Have You Remembered to Unsubscribe…

January 15, 2008

from this blog and to subscribe to the new version, hosted here?

Although I’m leaving this copy to die its natural death, I am now updating the new version only.

Thanks for visiting and see you (I hope) on my own domain.

The new feed is here .


My blog has moved…

January 8, 2008


Just follow the link, there’s a brand new post! And please change your bookmarks accordingly, as the entire content has been moved.

Merci du fond du coeur !

Coming Soon: Transfer to Own Domain

January 8, 2008

I need a little time to make the adjustments necessary to transfer this blog to my own domain…. Watch this space, I’ll let you know when the new location goes live. Thanks for visiting.

Kleber International Conference Center, Bye Bye

January 7, 2008

The Kleber International Conference Center in Paris, which was still being used by the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs, has been sold to a Qatari Real Estate Company and will be revamped by Vinci, a leading French company, before it re-opens in 2011 in the form of a luxury hotel.

I worked there as an interpreter on several occasions. I don’t remember the context of all the conferences, but the building was very old, with antique plush fitted carpets everywhere, the acoustics was appalling, so was the air-conditioning, two mutually-exclusive components when it comes to interpreting. If you opened the windows, the noise coming from the Avenue Kleber, close to Place de l’Etoile and the Arch of Triumph, meant we couldn’t hear what the delegates were saying. Bad if you must translate them. If you kept the windows shut, everyone was near boiling-point by the next hour.

But I also have some surprisingly good memories of it. One in particular. There was a very hard meeting of the European Pharmacopeia of the Council of Europe, done in consecutive with another colleague. Simultaneous interpreting would have been hard enough, but those were the days when consecutive was still very much used.

Consecutive interpreting is based on 2 prerequirements: a very good memory, and your own note-taking system. Both are equally necessary, although memory is essential, you cannot just rely on your notes. In this case, remembering long complex names was quite an achievement, so it was necessary to write a lot. So why was it a good meeting? We were in the room with the delegates, which created a collaborative climate making it slightly less difficult, as a meeting.

Before I conclude though, I’d like to remind the younger readers that the Kleber Center had a history of its own. As the daily Le Figaro reports here, during World War II, it was the famous Hotel Majestic where the German military government had established its headquarters. After the war however, it served more peaceful ends: the Paris Peace Agreement was signed here in 1973, putting an end to hostilities between the USA and North Vietnam. But more recently it was used for negotiations on Kosovo, Ivory Coast, and a long list of international issues.

Stealing A Good Story

January 6, 2008

I can’t help pass on the story I found from writemindset.com, here.

The title of this blogger’s post is: Who writes articles for $1. And why?

Don’t think that the topic is irrelevant to us, just substitute ‘translates’ for ‘writes’.

Anyway, the supporting anecdote is taken from a book by marketing expert Harry Beckwith.

It runs like this:

‘To hammer the point home, Beckwith adds a story about a carpenter. In this tale, a man who has a squeaky floorboard calls in a carpenter, who quickly finds the problem and fixes it with three precise blows of his hammer.

The carpenter pulled out an invoice slip, on which he wrote the total of $45. Above that line were two line items:
Hammering, $2
Knowing where to hammer, $43.’

See the link? Enjoy!

Can You Get By With Globish?

January 5, 2008

The United Nations have declared 2008 the International Year of Languages.

But if you listen to the global buzz, you might think that you don’t need ‘languages’ any more, Globish (Global English) is THE language that will get you everywhere, in particular in business.

A number of companies consider it as the way to save.

Save on what? On one essential aspect of international communication: language diversity. So if that is the case with your company, you will undoubtedly find some interesting insights in this excellent broadcast on Radio France Internationale.

The title was: ‘Interpreters in the world of business’, and several professional interpreters, as well as top players in the field of global business were interviewed.

It’s true that for medium-level meetings and communication, conference interpreters will be less and less needed. Why is that so? Because business executives are increasingly made to use English in their daily interaction with their foreign counterparts, and even among themselves! But it also means that they need to be trained (and this has a cost too).

Did I say ‘made’? That’s because I’ve had many opportunities to discuss this with French business executives, some of them extremely FLUENT in English. They resent the fact that some meetings held in France have to take place in English. They would very much prefer to use their own native language to work faster, and better.

For important business negotiations and top-level meetings, interpreting will continue to be needed, if only to ensure that the top management are allowed to speak in their own languages. But not only them: one case in point are the EWC‘s (European Work Councils) set up by European multinationals. The participants in EWC meetings are management and employee representatives, and the latter do not necessarily have the command of English (nor do they receive the kind of language training…) that would enable them to follow the meetings in any meaningful and positive way.

So interpreters now have a bigger role in business. They have made the switch from diplomatic conferences (their main line of business when simultaneous interpreting was invented, just after World War II) to business conferences, and they are a most valuable part of them, not only as language interpreters, but as cultural mediators too.

Take Chinese. As the Chinese interpreter points out in the interview, the Chinese are not giving up on their language, quite the contrary. Why should they, anyway? Very high-quality Chinese interpreting is essential to many business deals. If the two sides can’t communicate efficiently, what happens? The deal falls through or is delayed. The Chinese have enough suitors at the moment to afford to pick and choose.

So, the United Nations have declared 2008 the International Year of Languages. Are you doing anything for your language this year? Any plans? I’d love to hear about them.

The Perfectionist Speaks…

January 4, 2008

The New Year is a good opportunity for a new start, the easiest way being to make a few tweaks and adjustments. And as I said in a previous post, there’s a perfectionist somewhere nudging me, telling me that my blog is not exactly as I want it to be.

Don’t mistake my words. I’m also very thankful: more than 900 hits in just about 6 weeks, for a first blog on an obscure topic (obscure for all the internet marketers out there, and those who are quite happy to use any technological tool that has ‘trans’ in it, not for us in the know *wink*), is NOT BAD. But I want to learn more, and to improve. The hit figures, by the way, are purely there to keep me happy, because this blog is not for monetizing.

So some overhaul is going to happen here.

1. I’m planning to move this blog to my own domain. I’ve had a domain for 2 years now, but as I said earlier, it’s been hacked because I was too indecisive about it, and I now have to recover it. I recently acquired another one, also in my name, and I’m shifting the blog to that one. Sometime…

This is taking time, for a good reason. When you are not a master of a given technique, you have to rely on others to do it for you, or you do it on your own, and that’s painful. By the way, that’s a good lesson for those out there who think they can translate, but haven’t realized the full implications. I ran a enlightening search on Twitter the other day, on ‘translate’ and ‘translation’. As always: leave it to the professionals.

2. I’m not happy with the blogroll, so I’m going to reshuffle things, maybe reorganize it completely. I suppose that could be termed ‘growing pains’. I keep adding to it as I find new interesting links, but it’s become a mixed bag of things.

I want the sidebar and the blogroll in particular, to be the most useful part of this blog. My views of the profession are interesting, no doubt. I have enough anecdotes on clients, colleagues, etc. for at least one year of posting, but that’s not the point. I consider myself more a messenger, a link between those who don’t know our work very well, be them clients or young translators/interpreters, and useful sources, documents, interesting people IN the profession, and sources of inspiration OUTSIDE the profession. So in the coming months, I am going to work on that. I asked a question on LinkedIn the other day, and received a dozen very interesting answers. I’m still leaving the question open for a few days, then I’ll close it and analyze the responses.

3. So if I can achieve those 2 objectives in the next 3 months for Objective 1, and 6 months for Objective 2, I suppose I’ll be reasonably happy with myself.

So watch this space…

First New Year Jobs!

January 2, 2008

Today I received my first two 2008 jobs. One is not for publication (so… ssshhh) and the other one is, well, you’ll hear about it soon, because I’ll surely write something about it here.

So there I am, with jobs carried over from 2007, brand new 2008 jobs, and today is only January 2nd, and these pictures from Christmas and the New Year are still with me. But it’s back to work now.

I have given up on New Year resolutions, because they are usually dead by the end of January. Indeed, they are usually killed by the first January job, the rest of the year is just a whirlwind.

In the middle of all this, I now have my copy of Timothy Ferriss’s book (The 4-hour Work Week I mentioned here). I started listening to it (yes, my copy is an audiobook, I like audiobooks a lot), and I am eager to discover more, because I found that I can easily relate to some of his ideas, based on my own life in the past 25 years, in particular to his idea of relative vs. absolute income. A promising ‘read’.