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CPD Breakdown for 2019-2020

23 July 2020 - Posted by Hélène Walters-Steinberg

Following on from my post on The importance of CPD for translators, I have decided to publish an annual summary of my CPD activities as an additional way of holding myself accountable.

 As mentioned previously, I believe that all translators should undertake continuous professional development (CPD) activities in order to refine and expand their existing translation skills and subject knowledge so they can continuously produce high quality translations.

My CPD for 2019-2020

I decided to focus on developing my skills in legal translation as I have been receiving more and more translations with legal elements. As a Chartered Linguist registered with the French Consulate in London, I perform certified translations for the French and British authorities and work on a wide range of documents, from birth/marriage certificates to lasting power of attorneys, police records, divorce documents and diplomas/transcripts. In addition to these documents related to immigration and family law, I also translate documents that involve commercial law (e.g. terms and conditions, contracts, etc.), real estate law and civil litigation. I wanted to have a stronger understanding of the concepts and terminology in this field so I took an nine-part online course on French-English-Spanish Legal Terminology and also attended a full-day workshop on Progressing your career as a legal translator. I supplemented these courses with two books: Legal Translation Outsourced, which highlighted best practices for legal translators and the Guide pratique de la traduction juridique, which provided specific translation advice. My objective was to develop my understanding of legal practices in France and in the UK and to learn the specific terminology used in each field. Using my notes from these courses, I compiled glossaries for each area of law that I can now use as reference for future translations.

 I also attended a two-day conference for translators organised by the Institute of Translation and Interpreting where I learned more about specialised translation for non-fiction and illustrated books, how to define and improve quality in specialised multilingual services, how to collaborate with colleagues to expand horizons and how to showcase our profession.

 Finally, I worked on my technology skills, which I believe to be vital for any modern business, by attending a conference on Office 365 and a webinar on software to help translators be more productive.

 The Institute of Translation and Interpreting recommends that its members undertake a minimum of 30 hours of CPD per year. For 2019-2020, my total was 55 hours, which I’m rather proud of!

If you are interested in seeing a specific breakdown of my CPD activities for 2019-2020, you can access the spreadsheet here.

My CPD for 2020-2021

What will be the focus of my CPD activities for 2020-2021? As always, I will be continuing to develop my technology and business skills, but my specific focus for this year will be editing. I am an entry-level member of the Chartered Institute of Editors and Proofreaders and am working towards Intermediate membership. To do this, I will be taking courses on academic editing, as I offer translating and editing services for researchers and would like to further hone my skills in this specialised area. I am very interested in the Plain English movement and plan to take a course and do some reading on the topic. Finally, I also plan to develop my writing skills by taking a course on Copywriting.


What is a house style and does my organisation need one?

23 October 2019 - Posted by Helene Walters-Steinberg

What is a house style and does my organisation need one?

A house style is essentially a set of rules regarding the writing and presentation of the documents produced within your organisation. From a visual perspective, it can set out the font style and size, the colours to be used and the placement of the logo, for example. This ensures that all your documents are consistent and strengthens your brand image. Many large organisations have their own style guide, which must be followed for all documents produced for an external audience, such as white papers, journal and blog articles, and publications. The style guide does not reiterate the basic rules of grammar but provides a reference for which choices to make. This can include topics such as British vs. American spelling, hyphens, smart capitals in titles, abbreviations and italics.


Why are house styles useful for translators?

By providing your translator with your organisation’s style guide, they can ensure that the translation fits in with your current publications. By providing them with a detailed brief of what you are expecting, through the style guide, you can cut down on the number of questions they will need to ask you (thereby speeding up the process) and increase the quality of the final translation.


Where can I find a template style guide?

Right here! I have put together a template style guide based on those I use regularly in my business. It will allow you to clarify your preferences regarding spelling, hyphenation, italics,  numbers, dates, punctuation, references, acronyms and abbreviations, currencies, bulleted lists, and titles and headings.


What if I want a style guide but don’t want to set the preferences myself?

You can always use an existing style manual if you don’t want to take the time to set the individual preferences. Some of the most common style guides for British English are the Oxford Style Manual (formerly known as Hart’s Rules), the Guardian and Observer style guide, the Telegraph style book and The Time Style Guide. For American English, have a look at the AP Stylebook, the Financial Times style guide, the APA Style Guide or the Chicago Manual of Style. Or for a book that can be used for both types of English, see The Economist Style Guide.

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Book Review: Legal Translation Outsourced (J. R. Scott)

13 August 2019 - Posted by Helene Walters-Steinberg

Juliette Scott’s Legal Translation Outsourced serves as a bridge between practitioners of legal translation and research into language and law. It offers an analysis of the key risks and constraints for commercial legal translation and also puts forth original theoretical models to assist legal translators and other stakeholders.

Although the field of legal translation itself is quite vast, legal translators often specialise in specific areas (such as corporate documents, financial-legal documents, notarial documents, court-related documents, insurance documents, legislation, certificates or patents). Legal translators need to be familiar with the subject matter, which can be highly technical, while also mastering information technology (such as CAT tools or electronic corpora) and possessing intercultural competencies.  Legal documents often follow codified rules of writing and presentation, with which legal translators need to be familiar in order to ensure that their translation meets the genre conventions that the readers expect to see. 

Scott mentions the use of electronic corpora several times in this book. Although most translators are familiar with CAT tools (Computer-Assisted-Translation), the use of electronic corpora is not yet widespread. Scott argues that electronic corpora could help legal translators solve issues such as collocations (e.g. whether to use “hold harmless from” or “hold harmless against”), therefore making the target text more acceptable to its intended audience.

One of the issues facing legal translation is that the translators are often not in direct contact with the commissioners of the translation. As a result, they are not always aware of the expectations they need to meet. Translations should always be fit for purpose, but if the translator is not aware of that purpose they may struggle to make certain linguistical and textual decisions. However, if the translator has been correctly briefed, then this brief can be used to assess the quality of the final translation.  According to the Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation  published by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the key elements a translator must be aware of are the target audience, the purpose, the style relevance and reference materials. Logistical constraints such as the amount of time allocated for the translation task, the size of the budget (which may determine the extent of revision and proofreading) and file formats must also be taken into account.

After analysing past research on translation briefs as well as some of the guidelines published by the British Council and the European Union, Scott provides her own preliminary list of legal translation brief components:

  •          Intended purpose of source and target texts
  •          Genre of source and target texts
  •          Legal status of source and target texts
  •          Reference material
  •      Legal systems and laws governing the source and target texts
  •          End-user of target text.

She also suggests using the words “document for translation” (instead of “source text”) and “translated text” (instead of “target text”) to make things clearer to clients who are not necessarily aware of the jargon used by translators.

The next part of the book focuses on the results of an in-depth survey she sent to lawyers and translation agencies operating in the legal field. The detailed analysis provided allows her to refine the preliminary list of translation brief components and put forward a legal translation brief. This comprehensive brief allows translators to obtain all the information they need to provide a high-quality translation that is fit-for-purpose. I would highly encourage colleagues working in the field of legal translation to read this book and to develop their own translation brief based on her model.

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What is ISO 17100 and what does it mean for translation clients?

24 July 2019 - Posted by Helene Walters-Steinberg

ISO 17100:2015 is the internationally recognised standard for translation from the International Organisation for Standardisation. It was created in 2015 to replace quality standard EN 15038, which ensured the consistent quality of translation services.  Unlike EN 15038, ISO 17100 sets minimum standards and qualifications for translation professionals and defines specific translation steps to be followed in order to achieve quality.

It is worth noting that this standard does not apply to interpreters.

What does a translator need to prove in order to be ISO 17100:2015 Qualified?

The requirements for ISO 17100:2015 are divided in three parts:

-          Qualifications and Experience: translators must have:

o    “a certificate of competence in translation awarded by an appropriate government body”

o   OR a graduate degree in another field and the equivalent of 2 years full-time professional translation experience

o   OR five years of full-time professional experience in translating.

-          Continuing Professional Development (CPD): translators must record the courses, reading and research they undertake each year to maintain their skills. While the ISO standard doesn’t set a minimum requirement, many professional translators’ organisations do (e.g. the Institute of Translation and Interpreting recommends that all its members undertake 30 hours of CPD in each membership year).

-          Competency:

o    Translation: the ability to translate texts, including addressing source and target language problems

o   Linguistic and textual skills in the source and target languages

o   Research, information acquisition and processing skills

o   Knowledge of the source and target cultures

o   Knowledge of the source text domain

What is the translation process set out by ISO 17100:2015?

1-      Translation and check by the translator

2-      Revision by a second linguist ­(also known as bilingual editing)

3-      Review (an optional step designed in order to assess the suitability of the translation against the agreed purpose and domain)

4-      Proofreading (an optional final check before printing)

What does it mean for you if a translator (or translation company) says they are ISO 17100:2015 Qualified?

First of all, it is proof of quality. You can be confident that they are working to a recognised international standard. In addition, most translators who make the effort to fulfil all the requirements and obtain the ISO Qualifications are forward-thinking professionals who continuously try to ensure they provide the best quality translation. You will also know that at least two qualified professionals have worked on the translation, thus increasing its quality.

It also makes it easier for you to find translators you can trust. By searching for members of professional associations who have met this standard, you can streamline your research process and easily find high-quality professional standards for the language combination and area of specialisation you need.

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Book review: Guide pratique de la traduction juridique (F. Houbert)

08 July 2019 - Posted by Helene Walters-Steinberg

Frédéric Houbert’s Guide pratique de la traduction juridique is intended for university students and translation professionals. It provides a clear overview of issues related to legal translation and includes an index, a glossary and a detailed bibliography.

In the first part of the book, Frédéric Houbert presents the main characteristics of legal language in English and in French and the specificities of legal translation from English to French. In the second part, entitled “Culture and legal translation”, he focuses on specific topics such as the translation of culture-bound terms and  the translation of film titles containing legal expressions, . Finally, the last section of the book, is a selection of 16 legal documents translated with commentary, providing a practical illustration of the points mentioned in the rest of the book.

I very much enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to all those who are interested in legal translation from English to French or French to English. Its practical focus, with the commented translations at the end of the book and the many examples provided for each point, makes it quite suited to translation professionals who are starting to specialise in the field of legal translation or who would like to refresh their knowledge on the topic. Application exercises are provided at the end of each chapter, although unfortunately the answers are not provided, which reduces their utility somewhat.

The author has also compiled an excellent dictionary, which is a good addition to this volume. While the Guide pratique de la traduction juridique sheds some light on the complexities of legal translation and culture, the Dictionnaire de terminologie juridique works as a quick reference for legal terms and concepts, as it provides numerous explanations with translation suggestions.

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