Displaying items by tag: professional development

SENSE letterhead 2020

 4 June 2020

The SENSE 2020 Conference celebrates the Society’s 30th anniversary and has been months in the making. Maastricht was to be our host city and the Amrath Grand Hotel de l'Empereur our venue, but fate had a different idea in store for us. Nevertheless, thanks to the efforts of the conference team, the show must go on(line) – no mean feat with such little precedent having been set for online conferences in our sector.

SENSE Chair, Mike Gould, opened the conference with a reminder of the tough market conditions that freelancers face, which we often feel are beyond our control. He shared a pertinent statistic: 40% of the Dutch workforce consists of freelancers, a stark reminder of the vital part we play in the economy. Mike sees a role for SENSE in this context, namely as a society that offers opportunities for its members to up their skills to match demand.

Joy Burrough-Boenisch delivered the first session, contrasting the way in which brackets are used in Dutch and English and offering strategies to translate phrases dominated by brackets from Dutch into English. In English, we use brackets to add information without which a sentence would still make sense. In Dutch, however, brackets can also be used to mean ‘or’: ‘a (folding) bicycle’ describes a bicycle that either folds or does not. The problem is that this difference is not always translated accurately into English, particularly if the translator is not a native speaker of English.

Joy showed us some creative examples of similar bracket usage in English by native speakers in newspaper headlines, such as ‘the li[k]es of Facebook’ and ‘Big(ot) Brother’, despite these going against the authoritative sources on bracket usage. In essence, writers must be aware of misapplying the Dutch bracket convention in English, and translators and editors must not simply ignore bracketed material or transpose it directly, but identify what the author intended by it and translate it accordingly.

Tony Parr led the second session on translating texts for museums, as iconic places with very visible, public-facing translations. Despite institutions such as the V&A issuing and following guidelines for museum texts, a number of Dutch museums are producing substandard texts for exhibition spaces and individual exhibits. This is possibly owing to different approaches adopted by curators (who want to include a lot of detail in exhibit texts) and communicators (who seek to keep texts short and sweet). Regardless, the lack of sound language practitioner intervention seems to be a contributory factor.

Tony proceeded to show us examples of poor layouts of museum exhibit texts and their translations, like using the same font and colour for multiple languages with little space in between, or texts where the translation font is miniscule. He also presented mistranslations such as ‘entrance disabled’ and instances of misused tense, as when the present tense is used in a text referring to a historical event (a clear influence from the Dutch language). Tony also stressed the importance of offering additional information in museum translations; a Dutch speaker, for example, would know that ‘het IJ’ refers to a body of water in Amsterdam, but a non-Dutch museum visitor, not necessarily a native English-speaker, is unlikely to. However, after carrying out surveys that revealed how few people actually read exhibit texts, the crux of Tony’s message was that a shorter, summarised translation might actually be a better fit.

Emma Hartkamp gave an interesting overview of the European Commission’s DG Translation (DGT) work. MT is used at the DGT under a neural and deep learning-based system known as eTranslation, available in all official EU languages and Norwegian & Icelandic (650 combinations), including to public administrations in Member States. Great investments have been made in eTranslation within the Commission’s wider role of creating a Europe fit for the digital age. The European language industry survey 2020 confirmed trends regarding MT, and identified AI as the strongest newcomer. Technological change is not seen as a major stress factor, yet the survey revealed that there is not enough adequate training for translators in technology.

The DGT is collaborating with a network of Master’s programmes in Translation (the EMT network) to improve the quality of training and helping young graduates enter the translation job market. The EMT Competences Framework 2009-17 served as a leading reference standard for translator training and competences:

  • Language and culture: transcultural and sociolinguistic awareness (not just language learning)
  • Translation: strategic, methodological and thematic competence
  • Technology: tools, applications and MT
  • Personal and interpersonal: soft skills and collaborative & multi-cultural environments
  • Service provision: client awareness, negotiation, project management and ethics & professional standards

These form the basis for the updated competence profile for future EU translators, which will also see a sixth area added on terminology and data management, and the translation area expanded to include revision and editing. New tasks will be integrated, notably PEMT and project management, as well as new roles, such as that of language technology coordinator.

It was interesting to learn, too, that only groups of freelancers may pitch for EU/EC tenders, because it is felt that individuals will not be able to cope with translation jobs of any magnitude. The alternative is for them to continue working through the translation agencies that win the current round of tenders.

In his session, Brian Mossop outlined how we can define the amount of time that quality requires. He referred to the problem of not spending enough time to achieve quality (caused by over-confidence, distractions and not taking the job seriously) resulting in errors, literal translations and failure to identify ambiguities. Spending too much time, on the other hand – owing to either a lack of confidence or perfectionism – can produce synonyms that are no better, too much of a focus on minor aspects to the detriment of major ones and ultimately a loss of income.

In practice, translators and editors do not have much of a chance to influence the deadline, so our time must be used wisely, and we must develop a realistic concept of the quality achievable within that time. However, there is no agreement on how to define good quality. Brian shared ten criteria on how to define a good-quality translation, summed up nicely by his last point: the output is fit for purpose. This naturally hangs on the accuracy of the text, which can be interpreted differently in different contexts. Sometimes an approximation will do, sometimes omissions are appropriate and sometimes intelligent guessing is perfectly suitable. Equally, universal advice on good writing – avoid the passive, be concise and avoid noun strings, among others – should not be applied without discrimination.

Brian presented a table of four levels of quality: intelligible, informative, publishable and polished. Each has its place depending on the situation, so not every text needs to be translated to the highest level. In order to save time, Brian’s advice is: don’t get hung up on a phrase, come back to it. Use the first word that comes to mind and don’t search for synonyms for no good reason. When checking, the focus is on reading, not writing: don’t make a change for the sake of it. Check monolingually if you’re confident about the accuracy but not with the formulation, and seek to make small changes, not re-write. Ultimately, we should ask ourselves ‘why do I need to change this?’, not ‘how could this be improved?’. Brian affirmed that that we cannot spot every mistake or eliminate every chance of a misinterpretation.

Jennifer de Beyer of the UK EQUATOR Centre gave the last talk of the day. She spoke about the utility of reporting guidelines, which provide the minimum information required in an article for a reader to understand it. The aim of these guidelines is to improve writing quality and ultimately forge better research. No official body has been appointed to oversee the formulation of these guidelines, and reporting quality is inadequate – many authors have never even heard of them, choose not to use them, or do so infrequently or inconsistently.

The EQUATOR Centre teaches academic writing skills and embeds good reporting in the writing framework. That results in a clear process for writing manuscripts and an understanding of what reporting constitutes, to the extent that students can then apply these standards to other texts. Essentially, she argues, they should be applied from the get-go of research design, not only from the writing stage, when it is usually too late to apply them. Also, researchers who have shaky academic writing skills need to polish those first, when interpreting the guidelines tends to become more meaningful. Speaking to a group of language practitioners, though, she admitted that the development or fine-tuning of the reporting guidelines – or their pruning – has fundamentally lacked the input of copy-editors, translators and other wordsmiths.

SENSE letterhead 2020


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SENSE 2020 Conference goes online!SENSE2020 Goes Online

At the end of March we had to announce the cancellation of our 2020 Jubilee Conference in Maastricht. 

We were not happy having to do this, but COVID-19 thought otherwise. 

To make something positive from all the doom and gloom we are pleased to announce that the conference will now take place online in the afternoons of 3, 4 and 5 June 2020.

The pre-conference workshops we had planned in Maastricht will now take place as a series throughout May and June, so you can attend as many as you wish.

We have reduced and simplified the prices for this online format. And because these are a fraction of what they were before, there is no early-bird discount, but members of our sister societies will benefit from special rates for the conference and workshops.

You can register for a workshop or the conference up to 16:00 on the day before it starts, as long as we have received your payment, you will be sent the access codes for attending.   

Click here to register for the online conference

Please see the programme page for details and go to the events calendar to register for what promises to be a unique and exciting event. 

The SENSE 2020 Conference team
Ashley, Jenny, John, Ken, Liz, Lloyd, Marieke, Matthew, Theresa

Sponsored by PerfectIt 



Macros for Writers, Editors and Translators

Paul Beverley, United Kingdom

“If you think that macros are a ‘good thing’, you’re right!” says macro “guru” Paul Beverley, whom SENSE has invited specially to facilitate this Zoom webinar on “Macros for Writers, Editors and Translators”. Not only to appease Paul’s myriad “macro groupies” in the Netherlands but also to introduce others to the marvels of his macros.

Date: Saturday, 16 May 2020
Time: 10:00–15:00 (registration on the Zoom platform from 09:40)
Venue: Zoom video conference (registered attendees will receive the link beforehand)

During the webinar, Paul will provide you with a whole range of macros to use in your work and will also give you a chance to try them out while he’s on hand to help you if you have queries.

The day will provide you first with a conceptual framework to enable you to see what macros can do for you. You’ll also learn how they can be combined with your existing intellectual and professional abilities to enable you to work faster and to produce higher-quality documents.

If you are starting with zero knowledge of macros, the training will lead you through from square one. But for those of you who have already been using some macros, there will be plenty of scope for learning new tips and tricks. As there are well over 700 macros available (!), there is always something new to help you boost your effectiveness as a writer, an editor or a translator. So whether you are a “macro newby” or a seasoned and serious devotee, there’s bound to be something new for you to take away from the day’s sessions.

There will be one lecture-type session (first session, 10:00–11:00) to kick off with in order to explain the principles; this will be followed by two practical sessions, each introduced with a demonstration. Use your laptop, in the comfort of your own home office, to install a set of 20 new macros, and then off you go!

Take advantage of this unique offering to adopt, adapt or simply embrace macros with open arms in your work routine under the caring, expert eye of macro-creator and supplier supreme, Paul Beverley.

A brief overview of the webinar programme:
10:00–11:00 Lecture-type session to introduce you to the use of macros or to more “advanced” aspects, depending on your level of knowledge of and experience with macros in MS Word
11:00–13:00 Under Paul’s supervision, and in contact with him as and when necessary, exploring and experimenting with some of his 700 macros to your heart’s delight
13:00–14:00 Lunch break
14:00–15:00 Further exploration and experimentation, and Q&A, before wrapping up.

Register here.

About the presenter

Paul Paul BeverleyBeverley has been creating macros for use by editors and proofreaders for over 13 years. The macros (over 700 of them) are freely available via his website and are used in more than 40 countries. Despite being of pensionable age, he enjoys editing far too much to stop altogether, so he occasionally edits technical books and theses. He has also produced more than 100 training videos, so that you can see the macros in action on his YouTube channel

Take advantage of this unique opportunity to adopt, adapt or simply embrace macros with open arms in your work routine under the caring, expert eye of macro-creator and supplier supreme, Paul Beverley. We hope to see you there!

Register now for this unique SENSE online workshop and benefit from the early-bird price until midnight on 1 May.

Future competence profiles of EU translators

Emma Hartkamp, the Netherlands

The European Commission’s DG Translation (DGT) fulfils an important role as language services provider in the EU’s multilingual context, and will continue to do so in the future. As translation technology progresses and the DGT’s role and mix of resources change, so the competence profiles of its translation staff will need to be updated.

In this presentation, you will hear about current reflections on new, future-oriented competence profiles for translation staff of the different EU institutions. These will be based both on the current translator profile and on a comprehensive mapping and description of the current and future functions, roles, tasks, competencies and profiles of EU translation staff.

It goes without saying that technological developments – in particular that of machine translation – will require high-level human and linguistic competencies and that the EU institutions will continue to need highly skilled professional translators. For these reasons, the DGT collaborates with a network of MA programmes in Translation (the EMT network) in order to work towards improving the quality of training and helping young graduates to integrate smoothly into the translation job market.

Click here to register for the online conference

About the presenter

Emma Hartkamp

Emma Hartkamp works as a Language Officer for the Representation of the European Commission in The Hague. Previously, she worked as a translator and advisor at the Directorate for Translation of the European Parliament. She began her career as a freelance interpreter and translator in Paris.

Fair Trade Translation in an unfair world

Nigel Saych, the Netherlands

We don’t sell bananas or coffee beans. We don’t outsource translations to child labour in the Third World. So why do I describe Interlex Language Services as a ‘Fair Trade Translation Company’? The answer is as simple as the concept: treating translators and clients honestly and with openness means they will be loyal to you; and working with integrity helps to improve the image of a sometimes tarnished profession. Interlex is a business not a charity, but that does not mean it is solely profit-motivated. In this short presentation-cum-case study, I attempt to demonstrate how Interlex is fair to its translators and its clients but can still make a decent living by doing a decent job. And that also means being fair to oneself, because we all like to think we are doing things the right way – and we all like appreciation, however experienced we are.

Click here to register for the online conference

About the presenter

Nigel Saych

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. For several years his company has implemented a Fair Trade policy, something initially treated with caution by others in the profession, now a hot topic.

Be(a)ware of (round) brackets (especially ‘Dutch’ ones)!

Joy Burrough-Boenisch, the Netherlands

Punctuation marks aren’t always used with the same frequency or in the same way in different languages. Take round brackets (in UK English, simply ‘brackets’): in Dutch- authored texts they’re often used in contexts and registers in which in English they would be used sparingly, if at all. Although some authorities on punctuation in English say that removing brackets enclosing a word or phrase from a sentence will leave a sentence that still makes sense, if you do this to a Dutch-authored sentence, you usually end up with a grammatically correct sentence that does not mean what the author intended.

Simply removing embedded brackets (brackets enclosing part of a word, as in the title of SENSE Conference2020: ‘(Re)Vision’) certainly isn’t advisable either – yet, strangely, there’s a lack of authoritative advice about using such brackets and about their purpose(s) in English. Small wonder that interpreting and using brackets vexes most language professionals translating Dutch or working with Dutch English. Drawing on my extensive collection of regular and quirky examples, I will therefore explain, compare and contrast ways that brackets are used by Dutch authors and by English native speakers uncontaminated by Dutch usage. My aim is to make language professionals more confident about bracket usage in English.

Although the presentation is intended primarily for language professionals whose exposure to ‘Dutch’ brackets has affected their interpretation and use of brackets in English, it will be an eye opener to anyone unaware of what can happen when a punctuation mark’s conventions and practices are transferred from one language to another.

Click here to register for the online conference

About the presenter

Joy Burrough Boenisch

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.

Audience IMG 7943 X CropOnline conference fees

In line with the reduced scale of the conference programme and because both the conference and the workshops are being presented online (thanks to Zoom), the pricing for both has been simplified and considerably reduced: to attend all three half-days of the conference will now cost only € 60 for members of SENSE and € 75 for non-members. The fee for attending an online workshop is now € 30 for members and € 60 for non-members. Unfortunately, it will not be possible to book separate tickets for just one or two conference days.

When you come to register, if you can't find the option you are looking for, please contact us. 


 Category Standard fee
 SENSE members € 60.00
 Members of sister societies* € 67.50
 Non-members € 75.00


What this fee includes:

  • Three afternoons of online conference sessions 
  • Online networking time in small groups before, during and after the conference sessions 
 Workshops  Standard fee
 SENSE members   € 30.00
 Members of sister societies* € 45.00
 Non-members € 60.00


Members and non-members pay different fees to attend the online conference and workshops (membership costs only € 80 per year).  
N.B. SENSE is not registered for VAT and does not charge VAT. 

Click here to register for the online conference

Sponsored by PerfectIt

 © Images by photographer Michael Hartwigsen of SENSE’s inaugural conference, held in celebration of our 25th Jubilee, at Paushuize, Utrecht on 14 November 2015. All rights reserved.


2018 Conference

Englishes now!

trends affecting language professionals

Word skills for editors and translators

Jenny Zonneveld, the Netherlands

MS Word is one of the essential tools of our trade and mastering it will give you more time to focus on and enjoy creating beautiful language. But in order to deliver ready-to-use documents, editors and translators often have to tidy up the client’s draft first. Tackling this can be a quick-and-easy way to impress, but many language professionals lack the finer points of MS Word, so they pass up this opportunity.

Besides picking up many productivity tips, you’ll learn and practise how to tidy up a document by:

  • defining and applying styles to create a consistent layout;
  • controlling numbering and bullets;
  • applying headings to generate the perfect table of contents;
  • dealing with headers and footers in large documents with multiple sections.

If you want to focus on your clients’ message rather than on what MS Word does when you’re not looking, then this one’s for you! Focusing as it does on the practical aspects of tidying up a document rather than on the individual word features, this workshop is ideal for any language professional who wants to use MS Word more efficiently and effectively. Participants should bring their own laptop to the workshop.

Register here.

About the presenter

John Linnegar

Jenny Zonneveld has a business background. Before she became a freelance translator, copywriter, and editor over 20 years ago, she spent more than 15 years at a firm of management consultants and worked in the UK, USA, Belgium, and the Netherlands. At the start of her freelance career Jenny compiled and prepared a series of reports stretching to hundreds of pages and including many tables and images, all in MS Word. In 2002 she developed a two-day hands-on MS Word workshop for SENSE, which was presented several times. From 2004 to 2006 it was offered to translation students as part of the Editing Minor run by SENSE and the ITV School of Interpreters & Translators.

Getting to grips with connectors in English texts

John Linnegar, Belgium

An increasing number of authors are having to write in English as their SL or FL. This places the onus on copy-editors and revisors to improve authors' writing so as to render it accessible to readers. Sometimes, in order to do so optimally, grammar skills need to be honed further. The incorrect or inappropriate use of connectors (either verbal connectors or punctuation marks) is a particularly troublesome aspect of much writing that requires editorial intervention.

This workshop will focus on the devices that can be used in written texts to ensure a smooth flow and logical connections between the parts of sentences, and even between sentences themselves. Skilled use of the appropriate connectors ultimately leads to texts that convey an author’s intended meaning most effectively. Such texts are also more accessible to readers.

We will be investigating ways of using (and ‘abusing’) both verbal connectors – conjunctions, relative pronouns, sentence adverbials – and punctuation marks – in particular the comma, the semicolon, the colon, the dash, parentheses – not only correctly but also to achieve the author's intended effect or meaning.

The participants will ‘learn by doing’ by engaging with a selection of substandard texts and considering ways of making them flow more smoothly and logically, using any or all of these devices. What will emerge from this workshop is a better grasp of how to use each of these connective devices to best effect.

Register here.

About the presenter

John Linnegar

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.

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