Sharpening our skills

By Harriet Cooper, Sue Farmery, Tania Lines and Beth Squires

As our Events Team, Holly-Anne and Alanah, have recently launched an initiative to help put FrenchNetters in touch with each other to form revision clubs, we thought it would be an opportune moment to write about how we’ve benefitted from being part of a French into English revision club, which we formed in January this year. In true revision club style, this article is a collaboration!

Besides the obvious value of helping us to become better translators, belonging to a revision club provides significant social benefits. At the beginning of every Zoom meeting, we spend a few minutes checking in with each other, seeing how things have been in the last month, both professionally and on a personal level. We usually get carried away chatting and then one of us remembers we have a text to dissect!

Joking aside, the time spent updating each other is really valuable: it combats the isolation you can feel as a freelance translator, provides us with ‘colleagues’ to bounce ideas off and offers a supportive ear or two and some problem-solving when something hasn’t gone well. Conversing more broadly about our lives encourages each of us to have a healthy work-life balance too! We also have a WhatsApp group, where we ask each other for advice, for example on rates or agency tests. As we are all reasonably new to the translation profession, the advice given is usually very relevant and helpful.

As with any new digital venture, there are technical learning points, and not just in our chosen CAT tools. To easily compare our translations and the ST, we use a five-column layout in a Google Doc. Whilst we may still have the occasional technical hitch, our Google Docs, Windows and Zoom skills are all coming on in leaps and bounds as we learn from each other.

In terms of developing our translation skills, the process of working through four different translations of the same source text is fascinating. Often the challenges of a text are common to all, such as whether to keep the original term “vélorail”, anglicise it or provide a gloss translation (e.g. “rail bike”). Sometimes we’ll get a laugh as the MT struggles to parse such creative prose: “la pâte à choux” becoming “cabbage dough”. The best moments are when one of us is struck by a moment of creative genius, inspiring us to think outside the box: “5 espaces sauvages et (encore) préservés” became “Where the wild things (still) are”.  Here are some of our favourite examples from previous texts which showcase the different ways we have approached the same word/phrase:

C’est faux. C’était un Troll !Don’t worry, that was just troll talk, lol!Only joking. That was a Troll.Only joking! Trolololol!Not actually true. We’re just trolling you.
…c’est un jeu drôle sur les travers de l’interweb……it’s a fun game about the idiosyncrasies of the internet……it’s a funny game about the dark side of the web……it’s a funny game about the foibles of the Interweb……a fun party game about everything that’s wrong with the interweb…
Paris enchante papilles et pupilles……wowing the city with its tastebud-
tantalising eye candy.
A delight to the senses……eye-catching confectionery to make your mouth water.…charming the eyes as well as the taste buds of Paris…
Le buzz est tel que toutes les foodistas de la capitale se précipitent pour découvrir en exclusivité les nouvelles créations pâtissières.These sugary gems have created such a buzz that the city’s foodies are all flocking to see the new pastry creations for themselves.It is creating such a buzz that all the French foodies in the capital are rushing to be the first to discover new sweet creations.The buzz is such that foodies across the capital are scrambling to be the first to savour the latest pastry concoctions.There’s such a buzz around these newly created desserts that foodistas are jostling to get an exclusive tasting.
…la star des pâtisseries…pâtisserie superstar…the star of the show…pick of the pastries…the star of the patisserie
…fait fantasmer tous les gourmets.…the stuff of dreams for all gourmets.…what gourmets’ dreams are made of.…one to make dessert lovers drool.…what gourmands dream about.

Source texts:

Our thanks to Stephanie Martinez-Hill for sharing the first two Revision Club texts to get us started.