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ELIA Together 2017: Community, collaboration, communication

There’s a longstanding myth that translators are solitary creatures by nature, preferring to spend their days burrowed away in their little home offices rather than joining the horde. After all, if we weren’t reclusive introverts, wouldn’t we all have opted for the exciting world of interpreting instead? Well, with a vast tapestry of attendees from 38 countries across the globe, all keen to share their own perspectives on the profession, this year’s ELIA conference showed that solitude, far from being a motivation for translators’ career choice, is in most cases just an unfortunate byproduct.

The team behind 'The Patchwork Approach' gave an inspiring talk on 'The Warmest Project', their unique initiative designed to bring language professionals together on a human level, sharing their weird and wonderful tales of life in the industry (read more at https://www.gala-global.org/publications/patchwork-concept-lessons-learned-warmest-project). Quoting David Brooks, Jozeph Kovalov warned translators against getting “caught in the loneliness loop”.

‘Humans are caught in the loneliness loop. What drives us, ultimately, is the yearning for community and to be understood by others’

This occupational hazard is the very reason why it’s so important for independent language professionals and companies to meet up at events such as ELIA Together, and to build relationships that can continue well into the future. But what does this mean in reality?

Various practical ideas for promoting better community, collaboration and communication were discussed this year. One speaker recommended that translation companies take a more personal approach to the recruitment process using the concept of ‘remote interviews’, giving both parties the opportunity to develop a rapport with one another. Strategies like this reflect the need for the relationship between the language professional and the translation agency to be a mutually beneficial partnership rather than a mere business transaction – a mantra that fits in well with our ethos here at STB.

Heidi Kerschl, who in her own words has worked “on both sides of the fence”, suggested taking that collaboration even further, bringing together project managers and freelance translators (or, perhaps, Martians and Venusians!) for software training, for example. While the logistics of such an arrangement could prove challenging, the fact is that, whether we’re project managers or freelance translators, we face the same obstacles day in day out, so it makes sense to try and overcome them together.

Talking of obstacles - funnily enough, in an industry brimming with experts in language, communication was highlighted time and again at Elia Together as the greatest hindrance to successful collaboration. As keynote speaker Balász Kis reminded us in his opening talk, the faceless world of email communication opens up a minefield of potential misunderstandings. That’s why the best thing about an event like ELIA Together, besides the fascinating talks and the amazing location, is having the opportunity to venture out from behind the screen and talk face to face, without a keyboard in sight, with the people who make our profession a community.

According to Heidi Kerschl, “a good project manager is one you can get drunk with”, so we’ll meet you at the bar at Together 2018!

Lauren Reed

Surrey Translation Bureau

 

 

 

 

 

 

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