legal and marketing translations. He is also a sworn translator under Dutch law. Before starting out as a freelancer in 2017, he completed two degrees in translation at two different countries. The solid foundation formed during his Bachelor of Translation degree from Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, Maastricht, was complemented and enriched by his Master’s in Translation from the University of Antwerp.
Thirty years old and a Dutch native, Branco van der Werf has been working as a freelancer since before he graduated. He specialises in transcreation and the translation of marketing materials, educational texts, and B2B copy. In addition, he is currently studying towards attaining his teaching degree for English.
Now 28 years old and the face behind Tiga Translations since 2020, Louise Wetzels received her translation diploma from Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, Maastricht, in 2014. She has almost 4.5 years’ experience working in-house at a translation agency, both as a project manager and as an English to Dutch translator/reviewer. Her fields of experience are marketing, tourism and customer-oriented texts.
Lloyd Bingham translates from Dutch, German, French and Spanish into English and is based in Cardiff, Wales. An in-house translator for three years before going freelance six years ago, he is a member of ITI and a tutor on ITI’s Setting Up as a Freelance Translator course. Lloyd has given talks on leveraging social media to build your translation business.
Nigel Saych is the founder and owner of a creative translation company based in Nuenen, near Eindhoven. No longer responsible for the daily administration, he is still very much involved as an active translator. Before his career change to become a translator, Nigel worked in international education. It is this fascination for learning, especially that involving languages, that maintains his interest in professional development for linguists, whatever their age.
People who speak several languages fluently are at risk of one language interfering with another when they write or speak, especially if the languages are closely related. As language interference is therefore likely to crop up when someone writes in their second (or third) language, language professionals need to know about it so they can recognise and deal with its manifestations in non-native-speaker texts. But language professionals living and working outside their native- language country are themselves susceptible to language interference. So, awareness of how one language can interfere with another is important for language professionals for two reasons: it improves their approach to editing non-native-speaker texts and, if they’re expats, it makes them vigilant about language interference when they write or speak in their own native tongue.
The presentation will draw heavily – but not exclusively – on examples of interference from Dutch and will focus on types of language interference in written English. It will go beyond false friends and literal translations and explore less obvious transfers from one language to another. Strategies for dealing with language interference will be discussed and the audience will be invited to share experiences. The presentation will be relevant to editors of non-native English and to language professionals at risk of language interference permeating their own writing and utterances.
Joy Burrough-Boenisch (MITI) is a founder member and past chair of SENSE with a long career as a freelance authors’ editor and translator for Dutch academics and scientists. She has taught scientific English to graduate students and has presented webinars. She has given workshops for language professionals on editing non-native English in various European countries and for the European Commission. Her conference presentations include two in 2018 as an invited speaker at ATA’s New Orleans conference. Originally a geographer, she learnt to edit in Borneo and Australia before moving to the Netherlands, where her interest in second-language interference and non-native English resulted in a PhD thesis on Dutch scientific English. As well as being the author of Righting English that’s gone Dutch (3rd ed 2013), she has various scholarly and professional publications on editing and non-native English to her name.
Writers of academic research articles are often called on to draw comparisons of many types. As these comparisons vary greatly in length and complexity, the task can pose considerable difficulties. Reference works such as Swan (2005) or the online Manchester Academic Phrasebank (2006) contain sample comparison sentences, but their advice is confined to the most basic situations. Very little support is available for more complicated comparisons, such as a description of how multiple variables are interrelated in a between-subjects research design. Another major challenge occurs in the discussion section when the author’s own results must be compared with those presented in other research articles. As pointed out by Wallwork (2011), when this is not done well, the reader can find it difficult to tell which paper an author is referring to.
During this presentation, I will illustrate these issues with examples of comparison writing taken largely from my own teaching practice. Attendees will be invited to share their thoughts on how to make these passages clearer and more concise. I will conclude with a number of guidelines for improving the quality of comparison writing in research articles. This talk should be of interest to teachers, editors and translators working with non-native authors of scientific articles.
David Barick studied musicology and English at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and has been based for many years in the Netherlands. He works as a language teacher, Dutch–English translator and editor specialising in scientific English. At the Language Centre of VU University Amsterdam, he regularly gives classes to students at master’s, doctoral and post-doctoral levels in article writing, research proposal writing and presentation skills. He has been a member of SENSE since 2012 and is the convener of SENSE’s special interest group for educators.
By putting in place a set of terms and conditions, language professionals can add an essential skill to their toolkit. Most of us don't come from a business background, but linguistic skills alone are not enough in today's challenging marketplace.
With this in mind, during my workshop we’ll explore how to approach and resolve the current imbalance in the marketplace, where, typically, the client's terms and conditions have always dominated.
The workshop will focus on the art of negotiating terms and conditions – the do's and the don'ts – how to negotiate to our best advantage, to give something but also to get something in return.
The session will teach freelancers how to build a set of terms either from scratch or by adapting those of our professional organisations which freelancers can use over and over again and adapt as necessary to all sorts of jobs.
The workshop will be as interactive as possible, with participants bringing their own experience and queries to our session.
Sue Leschen is a lawyer-linguist based in Manchester, the United Kingdom, and is the director of niche market company, Avocate – Legal and Commercial French Services. She sits on CIOL’s Council and also on CIOL’s Interpreting Division Committee and Equality and Diversity Committee. She regularly presents both face to face and by webinar on legal terminology and professional interest issues. She is also a mentor and business guru for new and existing freelancers, and actively supports the use of properly qualified, insured and security-vetted language professionals.