30 December 2014

News article links directly to dictionary

In her article entitled Tips on career rebounds for French socialists and CEOs alike in the 29 December 2014 issue of the Financial Times, Herminia Ibarra, professor of organisational behaviour at Insead business school, introduced a type of link that I have not seen previously.

In the passage
The benefits of this strategy of reculer pour mieux sauter are one reason why going back to school is such a popular tool for personal reinvention.
The expression reculer pour mieux sauter appears in italics and in blue to indicate an underlying link. The innovation lies in the fact that the link is to an online dicationary, specifically the Merriam-Webster online dicationary.
That the author, who is based in France and writing about a French ex-minister, should wish to use an excellent French idiom is hardly surprising. But to use the expression without further explanation while providing a link directly to a dictionary for the benefit of anyone not familiar with it, is both effective and innovative.

What about a translation?

A quick check using Linguee suggests that the expression frequently challenges translators. (None of the equivalents available as of this writing -- including preparing to move ahead, go back to take abetter jump forward, pull back and re-engage, and take a step back to see the big picture -- is anywhere near as effective as the original.)

Termium has a discussion of the expression here, including detailed treatment of the expression's usage with both positive and negative connotations.

To me, the Merriam-Webster translation "to draw back in order to make a better jump" sounds a little awkward. Perhaps "to pull back for a better run-up" or "to move back for a better leap", provided of course, that the connotation is positive. "Strategic retreat" is also useful on occasions.

Collins online French-English dictionary gives "(figurative) to put off the inevitable" while another edition gives "to put off the evil day", presumably for instances where the French is used figuratively and with a negative connotation.

In the passage quoted above, one reasonably satisfactory translation solution would be:
The benefits of this strategic retreat are one reason why going back to school is such a popular tool for personal reinvention.

08 December 2014

There Is No Language Instinct

Vyvyan Evans -- Professor of Linguistics at Bangor University in Wales, UK and author of The Language Myth: Why Language Is Not an Instinct (2014) -- summarised his main thesis for Aeon magazine in an article entitled Real talk (with the lead-in: For decades, the idea of a language instinct has dominated linguistics. It is simple, powerful and completely wrong.) This, in turn, was further summarised by The Browser under the heading There Is No Language Instinct as follows:
Nor a language organ. Nor, probably, a universal grammar anchoring all human languages. Chomsky’s conjectures were brilliant but wrong. Children learn language, as they do many other things, by trial and error. “Children have far more sophisticated learning capacities than Chomsky foresaw”. At the age of nine months, most children are already hard at work decoding what the adults around them are trying to say (4,200 words).
Excellent read. Highly recommended... unless of course you prefer the full thesis in Evans' latest book.

05 December 2014

WLTT and 101 Things

On 4 December 2014, the UK-based Association of Translation Companies (ATC) published a review of 101 things a translator needs to know by Wordlink Think Tank members Ian Hinchliffe and Andrew Evans.

The review begins:
Many of us remember how a hapless US Secretary of Defense was pilloried by the press and public opinion for the way he formulated his message about “known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns”. But the point he was endeavouring to make was both legitimate and important ...
As a member of the Wordlink Think Tank and a contributor to 101 things a translator needs to know I certainly agree with every word that Ian and Andy say. I also take this opportunity to point out that the article is the only report published anywhere to date on what WLTT is, how it was founded and what it aims to achieve. As Ian and Andy say:
WordLink is only one of many present and possible such constellations in the industry, but the breadth of expertise among its members and the geographical spread of their experience has taught each one of them that the scope of translation – as a trade, an art and a business – is so vast that there are “unknown unknowns” galore out there.

04 December 2014

Latest trends in media content

On 3 December, the FT's Media section featured an article by digital media correspondent Robert Cookson entitled News organisations ‘go native’ to find new source of ad revenue. While Cookson focuses primarily on the changing revenue streams of media organisations, the article will be of interest to journalists and translators in general, including technical journalists and their translators.

As has often been mentioned here and elsewhere, good journalism, like good translation, begins with a clear idea of who the audience is and how the vehicle of communication works. Cookson's article provides excellent concise background information along with key terminology on the changing media scene and how different types of 'journalism' (or whatever one wants to call it) now work.

Key terms include: sponsored content, advertorial, native advertising, paid posts (a form of sponsored content), branded content, content marketing agency,

Some quotes:
In developing these capabilities, newspapers are following a trail blazed by upstart digital publishers such as BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post and Vice Media. BuzzFeed ...
The opportunity, she says, is to “give brands a new way to talk to their audience” by creating original forms of advertising with the same journalistic flair as the publisher’s editorial coverage.
And even when an article is clearly branded, readers often struggle to interpret exactly what terms such as “sponsored” mean.
The Guardian, for example, uses “sponsored” to label “editorially independent” content produced by its journalists “to the same standards expected in all of our journalism”.

Complicating matters, it (The Guardian) uses other terms – such as “brought to you by” and “advertisement feature” – to describe content that is both paid for and produced by an advertiser.
To prevent commercial pressures from corrupting their journalism, news publishers have traditionally maintained a strict separation between their business teams and their journalists. ... Known within the industry as the “separation of church and state” ...
The New York Times has adopted a similar stance to BuzzFeed, creating all of its sponsored content within a dedicated team that sits in its advertising department.
For readers, such distinctions are subtle and easy to miss. But the increasingly close embrace between church and state within some publishers has important ramifications for the future of news.
One other aspect of potential interest to journalists, translators and their professional associations is whether they should be thinking about using such strategies to promote themselves. There's food for thought there I feel. 

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 ...