The Nuts and Bolts of becoming an Expert Translator

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


    Specialisation is becoming an increasingly important strategy for translators in the face of global competition, pressure on prices, and the encroachment of machine translation. While these undoubtedly present a threat for the unprepared, specialisation offers insulation from these factors and may even help turn them into opportunities. The presenter will share insights gained through running a translation business and practising as an engineer for almost 20 years.
    This presentation discusses specialisation and its benefits in general terms and includes tips for any translator thinking of specialising, regardless of their chosen field. The presenter will also visit his own specialisation in engineering and invite the audience to test their terminology skills with the fun "Name that Fastener" quiz. The general part of the presentation covers topics including reasons to specialise, technical communication, the role of translation technology, and terminology. Solutions to common problems will be explored, finishing with a checklist of suggested activities for selling yourself as an expert.
    Specialisation can help freelancers and agencies to fend off downward pressure on prices and generate more interesting work. From a client's perspective, it can be worth paying more and waiting longer in order to receive a quality job from a trusted supplier. While machine translation and low-cost markets undoubtedly mean changes to our traditional roles as translators, they also have the effect of massively increasing the volume of words translated. With an increased exposure to translated content in all forms comes an awareness among some users of the limitations of lower quality options. So skilled human translation will remain of value to buyers, but they will be buying expertise from specialists.
    Translators presenting themselves as specialists must be skilled technical communicators in their target language, so the presentation explores the role of the communicator, the types of documentation to expect, and ways to improve skills. With expectations high, the expert practitioner must develop an array of strategies and techniques to help them both recognise and ensure the right level of quality. Translation technology has an important role to play, and this may even include embracing machine translation as a quality-managed tool.
    No specialist is complete without their terminology, so the "Name that Fastener" game explores this essential aspect of our work through the eyes of an engineering translator. Taking the difficulties of translating the German words for screw, bolt, pin, and stud as an example (no German knowledge required), this is a light-hearted, first-hand insight into what it can take to get things right. Some helpful tricks and tips are offered.
    The presentation concludes with a look at ways to acquire expertise and how to use this as a promotional tool. Attendees are encouraged to view their route to specialisation as a business investment and to learn how to sell themselves along the way. They can expect to go away with renewed focus on delivering the right quality to the right target audience, doing more work that interests them, and creating a more successful translation business.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2017
    EventInstitute of Translation and Interpreting Conference 2017: Working our core: for a strong(er) translation and interpreting profession - Mercure Holland House Hotel, Cardiff, United Kingdom
    Duration: 18 May 201720 May 2017


    ConferenceInstitute of Translation and Interpreting Conference 2017
    Abbreviated titleITI Conf 2017
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Internet address

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Engineering (miscellaneous)


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