I was delighted this month to finally be able to start working with a sit-stand desk. Do you have one? So here, sent while I’m standing at my desk, is your June round-up of the month’s most popular stories about translation, interpreting, and language.
In this video-gone-viral made for Wired, Professor Barry Olsen explains what it’s really like to be a professional interpreter. At the time of writing it’s had 1.8 million views!
screenshot from the video ‘Interpreter Breaks Down How Real-Time Translation Works’
Finally, France’s Academie Française released guidelines on how to use certain insults properly
Members of the Academie Francaise gather at the library before an induction ceremony at the Academie Francaise in Paris on December 15, 2016. (Photo by PATRICK KOVARIK / AFP)
On a personal note, as well as translating I also do some travel writing, and this month saw the publication of the new “Insight Guide to Mauritius, Reunion and Seychelles“. This is the 3rd edition, and the 2nd edition on which I’ve worked writing and updating the “Reunion” part.
Is your voice in good shape or are you in poor voice? Do you like the sound of your own voice? (and I mean that literally, not figuratively!) This week I attended an interesting afternoon of events focusing on the voice: knowing its anatomy, how to warm up, preserve, and repair your voice, as well as tips for public speaking. Presentations from speech therapists and ENT doctors were interspersed with musical interludes by singers, including an opera singer, and a – very impressive – beatboxer.
The conference was organised by a health insurance fund which draws most of its members from the teaching profession, so there was a tendency to concentrate on issues experienced by teachers: they have a much higher rate of voice-related problems than the general public, especially if they teach primary school, music or PE, and women are four times more likely than men to experience problems. (I’ve literally heard these problems first-hand as my mother-in-law, a former teacher, has a paralysed vocal cord.) I translate and don’t teach but I do some consecutive and liaison interpreting, as well as voice talent work, and I also regularly use my voice in presentations and daily on the phone to clients and colleagues.
With speech professions, voice use is supra-physiological, i.e. we talk more and longer than other professions. Referring to voice loss, interestingly one of presenters mentioned that whispering tires the voice more than conventional speech as it forces more air than normal to pass through the passageways, something to bear in mind for interpreters who carry out chuchotage. It was also mentioned that several shorter days of speaking (e.g. three days of speaking for 4 hours) are preferable to one long day (e.g. twelve hours), although of course when interpreting we don’t always get much choice in the matter!
singers Nicole Dambreville & Pheelip Zora
Concerning public speaking I was pleased to learn that a practice I’ve often adopted instinctively – standing up when asking a question or presenting myself – is highly recommended, as is good posture and breathing. You should of course always look at your audience, and try and make sure your voice resonates from as low down in your body as possible. Keep your throat and neck muscles relaxed.
One of the overriding messages of the event was that for those of us professionals who speak regularly, the voice is an often-neglected asset that needs to be taken care of to be kept healthy. Some advice to help keep it in good shape:
drink water to keep your body well hydrated
make the most of breaks to avoid having to speak
avoid alcohol and caffeine
avoid smoking and inhaling secondhand smoke
Hopefully these tips will help you find your voice!
This month I attended the ITI 2019 conference in Sheffield. Although not a member of the UK Institute of Translation and Interpreting, I was able to attend due to my membership of France’s sister organisation, SFT. It was great to listen to some excellent, though-provoking presentations and meet colleagues old and new. I still kept abreast of social media while away from Reunion, so here is your monthly round-up of the most popular stories about translation and language for May 2019.
On a final note I was very happy to participate in outreach this week, for the second year running, at the “Responsible Women” Forum held at a local secondary school to talk to 13-year old girls about careers, ambitions, and the responsibilities that go with them.
I was delighted this month to take part in a local TV programme that interviews entrepreneurs which you can see here. Anyway here is your monthly round-up of the most popular stories about translation and language for April 2019.
This month marked an important milestone for me, as a quarter of a century ago (!) on 25th February 1994 I created the company that would eventually become Smart Translate. On a more global scale, February 21st was annual International Mother Language Day. For more on the subject of language here’s a look at the most popular stories about translation and language for February 2019.
When people talk about how to learn a foreign language, they always say that you just need to have a relationship with someone who speaks that language. Does it work ? Sure. And nothing is sexier than a cute accent at the start of a relationship, but after a few years you discover that there are some challenges that you just didn’t anticipate.
1. Despite the fact that you could speak two languages, you ONLY speak 1 with your partner.
Much like the first few weeks of marriage are dedicated to assigning certain tasks to each partner for life, for example who takes out the trash, the first few weeks of a bilingual relationship are dedicated to deciding which language you will use… FOREVER…
Even if you eventually learn your partner’s language. Perhaps by living in the country or speaking with friends or family, you will ALWAYS speak to your partner in the original language.
Speaking to your partner in any other language becomes weird…. like putting on a cold wet t-shirt….
2. You and your partner speak a combined 2 or more languages, yet neither of you can remember how to say “[Insert expression/object]” in any of them.
3. Each conversation includes some aspect of taboo, pictionary, or charades. And you are always the loser.
You would think this is an advantage for game night with friends (fantastic movie, go see it), but in reality no; you are constantly spending your time gesturing, explaining, and getting frustrated that your partner doesn’t understand you or that you can’t understand them.
Partner : Can you hand me the laces pasta?
You : Sorry, the ‘laces’ pasta?
Partner : Yeah, you know.. *gestures like tying a shoe*
You : *thinking over the options, tying shoe and laces… must be long and string like*… Ok, *hands over spaghetti*
Partner : No! Not that one! *comes over and takes farfalle/bow tie pasta*
You : OH! Tying a shoe… like bowtie… Well…FML.
4. Your partner continues to make small mistakes in your language, but they’re so cute that you refuse to correct them even after many years.
This one is actually fantastic. It’s cute, it’s a reminder of when you first met and everything was just so damn COOL! It makes even the most mundane daily task like grocery shopping a little bit more exciting.
Partner : Can you go get a chariot?
You : Yeah, sure *grinning like an idiot*
When you see on the shopping list “napkings“
5. The only things you can say in your partner’s language are : “I’m fine”, “This is delicious”, “I love you” and about 25 different curse words and swears.
The first three you learned at the start of the relationship. When you had visions of both of you becoming completely bilingual. You were eating dinner and felt like adding “this is delicious” in their language just to remind yourself that yes, your partner is foreign and thus 10 times cooler than any of your friend’s partners.
But your learning stopped there. The only other things you will learn in their language over the next 6 months to forever are the 25 different curse words that your partner will use when :
– Their computer doesn’t work
– They’re in traffic with you
– Your cat intentionally knocks the glass off the table
– You forget to put the top on the toothpaste tube the ‘correct’ way
6. Every visit to your partner’s family includes the same conversation.
Their family member (in their language) : Hello
You (in their language) : Hello
Their family member (in their language) : How are you?
You (in their language) : Fine, and you?
Their family member (in their language) : Fine… How is the food?
You (in their language) : Delicious…
Their family member (in their language) : How is your [their language]?
You : *Fuming because you want to explain that you’re not an idiot, that you just don’t have time, that your partner refuses to speak their language with you because it’s like putting on a cold wet t-shirt, and that you HAVE learned something, but that it’s only swear words so you can’t repeat that to them*….
You (in their language) : Meh… *gestures with hand so-so*
7. Your partner can never appreciate your super cool cultural references and/or sense of humor and you can never appreciate theirs.
Yes finally the bilingual relationship is not as easy as we thought, but despite all the difficulties your partner is still your better half and you wouldn’t have it any other way. Happy Valentine’s Day!
This is a guest post by Bryan Le Grand, the founder and head teacher of American Way Formation, an English training center on Réunion Island. Bryan has been an ESL Teacher for more than 10 years and has taught both children and adults of all ages in Asia and Europe. Teaching is his passion and enjoys his job the most when his students reach their English learning goals.