The American Translators Association is now accepting presentation proposals for the ATA 59th Annual Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, October 24-27, 2018.
What would you like to learn at the next ATA conference?
The American Translators Association is now accepting presentation proposals for the ATA 59th Annual Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, October 24-27, 2018.
What would you like to learn at the next ATA conference?
Review by Ekaterina Howard
At ATA conferences I make attending Chris Durban’s sessions a priority (even SLD’s Ru>En slam could not tear me away), and to me they invariably become one of the highlights of any conference.
This year’s session tied in nicely with the session on blind spots at ATA57, which effectively became the primary source of my business development plan for 2017 (as easy as that!).
In the “Working with Direct Clients. For Real.” Session Chris Durban addressed the most common constraints that prevent translators from moving out of the mass-market segment (although some direct clients can be mass-market, too) into the premium segment (which is where recognition, satisfaction and high rates come together).
The main constraints are:
To start working with direct clients:
If you are considering working with direct clients, for real or hypothetically, you might want to look up The Prosperous Translator — Advice from Fire Ant & Worker Bee at https://prosperoustranslator.com/, follow Chris Durban’s blog at https://chrisdurbanblog.com/author/christinedurban/, or read a review of the first Business Acceleration Masterclass for Translators and Interpreters by Jayne Fox: http://foxdocs.biz/BetweenTranslations/business-tips-translators-chris-durbans-masterclass/.
Even if you feel that you are not quite ready yet, it is not too early to start getting ready to move towards working in the direct client segment. I believe that one of the most important things you could do is not learn how to market yourself (although this won’t hurt), but continuously work on your translation and writing skills.
If you are an SLD member, you can join the SLD Certification Exam Prep Group to exchange translations with other participants and discuss the challenges on a monthly basis. If you would like to up the ante, consider participating in SLD translation slams, either by submitting a slam proposal for the next ATA conference, or by volunteering to join a virtual slam. Those are all great starting points for working on your translation skills, and I hope that someday there will be an event similar to “Translate in…” (in 2017 it was in Quebec City – http://www.ontraduitaquebec.com/en/about/) for Slavic languages.
On that note, I invite you to share your collaboration experiences, your stories of growing as a translator, and your tips on working with “dream” direct clients.
Ekaterina Howard is an English to Russian and German to Russian translator working with marketing materials. She is the current Administrator of the Slavic Languages Divisions. You can follow her blog at http://pinwheeltrans.com/blog, stay in touch on Twitter (@katya_howard), or connect with her on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/ekaterinahoward). If you would like to become SLD’s next translation slammer, you can reach her at email@example.com.
Review by Anna Livermore
The session titled “Search Engine Optimization: Website and Social Media Localization,” presented by Laura Ramírez, a lecturer at the department of translation studies at the University of Illinois, was one of the highlights of my visit to this year’s ATA conference. The content of the session was exactly as promised in the title (with one small exception), the subject matter was very relevant, the delivery was professional, and the examples were on point. I came away wishing the slot for the presentation had been twice as long.
First of all, Ms. Ramírez drew a distinction between SEO (Search Engine Optimization) & SEA (Search Engine Advertising), which together make up SEM (Search Engine Marketing). She explained why different approaches are required when dealing with the 2 parts of SEM, both in terms of strategy as a website owner and impact on the translation. The better a translator understands the workings of SEM, the better they will be able to serve their clients’ needs and add value with their service.
Organic SEO is a strategy that yields better long-term results, but its ROI is notoriously hard to calculate. Essentially, by using SEO clients optimize their content for better indexability by search engines, thus affecting the rank the webpage is assigned when users search for certain keywords. In order to appear in the top search results, companies employ a combination of tactics: building good links, writing good content, using proper indexing, and integrating social media and blogs. It is time consuming for the client and, when translated into another language, it needs to retain all its parts from the obvious (content, URL name) to the subtle (meta tags and keywords). Those who offer website translation/localization services should remember that different search engines use different approaches to language tagging and educate themselves about the concepts of geo-targeting used by the search engines of their target region.
SEA, on the other hand, yields quick results and the ROI is easy to calculate, making it suitable for short, targeted campaigns. However, the conversion rates are lower (due to lack of consumer trust towards this kind of advertising) and it is an expensive option. When translating keywords for SEA, it is important to remember that repetition is good. Also, translated keywords will (or should) change depending on the target segment, audience, location etc.
As Ms. Ramírez pointed out, CAT tools are a good option for translating this kind of content: it tends to be repetitive, and consistent use of the same keywords is beneficial to a given ad’s ranking. One should also be aware of the limits set on the number of characters that can be used for ad headlines or ad descriptions, as it might become an issue when translating in certain language pairs: for instance, when translating English into Russian, the latter tends to require more characters.
Ms. Ramírez made an interesting point about translating SEA: the process can feel counterintuitive at first to translators who aim to produce a perfect translation. In this case, a functional approach serves better for creating the desired impact, which is to sell the product or service. When translating SEA text, one should always keep in mind the end user: what search term spellings are they likely to use, are there any regional variants to keep in mind, are there any synonyms that should also be included in the keywords, are there any other variants one should consider, such as calques from the source language and misspelled words (a quick Google search illustrates just how many ways there are to misspell the word pregnant).
Summarizing some of the characteristics of SEA language, Ms. Ramírez highlighted the use of calques, elliptical constructions, unusual punctuation (exclamation marks, apostrophes etc.), abbreviations, using all CAPITALS, and mixing registers when addressing the audience (using equivalents of Russian ты and вы in the same ad), which should all be reflected in some form in translation.
Drawing on her experience as a lecturer and a freelance translator, Ms. Ramírez noted another characteristic of SEA that influences the translation process: clients might ask for several equivalents for one keyword, and they will ultimately decide which one will be used.
The last notable point covered during the session is the importance of knowing how search engines other than Google work. This is significant because other markets might not use Google as their primary search engine: Yandex is the main search engine in Russia and Baidu plays that role in China. And although the essentials of the search engine functionality are largely very similar, there are some elements that differ and might impact the localization process.
Ms. Ramírez also covered practical aspects of managing ads, matches and click-through rates, as well as various tools for managing keywords and best practices for writing ads. With so much valuable information to deliver, there unfortunately was no time left to look at social media techniques and their impact on translation process, and I look forward to a future presentation where these would be covered.
Anna Livermore is an English>Russian and German>Russian translator and former marketing specialist. With a linguistics degree from the Oxford Brookes University and a Professional Diploma in marketing, she came to specialize in translating marketing materials, corporate communications, website content and various components of SEM. She is a member of the Slavic Languages Division’s Social Media team. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Maria Guzenko
The Slavic Languages Division exam practice group is entering its second year. The background and activities of the group were covered in detail in our SlavFile article and a subsequent ATA Chronicle column. Now is a good time to report on how the group is doing.
To this end, the administrators of the group (currently Eugenia Tietz-Sokolskaya and Maria Guzenko) conducted a brief survey among group participants in late summer of 2017. We received responses from 21 group members. Although our sample was too small to be talking about any trends, we thought it may be interesting to share some numbers. The respondents had the option to skip questions, so some of our numbers will not add up to 21.
Of all respondents, 15 (71.4%) reported working in the English to Russian pair, 10 (47.6%) in Russian to English, 2 (9.5%) in English to Ukrainian, and 1 (4.8%) in Ukrainian to English, Polish to English, and French to English, each. Respondents had the option of choosing more than one combination.
Most participants (90%) were located in the United States, with one person located in Poland and Ukraine each. English to Russian was the most popular language combination for practice (14 respondents), followed by Russian to English (11), English to Ukrainian (2), Polish to English (1), and English to Polish (1). Unfortunately, none of the respondents reported joining the practice group in the Ukrainian to English, Croatian to English, and English to Croatian directions.
Nine respondents (42.9%) had taken a certification exam before joining the practice group. Of those respondents, 4 did so in the English to Russian combination, 3 in Russian to English, 1 in Polish to English, and 1 in English to Ukrainian. Six of the participants who had taken the exam reported failing, while 2 reported passing.
Most of the respondents (66.7%) were planning to take the exam in the next year, with only 19% not planning to, and 14.3% undecided. The combinations in which candidates planned to take the exam were as follows: 12 English to Russian, 6 Russian to English, 1 Ukrainian to English, and 1 English to Ukrainian.
Thirteen (61.9%) of all participants reported taking the official ATA practice test, 8 in the English to Russian direction, 4 in Russian to English, and 1 in Polish to English.
By the time the survey was distributed, 33.3% (7) of the participants had taken the certification exam. The most popular exam directions were English to Russian (3), Russian to English (2), Ukrainian to English (1), and Polish to English (1). 57.1% (4) reported failing, and 28.6 % (2) reported passing, with the remaining respondent waiting for their result. Since then, we have heard from at least three more participants that they had passed.
Of all participants, 23.8% reported participating in the group weekly, 28.6% monthly, 19% occasionally, and 28.6% had ceased to participate in the group’s activities. Of those no longer actively participating, 50% said they planned to return to the group in the future, 33.3% answered “maybe,” and 16.7% (1 person) was not planning to resume participating.
On a scale of 1 (worst) to 5 (best), the average rankings for the following categories were:
Most participants (44%) found the feedback received from their peers “very useful,” 33% “somewhat useful,” 11.1% “not very useful,” and 11.1% “have not received feedback.”
We also received some useful verbal feedback from the respondents, which was covered in the Chronicle column. In a nutshell, most participants appreciated the group, although some wished the online platform were easier to navigate, participation were steadier, and peer feedback were more consistent.
We plan to continue and expand practice group activities in the coming year. To join us as a participant or volunteer reviewer, please get in touch with Eugenia (email@example.com) or Maria (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Maria Guzenko is an English>Russian translator working in the healthcare and corporate domains. She holds an MA in Translation from Kent State University and has worked as a translation project manager and a Russian instructor. She is a co-administrator of the certification exam online practice group for ATA’s Slavic Languages Division.
Review by Tyler Langendorfer
Last month at the ATA’s 58th Annual Conference in DC, John Di Rico presented the session “Selling Your Translation and Interpreting Services,” a talk focused on the techniques required to successfully acquire and retain direct clients. Di Rico, a French-to-English translator as well as Sales and Marketing Manager for WordFast, advocated a “customer-centric” approach that encouraged sellers to rethink their own views on the buyer-seller relationship.
Di Rico began his talk with a sample email from a prospective buyer and asked audience members to form groups in order to discuss how they might respond. After each group shared their ideas, Di Rico would outline his recommendations, then ask the groups to again brainstorm solutions to another series of questions. During the initial rounds of discussion, Di Rico drew attention to the most important details a seller ought to obtain initially: the name, title and company of the prospective client; how they found out about the seller; the buyer’s present goal; and the challenges they have with their current process. Once these have been identified, the seller can move on to the next step and compose a champion letter for the potential client.
A champion letter is perhaps the most important communication effort in the buyer-seller relationship, as it underscores why the buyer should choose the seller’s services. It also demonstrates a strong degree of professionalism and courtesy. According to Di Rico, it has five parts: a statement of goals (or shared goals), a summary of the current situation and the capabilities required to address it, at least one potential benefit from the seller’s services, and the next steps should the buyer maintain their interest.
Other advice of note included Di Rico’s statement that sales is a conversation, one that requires patience and a strong willingness to find solutions for the buyer. Also, to build a strong, personable relationship with a buyer early on, Di Rico advised that the seller try to schedule a phone call in their first email response. Lastly, the seller should not invest too much time in obtaining a client that is uncooperative in providing the info needed to conduct their business.
For this writer, Di Rico’s approach seemed reasonable and well worth considering. Although not all his recommendations may have been new to session attendees, it was beneficial to closely examine the techniques sellers utilize when they interact with prospective buyers. Perhaps the most salient takeaway was Di Rico’s emphasis on making sure that the seller understands the buyer’s needs and that they work with them to reach a solution. Even with the focus on direct clients, translators and interpreters can nonetheless incorporate Di Rico’s recommendations into their relationship with agencies, as they could also benefit from a heightened sensitivity to a project manager’s needs. Furthermore, customer-centric selling enables the seller to rethink the value of their services and may provide for a renewed sense of purpose in their professional goals. In other words, what does it mean to translate or interpret, for the sellers themselves, the buyers, and perhaps also the greater social good.
Tyler Langendorfer (email@example.com) is a translator of German and Spanish specializing in marketing, social sciences, and humanities translation. He is a participant in the ATA Mentoring Program and has been studying Russian independently since 2014.
The summary of the most recent ATA Board meeting is available on the ATA website. You need to log in to view it: http://www.atanet.org/
This material first appeared as a guest post on the NOTIS blog at https://www.notisnet.org/Blog/5012686. Published with permission and additions from the author.
By Viktor Slepovitch, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Department Chair, Department of Business English, Belarus State Economic University (Minsk, Belarus)
In the process of reading a translated text in this or that specific area of studies, one normally does not focus on the fact that the text being read is a translation. The reader’s attention is in fact drawn to the subject-matter of the text. What might possibly make us aware that we are dealing with a translation is a multitude of translation faux pas. The best way to avoid them is to adequately understand the situational subject-matter and the context, which in fact is an essential part of a translator’s competency and professionalism.
Situational subject-matter includes the persons, objects and phenomena found in the text, as well as the relationships between them. According to translation and interpretation scholar E. Breus, the same extralinguistic situation can be perceived and described differently in different languages.  Clearly, without situational subject-matter awareness, a translator is not able to produce an adequate translation and fully convey the message meant by the author in the source language.
The situational subject-matter awareness is vital for understanding what the original text is about. To illustrate this statement, the following examples are quite appropriate:
ENGLISH – RUSSIAN: Why is it that smokers always head out coatless, no matter what the weather? (Head out – выходят из здания на улицу = are leaving the building rather than стремятся выйти or направляются = are trying to leave or are headed for.) 
RUSSIAN – ENGLISH: Библиотечный фонд университета составляет полтора миллиона экземпляров книг. (Библиотечный фонд is not the library fund, which would be a word-for-word translation, but the number of books held.) 
Without situational subject-matter awareness, the wrong translation is unavoidable. In a TV program about rock musicians of the 1980s who arranged concerts for charity, it was said that the musicians called themselves representatives of the Band Aid generation. According to Wikipedia, the term originated from a charity super-group featuring mainly British and Irish musicians founded in 1984 to raise money for anti-famine efforts in Ethiopia by releasing the song “Do they know it’s Christmas?”.
The translation of this phrase into Russian came out as поколение групповой помощи (literally “the generation of group assistance”), which was not correct. The word Band-Aid (originally meaning a brand of an adhesive bandage) was split into two words by the translator: band (a musical group, as in jazz band) and aid (assistance).
The context, however, made it clear that the rock musicians considered it their mission to provide emergency aid for the needy—just like a Band-Aid is used for emergency purposes, e.g., when a person accidentally cuts his/her finger. The translator should have used a metaphorical expression, but the major challenge was to understand the situational subject-matter for the purpose of conveying the meaning in Russian.
The context is what makes it easier to understand the situational subject-matter and produce the correct translation, taking into account what and how they say/write in this or that situation in the target (Russian) language.
That said, a translator should not overdo it by trying to produce a special effect in the process of translation. The following example seems to be a good illustration of this statement.
In May 1995, an American was interpreting during the meeting between Clinton and Yeltsin in the USA. Russia’s President sarcastically said, “Вот вы, журналисты, предрекали провал. На самом деле это вы провалились”. This is what the interpreter said: “You, journalists, said it would be a disaster. In fact, you are a disaster.” (Clinton is laughing.)
Perhaps in that situation it would have been more appropriate to use the verb to fail: “You journalists predicted failure. In fact, it’s you who have failed.” The word disaster was too strong, and was surely a case of the interpreter “overdoing” the interpretation. 
Summarizing the reasons for failing to understand the situational subject-matter of an utterance, it is possible to identify the following ones:
All the above means that situational subject-matter awareness — as an important translation issue — should be considered as an indispensable skill in translation and interpretation, alongside with such skills as:
For Russian theater lovers, Russian languages fans and anyone looking for new and fun ways to keep improving their Russian language skills, this screening and streaming program is a great option.
Stage Russia shows a variety of classical and contemporary plays staged by leading Russian theaters with English subtitles. As a Muscovite, I am delighted to have access to Satirikon’s Seagull and to be able to see other performances that would have been unavailable to me otherwise. Even if you are not a die-hard Butusov fan, you might enjoy other Stage Russia recordings, from Uncle Vanya to Drillalians.
It is also possible to organize viewings for colleges and to request viewings at local libraries (for free or for a licensing fee): https://www.stagerussia.com/streaming.
Read more about the project here. And, if you go to a screening, please consider writing a review for SlavFile or for SLD blog!
Teachers hold a special place in our hearts as we go through life. Language teachers play a particularly crucial role in our education as linguists. Unfortunately most of us rarely express our appreciation for the gift of knowledge bestowed on us by teachers. I am therefore happy to spread the word that one of my former professors, James Augerot, Professor Emeritus of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Washington (Seattle), will be publicly honored for a lifetime of service to his profession, and more specifically to U.S. – Romanian relations.
Dr. Augerot (aka “Big Jim”) will be presented a lifetime recognition award by the Romanian Ambassador to the US. Why Romanian, you may ask? During the Cold War, Central and Eastern European languages were often lumped together, regardless of language group, based on geopolitical boundaries. Hence a scholar of Romanian found his academic home in the Slavic department. Fortunately for those of us who did not study Romanian, Jim was also an excellent professor of Russian, Bulgarian, Old Russian, Old Slavic and more. I especially appreciate having studied morphology (The Structure of Russian) with Big Jim.
Nov 9, 2017, HUB 332, UW, 6 pm: Lifetime Recognition Award to be presented to Prof. Emeritus James E. Augerot by Romanian Ambassador to the US, George Maior.
The ATA 58th Annual Conference is now less than a week away. We look forward to meeting new SLD members and reconnecting with the colleagues we already know.
We have several reminders for the SLD members coming to the conference – before you start your journey to Washington, D.C., make sure you are not going to miss any of the SLD events that interest you.
If you are a first-time attendee, welcome!
You’ll be able to meet with SLD members even before the sessions start at the SLD table at the Welcome Celebration. We also recommend participating in the Buddies welcome Newbies program, and attending the SLD Newcomers Lunch (Thursday, October 26, 12:30 pm) – please remember that registration for this event closes on Friday, October, 20.
Read more about the SLD Newcomers Lunch here. Remember that this event is open to both newcomers and those who have already attended ATA conferences in the past.
In addition to organizing the newcomers lunch, Jen Guernsey has prepared a blog post with advice for the first-time attendees. You can read it here. Natalie Mainland, a recent first-time attendee, shares her experience and offers advice in this post. If you would like to read other conference reviews by first-time attendees, the Summer/Fall SlavFile Preview issue has a list of articles going back to 2004.
This event will take place on October 26, from 7pm to 10 pm at Meze. You can find detailed instructions on registration and information about the event here. While we do offer an opportunity to register at the Welcoming Celebration, we would very much like to have as many attendees as possible register before October, 20. Please register now to avoid possible cancellation!
This year we are running sign-up sheets for SLD members who would like to explore Washington, D.C., Slavic food scene. Additional information and a link to the sign-up form are available here.
While going out with fellow SLD members is an important part of the conference experience, it is not all that we do.
In addition to that we encourage all SLD members to attend the Annual Meeting on Thursday at 4:45 pm to 5:45 pm. This is an opportunity to discuss the division initiatives, find out about division plans, meet other members and help shape the future of our division. SLD Annual Meeting agenda has been published in the 2017 Summer/Fall SlavFile issue on page 24.
Even if you are not willing to take on a specific position as a member of the Leadership Council, you can still contribute to the division. For example, we would love SLD members and other conference attendees to share their experiences and/or reviews of non-Slavic sessions. Read a post from Eugenia Tietz-Sokolskaya, the SLD Blog Editor, to find out more.
Please remember that there is a new badging policy in place: do not forget to wear your attendee badge for any conference events and activities.
If you would like to attend one of the SLD events, please remember to register in advance, by October, 20, for both Newcomers Lunch and Annual Dinner.
Lastly, please consider contributing to the division, either by attending the Annual Meeting or by submitting a review, a post, or a SlavFile article.
We wish all attendees an exciting time in Washington, D.C., and hope to see you there!