25 September 2013

Email to Gillian Tett

After uploading the post immediately below, I sent the following email to FT columnist Gillian Tett:
I'm a regular reader and great admirer. I enjoy reading your analyses and admire your writing style.

Today I posted an article on my blog entitled
FT columnist Gillian Tett discusses an idea that has crossed the mind of many a translator
(I hope the quotations won't be considered an abuse of copyright.)

Back in the 1990s I worked with a colleague on a number of annual reports for a top French engineering group.
As the clarity of the text declined and the proportion of self-congratulatory garbage rose, we spent time:
- thinking, as we read between the lines, that the company was earning much of its income from the short- and medium-term placement of engineers as a means of helping French technology companies to bypass restrictive employment laws and dressing these placements up as technical cooperation and partnerships
- wondering, if this sort of information was being misrepresented, whether the comapny's senior executives might be hiding other important information.

Shortly afterwards, the company that had been the Paris Bourse's top performer for several years was rocked by scandal and its shares plummeted.

There's no way of knowing if our insights were valid, but the events are certainly stuck firmly in my memory.

Keep up the excellent work.
Eight hours later, Gillian replied:
Many thanks - fascinating!
Gillian 

24 September 2013

FT columnist Gillian Tett discusses an idea that has crossed the mind of many a translator

On 23 September 2013, esteemed FT columnist Gillian Tett posted an article entitled Science can help to spot symptoms of executive hubris. While the science discussed is a long way from the thoughts that cross the minds of translators working on political and business texts tainted or suspected of being tainted with hubris, some of the comments are nevertheless very familiar.
"How can an investor tell if a bank is heading for danger? ... But why not analyse the words of the person running the bank?" ...
"Researchers have been looking at the speech patterns of leaders such as British politicians and bank chief executives. And this has revealed a point that we instinctively know but often forget: power not only goes to the head, but also to the tongue." ...
"Hubris has long fascinated poets, philosophers and political scientists"
... and, I would add, translators...
"Four years ago David Owen, a former British foreign minister who happens also to be a psychiatrist, tried to give the idea a firmer framework by listing 14 markers of hubris." ...
"... analysis (of letters to shareholders issued by the chief executive of a European bank) showed that during the eight years that he was in power, this chief executive also displayed rising hubris in his speech, with excessive optimism and a growing use of the royal 'we'." ...
Questions: Were these letters to shareholders drafted directly in English by the CEO or translated?
And if they were translated, shouldn't the researchers have considered (a) the originals rather than their translation and (b) to what extent 'linguistic biomarkers' are dependent on language or culture?

Gillian adds:
"If this work sparks a little more scrutiny of the people who run institutions such as banks – and helps puncture the hype – that can only be a good thing."

20 September 2013

Worth quoting

From Revolution revisited, a review of The Society of Equals, by Pierre Rosanvallon (Harvard University Press, 2013) by Daniel Ben-Ami, translated by Arthur Goldhammer:
Being French, it is more laden with erudite references and theoretical reasoning than an Anglo-Saxon equivalent would be likely to have. Nevertheless it is well worth persisting. Partly thanks to a clear translation by Arthur Goldhammer, a Harvard academic, the argument is accessible. (my italics)

19 September 2013

Deliverables

The term "deliverable" is frequently encountered in documents on localisation and globalisation, and somewhat less frequently in texts dealing solely with translation.

On 18 September 2013, in a post subtitled Deliverables are the product of certain kinds of work, Paul Ford commented:
'Deliverable' is a hilarious word, because it implies that the only quality of work that truly matters is that it is delivered — like bad take-out food or weed. A deliverable is anything as long as it’s there.
This is from Medium's Editor's pick.

18 September 2013

Map of Europe: 1000 AD to present day

The video entitled Map of Europe: 1000 AD to present day is impressive. It would, I find, have been even better if it showed the date on which each series of geopolitical changes unfolded.

Now wouldn't it be fascinating to have a map like that displaying the languages spoken across Europe (or any other large landmass) over the decades and centuries?

Cartoon power

The post mentioned below -- The most lucrative ways to specialize -- includes some interesting links.

I especially like the one to writer/cartoonist Hugh MacCleod's Gapinvoid. The presentation on Effective Visual Strategies is both informative and convincing. One slide reminds us: "Neuroscientists tell us that when words and images are combined together, they are five times more memorable than words alone".

Highly recommended.

Lucrative ways to specialise

Walt Kani's Freelancery offers advice for all types of freelancers. Walt's latest post -- entitled The most lucrative ways to specialize -- is, I believe, particularly relevant to freelance translators.

Translation and disruption #5

If the translation industry is indeed on the brink of disruptive innovation some of the things that may happen could include: change will ...