n my last post, I tried to convince you that translators and hairdressers essentially do the same job: we look after your image, make you look neat and professional, and we do it in our own ways according to our own experience and expertise. However, I also noted one major difference between the two professions…
Scenes from the ‘Other Side’ of CPD
We all know that one of the most important things for a linguist to do is to specialise. It’s one thing to know how to translate, but translators who claim to be experts in every type of text demonstrate not only a misunderstanding of the word ‘expert’ but also a lack of understanding of what a good translation entails.
If you are an expert in academic texts, you need to be sensitive to how the author stacks up new pieces of information, so that each one rests firmly on the last, creating a logical thread throughout the text. And trust me: you can’t be a food and drink specialist without knowing your Scotch from your whiskey or your langosta from your langoustines.
This is where specialising in food and drink gets to be the fun part. My interpreting traineeship at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza mostly consists of practising in a dummy booth to hone my interpreting skills in the morning, and then hitting the books to prepare vocabulary and research the concepts involved in the next morning’s classes. However, every once in a while we have the opportunity to get out into the field, as it were, and get some hands-on knowledge about our specialist subject: food and agriculture.
Last week the MSc in Animal Nutrition had organised a visit to two dairy farms, and we decided to tag along. The lectures we had been interpreting dealt with formulating diets for dairy sheep and cattle, and we certainly learned a lot about neutral detergent fibre and acidosis! Of course, we discovered that the more we understood about the concepts the professor was discussing, the better our interpreting was, so when we heard about the visit to the dairy farms we asked to tag along and our supervisors thought it was a great idea.
A year ago, if you’d asked me what CPD looked like for a translator, this isn’t exactly what I would have had in mind. But if you think about it, if someone needs an interpreter for a dairy association conference, or for a farm’s corporate meeting with its cattle feed provider, who better for the job than an interpreter who’s actually seen a dairy farm in action?
One of the most exciting parts of being a translator and/or interpreter is that you never stop learning: about the languages you work in, about the process itself, and about your areas of expertise. So when a translator is looking to increase the added value of their services, there are many ways to do it, and some of them might surprise you!
What does CPD look like to you? And how do you keep on top of your specialist subject(s) on top of your translation and interpreting skills?